Not Specified?

It seems that a lot of people taking surveys aren’t aware of the insurance industry. Seriously, check out my profile here on Blogger, Industry – Not Specified. Not because I’m trying to hide the fact that I work for an insurance company, but because Blogger (and surveys from many publications) don’t list “Insurance” as an option. If they do list insurance, it’s usually included with “Real Estate” and Real Estate gets top billing! Am I the only insurance professional with a blog? Well, maybe, but that’s a different story. Wait, isn’t this a blog about SharePoint?

In an earlier post, I described a Custom List that I use to keep track of various items. These items are tagged with subjects selected from a separate list in a Lookup field. The tags are used to filter the list in a custom view. I have a problem when the desired subject doesn’t exist in the Lookup list since you can’t add a new item during the entry process; or can you?

One solution is to add an “Other” option in the Lookup list and include a text field where I can specify what the “Other” term is. The problem with that is the filter works off the tag field, so I still have to update the tag field to include the specified term. SharePoint Designer Workflows can be used to update text fields in the Current Item but they can’t seem to update Lookup Fields that contain multiple values. Reminding myself that SharePoint rides on top of SQL helped me to find a solution.

While it appears that I have added “Other” from the Lookup List to my Tags field, I have actually linked the Tags field to the specific entry in the Lookup list currently equal to “Other”. In addition, I have provided the desired value for the tag. If “Other” is included, my workflow updates the entry in the Lookup list, changing “Other” to the value I specified (in this case, “Test”). Then, to keep the feature alive, the workflow adds a new “Other” item in the Lookup list. The workflow also clears the Specified Value field in the topic entry.

I want to thank Eric Alexander for posting a short video on EndUserSharePoint that inspired this solution. I can now add new tags to new items or even add a new tag to an existing item. If only I could add “Insurance” to Blogger this easily.