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Issues with pre-populating JIRA default fields following refresh

We have a problem with our self-hosted JIRA server (v.8.5.5).

There is a business requirement to pre-populate the Description field with prompts for certain additional information. I understand that since this functionality is not officially supported for a system field type, workarounds are necessary. This has been implemented so far by having a separate custom field, which is used to populate the data when the form is opened, and generally seems to work quite well.

However, there is an issue where if all mandatory fields are not filled in when the form is submitted, the field is filled in from the template again, causing the user to lose anything they have entered. This can be frustrating for users, as that field usually has a larger amount of information to be entered than the rest of the form.

What I would like to do is to either a) stop the field from reverting to the template default when the form reloads to tell the user that they have missed a mandatory field, or b) find an alternative workaround that would not result in this behaviour. We have somewhere in the region of 52,000 tickets previously created, so I'd rather avoid anything that would affect historical data from being tracked if possible.

Does anyone have any ideas?

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