Adding custom fields for contacts and children

In this article

Overview of intended functionality
Adding custom fields
Changing existing custom fields and response options
Batch-updating custom field data
Custom fields in action
Markdown support in custom fields

Overview of intended functionality

While we've tried to anticipate the most common field needs of those coordinating administration, it's sometimes the case that you want to record information that doesn't comfortably fit in any of the categories, fields or sections already available in ChurchSuite.

For example, maybe you have a real emphasis on community meals and so a section in the Address Book where special dietary requirements can be logged against contacts could be helpful. Or perhaps your organisation maintains a membership, so a selectable list of membership status options on each member's profile would be really useful. To cater for these types of scenario you can create Custom Fields within the Address Book and Children modules.

You can select from a variety of data formats - see the related support article "Question response types" for a full explanation of each response type. Each field's Name and Option labels have a 250 max. character limit and responses for Single sentence and Paragraph type fields also have a 250 max. character length. Each custom field can be optionally set 'required' in ChurchSuite (affecting module Users), with additional settings to control whether the field is visible, editable or required in other parts of the ecosystem - My ChurchSuite & My Consent, Connect and Embed.

When you move someone between the Address Book and Children modules, custom field data is preserved as a note against the person being moved; it's not possible to move custom field responses across modules.

Custom fields are fully searchable using the module's Advanced Search and as conditions in Smart Tags; and custom field values can be assigned or updated as an action within a Flow. Finally, the Missing Data and Table Generator reports can be used to identify missing/present custom field responses.

Adding custom fields

To add a custom field, head in to the respective module's settings via the cogwheels icon in the top right-hand corner of the module - you'll need manage module or Administrator permissions to access this section. In this article we'll look at custom fields in the Address Book but the same principles and process apply to adding custom fields in the Children module.

On the Module Options tab scroll down to the Custom Fields section and click Add custom field.

Give the custom field an appropriate Name and select the response Type. Depending on the response type you can set response Options by clicking Add option. You can re-order response options by clicking and dragging the re-ordering control to the left of each option or remove an unwanted option entirely. You can also set whether the field is Required in ChurchSuite - module Users will be required to complete the custom field when adding or editing a person's profile and when importing data into the module.

Finally, the Settings determine the custom field's visibility and edit-ability in other parts of ChurchSuite and whether it is required. In this way, a field could be set required for module Users but not be required in other places where people may be adding or editing their own data. Similarly, some custom fields may be internal-use only - such as a membership status that you don't wish to be editable by individuals but is a required field for Users when they are adding, editing or importing people's data. Remember to click Save to add the new custom field.

The newly-added custom field is added to the end of the list of custom fields but note the option to re-order by clicking and dragging the Order number.

Custom fields and responses are surfaced when viewing a person's profile page...

Custom field responses can be added, changed or removed when editing someone's profile, with required fields distinguished with a red star...

Changing existing custom fields and response options

You can make changes to custom field settings and response options by selecting  Edit from the action menu (shown below). Note that a View changes log is maintained for all changes subsequently made to that custom field. You can also permanently (immediately and irreversibly) Delete an unwanted custom field, which will also remove all knowledge of all people's responses - delete with caution!

When editing a custom field you can change the Order of options in the list - perhaps having added a new option that you wish to be positioned in a certain place in the list. Click and drag the re-order control to the left of the option name. The option order is respected across ChurchSuite wherever that custom field is surfaced as editable. Additionally, making a change to a custom field's Name or the Option label will immediately make that change known across the platform. For example, changing an existing option from "Mission news" to "Mission and outreach" will update everyone in the module whose data had the old response to now have the new response.

From time to time you may wish to remove unwanted response options that no longer serve a useful purpose. Clicking the X next to a response option will give you a choice to permanently (immediately and irreversibly) Delete the option - which will delete all knowledge of that response from people's data across the module - or the Archive the response option.

Archived response options can later be Set active again if desired. Archiving an option will cause it to no longer be available to select when adding new data but will continue to show (with strike-through) at the bottom of the list of response options in the module settings and remain as the selected option against any person that has previously chosen it. It's therefore possible to edit a person that has an archived response option, make an unrelated change and the archived option will persist against that person when their record is saved. Archived response options reman fully searchable in Advanced Search and in Smart Tags.

In the example below, the first two response options have already been archived. Clicking the tick, they can be Set as active again or Deleted. Clicking X next to the 'Student events' response option surfaces the choice to Archive or Delete. Remember to Save the pop-up when you have finished making changes.

Note that it's only possible to change the response Type to another within the same subtype, as follows:

  • List subtype: Checkbox List, Drop-Down List, Radio List
  • Non-list subtype: Email, Phone, Single Sentence, Paragraph
  • Date subtype: Date

Batch-updating custom field data

When adding a new custom field that is required - and where you have existing people in the module - the Batch Update action can be used to assign a default value to all those people. This action is only available for required fields but you can temporarily set a field required in order to batch update and assign a default value and then un-require the field afterwards.

Selecting Batch update will open a pop-up enabling you to select the default response option to be written to all people within that module. Note that this will update all people in the site/s being viewed. Only those without an existing valid custom field response value will be updated - those with an existing response value (active or archived) will not be changed.

Custom fields in action

When editing a person's profile in the Address Book or Children module the Custom Fields can be updated. Custom fields that are 'required' are distinguished by a red asterisk - module Users will not be able to save the pop-up until all the required fields, including required custom fields, have valid entries.

Custom fields are shown on a person's profile page.

Custom fields are fully-searchable when using the Advanced Search feature to search contacts or children.

Custom Fields can also be used as Smart Tag conditions to match people who have or don't have certain custom field options.

And custom field options can be assigned as Actions when processing people through Flows.

Markdown support in custom fields (developers)

Some custom field types support Markdown notation - a text-to-HTML conversion that many developers may already be familiar with. Markdown allows you to type using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, which translates into structurally-valid HTML, displaying in ChurchSuite with appropriate text and clickable URLs. Consider the following example - a 'drop-down list' type with 4 markdown-formatted response options.

Now, when editing a person's profile to assign a custom field response, the markdown is rendered like this...

...but a selected response will actually show as a clickable custom field link - linking to Lindsey's Address Book profile page in this example.

Markdown always follows this pattern: [label](link). The link is made up of the module name, the object in the module and the object ID. The object ID is an internal record identifier but it is surfaced at the end of the URL shown in your browser when viewing that object. In the example below - viewing an Address Book contact's profile - the URL shows you the module name (addressbook), the object (contact) and the ID (1584). From this information you can construct the markdown notation e.g. [Carys Allen](addressbook_contact:1584). Note, the round and square brackets are critical!

Once markdown values are set up as custom field settings, they're always shown throughout the platform as the label stated in the square brackets but the label will be linked and clickable. CSVs, PDFs and email Merge Fields will always just show the square-bracketed label unlinked.

Some other examples of supported custom field markdown:

  • [Pancake Spectacular - 28th Jan](calendar_event:12434)
  • [Little Jimmy](children_child:279)
  • [Impact](children_group:238)

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