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I'm creating an "events" channel and I want to have a dropdown list on the publish page so the editor can select the country in which an event takes place. Initially, events will only happen in 2 or 3 different countries (e.g., US, Italy, France) and so I don't want to populate a list of all countries. What I'm looking for, then, is a way that in the future, an editor can easily add a country to the list without having to go into the field settings etc.

Is this doable?

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You could use an add-on (possibly custom) or a relationship field.

Using a channel for countries, and each entry just had the title of the country, then use a relationship field specific to that channel.

Otherwise existing add-on's you could use include Category Select (EE2) which converts the native category selection field to a dropdown and you could customise the field layout to include on the first publish tab instead of an additional tab. Or a custom category fieldtype WB Category Select, where you have a specific category group for countries and each category being a specific country.

Or similar to relationship field, using a channel for countries and each entry a country you could use Z Select.

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