Eric J Alexander

Formerly PirateEric, a blog about SharePoint and Office 365.

A Couple Helper Functions

A few old stand bys

Posted on 29 May 2012 by Eric in the category Utilities
Tagged under: jQuery, SPServices

If you work with client side scripts and libraries like jQuery and SPServices, you’ll often run into situations where the data you get back from. This isn’t an issue with those libraries, they’re just spitting back at you what SharePoint told them. The two areas where I see this the most in my dealings is with dates and person/group/lookup fields. As an update, I’m including something for number columns as well.

This post will show you one simple way to work with these columns and is also for my own sanity, as I feel I rewrite them almost every time I need them. These don’t handle scenarios where multiple options are allowed as part of the column settings and they aren’t optimized.

Person and Group and Lookup Columns

When you get data back from SharePoint for one of these columns, it typically looks like this: 154;#555-1234 or 16;#Operations Department. Using the below function, I can get the descriptive value that SharePoint Designer seamless outputs in Dataview Webparts.

function trimOWS(value){
 theString = value.indexOf(";#");
 theOutput = value.substring(theString +2);
 theLen = theOutput.length;
 if (theLen < 8){
 	theOutput = "Not Listed"
 return theOutput;

Then in my SPServices function, I simply call it like:

var edept = trimOWS($(this).attr("ows_EmployeeDepartment"));

This is testing against a string length of 8 as it’s a double duty function, checking both department fields and phone numbers in my case. You could alter that to any value as needed.

Date Fields

Dates are another issue. SharePoint will spit back the date as 2012-05-29 12:00 (yyyy-mm-dd). There are several jQuery libraries out there for help in date formatting. I don’t see the need to load an additional library to do that for you. This gives you flexibility to output a date in any format you wish with very little code using plain ole JavaScript.

function formatYear(value){
	var val = ""
	var mo = ""
	if (value.substr(5, 2) < 10){
		mo = value.substr(6, 1)
		mo = value.substr(5, 2)

	var dat = ""
	if (value.substr(8, 2) < 10 && value.substr(8, 2) > 0){
		dat = value.substr(9, 1)
		dat = value.substr(8, 2)

	var yr = value.substr(0, 4)
	var hr = value.substr(11,2)

	if (value.substr(11,2) < 10){
		hr = value.substr(12,1)
		hr = value.substr(11,2)
	if (hr >= 12){
		ante = " PM"
		ante = " AM"
	var mi = value.substr(14,2)
	if (value.substr(14, 2) < 10){
		dt = value.substr(15, 1)
		dt = value.substr(14, 2)
	val = mo + "/" + dat + "/" + yr + " " + hr + ":" + mi + ante;
 	return val;

This uses the substring functions too bust the values apart and format a date and time in the fashion I want. It also has some logic in there to handle how to display values below 10 (personal preference, I don’t like 05-29 but prefer 5-29) and AM/PM logic. This is called in the same fashion in my SPServices function.

var start = formatYear($(this).attr("ows_StartDate"));

Number Fields

If you tell SharePoint to display a number column with 0 decimals, it displays it nicely in the UI. With the web services, you might get something like 16.0000000000. A simple way to handle that is with a replace regular expression. As an aside, regular expressions look hideous and make no real logical sense to me. I always seem to have to Bing my way to what I need or ask a collegue. For whole numbers, I use a formula like this.

var seats = $(this).attr("ows_FilledSeats").replace(/\..*/g, "");