Loan number format in Specify 7


We’ve run into a problem with the formatting of our Loan numbers in Specify 7 (v7.8.13).

Our loan number consists of three parts: the year the loan was prepared; a four digit number separated from the year by a forward slash; and the herbarium acronym of the borrowing institution, separated from the four digit number by a space.

For example: '2023/0021 NY ’ is the loan number for the 21st loan we prepared in 2023, which was sent to the herbarium at the New York Botanical Garden (NY). The acronym field is 6 characters, so when the acronym has fewer characters we add enough spaces after the acronym to make it 6 characters long.

The problem we have is that Specify 7 doesn’t seem to accept a loan number that ends in a space, meaning that we are unable to edit and save our Loan records in Specify 7. We are using Specify 6 also, so we are able to edit our Loans in 6, but perhaps future versions of Specify 7 could be made to allow Loan numbers to end in a space? Thanks!

Hi @Nimal,

It seems that the whitespace-trimming feature in Specify 7 is causing issues in this case. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Just to recap– in Specify 6, entering 2023/0021 NY would retain the space, matching the field format configured in your collection.

However, in Specify 7, entering 2023/0021 NY results in the space being removed. This interpretation as 2023/0021 NY prevents the record from being saved.

There is no perfect solution at this time. It seems the original data entry behavior existed as a workaround due to Specify requiring a fixed amount of characters for a field’s format. This is something that we’ll need to account for when expanding and improving the field format system in the future.

I’ve written up the issue here:

To resolve this without relying on a future update, we would need to rework the current field format and data. Moving the herbarium acronym from the loan number to another text field on the loan form will enable us to modify the field format for the Loan Number.

This change would allow us to make the field only expect the format YEAR/#### and ensure consistent width, thereby allowing us to enter new identifiers without using spaces.

This approach would require that the accompanying queries and reports would need to be updated in addition to batch edits of existing loans to update the Loan Number and move the Herbarium Acronym for each record to a new field. If you are looking for guidance on this process, please reach out to us and let me know!

If you would prefer to wait for an update to resolve this on our end, we recommend that you continue creating new loans in Specify 6 at this time. We will be resolving this as soon as possible, so thank you so much for your report!