Applying Column Formats to Multi-line Text Fields

Multi-line text columns don’t provide the standard “Format this column” option under Column settings in the modern list view column menu. They used to, but now they don’t. Fortunately, there is still a way to apply column formatting to these fields!

There are 2 ways in within the interface to apply column formatting for a column (you can also do it programatically). The easiest and most common way is to use the “Format this column” option mentioned above, but it’s not the only way! The advanced settings for a column provide an additional spot where you can paste your formats. Aw yeah!

The Format

I’m using the text-wrap-format sample from PnP created by Aaron Miao. This is a great format for when you really want to see your full text (instead of the cut-off fade provided by default). I’ve modified the sample slightly to apply the primary theme color for the text to make it even more obvious. Here’s the full format:

{
  "$schema": "https://developer.microsoft.com/json-schemas/sp/column-formatting.schema.json",
  "elmType": "div",
  "txtContent": "@currentField",
  "style": {
    "white-space": "normal",
    "padding": "11px 0"
  },
  "attributes": {
    "class": "ms-fontColor-themePrimary"
  }
}

Applying the Format

Here’s what our list view looks like before applying column formatting to the multi-line text field, “Synergy”:

To apply column formatting to a multi-line text column:

  • Navigate to the List Settings (Site Actions > List Settings):
  • Choose the multi-line column from the column settings
  • Scroll to the bottom of the multi-line column settings and paste your format in the Column Formatting section:
This same option is also available for site columns!
  • Click OK, then return to your list view and refresh to see the format applied:
The blue is the theme color and was added to the sample just to make it more obvious a format was applied. The key thing to notice is that the full text is now shown.
  • Weep at the beauty of thy column!

NOTE – List Formatting encodes values prior to rendering which makes the use of enhanced (rich text) multi-line fields basically unusable in your formats. These values come back as HTML and that HTML will be encoded and then displayed inline with your values. It is NOT recommended to use Rich text fields in your formats.

Love List Formatting?

Join the Bi-weekly (every other Thursday) SharePoint Patterns and Practices special interest group for general development call where I will be presenting a new List Formatting Quick Tip on each call!

Also, come get the full picture in my sessions about List Formatting at SPTechCon in Austin in February, the North American Collaboration Summit in Branson in March, the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas in May, or the European Collaboration Summit in Germany in May:

New List Formatting Magic String @currentWeb!

There are several special string values that can be used within both view and column formatting. The most common is, of course, @currentField which will return the value of the field you are formatting in column formatting or the title field in view formatting.

These “magic strings” are placeholders for contextual information that are replaced when the format is applied. For instance, @now will be replaced with the exact date/time the format is rendered. This is really helpful to provide dynamic formats.

While poking around today, I found a new one! @currentWeb can now be used to return the absolute url for the site! This is the equivalent of the page context’s webAbsoluteUrl.

Why is this exciting? Previously, you had 2 options when trying to link to something on your site or pulling in an image and they each had major drawbacks:

  • Hardcode the Base URL (https://tenant.sharepoint.com/yourresource)
    • Pro: You’ll always get the image/link you wanted
    • Con: Your format can’t be reused on other sites without manually fixing these links
  • Use a Relative URL (../../yourresource)
    • Pro: Your format is reusable across sites
    • Con: Your URLs are dependent on your relative location. So if someone uses your format within a web part on a different level of your site (folder), your URLs could break

Now, by using @currentWeb, you can have all the good with none of the bad!

For instance, just recently I demoed a quick tip on the PnP call that showed you how to use a relative URL to reference a local image in order to keep the format generic enough to be used with PnP Remote Provisioning. Now my dots can just be replaced with @currentWeb!

Here’s the original relative URL in the contenttype-format view formatting sample:

  "elmType": "img",
  "attributes": {
    "src": "='../../Shared Documents/Fruit/' + if([$ContentType]=='Apple',[$AppleType],[$OrangeType]) + '.png'"
  },

Again, that works fine as long as the format is being applied at the same relative distance from the image files. But now, we can just write:

  "elmType": "img",
  "attributes": {
    "src": "=@currentWeb + '/Shared Documents/Fruit/' + if([$ContentType]=='Apple',[$AppleType],[$OrangeType]) + '.png'"
  },

Now, the resulting URL will always resolve to my images regardless of where in the site my format is being rendered!

Here’s an even simpler example for when I want to link to a document in my documents library:

{
  "$schema": "https://developer.microsoft.com/json-schemas/sp/column-formatting.schema.json",
  "elmType": "a",
  "attributes": {
    "href": "=@currentWeb + '/Shared Documents/MyDoc.pdf"
  }
}

What a great addition! Now List Formatting is even more powerful!

Note: @currentWeb is only supported in SharePoint Online and is not available in SharePoint 2019

Update!

See this demoed on the PnP Call:

Love List Formatting?

Join the Bi-weekly (every other Thursday) SharePoint Patterns and Practices special interest group for general development call where I will be presenting a new List Formatting Quick Tip on each call!

Also, come get the full picture in my sessions about List Formatting at SPTechCon in Austin in February, the North American Collaboration Summit in Branson in March, the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas in May, or the European Collaboration Summit in Germany in May: