Using Custom Values in Dropdowns#

When to Use Custom Values#

When creating a Zap, you may want to pull in a value from a prior step—for example, to assign a task to a different person depending on variables from the Trigger step. Some fields let you map this information, but you may run into a static dropdown that doesn't allow it. That's where custom values come in.

This video will walk you through using custom values. Here's how it breaks down:

  • 0:04 - 0:23 "Insert field" buttons vs. static dropdowns
  • 0:25 - 0:47 Example of when you might use a custom value
  • 0:48 - 1:09 How to use a custom value
  • 1:10 - 1:39 When and how to use IDs instead of human readable text
  • 1:40 - 2:36 How to use Formatter by Zapier to translate IDs between apps
  • 2:37 - 3:02 Limitations to custom values

Getting Started with Custom Values#

Why Would I Use a Custom Value?#

Some fields within your apps will only accept very specific options; whenever this is the case, you’ll see a dropdown menu of possible fields instead of a text field:

If you don’t want the same value to be passed each time your Zap runs—instead, you want to set that dynamically based on a field from a previous step—you’ll want to use a Custom Value, which is an option at the very bottom of your dropdown.

In the example above, if you wanted to not just set Top or Bottom for every new card you created, you could use a custom value to change that position depending on your Trigger.

What Data Can Be Passed on to a Custom Value?#

There are two types of fields you can pass to a Custom Value: Name fields and ID fields. When there is just a name field, you only need to pass over the name of the field. When there is an ID, the app will only accept the ID of that field.

ID Fields#

In the following example, you can only pass on the ID to set the Member. The ID is shown in light grey to the right of the Member name.

In this instance, you’d need to enter “5aa6ae90ed5d1627086296d0” if you wanted to set Katie Williams as the Member of the card.

Name Fields#

If there is no ID next to the name in the dropdown, you only need to pass on the name that is in the dropdown. However, you need to be careful as this name must exactly match the dropdown.

In the example above, you can only pass on “Top” or “Bottom” to the Card Position field. If you were to enter something similar but not exactly the same, like “Topmost,” that would fail.

How Can I Dynamically Map My Dropdown from my Trigger?#

There are three ways you’d be able to dynamically map your dropdown so that it changes each time the Zap runs.

  1. By using a value that exactly matches your dropdown from a previous step.
  2. By adding a search step (when available) to look up a matching value.
  3. By adding a lookup table to create matching values.

Option 1 - Using a Value That Exactly Matches Your Dropdown Options#

Sometimes, you will use the same app in your Trigger and Action steps, and that will match the available fields in your dropdown. In that case, it’s perfect for a custom value. For example, in this Zap, we are triggering from a new card in Trello that already has the member ID we want to use in our Create Card Action:

Option 2 - Adding A Search Step To Lookup A Value#

Sometimes, you will see an “Add a Search Step” button next to a drop down, like this:

This will enable you to search for the value you need. We have a detailed guide (including a video) for using search steps that you can follow along with here:

Option 3 - Adding A Lookup Table To Create Matching Values#

So what do you do if you want to set this field dynamically, but there is no search step or matching trigger field?

To work around this, you can use the Formatter lookup table to match up the results of a field you want with the options in your dropdown. We have a detailed guide that explains how to do this here:

Common Problems#

A Value Created in a Previous Step Is Not Being Found When the Zap Runs#

If you're mapping in a custom value from an object you've created in a previous step, it may not exist yet. You can resolve this by adding a Delay step after your Create step to give the app some time to process. Read more about Delay steps here.

Combat Pagination Hiccups#

If there so many options in your static dropdown that they're not all loading at once—or causing an error—you can use a Custom Value to input the ID of your value directly.

For example, the "List Projects in a Workspace" Trigger for Asana will return an error if there are more than 100 projects in a workspace. In that case, you'll need to directly find the correct ID and input that.

InfusionSoft can have hundreds of tags in their dropdown, and searching through that 15 items at a time is a slow process. If you have the ID of the tag, you can drop that into the Custom Value field and save yourself some clicking.

The Field from My Trigger Does Not Match the Options in My Dropdown#

When working with apps that don't normally talk to each other, it's common that the app used in the Action step won't understand the ID from the Trigger step. If that's the case, and you aren't able to search by a common field or value (like product name vs. list), you can map in the output of a Lookup Table instead. To learn more about how to use a Lookup Table, check out this tutorial.

When Not to Use Custom Values#

To Enter a Value That Is Not Available in the Dropdown#

When you don't see the value you're looking for in the static dropdown, it can be tempting to simply type it in. But in order for the value to change each time the Zap runs, you'll need to pull in the ID of the field you're looking for as described above.

So in the following label dropdown, if we typed in "white," the Zap would fail since that's not one of the named options:

Trello Label dropdown

When the Field is Dependent on Another Field.#

If you're completing a field that is dependent on another field, you won't be able to create a Custom Value. For example, the dropdown for a Google Sheets spreadsheet cannot take Custom Values since it has to immediately generate the worksheets and columns of the selected sheet.

When Is It Not Possible to Use a Custom Value?#

When Creating a Trigger#

You won't be able to use a Custom Value on a trigger because Custom Values are based on data from previous steps, and there aren't any steps before your Trigger.

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