User-Defined Fields

eTapestry Best Practices: Learn how to identify custom fields you need and create them

So many fields exist in eTapestry that it can be a little overwhelming at times. Despite the number of fields that appear automatically when you obtain the product, you likely still need to create custom fields because existing fields do not meet your needs. This is where User-Defined Fields (UDF) come into play.

Some users struggle with understanding UDFs from start to finish, but this doesn’t have to be difficult. Typically, you know where you want the field to appear in the program and how it should function; it’s just a matter of successfully adding it to the database. So, let’s look into how the idea of a new custom field becomes a reality.

Let’s say you need to create a field to track the number of adult tickets that are being purchased on your Event Registration DIY Form. Constituents can buy as many tickets as they want, so you want them to be able to type in a number into an open text box. It is key to track the number of tickets purchased so the totals add up in a report. Let’s get starting creating the field.

Getting Started

From Management, click User Defined Fields. A list of categories appears for you to store the user defined field.

A category provides a way for you to group and organize user defined fields. The Base category serves as a general, all purpose category. After you select the category, click New Defined Field under Tasks.

Note: If you do not view New Defined Field, you have not entered the category.

Basic Information

When you start the New Defined Field process, you name it first. When you do this, be sure to give the field a unique name that accurately describes the information it will contain. In this example, we can call it Adult Ticket Quantity. Next, select the Data Type. This type determines the kind of data the field will track. We know we want to track the number of tickets being purchased, so we want to set the Data Type to Number. Review this list for information about other UDF data types.

Text. These UDFs accept any combination of numbers, letters, and symbols.

Date. These UDFs accept all dates in the mm/dd/yyyy format (North American locales) or dd/mm/yyyy (European locales).

Month, Day (mm/dd). These UDFs accept any decimal or whole number. The number can be positive or negative (12, 12.5, -54, -1).

Currency. These UDFs accept currency amounts. The country’s monetary symbol (for example, $) displays in a report).

Note: It is important to know that after you save the UDF, you cannot go back and change the data type. This is why it is important to know the kind of data you want the field to track before you create the UDF.

Field Applications

After you’ve named the field and selected a data type, you can move on to selecting Field Applications. Have you ever wondered why you see particular fields in only certain parts of the database? Field Applications is responsible for that. This is probably the area where mistakes are most commonly made when creating a UDF. Although eTapestry allows you to select more than one application, you should usually only select one application for each field. This determines where the field appears in the program, but if you select to display the fields in multiple areas, they are not linked to each other. For example, if you select to display the UDF on the Persona page and on the Defined Fields page, each field is independent from the other. You have created two separate fields. As you can imagine, this can lead to data entry problems and also mean queries and reports are not based on accurate data.

Each field application controls different things.

Account Types. This type includes Constituents, Tributes, and Users. When you select Constituent, the field appears on the Defined Fields page of a Constituent account. When you select Tribute, the field appears on the Defined Fields page of a Tribute account, and so on. These options are for tracking general information about these types of accounts.

Journal Types. This type includes Calendar Items, Contacts, Notes, and Transactions for journal entries. Transactions and Contacts are more commonly used over the others. This type is great for tracking historical data that might be collected multiple times over weeks, months, or years.

Other. This type includes Personas and Relationships. The persona page of an account stores Address, Phone Numbers, and Email information. The Persona Field Application allows you to track additional contact information for an account. The Relationships application is used less, but helps capture additional details about two related accounts.

For our Adult Ticket Quantity field, let’s select Transactions. We want to store the number of tickets being purchased directly on the transaction entry to record the received amount. This will also help you keep a record of ticket purchases by a particular Constituent. Each transaction will track ticket number and gift details.

Field Attributes

Now, let’s take a look at Field Attributes. You can often skip over these, but it does depend on the field you are creating.

For each UDF field, consider three questions.

Would you like this field to be required? Selecting this this checkbox will make the field required in the database. For example, when you select Constituents on the Field Application step, the UDF is now required on all Constituent accounts. When you select Transactions, the field is now required for all transactions. Many people select this checkbox with the intention of making the field required on DIY, eCommerce, eStore, or Personal Fundraiser pages. However, field attributes do not control that. These only apply to fields in the offline database. There are separate controls for making the field required on those modules.

Would you like the option to search on this field using Advanced Find? This checkbox only applies to account level fields. When you select this checkbox, you can use the field as an advanced search field to find accounts.

Would you like this field to be visible in eTapestry Mobile? Keep in mind that mobile devices do not have as much screen size. To save room on the sceen, we recommend that only vital UDFs appear for mobile when you log into eTapestry Mobile.

For our Adult Ticket Quantity field, we don’t need to select any of these options for several reasons. Transactions will not be solely for ticket purchases, so we don’t want the field to be required. To find constituents who have purchased tickets, we will use a query instead of Advanced Find. Let’s also say that we primarily use a laptop for eTapestry so there is no need to provide the field on eTapestry Mobile.

Display Types

We can now move on to the Display Type. Your selections in this step determine how the UDF appears on the page.

Three are four different display types. The images that appear on screen under each type only serve as examples of how the data type appears in the program.

Selectable Types

Selection from a set of values Although this is the default option, it isn’t best for every UDF field. This displays the UDF as a checkbox and requires you to enter the checkbox values on the next step. Each value displays with an empty checkbox beside it. Select this option when more than one value needs to be selected.

Allow assignment of only one value This displays the UDF as a drop down field. On the next step, you enter the values to appear in the drop down. Select this option when you only want one value to be selected.

Freeform Text Types

Text Box This displays the UDF as a field that can accept a value or sting of text in one field on a single line. Select this option when you anticipate many values and you do not have an exact list of answers that you want users to select.

Note Field This displays the UDF as a larger text box field. Select this option if you expect answers to include full sentences, paragraphs, or lists.

After you save the UDF you can’t go back and change the display type. For example, when you select a drop down menu display type, you can’t go back and change it to a text box after the UDF has been saved. Selectable Types and Freeform Text Types handle the data differently, so the system does not allow you to switch between the two types.

For our Adult Ticket Quantity field, let’s select Text Box for the Display Type.

Security (Optional)

When you have the Advanced Security module, the Security step appears. If this doesn’t appear for you, do not worry. If you do see this step, but do not know what to do, please contact your System Administrator.


Since we selected Text Box for our Adult Ticket Quantity field, we do not have values to enter for the UDF. Therefore, This step does not apply to this Defined Field displays on the page. If we created a Selectable Types UDF to display a checkbox or drop down option, we would enter values in the Name field and then click the Add Value button. To create the rest of the values, you simply repeat this step.

To complete building the UDF, click Next or Save And Finish under Navigation. This saves the UDF and ends the New Defined Field process.


User-Defined Fields

Add a user-defined field