Harvey Balls Redux – Display Templates for Site Columns by Dave Paylor

It may surprise you to know that one of my most popular blog posts has nothing to do with SharePoint, knowledge management, performance improvement, jQuery, client side coding, SPServices, or anything else you might expect. It’s one I wrote years ago (June 17, 2009, to be exact) called Harvey Balls for Office Documents. I though it was a throwaway post at the time, but it’s number 11 on the hit parade.

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Harvey Balls for Office Documents 15,574

Harvey Balls are something that you probably have run across in one place or another. They can be used to give information about where something ranks or how far something has progressed at a glance. Consumer Reports magazine (and subsequently their Web site ConsumerReports.org) here in the US has used them for decades to rank products.

Here’s an undated example I found out on the Web:

Consumer Reports Harvey Balls

Dave Paylor (@DaveAtOBS) and I were talking at the Auckland airport after the New Zealand SharePoint Conference (an awesome conference – don’t miss it next year!) and somehow the topic of Harvey Balls came up.

Dave took our conversation as a challenge. He went home and came up with a Display Template for a SharePoint Site Column that will display that Site Column as Harvey Balls. Take a look at Dave’s post Display Templates for Site Columns – Harvey Balls.

This is an excellent example of the power of Display Templates. In the past, we would have had to deploy server-side code to create a new Field Type. I’ve seen very few people actually do that, probably because it was a relatively invasive project. Display Templates are something that can be added to a Site Collection by someone who knows JavaScript using SharePoint Designer. It’s not a non-developer task, but it’s doable by a lot of citizen developers out there.

Unfortunately, attaching the Display Template to a Site Column requires PowerShell. Dave’s added an item to the Office Development User Voice site called JSLink on Site Columns. I’ve voted for it, and if you’d like to create similar types of goodness in your SharePoint sites, you should vote for it, too. Microsoft is really watching the suggestions on that User Voice site and acting on them. If you have any other suggestions, please make them there!

Harvey Balls for Office Documents

If you’ve been around for a while and/or you subscribe to Consumer Reports Magazine, you know what Harvey Balls are.  They are little circles with varying amounts filled in which can be used to represent a level of completeness, sophistication, match to a standard, etc.  They are a good replacement for numerical scales in many cases because they give a very quick visual cue.  Many people can scan a list with Harvey Balls and zero in on something they want faster than they can with numeric representations.


Today I wanted to put some Harvey Balls into a PowerPoint presentation, so I Binged “Office 2007 Harvey Balls” and found that a kind soul named Alastair Bor had created a Harvey Ball font for use with Office.  Having built these little beasties from scratch a few times over the years, I was very glad to have such a simple solution, so I thought I’d share it.  By formatting the numbers 0-9 with the Harvey Ball font, you get the nice Harvey Balls above.


Want to see how you can show Harvey Balls using a Display Template in SharePoint 2013? See my post Harvey Balls Redux – Display Templates for Site Columns by Dave Paylor.