Auto-number fields

Read-only number fields that are automatically set based on each new record created.

Updated over a week ago

Automatically assign numbers to new records - useful for supporter-friendly IDs such as member numbers, ticket numbers, and case numbers.

Heads up! This is a guide for admin users. If you're not an admin yet, ask your Beacon admin to promote you so you can start managing fields.

What are auto-number fields?

Auto-number fields are like normal number fields, but instead of manually assigning numbers they're automatically set by Beacon. They start at 1, and increment for every new record that's created.

For example, if you created an auto-number field on People, and then created your first three People records, the field value would usually be 1, then 2, then 3.

Auto-number fields come with a specific set of behaviours that you can expect:

  • Numbers will be unique - No number will be used twice

  • Numbers will increase - Each new number will be larger than the largest number currently used

  • Numbers will be sequential - Each new record will usually add 1 to the largest number (there are occasional times when numbers might be skipped)

To create an auto number field, create a new 'Number' field (or edit an existing one) and turn on the toggle:

Frequently asked questions

What are auto-number fields useful for?

  • Member, donor, case, ticket or volunteer numbers

  • Unique payment identifiers

  • Used in a smart field to combine with other letters/numbers

  • Any other time you'd like to assign a unique number for each record!

What happens when I convert an existing number field into an auto-number field?

Before trying to convert an existing number field to an auto-number field, make sure that every value that's currently set to the field is unique (i.e. no two records currently share the same number). Auto-number fields must be unique in Beacon.

Note: To check if every number is unique, filter your records for where the number 'is not unique'. This will show you any duplicates. If Beacon says there's still duplicates, there will likely be a deleted record with the duplicate number.

Beacon takes the maximum number in your field, and starts an automatic counter from there.

If there are any existing records that have this field blank, Beacon will automatically set a unique number for these records.

When new records are created, a new number will automatically be set for each new record you create.

Note: Remember that this means that you're giving up control of this field to Beacon. We'll automatically set this field for you - which means that you won't be able to set it yourself.

Can I switch an auto-number field back to a regular number field?

Yes! This will allow you to edit the values again, and stop Beacon from automatically setting a new number for every new record that's created.

If you need to switch back to an auto-number field again, of course that's completely possible.

Will numbers always be sequential?

Numbers will almost always be sequential, however there's no way for us to 100% guarantee that every number will be used without skipping any.

There are boring technical reasons why the incrementing values won't always be gapless (if there are database issues, or if an import or record creation fails, then we will skip the values that we were trying to create). But under normal operation this will be very rare.

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