How to make the description field in Incident to grow with its content

January 24, 2011 Posted by Anders Asp

Okay, so this is a fairly common request. Quite often you enter more than three lines of text in the description field on an incident, and end up with something like this:

Out of the box behaviour

As you can see (and probably have noticed when working in the console) you’ll get a scrollbar. This make descriptions over several lines very hard to read.

What we want to achive with this blogpost, is to make the description field to grow with it’s content. So let’s get started!

  1. Start the Authoring Tool. For those of you who haven’t installed it yet, you can find the installation package here:
  2. Localize the Form Browser and find the form named System.WorkItem.Incident.ConsoleForm. Right click it and choose View. (If the form browser is empty, try hitting the refresh button once.)
  3. Form Browser

  4. The original Incident form will be loaded and displayed. To be able to customize the form, we need to press the Customize button in the orange header.
  5. A new dialogue box name Targeted Management Pack will be displayed. In this box you will have to specify where you want to save the changes we are about to make. If you haven’t customized the Incident form before, you should hit the New… button. However, if you have customized the form before, you are forced to save these changes within the same management pack (MP). Otherwise you won’t be able to import this  MP into SCSM as we can only have one customization MP per form.
  6. Give the new MP a suitable name, like IncidentFormCustomization, choose where to save it and press Save followed by Ok.
  7. We are now able to customize the form, and all changes will be saved in the MP we defined in the previous step.

    Everything you do at this point, will be written to the MP, even if you change the same value several times. This means, that if you modifiy the same value four times, four “posts” will be added to the MP. My way of tackling this, is to just do the basic things within the authoring tool, and then adjust the settings in the MP itself (with an XML editor). We won’t do that in this post though.
  8. So what we would need to do at this point, is basicly changing the Height property for the description field to Auto. However (you knew it wasn’t going to be that easy, right?), there is some code behind the description field, that will cause this not work as expected. Take a look at the following screenshots:

    Editing the height in the authoring tool Creating a new incident with our customized MP imported Looking at the same incident we just created

    Picture 1: Here is what I changed in the authoring tool
    Picture 2: The MP I created is imported into SCSM and this picture show the incident form when creating a new incident. Hey, it seems to work!
    Picture 3: After saving the incident and re-opening it, this is how it looks. The height of the description field is locked to a fixed value again…

  9.  What we have to do instead, is hiding the original description field and adding our own. First, let’s add the new field by dragging a Text Box from the For Customization Toolbox into our form and release it ontop of our description field. This will cause our new textbox to be placed within the container of the original description field. Be sure that the description field and title is outlined with a grey dashed border, as shown in the picture below.
    How to add a textbox in the authoring tool
  10. Now, click on the original description field, and change the Visibility value from Visible to Collapsed in the Details panel.
    How to change the value to collapsed
  11. Mark the textbox we added in step 8 by clicking on it, and change the following values: Height = Auto, Horizontional Alignment = Stretch, Minimum Height = 55, Width = Auto, Accepts the ENTER key = True, Text Wrapping = Wrap.
  12. Finally, we have to bind this field to the description property. This is done by clicking the … button on Binding Path and selecting Description.
  13. Our MP should now be done, so let’s save it and import it into SCSM (To import the MP in SCSM, go to Administration –> Management Packs. Then choose Import from the list of Tasks)
  14. Now go on and create a incident with a description that span over several lines. If everything was done correctly, the description field should grow whenever needed. You should also try to open the incident after saving it, to make sure the description field works when viewing it in this way.

After importing our new MP, this is how the description field should look like:

The result

25 Responses to How to make the description field in Incident to grow with its content

  1. Klonsen says:

    Nice one…definitely useful!

  2. Idit says:

    This is a Great blog , it was very useful to me

    Thanks ,

  3. Idit says:

    I did everything you said , and now all my old templates are not working …

    Please Help.

    • Stefan Allansson says:

      Hi Idit

      It´s probably because of that your templates are saved in a different mp than this newly created for your incident form.

      If you refer from one mp to another mp, the refered mp must be sealed.
      So to solve your problem you have to seal your new “incident form mp”.

      Another solution is to delete your new mp, but then you are back to a small description field again.

      You can find more information about when you have to seal a mp here:

      You can seal your mp direct in Authoring tool if you have Authoring tool SP1.

      How to seal a Service Manager management pack:

      Create a .snk key file that contains a public/private key pair.
      Use sn.exe that comes with the Visual studio installation under:
      C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.0A\bin.

      Run this command: sn.exe –k filename.snk

      In the Authoring Tool, in the Management Pack Explorer, right-click the management pack that you want to seal, and click Seal Management Pack.

      In the Seal Management Pack dialog box, in the Key File box, enter the location of the key file that you previously created. The file must have a .snk extension. You must also fill in the Company box. Filling in the other boxes is optional.

      Click Seal to create a sealed management pack, which will be stored in the folder that you specify in the Output Directory box.

    • Idit says:

      My MP was Unsealed.

      After creating the new MP you need to seal it :

  4. HuguesDePayns says:

    Excellent !

  5. Eldar says:


    It works fine! Thank you very much. SCSM have become more friendly for our support assistants.

  6. Ozge Ozkaya says:

    This works great with Incident form. I need to achieve the same result with Problem form. But no luck. Something prevents inserting a new field ontop the existing description field.

    • Anders Asp says:

      I’ll take a look at it. Just bear in mind that it’a not supported to modify the Problem form. (it wasn’t pre SP1 anyways)

      • Ozge Ozkaya says:

        Thanks Anders. Looking forward to hearing from you.

        • Anders Asp says:

          I did a quick test, and it seems that you can access the stack-panel behind the description field if you sets the top/bottom margin of it to 10 px. I just tried in the Auth tool and haven’t implemented the MP into my lab, so I’d appriciate a comment whenever you got it working or not 🙂

          • Ozge Ozkaya says:

            It worked Anders with a little bit effort. It was indeed harder than the Incident form.

  7. Jimmy says:

    Does anyone know what the form is called in the preview window when previewing incidents? I would also like to change the description field there as well.

    Thanks in advance!

  8. David McIntyre says:

    Great post, very helpful.

    Just some extra information. We found that the field was too small also but we also did not want it to auto grow due to large email messages, replies, signatures and disclaimers etc. Instead we simply set the field height to 200 and set the vertical scroll bar to visible. This allowed our tier 1 analysts to see the majority of the most recent email when users forward email conversations to the service manager monitored mailbox.

  9. Dan_MS says:

    What logic is behind the original Description field? Asking, to know what will I lose if I use this customized description field.

  10. Anders Asp says:

    Hi Dan,

    The logic behind is that when incident is resolved or closed and the description field is disabled, the code will increase it size so all text is visible. Something you won’t need since you’ve set the description field to _always_ show everything anyway. 🙂

  11. Pingback: Incident Form – Description Field Auto Growth « Systemcenterblogs

  12. Chris Stelzer says:

    Any way to do this with the description field in a Manual Activity? I tried, but when you make manual activities they’re all based on existing templates, which seems to just use the old Manual Activity form.

  13. Maekee says:

    If i want to do the same thing with the Comment field (Action Log Input Textbox) which binding do i choose?

  14. Maekee says:

    Height = Auto 🙂

  15. Krevees says:

    Please let me know if there is any way to make a filed mandatory on the default incident form in SCSM for eg affected user or Title.

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