What is a slug?

We’re not talking about your garden variety pest.

In Award Force, a slug looks like this: QrXJzmNX

The name “slug” comes from web publishing, and refers usually to part of a URL which identifies a page or resource. The name is based on the use of the word slug in the news media to indicate a short name given to an article for internal use.

In Award Force, a slug is a short and unique reference to a resource such as an entry, a category, a field— you get the idea! Award Force slugs are always exactly 8 characters long, and a random mix of upper and lower case letters. There are lots of reasons for using a randomised code to reference specific pieces of information, but mostly it is to have a short and absolutely unique identifier, or pseudonym.

So, what are they for?

Knowing how you can use slugs to reference and find specific data within Award Force is powerful, and can make life easy. Let's look at some examples of different slugs and how they can be used.

Field slug

A slug associated to each field.

Visit the field configuration by going to Settings > Fields, then click on any field. Check the URL in your browser address bar. It should say something like:

yourprogram.awardsplatform.com/field/YlegNDAo

The 8 character code at the end (YlegNDAo) is the slug for that field.

Entry slug

A slug reference to an entire entry.

You can find the slug by going to an entry and checking the URL for the 8 character code. You can also find it by showing the “Slug” column within Manage entries. To do this, go to Entries > Manage entries, find and click the cog icon at the top left of the list and tick the box next to “Slug”. This will show you the individual slug for each entry.

switching on slug.gif

 

Examples of using slugs

Notifications

You can use slugs to include entry or user information in notifications.

There is a great article on creating a notification here. Using slugs in notifications can help you to:

  • Uniquely reference the entry a notification relates to, with the {entry_slug} merge tag. This is included by default in the Entry submitted email notification

  • Include entry information from an entry field, with the {entry_field:aAbBcCdD} merge tag, using the slug of the field you want to include, in the merge tag

  • Include user information from a user field, with the {user_field:eEfFgGhH} merge tag

Search

Need to find a specific entry? Search using the slug of the entry to get right to what you are looking for. This can be useful in instances where an entrant has entered the same entry/project in multiple categories, with the same entry name.

It’s also really useful when you troubleshoot an entry, just ask the entrant what their unique 8 character code is at the end of the URL! Entry slugs are mentioned in the default content of entry submission confirmation emails, for exactly this purpose.

Entry slugs are also included:

  • On every PDF downloaded from Award Force (below the QR code at top right of the first page)

  • Every line item on an entry payment invoice

  • On packing slips (below the QR code)

Head over to Entries > Manage entries and insert the entry slug in the search box to find the entry you’re looking for.

Hot-tip: when searching by slug, you only need to use part of the slug, and it is not case-sensitive. So for example, to find the entry with slug QrXJzmNX, you only need search for qrxj

Export

When you export anything from Award Force, be sure to include the slug column in the export as a unique identifier.

For example, exporting users, the user slug is the best unique identifier to help find an individual at a later stage if: there are two users with the same name; a user updated their email address; a user registers twice with different email addresses.

If you need to anonymise users or entries in your exports for some reason, slugs are a perfect anonymous pseudonym.

Analysis

When exporting data from Award Force to do any form of analysis— if you need to combine data sets using VLOOKUP perhaps, slugs are the best identifier to match on. If your analysis is quantitative and needs to be anonymised, slugs serve as good pseudonyms for unique users or entries.

Are slugs helpful for you?

We may not have thought of all the ways slugs can help you. If you would like to see slugs included somewhere else in Award Force, or if you have found an interesting or useful way to use slugs, we would love to hear about it via support@awardforce.com!