3

This is admittedly open-ended any may just depend too much on use-case. I am looking for advice on when it is preferable to create a custom Contact Reference field instead of just creating a custom relationship.

If you have an example of a situation where you chose one over the other, that would be helpful.

  • 1
    One thing to keep in mind - maintaining relationships can put a burden on the user/administrator. For example, setting up for spouses, the way the system is designed, encourages (does not require) a household + spouse A + Spouse B. I've found there is a lot of overhead / training / automation to manage the household. – Sonicthoughts Apr 6 '15 at 20:45
3

Relationships

  • Can be used to give permissions between contacts
  • Have a start & end date
  • Can attach notes & additional custom data
  • Can be displayed as advanced search results

Custom contact reference fields

  • Can be added to a profile form
  • Can be displayed in its own tab or section of the contact summary page
  • Customizable autocomplete filters for limiting which contacts are selectable

Both

  • Can be added to a (drupal) webform
  • Are searchable via advanced search
  • Could be the basis of a smart group
  • Can be used in a report (although custom fields are in all reports whereas relationships are only in certain reports)
3

In my experience, I default toward relationships, but might use a custom reference field in these situations:

  • I need to export multiple people with the same relationship. For instance, if Andy and Beth both have a "Mentor of" relationship to Johnny, you can't export Johnny's record showing both mentors. So I'll make two contact reference fields.
  • You need to create a form where a site visitor needs to specify an existing contact. For instance, if new members must be referred by existing members, you may want them to be able to submit a profile that indicates who the referring member is. If you use Webform-CiviCRM Integration, I think you can do this with a relationship, but otherwise, you need a contact reference field.
  • Awesome, thanks, this is exactly what I was looking for. I'm keeping this open for a while to see what others have to share. – Link Swanson Apr 6 '15 at 18:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.