Screen Reference Index
Plato Documentation  version 0.9, 2014.02.14
 Documentation Index    External Integration
Introduction to Plato
The Basics
Plato's Display
Building Object Classes
Creating and Using Objects
Importing Objects
Creating and Managing Cross References
Creating and Managing Databases
Creating and Managing Class Libraries
Creating and Managing Markup
Markup: Document Creation
Markup: Data Import
Markup: Autoenumeration
Markup: Cross Reference Maps
Markup: Database Export
Markup: Class Library Export
Creating and Managing Scripts
External Integration
Cross References
Multi-dimensional Categories
Setting Up
Configuration: System
Configuration: Database
Configuration: Folders
Screen Reference
Properties Reference
External Applications
Plato is designed to work with external applications. Potentially these can be any external applications, but there are a few standard applications that will be immediately useful. Plato interacts with external applications by building data files formatted for the application, reading files from applications and converting them to Plato formatted data, executing external applications via Plato scripts, or some combination of the three.

Standard Applications

Plato is designed to work easily with a handful of standard applications. Here are the main ones.
  • Microsoft Word Plato can be used to create RTF files and load them into Microsoft Word (or any other RTF compatible editor) for further editing.
  • Microsoft Excel Plato can be used to create Excel formatted XML spreadsheets and load them into Microsoft Excel for further analysis. Alternatively, it can create simpler CSV spreadsheets for loading into Excel or various database applications.
  • HTML Processors and Editors Plato can be used to create HTML formatted files for use as web pages, or as intermediate forms for eBook builders such as MobiPocket.
  • LaTeX Processors and Editors Plato can be used to create LaTeX formatted files and load them into LaTeX editors such as TexMaker. Or it can use LaTeX to directly process a LaTeX-formatted file and load the resulting DVI file into the DVI viewer of your choice. I personally use the MikTex TeX distribution to directly process Plato generated LaTeX files and view them in the YAP DVI viewer. When I am designing complex LaTeX books composed of many files, I send the LaTeX assembly to TexMaker for debugging and viewing.
  • bibTeX Plato can be used to create bibTeX bibliography files for use by LaTeX or bibTeX bibliography managers such as JabRef.
  • GraphViz Plato can be used to create DOT files for use by GraphViz or other graph generating programs. This interaction is particularly useful in displaying Plato cross reference maps
  • Free Mind FreeMind and some other mind mapping programs can read simple indented text files and convert them to hierachical, graphical displays. Plato can convert its cross reference maps to such files and load them into the mind mapping program via the clipboard or command line.

Other Applications

With a little ingenuity Plato can be configured to work with other applications provided the application accepts input in plain text format. This includes a large variety of applications that read and write XML data, CSV data, or special text formats such as FrameMaker's maker interchange format (MIF) and the like.

Editors and File Signatures

Before Plato can work with an application, the application must be listed in Plato's editor list. The editor list is used to tell Plato how to work with the application: where to find it, how it should be displayed in Plato's lists, which command arguments should be passed to it when it launches, and the like. To add applications to the editors list, open the Plato system configuration pane and select 'editors' from the configuration index at the left of the pane.

Plato allows you to set up file signatures as a means of associating applications with their files. When you set up a file signature it will become the primary means of associating files with applications while working in Plato; Windows' file extensions will be ignored. This is useful if you would use file extensions as a way of classifying files by content but can't because it prevents Windows from identifying its parent application.

Plato Post-Processing Scripts

Plato allows you to append post-processing instructions to scripts, which allows you to perform complex operations on the data output by the script.
Document Templates
Document templates are templates you set up to automate the creation of commonly used documents. You might set up a correspondence template, for instance, which would be a blank document with your return address and a salutation. Or you might set up a spreadsheet template, which would be a blank spreadsheet with labeled columns and rows, plus preset formulas. Document templates can be anything. The idea is to capture repetitive content in a template and use it over and over again.

A list of document templates are found in the system configuration pane under "templates." Each listed template must have a description, a template file, and an editor for the file.
  • Description A brief desciption of the template.
  • Template file The filename of the template file, complete with pathname. Template files are external to Plato. Create them with the application that uses them. For better organization, you should store all your template files in the same directory, but this is not required.
  • Editor The editor is the application that created the file. If you create a correspondence template in Microsoft Word, for instance, then select "Microsoft Word" as the template editor.

\caption{Plato Document Template Configuration}

Using Templates to Automate File Creation

Document templates work in conjunction with the "autofile" folder settings to automate the creation of standard documents. When the autofile settings are properly set, a document will automatically be created when the Plato object is created. The document will have the content you specify, be placed in the subdirectory you specify, and have the filename you specify. Filenames can be automatically incremented by Plato when they are created.

The set up a folder to automate the creation of documents, the following folder properties must be set:
  • Default object The folder's default object must have the object action type of "Launch file with editor."
  • Default template A template must be selected from the template list
  • auto file Auto\_file must be set to "on"
  • autofile\_path to files An autofile path must be specified. This is the path where the new file will be created.
  • autofile\_name template An autofile name template must be specified. The name template tells Plato how to name the file. Through the use of numbering templates and Plato's internal variables filenames can be incremented and date stamped.
  • autofile incrementer

This page last updated on 2014.08.06