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A thought... Flex-fields in a Domino Database

Working on a few projects at once for one of my customers, and I'm seeing from pretty cool things. As always, I look at the way a particular solution or technology handles a given business need and see if there's a way that I can incorporate the very best, or at least the methodology behind the very best, into my solutions.

An example of this would be one of the projects that I'm working on right now. Without getting into too much detail, let's say it's a CRM solution, chuck full of contacts, correspondence, and linked documents. Now, the SQL-driven portion of this solution allows for a given contact to have "flex-fields" - that is, additional data gathered and stored against the contact record. An admin can define the given item, and the application takes care of the rest! Example: You want the eye color for a given contact. Instead of modifying the form to include "Eye Color" and create a new field called "eyecolor", we simply create a new Flex-field record that says their eye color is "blue".

Now, most solutions in LND-land have user-defined fields. For the above example, UserField61 would be relabelled "Eye Color" and the user would simply enter "blue". Fine, ok - what happens if you have multiple instances of this solution across your organization? What happens if Department A wants UserField61 to be "Eye Color" and Department B wants UserField 61 to be "Weight"? Now what happens when I need consolidated reporting?! I'll tell ya, you have contact records who report that their subject's eye color is 175lbs!

So, how do we get around this? Well, I have to put together a proof-of-concept before I go about telling you how to really... but it's a POC that I will share with you! Stay tuned!

About the author: Chris Toohey

Thought Leadership, Web & Mobile Application Development, Solutions Integration, Technical Writing & Mentoring

A published developer and webmaster of, Chris Toohey specializes in platform application development, solutions integration, and evangelism of platform capabilities and best practices.

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