Inputs can come from two sources: from users or from data stored in a setup section. Values stored in setup storage can reduce the need to re-input values each time the program is run. For example, if shipping rates rarely change for a shipping office, these rates could be stored in a setup section so that the user does not need to enter this data each time the application is run. When designing a flowchart, the designer should determine which inputs should be entered every time and which, if any, should be stored in setup storage. As shown in Figure 7, when regular inputs are required, the "Input" word should be used. When input from setup is required, the "Input-from-Setup" phrase should be used.
Initial Inputs and Control Inputs
Inputs may be obtained at the beginning of an algorithm or may be obtained after the algorithm has begun in order to control the execution of the program.
Consider the two flowcharts in the figure to the right (or below). Flowchart A is a flowchart with a sequential flow structure that takes inputs of Employee name, Gross pay, and a Tax rate and calculates Tax and Net pay. In this case, all inputs are obtained at the beginning of the process. Beyond this initial input, the user answers no questions to control the execution of the process. Because of this, no specific Prompt message is included in the flowchart input symbol.
On the other hand, if a process requires initial input at the beginning of the process and then later a question must be answered to control program execution, a Prompt output should be used to signal clearly to the user what additional input is required. For example, notice in Figure 8, Flowchart B, that a loop has been added to allow the algorithm to repeat multiple times. In this case, after Tax and NP have been calculated for the first employee, the Prompt explains what input the user must enter to repeat the process for another employee. The Prompt "Process more payroll? y or n" is added to guide the user. Once the user inputs the response, the response is evaluated in the decision box so that the algorithm can behave appropriately. Notice that when a Prompt is used it should be followed by an Input that specifies the name of the variable required from the user.