Displaying a nickname/preferred/chosen name instead of the user's first name


Based on the SIS Data Import Definitions found here, the default Student Success & Engagement SIS Data Export Configuration does not support displaying only a nickname, preferred, or chosen name on the UI.

For a workaround solution, the following article explains how schools can display a different first name for all users by making a change to the Person data feed data extract definitions or by implementing a code change.

In most cases, changing the first name displayed on the UI is a paid engagement with the Professional Services team, either utilizing a subscription plan or Watermark Academy.

  • The instructions below present different options of how displaying a nickname/preferred name instead of a first_name on the UI has been configured at different institutions.
  • All options apply the "name" change to all users in the system, both staff and students.
  • When making a change to the data extract queries, it is important to make sure that there is logic in place based on the "new" data and the integration method (Informer Reports/Database Views). For example, if the "chosen/preferred" name is blank, then it should not be applied so that users do not display a blank name, 
  • In most cases, a name change project is an engagement with the SS&E Professional Services team. For further assistance, please reach out to SS&E Support indicating which option you are looking to implement.

Current State - Student View

  • By default, when a student is logged in they will only see a Student View.
      • A student user is only assigned the student role.
  • On the Student View, a student user will see SS&E users displayed as first_name last_name based on the data imported on the Person data feed from the SIS.

Current State - Staff View

  • By default, when a staff/faculty/student-staff user is logged in, they only see a Staff View.
  • On the Staff View, a staff user sees all SS&E users displayed as first_name (nickname) middle_name last_name based on the data imported on the Person data feed from the SIS.


SIS Import - Data Extract Query Changes

In order to display a nickname/preferred name instead of the first_name on the UI, this may be done with a change to the data extract definitions.

Once changed, the first_name will display the user nickname/preferred name in the Person Data Feed - Imported Data View for all users, both staff and students. 

A few options are:

Option 1:

Change the Person data extract query to set first_name on the user in SS&E to the nickname value if one is present. Please note that this would apply to all users (including students).

Option 2:

Set fist_name in SS&E to the value of nickname (if it is available).
Set the value of nickname in SS&E to the content of first name if nickname is present. Again, this would apply to all users.

Option 3:

Put the nickname in parenthesis as part of the first name field and remove the nickname field. Again, this would apply to all users.

Option 4:

Informer Reports

When using Informer reports to export the SIS data to SS&E, the user's "Chosen" first, last and middle names can be added to three columns at the end of the person.csv Informer report so that those specific values are what's used in SS&E for first, middle and last names when available for a user.

In general, the steps are to:

  1. Add the chosen names (first, middle and/or last) to the person.csv informer report*.
    • These should be placed at the end of the file so as not to mess up the rest of the query.
    • For example, if you only wish to use this for the firstName value then you would only need to add the "chosen first name" field to the person.csv file 
  2. Update the accelerate query to use the preferred name in place of the relevant name value (first/middle/last) if there is one, and to use the legal first name if there is not a chosen name.
    • This is an Apache drill query in the accelerate in the case of a CSV (or Informer) customer.
  3. For example, on an informer CSV customer the firstName part of the query would change from something like p.COLUMNS[1] as firstName, to something like:  case when nullif(p.COLUMNS[?], '') is not null then p.COLUMNS[?] else p.COLUMNS[1] end as firstName,
    • Where the "?" is the column number starting with 0 and not 1. So the 14th column of a file would be COLUMNS[13]
  4. In addition, if you are not already overriding the Person feed mainQuery then you would also need to copy that over from the parent side to the child XML.

*For assistance with adding data to the Informer output, please reach out to your Informer supplier. 

SQL Views

When using Database Views to export SIS data into SS&E, a user with "chosen" values would replace the contents of their first, last, and middle name fields with the preferred name(s) so that whatever is included in those fields displays within SS&E.

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