In our previous post, we took a high-level overview of the main SuiteBuilder elements. Now it’s time to dig a little deeper into each one of those, starting with custom fields. Understanding the options available to you with custom fields and the uses of custom fields will prepare you for this portion of the SuiteFoundation exam while also giving you tools to increase your efficiency with using NetSuite.

Understanding Standard Field Types

Before you add a new custom field, you need to understand the standard field types. That way, you will be sure that the field you create will meet your needs in the best way possible. There are over twenty different field types to choose from. To see a complete explanation of each of these, you should check out this Help Center page.

While most of these field types are self-explanatory, some of them may appear to overlap. Let’s compare and contrast these potentially confusing field types.

Date, Date/Time, and Time of Day

The main thing to keep in mind with these three field types is that the Date/Time option essentially merges the other two together. If you need just the date, then use the Date option. If you just want the time of day, use the Time of Day option. If you need both, then instead of using those two fields together you would just need a Date/Time field. Note that when a user is putting information in either a Date and Date/Time field, those dates and times would reflect the user’s time zone.

Free-Form Text, Text Area, Rich Text, and Long Text

The main difference among these field types is the amount of information that each can hold. Free-Form Text, which is the most common of these field types, allows 300 characters. Text Area gives you 4,000 characters, while Rich Text provides up to 100,000 characters. And finally, Long Text provides up to 1,000,000 characters. Interestingly, a SuiteScript Long Text would give you only 100,000 characters to work with, so the only way to get up to 1,000,000 characters in a text field is through the User Interface.

Note that the character limit for each of the text fields shows the maximum characters that could be available to users. When you create a text field, you will always have the option of further restricting the number of characters you want users to have. Note also that Rich Text differs from the other text fields in one other way. Using Rich Text enables you to format what the text would look like, allowing you to adjust the font size and color as well as allowing you to make the text bold or italic. None of the other text fields have this functionality.

Decimal Number, Integer Number, and Percent

These three field types all involve numbers, but their uses are self-explanatory. You should decide which one to use based on how you want any information in the fields to be formatted. Note that the Decimal Number field holds up to 21 digits. Note also that the Percent field will automatically apply the percent symbol (%) to numbers.

Understanding Standard Field Categories

You may notice that when you go to Customization > Lists, Records, & Fields, there are seven field categories to choose from. However, if you compared the pages where you create new fields in each of these categories, you would see that they are, overall, quite similar. So why do we need the different categories?

Essentially, the field categories connect the fields that you are creating with either the records or the transactions you want those fields to appear on. For example, if you needed to add a field to an entity record, like an Employee or Vendor record, you would use the Entity Fields category. If you needed to add a field to a particular line on a transaction, you would use the Transaction Line Fields category. If you needed to add a field to a record that isn’t one of the standard options, you would use the Other Record Fields category. So when you create a new custom field, you need to know where you want the field to show up and choose the correct field category accordingly.

Creating a Custom Field

Once you know what kind of field you need (the field type) and where you need to field to be (the field category), you are ready to create a custom field. For the sake of an example, let’s create a custom field on an Employee record. Navigate to Customization > Lists, Records, & Fields > Entity Fields > New. Alternatively, you can also create a custom field directly from a record or a form.

The Initial Fields

At the top of the Custom Entity Field page, you must label your new field. This name will be visible to users, so it needs to be something that is simple and clear. After labeling your custom field, you can provide an optional ID, designate the owner of the field (if you need it to be someone other than yourself), and write a brief description of the field. Then, select the type of field you need. If it is a List/Record field, you will also need to choose the list you want to be associated with the field. Notice that the Store Value checkbox is automatically checked, and unless you have a special reason for wanting values not to be stored in your new field, you should leave it checked.

The Subtabs

Following the initial fields are five subtabs: Applies To, Display, Validation & Defaulting, Sourcing & Filtering, and Access. Note that the content of some of these subtabs may vary depending on the field type you have previously selected. The Applies To subtab is perhaps the most important of the five, since this is where you would choose exactly which entities would include your custom field. The other subtabs enable you to do things like decide exactly where the field appears on a record, limit who can edit the field, and set the field to mandatory.

Conclusion

We hope this explanation of custom fields has been informative! If you would like to keep up with our SuiteFoundation blog series, be sure to subscribe to our mailing list below.