Extended Fields: Relationships between fields

In our last release we introduced the option to create relationships between extended fields of type ‘drop down’.
What that means is that you can now create drop down selectors which show different options deepening on a selection in another drop down. This can allow you to restrict the data your users input into the right context.

Lets examine a simple usage:
A computer retailer might require to represent the following data structure:

  • Desktop Workstations
    • Intel based desktops
    • AMD based desktops
    • Sun workstations
    • SGI workstations
  • Laptops and Notebooks
    • Small form factor notebooks
    • IBM Thinkpads
    • Tablet PCs
    • MacBook
  • Servers
    • Linux based servers (Intel)
    • Linux based servers (AMD)
    • Sun servers

The retailer wants to have one drop down with the three top level options: Desktop Workstations, Laptops and Notebooks and Servers. Our retailer then wants a second drop down which will show the sub options for each selection in the first. So that when a user chooses Servers the second drop down will show only Linux based (Intel), Linux based (AMD) and Sun Servers.

To do this, first we need to create both drop downs extended fields. The first one contains the three top level options. Note the new check box that will appear in the form and determines that this drop down has a child dependant drop down.

Drop down has children check box

The second drop down should contain ALL the sub options of all top levels. That is , the second box should contain the options for notebooks, servers and desktops.

After both drop downs are created, open the first one for editing. A new form will show underneath the field form:

Drop down relationship form
First, we need to select which other drop down is the dependant ‘child’ drop down. Select the second drop down you created containing all the sub options.
Then, select each option for the parent element, via the radio checks on the left side of the form, and then select all the related options on the right side. If you need to select more than one option, you can hold down the Ctrl (Command for Mac) key.
After setting each option, click the Save button, to make it ‘stick’.

That’s it. The next time you open the record type containing those drop downs, the relationships will be apparent. When a choice is made in the first drop down, the second one will adjust its options accordingly.

Note

To maintain backward compatibility with existing data, if you modify an existing drop down to add a dependant child drop down to it, and there is data in the system that contradicts the relationships you have created, it will still show even though it does not fit the new context you set up. This is done to ensure that you will not loose data.

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