When ServiceNow Express have better UI than the Enterprise version

I suppose you have heard of the Express version of ServiceNow. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the young little brother of the Enterprise version: ITSM focused, no JavaScript allowed, almost no plugins, and mono instance. Amongst its advantages: it cost a quarter of the price of its bigger sibling, it’s very robust because you can’t implement dirty customizations without JavaScript, and a few elements of the User Interface are way more intuitive.

In this article, I’ll focus on those interface improvements, and show how to implement the same contextual feedbacks in your Enterprise instance.

Since Express focus on ITSM, the standard ticket types are limited to Incident, Change and Problem management. They are very similar to those of the Enterprise version, yet the user interface benefits from a few improvements only present in Express.

Incident Management made more intuitive

The list available states for incident have not been updated in Express. I favour the more straightforward approach from recent Enterprise releases.

The default states for incident differ a little.

Now is the interesting part… Compare what happens when the state is changed in both products…

Express is way more intuitive for Service Desk technicians. The consequences of their action are made obvious. They will be able to assimilate the incident management process much faster with such nice field messages. End-users may also benefit from such contextual information.

Problem Management made more intuitive

As you can see, similar field messages are available in the Problem’s form.

Implementing contextual field messages with Enterprise

In ServiceNow, those elements are called Field Messages. They can be displayed in blue, for information, or in red, for error message. They are triggered via client side JavaScript and are defined in the g_form object.

Now let’s have a look at how can you implement similar contextual help on your own instance. As an example, lets implement one of the above example for the Incident form.

  • Open an incident
  • Configure a new UI Policy
    • Short description:  State is Resolved field message
    • Condition:  State is Resolved
    • Reverse if false: False
    • Run scripts: True Not available in Express
    • Run scripts in UI type: All Ensure it also works in mobile apps and even in Service Portal
    • Execute if true:
    function onCondition() {
     g_form.showFieldMsg('state', 'Incident will be auto-closed after 5 days in a resolved state if no further updates are made by caller', 'info');

You’ll have to create similar UI Policies for each field message you implement. Here are the one now available currently in ServiceNow Express.

// Field Messages to be used in advanced UI Policy scripts (client side JavaScript)
// Table Incident
g_form.showFieldMsg('state', 'Incident will be auto-closed after 5 days in a resolved state if no further updates are made by caller', 'info');
g_form.showFieldMsg('state', 'Incident will stay in "Awaiting User Info" state until commented by caller', 'info');
g_form.showFieldMsg('state', 'This incident will go into a "Resolved" state when the attached problem is "Resolved/Closed"', 'info');
// Table Problem
g_form.showFieldMsg('state', 'Problem will be closed when related change is marked "Closed Complete"', 'info');
g_form.showFieldMsg('state', 'Closing problem will mark as resolved, all related incidents in a state of "Awaiting Problem"', 'info');

Implementing contextual field messages with Express

To my knowledge, there is no way to edit those field messages in ServiceNow Express. UI Policies can’t include client scripts and there is no way to define field message outside JavaScript. The above examples are hardcoded outside the reach of customer’s administrators.


I hope this will inspire you to implement more intuitive processes and users’ interfaces. This technique is nothing new, I’ve used field messages on my implementations since Aspen release. Yet, it seems that ServiceNow has only started to experiment with this on the recent Express platform. Please feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have something to add.

If ServiceNow read this, I hope they will not forget implement those in the next ServiceNow Enterprise major release. They could use this as a nice marketing differentiator when competing with similar products.

Adding an interface to implement Field Messages without scripting, maybe via a new field in the Choice table, would empowers anyone to create contextual help, and allow the technique to be applicable in ServiceNow Express.

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