Customizing Forms and Fields

Solve custom fields

Solve is a flexible tool that can be customized to better reflect how your business operates. Customizing Solve records using Custom Fields is a way to fine tune Solve to your needs. In this tutorial we will learn all about custom fields in Solve. Topics will include:

  • Standard Fields
  • Custom Fields
  • Form Fields Designer
  • Types of Custom Fields
  • Adding Custom Fields
  • Form Layout
  • Searching on Custom Fields
  • Displaying Fields in Reports
  • Contextual Fields & Category Tags
  • Importing Custom Fields
  • Deleting Custom Fields
  • Custom Fields for Activities & Activity Reports
  • Custom Fields vs Category Tags
  • Custom Fields vs Standard Fields

Standard fields

In Solve there are three main record types: Contacts, Companies and Project Blogs. Each record consists of several standard fields such as first name and last name fields for Contacts, or description for Project Blogs. When you create a new Solve account your records will have these standard fields by default. If you find you don’t need all these fields you can remove them, or add them back using the Form Field Designer - more on that later.

All three record types can also contain something we call Activities. Along the same lines as records, activities themselves have standard fields such as title for the Task lists activity. Unlike standard fields for records, standard fields for activities cannot be removed.

Custom fields

Sometimes standard fields just don’t suffice however… custom fields fill in the gap. Custom Fields are designed to store data which may be specific to your business, or which is simply data that you want to store, but which requires fields beyond the standard set of fields. Custom fields can be added or removed. Custom fields will be visible for all users and will be visible on all records of the record type in question, unless specified otherwise (for more on this see section Contextual Fields).

Again, activities in Solve can also have custom fields which can be added and removed. Just as for records, custom fields in activities will be visible for all users in your Solve account. Custom fields will be visible on all records of the record type in question.

Form fields designer

The Form Field Designer is the place that the administrator of the Solve account can: create/update/remove fields, control where/when fields are displayed, and finally change the layout of the forms by changing the position of the fields.

The Form Field Designer can be accessed from Solve Menu > Customize Form Fields.

NOTE: Only your Solve Administrator has access to the Form Fields Designer.

Types of Custom Fields

Depending on what type of information you want to save in Solve, you may want to pick one type of field or another. These are the types you can select from:

Icon Field Type Description Action Shot
Text input Single line of text
Select option One selection from a list
Multi-select option Multiple selections from a list
Date input Calendar date
Text area Multiple lines of text
Email address Email address format only (hyperlink)
Web address Web URL format only (hyperlink)
Number Numbers, [ . ], [ - ]
Phone Phone format (clickable)
Currency Numbers, [ . ], [ - ]
Separator Draw a line across the form to group sets of related fields
Section break Separate sections of the form under a custom header with optional help text
Unique ID Displays the unique record ID of the item so you can use it as a key for other systems and business processes

Adding custom fields

To create a custom field, start from the Form Fields Designer and select the record type you would like to customize. As an example let’s say we want to edit the contact form: We’ll select Editing Contact fields

Now let’s suppose you want to create a field which will record the source of a lead and that you want the users to have a limited number of possible sources. Let’s also suppose that you only want one source to be recorded per record. In this case, the best type of field to use is a Select option. So let’s add a custom Select option.

Add a Field > Custom Field > Select option

You’ll notice a new Select option field appeared. It’s called “New Field” but we’ll click on it to rename it “Lead Source”.

Next let’s suppose that there are three sources from which the lead could have been generated - Referral, Website or Magazine. Each of these will be an option on our field. Click Add Option and enter each.

You may want to preemptively order the options but if you realize that you didn’t enter the options in alphabetical order for example, no worries - just drag and drop them to the desired spot:

Form layout

So now that we have our custom field, we want to decide where it will appear on our contact form. By default our Lead Source field was put at the bottom left corner of our form. However, we would like it to be at the top right. To move it simply click on the field’s icon, wait one second, then drag the field to the area of the form that you want it to appear, then drop it.

The new placement of the field will be reflected in your Contact form.

Searching on custom fields

To perform a search based on a custom field, first open up either the contacts & companies or the projects report. Respectively:

Solve Menu > Manage Contacts


Solve Menu > Organize Project Blogs

In our case our custom fields are in contacts so we open that report. So now suppose we want to see which records have the value “Magazine” in the “Lead Source” field. We just set the search criteria to:

Show “All Contacts” and search for “Custom fields > Lead Source” starts with “Magaz…”

We don’t actually have to finish spelling the word “Magazine” and we’ll notice that all the other results have been filtered away leaving only those which have the value “Magazine”.

Displaying fields in reports

Here we will see how the Form Field Designer can control where your custom field will be displayed. You will notice that there is a special option for each standard and custom field that allows you to toggle between “Display in horizontal view” and “Show in form view only”.

Turn back to the contact record, if you look beside the “Data” button, you can see that there is a Left or Top option. This allows you to toggle between a Top view or a Left view. In Left view you can see the standard “Name”, “Created”’, “Last updated” and “Star” fields. In top view, you can see other fields as well if you selected the “Display in Horizontal View” option for that field. Otherwise if the “Show in form only” option is chosen, the field is only shown when you view the record. So in essence, the left view shows you more records, but fewer fields while the top view shows more fields, but less records.

Note that Top view is not available when searching for both “contacts and companies”:

Left view

The Left view column options are the standard fields “Name”, “Created”, “Last updated” and “Star”.

Top view

The Top View column option includes the “Lead Source” field because the “Display in horizontal view” option was selected for it.

Contextual fields & category tags

Contextual fields are a way to use category tags to control whether or not a field will be displayed on that record. The tag sets the context. Using our Lead Source custom field as an example, let’s see how Contextual fields can be useful.

Suppose we have defined a set of contact Category Tags to define a sales cycle with 4 stages: Lead, Qualified, Prospect and Client. If a contact is somewhere in this sales cycle, then it will naturally have one of these tags applied to it.

Now it’s interesting for us to be able to have our custom “Lead Source” field filled with a value for any contact in our sales cycle. On the other hand, it’s not so interesting to have this field appear on other contact records, like say… for partners, or any contact categorized otherwise for that matter. This is where Contextual Fields come in handy.

So to make our Lead Source field appear only when the Contact is in the sales cycle, click on the “Always available” drop-down menu and select each of the sales cycle tags. This means that the “Lead Source” field should appear on the contact record only when one of those tags is applied to it.

Notice that by default when we create a new contact, that the custom “Lead Source” field is gone and no longer on the top right of the contact record:

Now let’s suppose that this contact has been identified as being in Stage One of our sales cycle by applying the “Sales Cycle 1 : Lead” category tag.

You will notice that the custom field “Lead Source” recognizes that it is relevant in this context and shows up on the record.

It’s important to note that removing a contextual field from a record by means of removing a category tag does not delete the data stored in our custom contextual field; it simply hides it. So if for some reason we were to remove the “Sales Cycle 1 : Lead” tag and subsequently replace it with the “Sales Cycle 2 : Qualified” tag, any value in the field will be preserved.

More on Contextual Fields…

Importing custom fields

Another way to create custom fields is through importing. Suppose that we have an import file which contains a column of data that does not correspond to any of the existing fields (custom or standard) in our Solve account. We can create a custom field to accommodate that extra column of data on-the-fly. You simply specify that a column from your import field be mapped to a “New Field” so now it can be mapped properly in to Solve.

Creating custom fields during the importing process is not always a good idea however, because the new field will be a Text Input field. For instance, our “Lead Source” field is meant to be a Select Option (dropdown) field type, not a Text Input. In this case we would be better off creating custom “Lead Source” Select Option field first, then proceeding with the import (ensuring that the values supplied in the import file match the value options defined in the Lead Source” custom field).

When importing to custom fields that are not Text Input:

Select Option
Make sure that the Solve custom field values match the values that you are importing
Multi-select Option
Same as Select Option but be sure to separate multiple values with commas
Date Inputs
Data is in one of these formats: mm/dd/yy or yyyy-mm-dd formats.

It is important to note, that if you import data into a contextual field, the data will be uploaded and saved in Solve regardless of whether the appropriate category tags have been applied to the imported records. The data will be stored in the background until the contextual field is made visible

For more information on importing please see: Importing Contacts, Companies & Project Blogs

Removing custom fields

Custom fields can also be deleted simply by clicking the field’s icon, waiting one second, dragging the field to the “Remove” (trash bin):

Deleting a custom field is IRREVERSIBLE and all data in that field will be lost forever. Only do this if you are sure about it. Data in Standard fields is restored if the field is re-added however.

Custom fields for activities & activity reports

Finally activities can also have custom fields. Most of the same rules apply here. One difference that you notice is that activities do not allow you to remove standard fields. Rather you’ll see a display saying “Placeholder for standard [activity] fields”:

Another thing to point out is that in some select activities (like Opportunities), custom fields even show up in some activity reports. Notice the custom field for Product.

Notice how the field “Product” shows up in the report in an editable format under: Solve Menu > Report & Update Activities > Opportunities managed by

Custom fields vs category tags

A question that often comes up is: “When do I use custom fields and when do I use category tags?”

When to use category tags (generally):

  • You need to search with multiple search criteria (you can search on multiple tags but not on multiple fields)
  • You need to categorize records at a higher level
  • The appearance of other fields depends on the value of a certain other field (see contextual fields)

When to use custom fields (generally):

  • You want to search on part of a fields value ( field “contains” certain strings of characters)
  • You want to limit your users to a list of choices (select or multiple select)
  • You need to sort records based on this field
  • You need to represent something in a specific format (date, currency, random text..)

Custom fields vs standard fields

You may also notice that there are some standard fields in Solve which were already there when you signed up. These standard fields behave almost entirely in the same way as the custom fields that we’ve just explored.

Aside from the fact that standard fields can be deleted and subsequently restored without loss of data, some standard fields may also have distinct roles in related Solve functions. Custom Fields that you create will NOT have distinct roles in Solve. Such as roles include:

  • Linking two records together (e.g. “Company”, “Related to”, “How do they relate”)
  • Being mapped for standard sync processes (e.g. For Google Contact sync: “First Name”, “Last Name”…)
  • Being default values for the “view for linked emails” linking criteria (e.g. “Business Email”, “Personal Email”, “Project Name”, “Company Name”)
  • Being default values for scheduled emails (e.g. “Business Email”)
  • Generating maps (e.g. “Home Address”, “Business Address”)

For full list of Google Contact Sync Mapping see: Solve Menu > Manage Contacts > Data > Synchronize Data with Google > “See” (how your information is synced…) So if you intend to use Google Contact Sync, then you can’t delete these fields.