Product Support

Participant Log

Adds a dynamic list of entries to each record. Log work hours, attendance records, list your collection, places you've been...adds a whole new dimension to your Participants Database record.

Product Setup

Global Log Configuration

In the Participants Database admin menu will be an item named “Participant Log.” On that page you will find the global settings for all logs under the “General Settings” tab. This is where you set things like the template (which controls the layout) and other general settings for all the logs. These settings can be individually overridden in the log field definition if needed.

Setting up the Log

The first thing to do to set up a log is to add a new “Participant Log” field to the Participants Database on the Manage Database Fields page. This new field is the “container” for the log, and in most ways is simply another field in the database. The General Settings tab of the plugin settings menu provides a way to add a new log. When this field is created, a new table is added to your WordPress database which will hold the data for the log.

It is important that the name of your log should be the name of what is stored in it. If, for example, the log is meant to record a person’s time spent volunteering, you might call it “Volunteer Hours.” If it is storing a record of class attendance, you could call it “Class Attendance” or “Attendance Record.” You can change the title that is displayed once it is set up, but the name of the log field can’t be changed, so it’s worth taking a minute to think about what you call it before committing the name. Once you set up the log field, you can configure what is recorded in each entry of the log you created.

log field structure diagram
Example setup for an attendance log

Configuring the Log

On the Participant Log admin page, you will see a tab for the log you created. Under that tab you can configure the log: you can set the name for an entry or entries which will help the user interface make more sense. There are more settings that determine what the frontend user can do and also how the log will be displayed in various contexts. This will be explained in more detail later.

Configuring Log Entry Fields

Each log can have as many fields as needed to hold whatever information you need to store in each entry. The user interface for that is the same used for managing the fields in the main database. You can add fields, and then configure each field as needed. They work the same as fields in the main database. Each entry field you create for the log adds a column to the log’s database table.

An example of a set of fields defined for a work log.

Field Visibility

Entry fields have a “Visibility” setting that determines the context in which the entry field will be shown. “Public” means the field will be shown in all contexts. “Private” means the field will only be shown to the owner of the record and administrators. “Admin” means the field will be visible to administrators only.

Searchable Fields

When list searching is enabled, only fields that are both visible and marked as searchable will be used to get search results. This is helpful to making searches more efficient and avoids spurious results.

Searchable log entry fields are also available in regular Participants Database list displays so that records with log entries that match the search can be found.

Sortable Fields

Fields that have this setting enabled will be shown in the header of log entry list displays so the log can be sorted by the value of that field.

Field Validation

Entry fields can be made required in the entry field’s configuration. The entry fields use “client side validation” which means the user’s browser will perform the validation and provide the feedback. This is going to look slightly different on every platform, there is little you can do about that, but it has the upside of working on all platforms and devices. To make a field required, you set the validation setting to “required.” You can add to the field validation configuration by using validation attributes.

The Admin Record Log Display

The log display on the record edit page in the admin shows a list of all the entries. The list is paginated, and the number of entries shown on each page of entries is determined in the general settings for the log, in the “Entries Per Page” setting.

The display for the log on the frontend is similar, but what controls are shown depends on the configuration.

Entry List Filtering or  Searching

There is a search input at the top, any text typed into the search input will be used to filter the list of entries. On the admin side, all the visible entry fields are included in the search. On the frontend, only fields marked as “searchable” will be included in the search.

Entry List Sorting

The entries can be sorted by clicking on the blue arrow icons seen in the top bar. The fields that can be used for sorting are configured in the log entry fields configurations: check the “Sortable” checkbox to configure the field to appear in the sorting bar.

Adding Entries

Once you have the entry fields set up, you can begin adding entries to the log. Entries can be added in the admin by going to the admin edit record page for the record you want to add log entries to. Find your log field on the edit record page and in the display for the log field, you will see a button with a plus sign for adding a new entry. Clicking that will bring up a form for entering the data for your log entry. Each entry may also be edited by clicking the pencil icon next to the entry. Clicking the pencil will open a form where the contents of the entry can be changed. Entries can be deleted individually by clicking the red on the entry line. When the “X” is clicked, you will be asked to confirm deleting the entry. There is no undo, deleted entries are gone forever unless you restore it from a backup.

Exporting/Importing Entries

In the admin record edit display (Edit Participant), the entry data for the record’s log can be exported as a CSV file. This works pretty much the same as exporting records from Participants Database: if you have used a filter, the export will only include the entries shown after the filter is applied. Records can also be imported with a CSV file. It’s also possible to import and export data for all records on the Participant Log admin page under the tab for the log.

The Frontend Log Entry Display

In single record and editable record displays on the frontend, the log is displayed as a list of entries. It is very similar to the display in the admin, only the ways that the user can interact with the list are controlled by settings. This is so you can choose whether the log can be added to by users, entries edited, deleted, etc. When the record is displayed using the [pdb_single] shortcode, a list of entries is shown using the template style chosen in the Participant Log settings under the general tab. The entry list in this display can be sorted and filtered. Only log entry fields that have “public” visibility will be shown in this display.

Display Templates

For the frontend displays of the log entry list, 3 basic templates can be chosen. Which one you choose is going to be determined by what you need to show, and what is going to work best for your users.

The Table template will put the log entries into a fixed-width grid so all the values will line up below a header row. This can be the clearest way to show the log entries, but you can only control the width of the table by controlling how many log entry fields you’re showing. Also, it isn’t great on small screens because the width is not determined by the device’s screen width, and so horizontal scrolling is usually required to see all the information.

The Responsive template takes the approach that every log entry field is a separate element with its own width determined by the title and data display. These elements can flow into whatever configuration will fit on the screen. With this template, all the data will be visible on any device, but it can be cluttered.

The Grid template is kindof a bend between the two. It is responsive in that the width of the log display is determined by the width of the device display, but instead of each entry field having its own width, the widths of the entry fields are controlled into columns. This can result in a more organized and easier to see display of the log entry data.

For any kind of responsive display, some adjustments of the CSS that controls the layout are often needed. These additional CSS rules can be placed in the Participants Database Custom CSS setting.

The Summary Display

Each log entry list display may optionally show a “summary” which is configurable to show an important value, such as the number of entries. By choosing a different sum type, the summary can also display other values. If the sum type is a numeric field, the summary will be a sum of the entry values for that field, such as for a work log that shows the number of hours worked. If the field is not a numeric field, the summary will show the number of records that contain a value for that field or if the field has a default value, the sum will show all the fields that have a value different from the default value.

When searches are performed on the list or when a date range is selected, the sum value is immediately updated to show the correct value. This also happens when entries are added, deleted or edited.

This sum value is also saved in the main database so that in Participants Database list displays, the list can be sorted by the summary value: for example you could rank volunteers according to the number of hours logged, or place the collector’s club member with the largest collection at the top.

Showing an Interactive Log Entry List

When the editable record is displayed using the [pdb_record] shortcode, the log entry display is sortable and filterable, but it is also possible to enable adding new entries, editing and deleting entries, and also import and/or export entries using a CSV file. The settings that control access to these features are in the Participant Log settings, under the General Settings tab. The user interactions in this display are very similar to what is possible in the admin. Log entry fields that have a visibility setting of “public” or “private” will be seen in this display.

Frontend Imports and Exports

The interactive log list display can also be configured to allow the user to import and/or export data to a record’s log. This is enabled under the global settings for the [pdb_record] log display.

Global Log Displays

It’s possible to display a list of log entries that are taken from all the log entries in all records. There is a special shortcode [pdb_log_list] that will show all the entries in the same way that the Participants Database list shortcode shows a list of Participants Database records. You can use shortcode filters, custom templates, search, sort, etc. to customize the display.

An example of the use of this shortcode would be a car club, where each member keeps a list of the cars in their collection. The global log display could be used to show all the cars in the club.

If you’ve got more than one Participant Log defined, you can tell the shortcode which one to use with the log_name attribute. Just give that attribute the name of your log, and it will show entries from that log. For example:

[pdb_log_list log_name=cars]

Log List shortcodes can be filtered just like the Participants Database List shortcode, you can filter by fields in the main database and by fields in the log. Check out the linked article for details.

Product Settings

General Settings

These settings will affect all logs, but it is possible to override them for a specific log in the participant log field definition attributes setting.

Enable Log Search: when checked, a search input will be shown above the display of log entries. This search input will search on visible fields only.

Enable Log Sorting: when checked, fields that are configured as “sortable” will show as sorting links in the header of the log entry list.

Enable Date Created Sorting: the “Date Created” field is an automatically set timestamp for every entry. This switch allows the user to sort the entries by this timestamp field.

Entries Per Page: sets the default number of entries to show in the list. If there are more entries in the log than this number, a pagination control will be shown.

Record Shortcode Settings

These are settings that pertain to showing the log list when using the [pdb_record] shortcode. The log list in this context is editable.

Record Shortcode Log Template: select the display template to use when showing the log entry list.

Enable Creating New Entries: when checked, allow the user to add entries.

Enable Editing Entries: allows the user to edit entries.

Enable Deleting Entries: allows the user to delete entries.

Allow Log Export: allows the user to export a CSV with the log entry data.

Allow Log Import: allows the user to import log entries in a CSV file.

“Slide In” Entry Controls: when checked, the log edit controls will be hidden until the user hovers over an entry. This is good for compact displays.

Highlight Color: lets you select the color to use when highlighting an entry while it is added or edited.

Single Shortcode Settings

These setting are used when showing the list of log entries when using the [pdb_single] shortcode.

Single Shortcode Log Template: selects the display template to use when showing the log entry list.

Individual Log Settings

For each log you have defined, there is a tab and under that tab are settings that are specific to that log.

Tabs for individual logs: “Work Log” and “Projects Completed”

Log Fields

In this section, the fields that are used for each entry of a log are defined. The interface is very similar to the one used on the Manage Database Fields page. There are a few differences, for example, there are no field groups (instead there is a “visibility” selector). And, like the Manage Database Fields interface, which options you can set depend on the type of field you have created. You can edit, delete and add log entry fields in this interface.

It is highly recommended that you define all the fields you need to use before adding entries to the log.

An example of a set of fields defined for a work log.
Configuring a log entry field

Log Options

For each log, a set of options is available:

Log Entry Name: name for a single entry.

Log Entry Name Plural: name for several entries.

No Entries Message: message to show when a log has no entries.

Search Field Placeholder: when the search input is shown, this placeholder string will serve as a prompt for the user.

Entry Image Height: the nominal image height for images uploaded to a log entry. The aspect ratio will be preserved in most cases.

Entry Dates

These settings are for configuring how entries are dated.

Primary Date Field: this allows you to select a log entry field to use as the date for the entry. It defaults to the timestamp that is set when the entry is created. You would use this in the case of something like a list of events where the date of the event is more important than the date the entry was created. This date field will be used to sort the entries chronologically.

Show Log Entry Timestamp: every entry has a timestamp, this preference lets you make that timestamp visible.

Timestamp Title: if you are showing the timestamp, this is how it will be labeled.

Date Range Filter

It is possible to filter entries by date range, these settings configure the date range interface.

Enable the Date Range Filter: check this to turn on the date range control for the log.

Date Range Filter Heading Text: title for the date range control. Leave blank for no title.

Date Range Filter Button Text: text for the button that performs the date range filtering.

Entry Sum Display

The “entry sum” is a feature of the log where a configurable sum is shown. The default is to show the number of entries, but if there is a numeric field in the log entries, the entry sum can show a sum of those values. For example, in a work log, it can show the number of hours worked.

Show Entry Sum in Record Displays: this is to enable a summary display just above the list of entries.

Sum Type: this is where you would configure what is summed.

Sum Display Template: this gives you a way to control how the sum is displayed. There are a number of “value tags” you can use to show dynamic values from the log in the summary display.


Is it possible to override the global setting in individual logs?

Yes, this happens in the log field definition on the Manage Database Fields page in the main plugin. You add your override to the “attributes” for example to override the global setting and allow adding entries on the frontend:


Here is a list of the global settings with the proper name to use in the attribute:

Setting attribute name
Enable Log Search enable_log_search
Enable Log Sorting enable_log_sorting
Entries Per Page entry_list_limit
Record Shortcode Log Template record_module_log_template
Enable Creating New Entries allow_frontend_add
Enable Editing Entries allow_frontend_edit
Enable Deleting Entries allow_frontend_delete
Allow Log Export allow_export
Allow Log Import allow_import
“Slide In” Entry Controls hide_entry_controls
Highlight Color highlight_color
Single Shortcode Log Template single_module_log_template
How can I show a customized sum of values for the log list?

Each log has a “summary display” that can be used to show a simple sum from the log data. If you want to show a sum that is specific to your application, such as a sum that is conditional, or a sum that involves multiple entry fields, you need some custom code for that.

In technical terms, the code you need is a filter handler that takes the normal value that would be displayed and changes it ro a custom calculated value. This is best added as a custom plugin or you can put it into your theme functions.php file.

The filter hook is pdblog-{$logname}_sum where {$logname} is the slug name of the log field. You’ll see that on the manage database fields page where the log field is defined.

The filter gets two arguments: the configured sum value (in other words, what the sum would show if you didn’t change it) and the second argument is an array of the record’s log values. You can calculate your sum from the values in that array, and then the filter handler should return your new sum, which will be displayed with the log as configured in the log’s settings for the summary display.

There is a simple example here:


Is it possible to provide a link to the editable record in the Global Log List?

The Global Log List shortcode will show a filtered list of entries from all records for a particular log. Each line in the list is an individual entry from a record’s log. It is possible to place a link to the editable record in this list so that the log entry can be edited. This requires the use of a custom template.

Be sure to control access to this list display, you will be giving edit access to your records when you use it.

To use this custom template, you must first create a “placeholder” field in the main Participants Database plugin. You can also re-use an existing placeholder field if you want. Below is a link to the custom template. You must modify it to use the placeholder field you set up.


Is it possible to delete log entries that are no longer connected to a PDB record?

As of version 1.5.9, when a Participants Database record is deleted, the entries belonging to that record are deleted also.

If records were deleted prior to that version, or if records were deleted not using the “with selected” delete method on the List Participants admin page, you can end up with entries that no longer have a parent record.

There is a utility function you can use to clear these out. To do that go to the Participant Log admin page. Add &pdblog-delete-orphan-entries=log_name to the URL and hit return. This will clear out all the entries that are not connected to a PDB record. For example, if your log is named “automobiles” you can clear out the orphan entries from that log with a URL like this:

When creating a field for a new log, I get this error message: “Failed to create table for this log. You need to use a different name for your log.”

The message you’re seeing means that the table needed to create the log could not be created for some reason. The part about trying a different name is just the most likely reason for the failure.

What I suggest you do is start over: on the Manage Database Fields page, delete the log field. It will be a field of type “Participant Log” Once the log field has been deleted, go to the Participant Database settings under the Advanced tab and turn plugin debugging on to “all errors”. Once that’s enabled, open the Debugging Log page and clear the log.

Now, recreate the log: go back to the Participant Log settings page and create a new log. Try using a very simple name for the log at first…you can always change the display name of the log later, but when you’re first creating it it’s a good idea to use something simple. Once you’ve created the new log field, go back to the Participant Log settings and under the tab for the new log, create your first field for the log. If you get the error message again, check the debugging log.

If you can’t create the log field because of the error, post a question to tech support on this page.

Be sure to turn plugin debugging off again once you get things set up and working.

Support Discussions for Participant Log

  • I have my logs created (with respective fields) and set for users to add entries in the General Settings tab. The “Add New Log Entry” button is there on the user’s [pdf_record] page, but the link doesn’t work—it prompts a spinning wheel for a second or two and then the button disappears without any fields popping up and without a log entry option.

    What am I missing?


    • First make sure your log is completely configured. Once that’s done and it still isn’t working for you, probably we’ll need to do some detective work, since it is working in my tests here.

      First of all, it may be that what is happening is that the form for adding the log entry isn’t visible. Normally, this come in as a pop-over window with the entry form. This can happen if there is something on your theme that prevent the CSS from working as it should. Also, if you’re using some kind of page layout plugin (which I advise against, by the way), those can be problematic for dynamic displays. If possible, try it with a standard WordPress theme to see if it works then.

      If you’re still seeing the problem, then we’ll be looking for some kind of error to help us see what is interfering with the process. Since the pop-over uses javascript, the first place to look is in the Javascript console, which is reached via your browser developer tools. Open the tool to the console, and test the functionality. Any errors that come in there can potentially prevent the pop-over from working.

    • (This was a rendering issue of some sort that I have been able to resolve.)

  • I need to sum the values saved in the fields contained within a log. I understand the sum feature works by summing multiple entries based on 1 field, but I need to sum multiple fields from 1 entry.
    I have tried a numeric calculation field with no result, presumably because the log would have to be saved first. Is there a way to achieve this?

    • Hi Laura,

      This kind of thing is only possible with a bit of custom code. There is a filter pdblog-{$log_name}_sum that you can use to calculate your own summary value.

      I have published an article that goes into more detail, you will need some php skills to adapt it to your own needs.

      Custom Participant Log Sums

  • Oh and one last thing, Roland, I don’t know if I’m supposed to do it differently but your method write_participant runs fine alone but not if I add a log entry right before:

    $result = \pdblog\log\entry_db::update_entry('review', 9, array('review_comment'=>'test'));
    $result2 = Participants_Db::write_participant(array('first_name' => 'toto2'),511);

    In that case the field will not be added to the update query :
    UPDATE NYO_participants_database SET  

    UPDATE NYO_participants_database SET  

     = "2022-11-18 01:27:26",  WHERE id = 511 = "2022-11-18 01:27:26",  WHERE id = 511 generating a SQL error

    I know you don’t provide support for that but in case that is indeed a bug I thought I’d report it :)

  • Dear Roland,
    As you wisely suggested I’m using now a custom template to display the number of entries next to the log name in the tab.
    Unfortunately the counter that you create in pdb table for the log only gets updated when I manually edit a log entry. That would be great to also update that field after running a \pdblog\log\entry_db::add_entry
    In the meantime I’ll find out the simple sql query to update that field on the run and as bulk because this field is empty for all my records inserted programatically and I need it to be available in your $this object to avoid another sql query on load

    • Actually it looks a bit complicated to show the number of entries INSIDE the tab itself as the display is handled outside of the template in pdb_field_group_tabs function. Should I override $this object before?

      • The field groups tabs javascript will copy the titles into the tabs, so you just need to set the title in the template to be what you want and the javascript will use it as the title for the tab.

        • You mean I need to insert some JS code in the template to change this HTML line :
          I'll try do to that thanks, I don't know much about JS

        • Did you mean adding some code like this?

          const link = document.getElementById(‘ui-id-2’);
          link.textContent = ‘My tab text’;
        • No, you don’t have to do anything in the javascript. Just change the title in the php template, the javascript will pick it up.

        • Ahhh ok that’s what I meant by overriding $this, i got confused sorry!
          It does work well doing this :
           $this->groups['projects']->title = 'toto';
          Thank you very much!

  • Hi Pierre,

    The best way to control the size of images in a specific display is to use CSS, it will give you all the flexibility you need without the complication of adding another plugin.

  • One third and last question if I may :)
    What is the best hook to use in order to display the number of entries of a log next to the group title in the tab like this Projects (12) ?

    • We don’t have a specific filter that is applied to field titles. The best way to do this is to use a Custom Template that adds the log count to the title as it is displayed by the template.

      • Thank you very much Roland for such quick replies, I will do what you suggested!
        I’m facing a bug but I do not know how it was created. Now when I create a new log, 3 blank fields get automatically created and I cannot remove them as I get an error

        error: could not delete field

        Same when I add a field in this log it is blank and I only see this in the log

        Participants_Db::add_blank_field field added: “_toto”

        Any idea what might be happening ?

        • And the message when trying to remove the blank fields :

          PDb_Manage_Fields_Updates::process_ajax_submit could not delete field: 

          The server is a bit overloaded at the moment so it might be related, I’ll try again when the running scripts are done

        • OK it seems to be fixed by cleaning the tables.
          I guess I created the new logs in a way that the plugin did not like.
          I recall using the same name for the log and for the group but I’m sure you handled these cases so I don’t really know what went wrong

        • Thanks for sharing your experience. No, I did not take steps to avoid having a log and a group have the same name, the possibility hadn’t occurred, and yes, that would cause problems, since a log and a field group are treated similarly: a log is a group of fields.

          So, thanks for pointing out a potential bug that needs to be avoided.

  • Hi again,
    I just saw your new multi relational plugin, looks great! Do you think I should use this one instead of logs?
    I have clients in pdb and 5 logs organized in group tabs:
    – projects
    – reviews
    – ideas
    – interactions
    – photos
    The last one photos is a child of projects logs because each project has its own photos (so far i’m using a foreign key to link them)
    So i’m wondering if I should go with that new solution for performance or display reasons.
    Btw most of the records insert/updates of pdb and pdb_log are done programatically using your public methods

    • Logs are better suited for situations where a particular record “owns” all the items in the log. The Multi-Relational plugin is for setting up more complex relationships, I wouldn’t suggest you go that way unless you really need it.

  • Hi Roland!
    In some logs I have set embed media fields with external image links. I’d like to show them as thumbnails. Can the image expansion add on do it or do I have to upload the images to my library first and change the links?

  • I am stuck. I have created a log tab but when I go to add fields to the log group It won’t save and it locks up. I don’t have much in the database right now so if I have to wipe clean and start over I can.

    • First, check that you are using the latest version of WordPress, also your php version must be 7.4 or later.

      From your description, you’re getting a critical error, usually, an email will be sent to the site administrator with details of the problem. If you can’t check that email, you’ll need to have a look at your php error log to see what the exact problem is.

      • I have WordPress 6.0.3
        PHP version: 7.4.30
        I also installed the xnau Plugin Updates module and checked for updates. I am still having the same issues. Is it possible to delete and start over? I might have had a miscue starting out that could be causing the issue and I would follow the instruction closely. I only have one record in the database mine. If I decide to do that. What would be the proper procedure and do I have to manually delete the tables?

        • If you want to start from scratch, use the “delete” button on the Plugins page…first deactivate the plugin, then delete it. It will remove all trace of the plugin from your database.

  • This indicates a problem with the javascript, I can’t be specific, but usually, this is due to another plugin causing problems in the back end.

    Also, make sure your WordPress version is up to date.

    If you want me to take a look at it, set up an admin account for me and email me at with the login.

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