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Challenge: Changes to custom field types in HubSpot

Clinton Skakun on Jan 27 2020

The tricky issue

HubSpot allows their users to change custom field types. Existing non-validating data is not changed until it's updated. It then fails validation. This caused a problem for Dedupely.

The perfect example

One perfect example of this was a client that has a custom field called "Custom Owner" which was originally a single line text field in HubSpot. This means you can add any kind of text or numbers, with little to no restriction.

However later down the road the user decided to change that field to a User select which only allows integers. By this point, lots of sales team members had already added varying entries into Custom Owner, either a number or a name (since there was no restriction, it was easy to put whatever in the text field).

Now once that Custom Owner field was changed to a User select, many Contacts had text in Custom Owner, which at this point are invalid values. Those values are allowed to stay there until we try to update them, and then we get the error.

This is what was happening in HubSpot Company merges. We'd try to retain ALL data and sometimes there'd be "junk" data in fields that no longer allowed that data.

The sound fix

Our final decision was to skip any fields that complain of validation errors. Could this result in data loss for that given field on merge? Yes, but at the same time it is impossible to retain data that doesn't pass field validation.

We also opened a community post on this topic and the above we explained was confirmed by HubSpot moderators.

The final conclusion

Working with integration partners is sometimes tricky and discussions are made for reasons others don't agree with or understand. However, in the end we can always reach middle ground and Grow Better to better serve our clients.