Append Changes to Existing Text Option on a SharePoint MultiLine Text Column

If you’re like me, you’re constantly finding new useful things in SharePoint that have been sitting right in front of you all along.  I’m working with a smart guy named Bob Nash from CSC at a client right now, and he just showed me a cool thing you can do with a list column.
 
Say you want to track projects that your team is working on in a Custom List and capture activities which occur over the course of the project.  Once you’ve got the list set up with the columns of information that you’d like to track, go to List Settings/General Settings/Versioning settings and turn versioning on.
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Then create a new column (call it ‘Activity’, for example) and set it to be a ‘Multiple lines of text’.  Because you have versioning turned on, you’ll see an option at the bottom of the column creation screen that allows you to ‘Append Changes to Existing Text’ — click the ‘Yes’ option and save your column.
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Now, whenever anyone edits the item and types new activity information in the ‘Activity’ column, you’ll see the user’s name and a date/time stamp for their entry in the list of all previous entries.  Nice!
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14 Comments

  1. I’ve done that and when I export the data to excel to create a report it only contains the last entry.

    How can I get it to export all the user/date/time stamp entries?

    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Garth:

      Export to Excel is only going to grab the latest version of the item, and therefore, the column value. Versioning is what makes this feature work.

      M.

      Reply
      • Is there a way to get the history items from here into the export? I have a list with multiples of these types of columns, and i would like to be able to export the list with all the additions to these fields.

        Reply
        • Kardafly:

          Not with the out of the box functionality. This uses versioning to make it’s magic happen and when you export, you only get the current version (which is probably what you want in most cases). You’d need to build something.

          M.

          Reply
  2. Can you save these to a list template and nothing came over. Any way to get these to transfer to a different list?

    Reply
  3. I’ve been seeing an issue with this type of field, wondering if you’ve seen anything like it.

    The list has a field called “Comments” which is as you described, multiple lines of text with append to existing text turned on. This works great for the most part because we can see all comments about a record without risking losing any of those comments. But the issue is that SharePoint seems to randomly attribute the previous comment as a new comment when a different field is modified for that item. It doesn’t do it every time an item is modified, and it does it even when the Comments field was not modified. The result of this random occurrence is that some items show exactly the same comment repeated 2, or 3 times, even from different people on different days.

    Have you ever seen something like that?

    Thanks for all the great articles, Marc. You have really taught me a lot about SharePoint.

    Reply
    • Rahul:

      This little mechanism does leave some things to be desired. You’ll end up with a new entry in the Comments field every time there’s any change to the item at all, not only if it’s an update to the Comments column. I haven’t seen the duplication you mention, though. You will see those new date/time stamps, just with no additional text.

      M.

      Reply
  4. I’m having the following issue with this mulitline rich text append changes field in SharePoint 2010. The UserName that is attached to each comment version is not updated. The username stays the same as the last person who updated the item. Another user makes an update to the Comment and the last Modified By username is put into its place. I’ve tested with my limited SharePoint Admin account and another admin and it is not happening. But as soon as a user with Contribute permissions tries to update the item my username shows up as updating the comment and the item.

    It is very strange. I’ve looked all over the internet for days for a fix and cannot find anything about this particular issue.
    The field/list set up is as follows:
    – list level field; – muliti line rich text;
    – append changes; – versioning is enabled on the list; – there are no workflows running on this list;
    I’ve looked into:
    User permissions; Modify By (Editor) field XML Schema – didn’t try this yet – thanks Marc for your post on that; Removed a test workflow that was on the site – didn’t fix the issue; researched about permissions levels and userid’s not matching up; researched about synching and updating the user information via AD.

    Another thing: this list, and the site it is on, was migrated from SP2007.

    Reply
    • We found a fix for the above problem….

      Onet.xml file was manually modified, and that is what messed up the multi line append changes Comments type field. Our farm admin restored the original Onet.xml file on the farm and everything started working as normal. :)

      Reply

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