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Organizing Employee Information with Smart Objects

Organizing Employee Information with Smart Objects

Learning Concepts at This Station:
Creating webforms
Employee record creation and management
Smart Object management in Pulpstream

Video Tutorial:



At many organizations, leave of absences are processed with paper and email, even though HR systems are in place. This practice is prevalent at many large organizations. Examples of leave of absence requests include: Pregnancy, Disability, Sick Leave, Paid Family Leave, FMLA, Personal, Bereavement, Jury/ Witness Duty, or Military. Ideally an organization would provide a leave request application form in their intranet, so employees can use it to request a leave of absence. Our goal in this Learning Line is to learn how to create this experience.

Leave management processes require employee records, which we will build today using Smart Objects. At a later skill station we will create a digital Work Stream to process it. We will also webforms to accomplish this.

We will start today by building a Smart Object called “Employees.”

What are Smart Objects?

Pulpstream uses Smart Objects to store master data lists, such as locations, employees, business units, products, etc. Smart Objects are basically Excel workbooks with multiple sheets. Each sheet is a Group. We use Smart Objects to access information that is stored in a Group.

Login to Pulpstream to begin creating a Smart Object. In the top right corner of your screen, click on the gear icon. In the pull-down menu, select “Smart Objects Management.”


Notice that Pulpstream has made some starter Smart Objects for you.

What are Groups?

Groups store hierarchical information, such as departments, divisions, or business units. When you make user accounts for your team, they will be assigned to a Group based on their department or business unit. Group membership determines what data a user is able to see in the system. Unless a user is a designated admin, that user will be limited to the data associated with their Group and/or subgroup.

Let’s create a New Smart Object by clicking on the New Smart Object button.


Title it “Employees.” The ID should be “Employees” as well.  Tell Pulpstream that this type of object will be “Local.” Do that by selecting this option in the pull-down menu. We will learn about other types of objects later.

Configure your new smart object with these fields:


The title of the field is what will be seen in the user interface on a web or mobile device. The name is what Pulpstream uses to organize the information on the back end. This name will auto populate. It is used in expressions and APIs. No need to change it now. The type of information is what we need to declare to tell Pulpstream how to handle this field of information.

Now that we have created the fields in our employee object, we need to edit some settings. In the top right corner of the screen, click on the gear icon. In the pull-down menu, select “Settings.” As you see, we have a few tabs in the Manage Settings popup.


Let’s familiarize ourselves with a few of the options here.

On the General tab, you will find the Record Key settings. A record key is a record’s unique ID.  Every record has one. This record key plays an important role in the design of an object. Exercise care when creating this. During integration with other systems, duplicate records are typically identified using record keys; they are also merged using these. When new records are being created and added with forms, if the key is already present, an error will be shown to the end user. A record key can be a random ID, which is useful when you can truly never identify a unique attribute of a record. It can be an attribute such as a SSN or an employee number. It can also be a combination of multiple fields concatenated together. Today we will assume that the organization assigns employees a unique employee number. We will use that instead of randomly assigning an ID. Select “Employee Number” to be the record key.

A Record Identifier is used when a record is referred to in a form or in a list. For example, it can be a combination of a Group ID and a Group number. Open the “Settings” in your Group to see the identifier. Just like a record key, a record identifier can also be a single attribute such as an employee name. It can also be a combination, such as an employee name and a number. Let’s setup a custom record identifier for the Employee object. In the Record Identifier pull-down menu, choose “Custom Identifier.”

Using the merge field value finder, let’s build an expression in the Custom Identifier field. The finder tool is accessible by clicking on the magnifying glass icon.

Look for the Employee.EmployeeNumber and the employee name. Copy those. Paste them into the expression box, to build an expression with both.

It will be Employee.EmployeeNumber - Employee.Name

Underneath this field, you see two options to track notes and attachments in Smart Object records. Try them if you like. We will leave them unchecked for now.  When we are done our settings will look like this:


Save your settings changes.

Back on the Smart Object Management dashboard, we need to review our employee number field. Many organizations assign employee numbers with a specific format. Let’s assume that our company uses 7 numbers, with the first two segregated with a hyphen. For example, 12-12345. How would we make sure this format is enforced? To do this we edit the Smart Object. Click the Edit button. To the right of the Employee number field you will see the text “Advanced.”


Click on that to open additional configuration options for this row of fields. In the Manage Input Format popup menu, type this format in. It can be specified using alphanumeric characters. If you forget, you can always use the question mark icons by a field title to reveal helpful information about it.

Type in ##-##### to create the input format.


Save your changes. Save your changes to the object.

Back in the Object, we need to update the form associated with it. In the top right part of the Smart Object management dashboard, click on the gear icon. In the pull-down menu, select “Manage Form.”


In the form that pops up, notice that fields have already been placed on the form. Click on all the fields and make them required. Do this by selecting that object in the Field Attributes pull-down menu in the Field configuration popup.


Congrats! You have built a Smart Object in which you can store employee records.

Next, create 3 employee records. Click on the words Smart Objects in the main purple navigation menu to access that area. Click on the tab of the object we just made. Then click the New button to add employees, complete with employee numbers.


Write those employee numbers down. We will need those at future Skill Stations.

While you do that, I’m going to go prepare for your visit to Skill Station 2. At Station 2 we will learn how to build the digital leave of absence request stream to manage this business process. See you there!