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Linked Fields Wizard

The Linked Fields wizard allows you to create different kinds of linked fields. For each linked field type, the wizard contains special options and tabs, so the wizard will look slightly different depending on the linked field you're creating.

Table Tab

You can import one or more fields into the current table from another table within the current knowledgebase, another Agiloft knowledgebase, or an external database table. You can also import fields from another Agiloft knowledgebase table or from an external database table.

In this tab you specify the source table for your record. For another Agiloft knowledgebase, you must provide a login and password for a member of the admin group. To connect to an external database, you must add a database descriptor to the application server.

Use the Admin notes box to include notes about the field and its function, as well as to indicate any filters or special parameters, such as visibility dependence.

Mapping Tab

The Mapping tab contains several options for drawing a record from another table, but the first consideration should be the number of records you are going to store in your linked field.

Typically, imported fields are drawn from a single entry in the source table. For instance, contact information fields are populated from a single user record. However, you can also allow the values from multiple records to be populated into the imported fields. For instance, you might have an entry in the Contacts table named Opportunities that links to all the Opportunity records related to that Contact.

The wizard provides several options.

Choosing Yes will enable the values from multiple source records to be placed in a single Contact.

When you enable multiple values, the imported records are shown in a table view rather than as individual fields, similar to the display used for a Related Table field. The difference between enabling multiple values here and choosing a Related Table field type is that each individual source record must be manually selected here. A Related Table automatically shows all records from a source table that contain links within them to the current table record; for instance, all assets owned by the selected Company. So you will generally only use the current data type if you want to be able to manually select specific records from the other table; for instance, you want to have multiple assignees for a record, or if you are setting up a many-to-many relationship, such as many opportunities for each contact and many contacts for each opportunity.

If you choose Fast Search the values are actually copied into the record so that the Full Text Search engine can index them. The Fast Search option is generally not recommended because it greatly increases the table size and can result in the size of individual records exceeding limitations in the underlying database. Note that the Maximum Number of External Records to Cache global variable limits the number of external linked field records that  Agiloft can cache for Fast Search. By default, this global variable is set to 100 records.

If the Allow entries not in source table option is enabled, the user may enter text directly in the field, including data that does not correspond to any entry in the source table. However, they can still select a record from the source table. If the option allowing entries not in the source table is disabled, the user must select a value from the source table. Values from the source table are referred to as a "strict link," whereas non-source values are referred to as a "loose link."

When a linked field set allows loose links, users can type data into one of the fields, and if a match is found, the record can be imported and the other fields auto-populated. If no match exists, the user can simply type values into the fields.

If you allow entries not in the source table, you should also select the Do not update option in the section that follows.

Updating Linked Fields

The Update section of the Mapping tab provides different options for synchronizing and updating the record:

Do not update: The values of linked fields in target records are not updated when their source record changes. This option uses very few system resources. If necessary, the records can always be updated using Mass Edit.

Update matching fields: The values of linked fields in target records are updated when the source record changes for those fields records whose old values match the old field values in the source record. In other words, if the user manually entered different data for certain fields, the manual changes will not be overridden. This option can be resource-intensive.

Automatically Update in the background: All linked fields in target records are updated in the background when their source record changes, including fields whose values were set manually. This option is preferred to updating synchronously because it is less resource-intensive.

Automatically Update synchronously: All linked fields in target records are updated when their source record changes, including fields whose values were set manually. This option is not recommended because it can be resource-intensive and overrides manual changes made when the data was entered.

Fields Tab

The Fields tab displays all the fields in the source table, and here you select the fields to be included from the source table in the linked set.

You will almost always want to rename the field for the current context. For example, if you pull in the name of the person who requested a contract, the source table field name might be Full Name. In the current table, you would rename that value to something like Requester Name. It can also be helpful when renaming to include the source table in the label, e.g., Vendor Phone, Vendor Name, Vendor Status, etc. This helps you recognize which table the field is coming from when you are laying out the fields, searching, or adding fields to a table view.

Do not worry if you get an error message about a field already existing. You cannot have two fields with the same label in a given table, but you can change the field labels that will display on the table into which you are importing the fields. You can do so by typing into the text boxes on the right.

Keep in mind that not all fields selected need to be displayed to users; some might be included for rules to use without anyone actually seeing them. If you want users to see a field, you need to add it to the layout.

You can also click the View Field Definitions in (Table Name) Table button at the bottom of the fields list to open a new window that displays the data type, default value, max size, and other information for the source table fields.

Always include a field with a unique value in the linked set to ensure that you can identify the specific source record if needed. Typically the ID field is used for this.

Permissions Tab

The Permissions tab contains options similar to other wizards, but it also has a specific bulk option to copy permissions from the source table for the linked fields. To view these permissions, click View Permissions.

You also have the option to replace these permissions with those copied from a field in the current table. To copy the permissions from a field in the current table, select it and click Copy Permissions.

The Copy Permissions operation sets the permissions for all of the selected fields. If you want to assign different permissions to some of the fields, you will need to go to Setup > Access > Manage Groups and edit the group permissions directly for the affected groups. Note that once you have saved a linked field set, you will no longer be able to edit the group permissions from this screen and will need to do so from Setup > Access > Manage Groups.

Options Tab

The Options tab is critical for determining how a linked field set will function.

Choosing a Default Value

The first section allows you to select the default value for your linked fields.

Selecting the first option imports the values from the record(s) in the source table in which a specific field matches a value in the current table. This is primarily useful as a default if the field being used for selection is automatically populated, generally from another set of imported fields. In this case, the fields being populated by this rule must come after the other set of imported fields.

If there might be more than one record in the source table that matches the default criterion, you can choose the logic to be used for selection here.

The second to last option allows you to choose a default Company from which the imported fields will be auto-populated.

It is possible to have matching performed against fields of different data types. For example, you can configure a default value in table 1 based on matching a Choice field in table 1 with a Short Text field in table 2.

Choosing None will leave the imported fields empty until a value is manually selected for one of the imported tables, at which time the others will be populated based on that record.

Setting Field Behavior

The next section contains options for updating default values, importing records, requiring unique values, and making the fields deletable.

One area allows you to select when, if at all, the user is required to choose records to import. For example, if you select Yes, a user creating a new Contact may be forced to choose a Company other than the default Company, if one is defined, to be imported into the current Contact. The user may use the input aid next to any imported field to make a selection. If you select No and do not define a default value, the imported fields may be left empty.

You can also require individual fields from the linked set to contain unique values. This is useful if you want to be sure that a particular source record is linked to only one record in the current table. It is best used with fields that have a unique value in the source table, though it is not limited to such fields.

Using a Saved Search to Restrict Imported Records

The next section allows you to choose which records may be imported into the linked fields. You can use all records or restrict the records with a saved search.

You may want to restrict the records available for import to those that match specific criteria. It is often desirable to be able to match multiple fields in the current record against multiple fields in the source record. A special kind of saved search, called multi-table search, can have multiple rows that find specific values or that match a field in the current record with a field in the source record.

For instance, if you were creating an assignment field drawn from the Teams table, you might only want to include certain teams. You can use an already existing search as the filter, or you may create a new search. There is an option that allows you to further restrict the records from which the values may be imported.

This meets the need to provide a limited set of records to choose from based on some value in the current record, for instance the company of the user submitting the record.

A typical use of this might be when a user from a particular company submits a ticket. You could show the user only the linked products or locations or assets for their own company by matching the company field in the ticket to the company field in the source table. Previously, this had to be limited by group permissions, and the filter couldn't be used for power users who had full permissions.

If you want to use a matching field search criterion, select the field in the source table from the field drop-down, choose an operator, and choose variable rather than value from the next drop-down, then click on Formula help. Click on the Parent Field tab to find the field in the current table that you want to match against and to insert it into the search. It will insert the table name and field name into the search box. You can add any other criteria to be used from the source table and save the search.

Display Tab

Several methods are available for displaying linked fields. The display of a linked field depends on the type of the linked field and whether it allows only one value or several values to be entered.

Single Value Fields

For linked fields that can only hold one value from the source table, you can choose how each field is displayed to the user.

Before choosing, note that:

  • The input box width will be the same as the field width in the source table. However, you can customize the display characteristics for individual imported fields by clicking on the Edit icon next to the field. Your choices will have no effect on the display characteristics of the source table.
  • When you select a display type that uses lookup, an icon of a magnifying glass appears to the right of the field box. When clicked, a pop-up opens that allows the user to select a record from the source table. You can select a view that is used to display the source records within this pop-up. This can help your technicians or users identify the correct record to be imported. By default, the user's default view for the source table is used.
  • A  user will only see the drop-down list or lookup icon if they have view permissions for the field in the source table. Otherwise they will see a normal input box if the field can be manually edited, or no input box whatsoever.

Display type

Appearance while creating/editingAppearance while viewing
Hyperlinked Box with lookup

An input box with a user input aid.

In a loose link situation, can be used to enter any value. However, once the field has been linked to a record, the user manually enter a value. To edit or change the field, the user must use the input aid to select a valid record from the source table.

A hyperlink to the linked record.
Plain text box with lookup

An input box with a user input aid.

In a loose link situation, can be used to enter any value, even after the field has been linked to a record. A good option for fields where a default value is supplied but may need to be changed, as in the case where a power user creates a record on behalf of an end user. This box allows you to begin typing over the current value to input a search, instead of clicking search and inputting search terms on a separate screen.

Plain text
Source field display with lookup

Either an input box or a list of values, depending on whether the source field is an input box or a list of values. Has an input aid appended that the user can select a valid record from the source table.

In a loose link situation, can be used to enter any value, even after the field has been linked to a record.

Plain text
View only source field display

Displays the value using the view-only mode of the source field. Cannot be edited or used to define a source record whose fields will be imported.

Ideal for linked file or image fields that you simply want to display. 

View-only appearance of the source field.
List of valuesA drop-down list. However, if the number of linked source field records that will appear is higher than the value defined in the LF List Maximum Size global variable, then an input box with lookup is automatically used. The default limit is 200 records.Plain text
Box only

An input box. Cannot be used to define a source record whose fields will be imported.

Generally useful only in a loose link situation, where it can be used to enter any value, even after the field has been linked to a record.

Plain text
Hyperlinked View onlyA hyperlink that cannot be edited or used to define a source record whose fields will be imported.A hyperlink to the linked record.
Plain text view only

Plain text that cannot be edited or used to define a source record whose fields will be imported.

Allows linked fields containing URLs to redirect clicks to the URL and not to the linked record.

Plain text
AutoIf the number of linked source fields records is less than the value listed in the LF Auto Display Type Limit global variable, appears as a list of values. Otherwise, appears as an input box with lookup. The default limit is 100 records.Plain text

Display at least one field in the linked set as a hyperlink so that users can navigate directly to the source record to see more information.

Multi-Value Fields

If the linked field can hold more than one value from the source table, the field is displayed as a table within the current record. Then Display tab then allows you to:

  • Define the desired sorting order for displaying records.
  • Select the default search options for finding relevant records.
  • Choose the default view and decide whether the user can choose their own view if they would like.
  • Define the action bar that appears above the table.
  • Choose whether the table performs record lock checks. 

For more information about how this table differs from a related table, view Mapping