Setting up and managing User Defined Fields (UDFs)

What are User Defined Fields?

UDFs let you track that little bit of extra information on a student, staff or guardian profile, or for Educational Institutions. Here are some example User Defined Fields schools have created:

  • If a student has access to the internet or a laptop at home
  • Reading age
  • CAT score
  • Whether the child has Funded early education for two year olds (FEET)
  • Favourite colour and other fun personal preferences
  • Out of Authority flags
  • Much much more!


You'll need either the General Admin: Administer or User Defined Fields: Setup permissions to set up UDFs and manage the permissions needed to view and input data into UDFs in bulk.

The permissions to view and input data into UDFs on user profiles will depend on what your school has chosen during the setup of the UDF.

If you don't have permission, contact your office staff - they can follow this guide to give you the right permission.

How long will it take?

  • Setting up a UDF - 5 minutes
  • Updating UDFs in bulk - 2 minutes
  • Importing the spreadsheet - 15 minutes


Managing User Defined Fields 

Setting up a user defined field

Go to System > User Defined Fields and click Add User Defined Field



Choose which UDF type to set up. This cannot be changed once the field has been created.

  • Short text - type in any text into the box
  • Long text - type in any text into the box
  • Boolean - set answers to Yes or No
  • Drop-down - select between a set number of responses
  • Number - any number
  • Date - select the date
  • Date/time - select the date and time

The only difference between short and long text is the size of the text area when editing the record, we don't limit the number of characters you can record. If you want to encourage staff to enter less text, choose the short text option and vice versa.



In the slide over, choose your settings:

  • Related to - Select the type of record the user defined field should be associated with. Select if you would like this field to show on Students, Staff or Guardian profiles, or Educational Institutions.  This cannot be changed once the field has been created.
  • 'Field name' - For example 'Ipad serial numbers'.
  • 'Identifier' - An optional field that lets you set an identifier for the field that is different to the label used for the field



If you've selected the field type of 'Drop-down', you'll need to add options for the drop-down menu.



In the permissions section, you can either:

  • Leave the drop-down menu blank to have the UDF only viewable in the System area by those with the General Admin: Administer or User Defined Fields: Setup permissions.  
  • Select an area of the system to see what permissions will also be able to access this information on user profiles.



In this example, you can see that someone will need the Student Profile: Communications: Administer my students permission to fill in this field on a student's profile.



You can edit these options once set up by going to the UDF and clicking Edit.



You can also delete the UDF from here.



Click into a drop-down item to delete it (if it is not in use) to prevent this option from being selected but to not remove it from existing records.



Filling in a user defined field

Updating user defined fields in bulk

Go to System > User Defined Fields and click the user defined field you'd like to update.



On the next page, you can select all the users to change the field for and click the Bulk actions button to change the value in the field for these users.

  • For Drop-down fields, you'll have an option for each drop-down item.
  • For Boolean fields, you'll have the options for Yes or No.



For other types of fields e.g. text string, you'll have the option to update the values of the fields in bulk.



Importing and uploading User defined field values

Go to System > User Defined Fields and click the user defined field you'd like to import values for. On the next page, select Imports from the left-hand menu. You'll be taken to the import page.



If your User defined field is for:

  • Guardians - Select individual guardians, select the guardians of certain student groups this year or select all guardians by leaving the field blank.
  • Staff - Select groups of staff with the same role or individual staff.
  • Students - Select any student group, such as year group. Top Tip: To select students from past or future years, use a Custom Group
  • Educational Institutions - Select the institutions.

We recommend only selecting student groups from within one year, as the import spreadsheet will not show which year a student belongs to. For example, if you select year 7 from both the 19/20 and 20/21 years, the spreadsheet will show the current registration form for the 19/20 group, and the registration form the students in the 20/21 group will be in next academic year.



When you click Download Template, the file will download to your computer. You'll need to open it.



Is your spreadsheet blank or missing students? Follow these instructions: Applicant new starters not included in exports

In the spreadsheet, if your User defined field is String or Text, you'll be able to put any values into the UDF Value boxes.



If your User defined field is Boolean, you'll be able to select Yes or No.

Top Tip: Click and drag downwards from the bottom right of a cell to apply the same value to multiple cells!



Once you've added in all the information, return to the System > User Defined Fields page and click the user defined field you'd like to import values for. Click +Add and select that you are uploading.



Click Browse to select the file on your computer, then click Upload to upload it.



On the next page, you can review the information you are about to import. You can cancel the upload if you've selected the wrong file or need to make changes or import the details by clicking the Confirm and Import button.

If you've left a field blank in the spreadsheet, we won't be able to import the information for this user (shown as a cross in the example below).



After confirming the upload, the details will show as updated.



Back on the System > User Defined Fields > Select User defined field page, you can see the values have been updated for these students.


Updating User Defined Fields on a user's profile

User Defined Fields can be seen and updated from the User Defined Fields section in student, guardian and staff profiles. You can see how this works here: User Defined Fields (UDFs) on student, guardian or staff profiles


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  • I think it would help if the UPN of the student was included in the upload template.

    This would make it easier to match up data from other sources that don't have the Arbor ID.

  • Hi Karen, thanks for your thoughts. Please add your feedback here.


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