Want to customize your names and matters so that they display additional information needed for your practice? This article gives you a primer on how to do a basic screen customization: adding a new field to your database, then adding the field to a name or matter screen that you use.
For more information on how screens work in AbacusLaw, view this help guide article: Overview of Screens.
Step 1: Add the New Field to the Database Structures
To add a new field on a screen, the field also needs to exist in the database. This is so that AbacusLaw has somewhere to store the information entered into the field.
If the field you want to add already exists (e.g. the field already exists on a screen, but you want to add it to a different screen), you can skip these steps.
Database structures are maintained from the Data Structure window:
- To open the window, navigate to File > Setup > Database structures.
- Click the Database to Edit dropdown and select Names, Events or Matters.
- Click Add. The Add Field to Database window appears.
- Complete the window as follows:
- Field Name: Enter the actual name of the field. The first character must be a letter, and the next 9 characters can be letters, an underscore, or digits. Do not create fields that are the same name except for the tenth character (like NEW_FIELD1, NEW_FIELD2).
- Field Type: Select the type of field. You can choose between several types:
- Character (which includes all letters and numbers and most symbols)
- Numeric (which includes numbers only)
- Date (which includes dates only)
- Logical (“True/False" fields that appear as a check box option)
- HyperLink (which are used only for adding HyperLinks to screens).
- Field Length: Enter the maximum number of characters for the field. Date fields are 8 characters, Logicals are 1, Numerics overall length includes any decimal point and digits. So if you want your data to handle a maximum integer of 999, length 3 is fine. But if you want to handle 999.99, the length must be 6 and the Max Decimal must be 2.
- Max Decimal: Numeric fields may include decimals. This setting specifies how many digits are on the right side of the decimal point.
- Display Name: Enter a more readable name that you want to see in lists where you select the field, such as when adding fields to a new report or creating a query. It must be unique.
- Description: Enter the description of the field (optional).
- Click Done to save your changes and close the window.
- When you click Done on the Data Structure window, the Pending Changes Exist window appears.
- To actually add the field to your database, you will need to have all other users log out, then click Execute changes and create new databases.
If you are unable to do this now, you can click Postpone changes and quit. The next time you navigate to File > Setup > Database Structures, this prompt will appear again, allowing you to execute the changes.
Step 2: Add the Field to Your Screen
To determine what screen you need to edit:
- Open a matter record that uses the screen that you would like to modify.
- Click the Window menu and hover over or click the Screens menu option. The code for the screen being used is displayed in the lower left-hand corner of the window.
- Click Select a Screen (browse)
- Screens can also be accessed at File > Setup > User-Defined Screens.
- Highlight the relevant screen, and click Edit. The Screen Designer appears.
- To add a field, right-click in the window and click Add Field. The Fields for window appears. Highlight the field you want to add and click Done.
- The Field Properties window appears. This window lets you customize the way a field works.
- Complete/edit the settings on the window.
- Picture: Lets you display data in a certain format using special function codes. To set the special function code, click the lookup button. The Valid_PICTURES Entries window appears. Select a code (or add one) and click Done.
- The following list describes some sample picture codes you can use:
- @K: If the first keystroke in the field is a printable character, the entire field clears.
- @S: Allows the field to scroll. For example, S10 would allow 10 characters to appear (even though the field may contain 35 characters), and then begin scrolling text as you type towards the end.
- @!: Converts alphabetic characters to all capital letters.
- @4: Forces 4-digit years for date fields – very useful for birthdates that occurred before the year 2000.
- @U: Forces the first character to upper case, then allows any number of characters for the rest of the field.
- #: Allows digits blanks and signs for numeric fields. For example ####.## would display a numeric field with 4 digits and decimal places.
- 9: Allows only numeric data to be input.
- ,: Use to separate digits to the left of the decimal point, for example #,###.##.
- .: Use to designate the decimal point.
- $: Use to display currency.
- A: Allows alphabetic characters only.
- Combinations are permitted, for instance, @!K in the Picture field would convert all characters to capitals, and the full field would get cleared when the first editing keystroke is not a cursor key. Here are some more possibilities:
- @): Displays negative numbers in parenthesis without spaces, for example, (1,971.26).
- @(: Displays negative numbers in parenthesis with spaces.
- @Z ###,##9.99: Allows the dollar sign to “float” or be displayed next to the first non-zero digit, for example, $1,971.26.
- $###,##9.99: Displays a dollar sign with spaces before the first non-zero digit, for example, $ 1,971.26.
- @)Z $###,##9.99: Negative numbers are displayed in parenthesis with the dollar sign outside, for example, $ (1,971.26).
- @(Z $###,##9.99: Negative numbers are displayed in parenthesis with the dollar sign inside, for example,($1,971.26).
- Fastfield code: Input a Fastfield category (usually the name of the field, but can be any single word). You can think of this as the code type. A good example of a Fastfield is the What field on the Event window. The Fastfield code for it is “WHAT”, so a list of Valid WHAT codes is maintained in the codes database. Fastfields display a look-up value WHILE you type! Your input is shown in one color, and the rest of the field shows the matching record. When the value you want is displayed, just press ENTER to accept it. The Fastfield also automatically sets up the Valid condition and the Listbox to use, so you can leave these fields blank on this window if you are using a Fastfield.
- Valid condition: If you are using a Fastfield, leave this field blank. To force users' entries into this field to match a list of valid codes, just enter a one-word code type. For instance, the What field for events has “WHAT” as the valid expression, telling Abacus to allow only valid What codes into the field. Otherwise, input any VALID logical expression, referring to the user's input as “Value”.
- For example, to force a numeric field to allow positive numbers only, you could enter VALUE > 0.
- To make a field REQUIRED, enter !empty(Value).
- These simple validations will not let the user exit the field if a bad value exists, but will not alert users as to WHY they cannot move to the next field. Use the ErrBeep() function to add a message to your expression. You can also change the value in other fields by using the SetField function.
- Listbox to use: To allow the lookup button to maintain a list of valid codes for this field, just enter a one-word code type. For instance, the What field for events has “WHAT” as the list box property, so the lookup button knows which codes to display.
- Message line: Enter helpful text to be displayed at the bottom of the window when the user is editing this field.
- Justification: Indicates how text will be aligned within the text box.
- Click Done to save.
- You can click and hold on the new fields you added to drag them anywhere you would like on the screen.
- Click Done to save the changes.
- Close and re-open your matter window to refresh it with the changes.