Heads up! This is a guide for admins. If you're not an admin yet, ask your Beacon admin to promote you so you can start managing fields.
Most of the time, you only need to store data that's static - data that doesn't change unless you change it. Sometimes that's not enough though - for example you might want to store a calculated field containing a member's account balance, based on other data you have about them.
Enter smart fields. Intelligent, read-only fields that auto-calculate their values every time you update a record in Beacon.
In Beacon there are three ways of using smart fields:
- Formulas - These can be used with either short text fields or number/currency fields. You use these by writing what you would when working with Excel or Sheets (e.g. =(1+3); =IF(...,...,...))
- Templates - These are used to combine text from multiple fields without needing to use a formula (e.g. displaying a person's name and membership number on a single field)
- Rules-based - These are useful to auto-categorise records (e.g. payments into "income streams") based on rules that you define. Drop-down fields only.
link How to create a formula smart-field
Formula smart fields are where the real power of smart fields lies. With formula smart fields, you can use many of the functions and operators that you're used to using in Excel, including:
- Maths: +, -, *, /, ^, %
- Logic: IF(), AND(), OR(), NOT(), XOR()
- Comparisons: =, >=, >, <=,<,<>
With formula fields, you can use all of the above to build out smart fields that automatically update, to calculate things like the balance that a member still owes you, or a flag to determine if a team member should call someone or not. Let's go over how to do it:
- When creating a new field, choose the Number, Currency or Short text type depending on if you want the output to be a number, currency or text. Click the "Is smart field?" toggle.
- Create an Excel-like formula in the template. Most excel formulas will work; feel free to send us a message if you get stuck!
- Click "Create" and then "Save" on the Card: overview. You'll now see a smart field value has been automatically set.
You'll need to give Beacon a bit of time to calculate your smart field - especially if it's having to sort through lots of data! For larger databases, it make take a few minutes for your smart fields to update
link How to create a template smart-fields
Templates are smart fields that don't require any formulas. They are used to join up text from other fields and are very useful for labelling records in Beacon. They're often used for setting labels on records like donations, e.g. "£10 from Jess".
To set up a template field:
Create a new field and select short text as your field type.
In the Add Template field, use the rightmost menu to select the fields you'd like to include. Make sure you include spaces and any other characters you'd like to include.
You'll need to refresh the page after you've created it to see the smart field in action. For larger databases, it make take a few minutes for your smart fields to update
link How to create a rules-based smart field
Rules-based smart fields are only available for drop-down fields. They allow you to automatically categorise your records based on rules that you define.
Data often lives in different places in your database. Rules-based smart fields can use data from a variety of different places to standardise data into a simpler list of categories.
Rules-based smart fields are particularly useful in a finance context to auto-categorise your payments into "income streams"; often referred to as "ledger codes" in accounting systems.
Each rule can use:
- Fields on the current record type (e.g. payments)
- Fields on record types that are pointed at by this record type (e.g. person)
To set up a rules-based smart field:
Create a new field and select drop-down list as your field type.
Toggle Is rules-based smart field?
- Add as many rules as you like! Here's an example of rules you can use for an "Income stream" field:
- Click and drag rules to re-order them by priority (higher priority at the top)
- Add a fallback value, which will be used when none of your rules match.