Self Referencing Lookup columns

Came across something I’d not considered – self referencing lookup columns! I was doing some testing, and this totally caught me out (and caused my Outlook plugin to crash and die).

Basically, this is a Lookup column where the List that it is looking up onto is the same as the list where the lookup column is in use. In our case we had a list called ‘Issues’, and the lookup was a multi-choice look-up called ‘Related Issues’. It would let a user select things from the Issues list. All in all, a perfectly sensible use of a multiple lookup, and one I’d not thought of!

However, this in itself wouldn’t cause my plug-in to suffer an error. The problem was with the data I was getting back from the Web Services I’m using. I use the List Webservice‘s GetListContentType method to get information about the Content Type, and I then read the information about the fields. Lookup fields normally come through with an attribute List ; this is the list that’s being looked up onto, and normally it is a GUID. However, for self-referencing lookup instead of a GUID, you get a string ‘Self’‘. Okay, I can’t argue that it’s wrong, but it’s a smidgen annoying that it is inconsistent. Couldn’t it just give me the GUID and let me figure out if that’s the same list? Or use another attribute to denote that it’s a self-reference?

I don’t get why this was built that way.

Self Referencing Lookup columns

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