I need to ensure that any hidden data (i.e when a user is clicking around and hiding and showing things and entering data and then hiding fields) is stripped out immediately upon it being hidden.
However, I'm worried about what impact this has on hidden data fields, which I actually need to retain their data.
Does clear data immediately setting in Maestro clear out data in data fields or is it smart enough to differentiate user entered fields from data fields?
Data fields allow the same options as any other field regarding Hidden Data clearing, and follow the same behavior, even though they themselves are technically never visible on a form.
You cannot attach a visibility rule directly to a data field, but if a data field is a child of a parent that does have a visibility rule, the data field will be cleared according to its Hidden Data settings. To prevent clearing, select Never for its clearing option.
Things get slightly more complicated if you have a calculation rule on a data field that refers to a form field which gets cleared when hidden. If the data field is set to never clear, it will not be cleared when the source field it depends on is cleared, but if the source field is shown again, the source field will now be empty, and the calculation rule will then fire, resulting in the data field being set to the empty source field, losing its previous value.
This means you need to tread carefully when dealing with calculated data fields that depend on clear-able fields.
If your data field has been assigned a value via means other than a calculation rule, its value will be protected if you set its clearing policy to Never.
Slightly complicated, but I hope this helps.