Add a user profile photo to a form

//Add a user profile photo to a form

Add a user profile photo to a form

There are times when it is helpful to just put a name with a face. In ServiceNow there are a couple places where a user photo might be stored but it’s not always intuitive how get at that photo in a way that can be helpful.

Let’s walk through how this can be done with a handful of updates and relatively little trouble. The goal of this is to put a user photo just under the Caller field on the incident form so that the person working the incident can see who they’re working with. This could have numerous benefits ranging from a verification that you’ve got the right person in a walk-up scenario all the way to showing the agent on the phone that it’s a real person they are interacting with, prompting a little more thought into how they can truly help that person.

User Profile photo on the incident form

To set this up we need to understand that there are a couple places where the image might be stored. In the early days of ServiceNow it would have always been on the user record. But now we have collaboration tools built in and some great functionality within Service Portal and other areas that utilize the Live Profile which includes the user avatar photo and ability to easily update it.

This is most easily updated by users in Service Portal from the Profile page.

To set this up we need four main components and then a quick update to the form layout to add the Live Profile Photo to it.

First we need to set up a UI Macro that acts as our container on the form for the photo. It contains a simple div with an ID that we target from within a client script.

‘cf_live_profile_photo’ UI Macro
Name: cf_live_profile_photo
Description: Used in a formatter as the container for placing the live profile photo for a user. The div is populated by an onChange script on the form.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<j:jelly trim="false" xmlns:j="jelly:core" xmlns:g="glide" xmlns:j2="null" xmlns:g2="null">
        function cf_setLiveProfilePhoto(photo_path){
            jslog("Setting photo to: " + photo_path);
                // Get the div from below so we can set the contents to the image
                var photo_div = document.getElementById('cf_live_profile_photo');
                    // This uses the thumbnail size image from the Live Profile and keeps the image small on the form
                    var photo_html = "${LT}img style='max-width: 40%;' src='" + photo_path + "?t=small'/>";
                    // This uses the full size image that was uploaded and scales it down to fit the space.
                    // This will generally produce a larger image and depending on the form, images, and
                    // space available, this may be a preferable option.
                    //var photo_html = "${LT}img style='max-width: 40%;' src='" + photo_path + "'/>";
                    photo_div.innerHTML = photo_html;
                } else {
                    // No image was specified so clear out the div
                    photo_div.innerHTML = '';
            } catch(e){
                jslog("Unable to update photo: " + e.message);
    <div style="text-align: center;" id="cf_live_profile_photo"></div>

After that we need to create a Formatter that lets us place that UI Macro on the form.

‘CF Live Profile Photo’ UI Formatter
Name: CF Live Profile Photo
Formatter: cf_live_profile_photo
Table: Incident [incident] (or whatever table the photos should be shown on)
Type: Formatter

Now we need to create the script include that will look up the user photo. This first checks the live_profile record for the logged in user and if nothing is found there, checks for a photo on the user record.

‘cf_LiveProfile’ Script Include
Name: cf_LiveProfile
Client callable: True
Description: Intended to be called by a GlideAjax call. Retrieves the user photo from the Live Profile, if possible, otherwise gets the photo from the user record if possible. It then returns the path to the photo or an empty string if none can be found.

var cf_LiveProfile = Class.create();
cf_LiveProfile.prototype = Object.extendsObject(AbstractAjaxProcessor, {

    * Retrieves the user photo from the Live Profile, if possible, otherwise
    * gets the photo from the user record if possible.
    * Returns the path to the photo or an empty string

    getPhoto: function(){
        // Get the Sys ID of the user that we're retrieving the photo for
        var user_id = this.getParameter('sysparm_user_id');
        gs.log("getPhoto called for: " + user_id, "cf_LiveProfile");
        var photo_path;
        // Query for the live profile record
        var live_profile_gr = new GlideRecord('live_profile');
        live_profile_gr.addQuery('document', user_id);
        if( {
                photo_path =;
                gs.log("Retrieved photo from live profile: " + photo_path, "cf_LiveProfile");

        // Check to see if we have a photo from the profile
            // No profile photo found, query for the user photo
            var user_gr = new GlideRecord('sys_user');
            user_gr.addQuery('sys_id', user_id);
            if( {
                photo_path =;
                gs.log("Retrieved photo from user record: " + photo_path, "cf_LiveProfile");
            } else {
                photo_path = '';
                gs.log("No photo found", "cf_LiveProfile");
        return photo_path;
    type: 'cf_LiveProfile'

The last component before we add this to our form and see the photos is to set up a Client Script that will listen for a change in the user reference field on the form. For our example, this is the Caller field on the Incident form, but it could easily be shown on a different table. The important thing is that the reference field be for the User [sys_user] table.

‘Load Caller Photo’ Client Script
Name: Load Caller Photo
Table: Incident [incident]
UI Type: Desktop
Type: onChange
Field name: Caller
Description: Loads the Live Profile photo of the user when the Name field is filled in. Requires the CF Live Profile Photo Formatter to be on the form.

function onChange(control, oldValue, newValue, isLoading, isTemplate) {
    if (newValue === '') {
    // Call back to the server to get the path of the user's profile picture
    var ga = new GlideAjax('cf_LiveProfile');
    ga.addParam('sysparm_user_id', newValue);
        cf_setLiveProfilePhoto(answer + '');

Now that we have all of these components set up, you should be able to go to the Incident form and add “CF Live Profile Photo” to the form layout. Then when you change the Caller field to a user that has a photo you should see the photo show up.

Thanks to Dan Andrews for the idea!

By | 2017-05-03T14:50:26-06:00 May 3rd, 2017|Categories: System UI|6 Comments

About the Author:

Having led the way on numerous implementations of ServiceNow starting in 2008, James has experience across the board including traditional areas of ITSM like Incident, Problem, Service Catalog, and Configuration Management as well as Content Management System (CMS) sites Service Portal, HR, and more. He has education background in IT and has held a variety of positions giving him a broad perspective on how things work and the ability to handle the details while still looking at the big picture.


  1. Marcel H May 4, 2017 at 9:35 am - Reply

    This is a great idea for a few places where service desk staff are interacting with users.

    We’re trying to add that human element to another area and have struggled with it a bit. We want to add a user photo on a notification email when new comments are made on an Incident or Request record, so people can see the person making the comments, put a face to the name.

    Are you aware of a simple way to do that? Any time you add something like to a notification to test, we just seem to get a sys_id.iix (e.g. bf85js8508s37rns67uuth.iix)

    • James Farrer May 4, 2017 at 11:20 am - Reply

      The value you get back as the display value for a photo field is the path to the image. If you were to put that in the HTML source of the notification then it should work pretty well. You’ll need to make sure and add the full site URL before the image path. The src attribute of the img tag would be something like src=”${}”. You’ll also want to specify the size of the image similar to what I did in the UI macro code so it doesn’t overwhelm the message.

      • Marcel H May 8, 2017 at 12:07 pm - Reply

        Thanks James. Do you know off hand the best way to do this and get the photo of the person that most recently updated the record? We’d like to be able to pull the picture of the person that most recently updated the Additional comments field, whether that be the Assigned to tech or someone else.

        • James Farrer May 9, 2017 at 2:39 pm - Reply

          The script include here gets passed the Sys ID of the user to get the photo for. To look it up based on the last user to modify the record you would need to get the User ID from the sys_updated_on field and then use that to look up the user’s Sys ID. In the global scope you can use “gs.getUser().getUserByID(‘user_name_from_sys_updated_on’).getID()” to get it. If you’re in a scoped app then you’d need to do a GlideRecord query for the user record based on the user_name field and then get the Sys ID from that record.

          Once you have the Sys ID the rest of the code to get the photo is the same.

  2. Brian Ritchey May 4, 2017 at 11:04 am - Reply

    This worked great! Thanks for posting this.

  3. Shay Faingold May 11, 2017 at 6:13 am - Reply

    Thank you James! just what I was looking for.

    I made a small change to the macro in order to show that image on a catalog item:
    var newImg = document.createElement(“img”);
    newImg.src = photo_path+”?t=small”; = “current_live_photo”;
    // photo_div.innerHTML = photo_html;
    (I comment out the photo_div.innerHTML)


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