Maintaining Custom Fields


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Any number of custom fields can be defined for membership records or group records. Custom fields can be used to store virtually any kind of data you wish. You can specify the label that will appear for the field, the type of data to be stored, how it will be displayed, and how the field can be used.

Data Type Choices

The data type determines the kind of information that the field will store:

Text - This is the default data type. A text field can hold up to 40 characters of alphanumeric data. Text data types can be displayed as a standard field, a list, or a checkbox.
Date - A date field stores a full date, including month, day, and year, in the same format as other date fields in the system (it uses the Short Date format defined for your computer in Control Panel, Regional Settings). Date data types can only be displayed as a standard field for a single value, though a popup calendar icon will be displayed with the field for easy data entry. Date fields cannot be lists.
Number - A number field stores up to a 9 digit number, with no decimal places. Number data types can be displayed as a standard field, or a list.
Decimal - A decimal field stores up to a 7 digit number, followed by 2 decimal digits (i.e., 1234567.89). Decimal data types can be displayed as a standard field, or a list, and can also be specified as "Currency", which will cause the field to display using the Currency format defined for your computer in Control Panel, Regional Settings.

Note: (MemberTies Professional Only) When a field is used on a user report or view, you are allowed to set your own label for the field. In other words, a field might display as "Favorite Team" on the Custom tab of a membership record, but display as "Team" on your user-defined view to save space. You're allowed to do this because information about fields for views and user reports is stored apart from normal field information. This means that changing a custom field label will not affect the label as it appears on user reports and views -- you will have to manually edit the report or view and make the same change if you want it to match.

Maintaining Custom Fields

You can change a field type at any time, but certain changes can (possibly adversely) affect existing data. In other words, if you have a field that stores "Red", "White" and "Blue" and you change it to a number, all of those values will vanish because they are not numbers.  But if the field used to stored "Red", "100", and "Blue", then all of the "100" entries would survive the change to a number, but the Red and Blue entries would vanish.

1Choose Tools > Dropdown Lists > Custom Fields.
2The Maintain Custom Fields list enables you to Add, Open, or Delete any entry.  You can also filter the list to only show fields available to Membership records, for example.
3Choose the appropriate option. If you are adding or changing an entry, the following fields are available:
4Choose the appropriate option. If you are adding or changing an entry, the following fields are available:

 Field Label - indicates the name that will appear for the label on the screen.

 Data Type - indicates the type of data the field can store. The following table shows the options available to each data type:        

Data Type

Length

Currency?

List?

Checkbox?

Date

N/A

No

No

No

Decimal

1-7 + 2 decimal digits

Yes

Yes

No

Number

1-9

No

Yes

No

Text

1-40

No

Yes

Yes

 
If you change the data type of an existing field, the system will attempt to convert all existing data to the new type. Any incompatible data will be lost.  It is a good idea to backup your database prior to making data type changes, just in case it doesn't work as expected.

 Converting to Dates:

 The most complicated change is from Text to Date.  If you make this change, the system can successfully change the following "text" formats into real dates: mm/dd/yyyy, m/dd/yyyy, mm/d/yyyy, m/d/yyyy, mm/dd/yy, m/dd/yy, m/d/yy, yyyy/mm/dd, yyyy/m/dd, yyyy/mm/d, yyyy/m/d, dd/mm/yyyy, dd/m/yyyy, d/mm/yyyy, d/m/yyyy, dd/mm/yy, dd/m/yy, d/m/yy, yyyy/dd/mm, yyyy/dd/m, yyyy/d/mm, yyyy/d/m. (Formats with a leading 2-digit year are impossible to convert, because there is no way to know what a value like "07/09/08" represents.)  In addition to the "/" separator, the system will also look for dates using a hyphen (01-01-1998) and period (01.01.1998).

 Converting to Checkboxes:

 A checkbox custom field is stored internally as a Y or N value.  When changing a normal text field to a checkbox, the system tries to use common options for yes and now, so values of "Yes", "On", and "1" will convert to "Y". Similarly, "No", "Off", and "0" will convert to "N".  Anything that doesn't match will convert to the default setting for the field.

 Field Style - indicates the way a field will be displayed:

Standard - A standard field that you can type data into. Use this type when the entry doesn't have to be controlled at all.
List - A dropdown list filled with the values you specify. A selection must be made from the values in the list, or the field must be left blank. Use this type when you want to require a specific entry to ensure consistent data. One list item can be selected as the default value to be used automatically on new records.
List (Editable) - Identical to the List type, except the user can type an entry that is not one of the choices in the list. Typing a new entry doesn't change the available list values. (Think of it as an override entry.) Use this format when you want the list to provide basic choices, but need to allow for unforeseen entries. One list item can be selected as the default value to be used automatically on new records.
Checkbox - Behind the scenes, this is a standard field that stores "Y" or "N", but it is displayed as a checkbox for easy entry.  You can specify whether it should start selected or cleared.

 Available To - indicates the type of record that will use the field.  Once this is set, it cannot be changed.

 Sort Order - indicates the order on the screen (top to bottom) in which the field will appear for data-entry.

 Required - indicates that the field must always have a value.  If this option is selected, a Default Value must also be provided.

 Default Value - the value that will be used automatically on new records, or on imported records when no value is provided.  Required fields must always have a default value set, otherwise it is optional. Note: If the field is defined as a List, the default value is set for one of the list values.

 This field May Be - select the options to indicate how the field can be used. The field will automatically appear on the data entry tabpage on a member/group record (as appropriate).  These options control how the field can be used elsewhere in the system.

 Note that the option to display the field on activity front desk searches only applies to the Professional version, and then only to membership data fields. A maximum of two fields can be selected for this purpose.

5If you choose to Delete an entry, you will permanently erase that field's data on all records that use it.
6When you are finished, click OK.

Maintaining List Values

If you specified a Field Style of List or List (Editable), you can assign values to the field. The assigned values will appear in the dropdown as choices for the field.

1If you are not already on the Maintain Custom Fields window, choose Tools > Dropdown Lists > Custom Fields.
2Open the field you wish to modify.
3The "List Values" section enables you to Add, Open, or Delete any entry.
4Choose the appropriate option. If you are adding or changing an entry, the following fields are available:

 Value - the name to display in the list.

 Default - Select this option if you want this entry to be the default selection on new records. Setting a default is optional unless the field is marked as Required, in which case a default must be specified before the main custom field record can be saved.