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Custom fields (MLS)

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MLS reports

Custom fields in MLS are used to store customized information about members, such as talents and interests. Such information is stored local to the unit (not on the membership record). Data stored in custom fields is accessible via Custom Reports.

Adding or changing data in custom fields

Custom fields are accessed via the Membership menu (Custom Member Fields), or by selecting the Membership Records panel, then the View and Update Panel, then Custom Member Fields. This will present a list of all ward members (including out-of-unit members). One might expect that it would be accessible through an Individual Member Record, but it is a separate interface, perhaps because it is only local data (not actually part of the person's membership record).

There are two types of custom fields: Talents and Interests or Custom Fields. Both have predefined selection lists, and can also be customized by an MLS administrator.

Talents and Interests

There is a predefined list of Talents and Interests. These include emergency preparedness issues such as Generator, Ham Radio, Medical Resource; artistic talents such as Plays Organ, Theater, Conducting; and technical abilities such as Finance, Computers, Family History. Talents and Interests on the predefined list cannot be renamed or deleted. You may apply as many of these as you like to a member. You can then use these talents as selection criteria in custom reports, and you can include them as a column in a custom report.

Among the list of Talents and Interests is a set of 11 special talents initially called "Not Defined 1," "Not Defined 2," etc. These are not particularly useful in their default state, but seem to be in the list to suggest that custom talents and interests can be defined. An MLS administrator can rename or delete these "Not Defined" talents and interests, or add any number of talents and interests as desired. Once such fields are defined, the field names will appear in the field list, and you can assign values as with predefined fields.

Assigning a value to Talents and Interests

Once you have selected the member for whom you wish to assign Custom Member Fields, you simply click the blue Add link in the upper right corner of the Talents and Interests screen to add a field from the list. Note that the list will not include any Talents/Interest that have already been assigned to that individual.

To remove a Talent/Interest from an individual, click the Remove link to the right of the Talent/Interest.

Once you have selected all the desired Custom Member Fields, you can move to a different member by using the blue left/right arrows or the search button (magnifying class icon) in the upper right corner of the Custom Member Fields screen.

Custom fields

Custom Fields are additional Custom Member Fields that can be assigned to an individual. They differ from Talents and Interests in two important ways:

  • The field value can be a string or a date (Talents and Interests are only string values)
  • Custom Fields can be selected individually in Custom Reports, either as criteria or included fields

By default, the Custom Fields list contains two string fields: User Definable Field 1 and User Definable Field 2. These are not particularly useful in their default state, but seem to be in the list to suggest that Custom Fields can be defined. An MLS administrator can rename or delete these "User Definable" fields, or add any number of Custom Fields as desired. Custom Fields have a Name, Type (Date or String), and Description (which appears only in the Custom Fields list, but is useful in organizing and documenting the list of Custom Fields). Once such fields are defined, the field names will appear in the Custom Field list, and you can assign values as with predefined fields.

Assigning a value to custom fields

Once you have selected the member for whom you wish to assign Custom Member Fields, select the Custom Fields tab in the left navigation panel. Then you simply click the blue Add link in the upper right corner of the Custom Fields screen to add a field from the list. Note that the list will not include any Custom Fields that have already been assigned to that individual.

To remove a Custom Field value from an individual, click the Remove link to the right of the field name.

Once you have selected all the desired Custom Member Fields, you can move to a different member by using the blue left/right arrows or the search button (magnifying class icon) in the upper right corner of the Custom Member Fields screen.

Customizing the Member Fields

An MLS administrator can add, rename, or delete Custom Member Fields (both custom Talents/Interests and Custom Fields). To do this, select System Options and then go to the Members panel. You will see three tabs:

  • Talents and Interests: This lists the predefined talents and interests. These may not be deleted or renamed.
  • Custom Talents and Interests: Initially, this contains the 11 "Not Defined" custom talents and interests. These may be renamed or deleted, and additional talents/interests may be added.
  • Custom Fields: This lists the Custom Fields (initially User Definable Field 1 and 2), which can be added, renamed, or deleted.

For example, if you would like to track which ward members are Eagle Scouts, you could define a custom Talent/Interest to be called Eagle Scout, and then any member can be edited to have that talent. Then you can easily define a custom report to select all the Eagle Scouts.

Adding Custom Member Fields

On either the Custom Talents and Interests tab or Custom Fields tab, click the blue Add link in the upper right corner. Give the Custom Member Field a name. In the case of Custom Fields, also define the type (date or string) and give the field an optional description.

Renaming Custom Member Fields

Click on the blue underlined field name, and change the field name. For Custom Fields, you can also change the type and description. Be careful about changing the type if any members have been assigned that Custom Field; it will affect any custom reports that use that Custom Field, and the data associated with the members for that field will change from a date (e.g. 6 April 1830) to a string (e.g., "18300406").

Also, be aware that renaming a field which has been assigned to any members will not affect the value that is assigned to the member, but will simply change the label associated with that value.

Deleting Custom Member Fields

Click on the Remove link to the right of the field name. You will be presented with a confirmation dialog. Removing a custom member field not only removes it from the list, but also removes the field and associated value from any member who has been assigned that talent/interest or custom field.

Using Custom Reports to Access Custom Member Fields

Custom member fields can be used in Custom Reports either in selection criteria or as fields included in the report. Talents and Interests are used quite differently from custom fields.

Talents and Interests

Criteria

To use a Talent or Interest as a selection criterion, choose Add Criteria and then select Talent or Interest. Then you will be able to choose one of three compare operations: is, has a value, or has no value.

To add additional is compare operations, click the More link and choose whether you want to require matching members to have both talents/interests ("and") or either talent/interest ("or").

Format

To include a member's talents or interests in the output of a custom report, simply select the "Talents or Interests" column, and then move that field to the desired position in the Column Order list.

The talents and interests will be output as a comma separated list. There is currently no way in MLS to show some subset of the talents/interests or just a single talent/interest; you always get the entire list.

Custom Fields

Criteria

To use a Custom Field as a selection criterion, choose Add Criteria and then Custom Field. You will then be presented with a list of all the custom fields so that you can select the desired custom field by name from that list. The available compare operations depend on the type of custom field:

Date 
is, is before, is after, is or is before, is or is after, is in next (# days), is not in next, was in last (# days), was not in last, has a value, has no value.
String 
is, contains, does not contain, starts with, ends with, has a value, has no value.

To add additional is compare operations, click the More link and choose whether you want to require matching members to match both criteria ("and") or either criterion ("or").

Note that the "has no value" criterion may not work as expected. It will not match members for whom the custom field is not defined. Rather, it will only match members for whom the custom field is defined, but which has a blank value.

Format

To include a custom field in the output of a custom report, simply select the custom field by name, and then move that field to the desired position in the Column Order list.

See Also

Custom reports (MLS)
This page was last modified on 9 July 2010, at 14:41.

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