act helpOne of my favorite Christmas carols is a parody called “The Bathroom Door Said Gentleman”  (sung to the tune of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman.”  During the course of the song we find out what happens when an unsuspecting male accidentally wonders into the Ladies Room because the signs had been reversed.  I laugh every time I hear the song:  and I think of Act!.

Although Act! doesn’t contain bathroom doors it does contain “fields” and “layouts;”  confusing the two can be as treacherous as wandering into the incorrect facility. 

I recently had calls from two different clients, both of whom had “wandered through the wrong door.”  The first client complained that he couldn’t add new data to some of his customized field although he could see the fields in the Contacts List View.   The second client could add data just fine but then couldn’t create queries for his data or see the data in the Contacts List View. 

In the case of the first client he had created a handful of new fields but never bothered to add them to his layout.  This resulted in his being able to both add those fields to the Contacts List View and include those fields in queries – but not have an easy way to enter data into those fields.

The second client had taken an almost opposite approach; he had made changes to his layout but not the field names themselves.  His user tab included labels such as “Agent ID,” “Commission Rate,” and “Broker Location” but the fields themselves were still simply User 1, User 2 and User 3.

I like to think of adding new fields to Act! as a One Two Punch:  first you add the field and then you add the field to your layout.  Doing one part without the other is tantamount to walking through the wrong bathroom door.

One last word of advice (that will be five cents, please).  When working with layouts it’s always a good idea to use the Save As feature to rename your layout to something that will jar your memory down the road.  For example, I named my layout “Tech Benders” because that’s the name of my company.  The out-of-the-box layouts have cryptic names like Basic Contact Layout 1024 x 768 which probably means nothing to you and can cause a great deal of confusion when upgrading or trying to share a customized layout with other users.

If you need Act! help feel free to send me an e-mail or call me at 561-470-5450.