Knack Blog

The Knack team on web applications, online databases, and beautifully designed products.

 

Case Study: Shalley & Murray

04/18/2017 Posted by Carson

Speaking with Don Murray for a Knack case-study was a delight. Don had effusively positive things to say about Knack, even going so far as to say he felt he’d dreamed us into existence!

Don and his partner James Shalley use Knack to help them keep track of client calls and case information for their New York City criminal law firm, Shalley and Murray.

Prior to finding Knack, they were consumed by what Don called “spreadsheet madness.” Knack is such a superior solution to spreadsheets that we always love hearing about these stories.

As a New Yorker and an avid Law and Order viewer, talking to an NYC criminal attorney was in and of itself pretty exciting. And learning that Knack is often present (via phone or tablet) on their table during court was also very cool to hear.

Towards the end of our call, I asked Don whether he’d be willing to send us any images of the app itself that he could share. However, Don thought his app may be too simple to be impressive or inspiring. After hearing about how much time and business Knack had saved his firm, I quickly challenged that notion.

If anything, the simplicity of Don’s app makes it all the more noteworthy. The most complex solution isn’t always the best, and the most powerful apps sometimes don’t need to take advantage of advanced features.

What makes Knack so powerful is, in my opinion, its flexibility. It can work just as well for huge corporations as for mom-and-pop businesses; it can be equally powerful in the hands of senior developers and users who’ve never written a line of code in their lives. We may have a lot of complex features, but those definitely aren’t required for an app to be effective.

The bottom line is that it helps Don and James do what they do best. And for Shalley & Murray, their call tracker app is only the beginning. As Don himself said, “We have all kinds of plans for Knack.” We can’t wait to see what they are.

Click here to read the full case study.

Case Study: Historic Christ Church & Museum

03/29/2017 Posted by Carson

christchurch-logo

We see so many great business uses that it’s tempting to think Knack was specifically designed for business applications. But Knack can help anyone do amazing things with their data, even if that data is historical.

This was part of the reason why talking with Patrick Heffernan was such a rewarding experience. Knack has helped him build something special, and we haven’t seen anything quite like it.

Patrick is a historian who works with Christ Church in Middlesex County, Virginia, and he’s spent years researching the slaves who once lived and worked on the nearby Corotoman estate. Through his efforts and his use of Knack, he’s created a comprehensive database that tracks references to these men and women across documents from that time period.

As someone who grew up in Virginia and is personally interested in history, it’s particularly affecting to see this part of our country’s past laid out; lists upon lists of people for whom, as Patrick put it, Corotoman was both a home and a prison.

When Patrick recounted the story of how his app helped a local woman find her earliest known ancestor, I was floored. Knowing your ancestry is not only interesting from a historical perspective; it can also be uniquely valuable for understanding your family and where you come from.

Software and technology companies do not typically have a hand in this type of personal discovery, so knowing that Knack had helped someone learn more about her ancestry was all the more meaningful.

After over a year at Knack, I’ve come to understand how flexible our product is, and I’ve learned not to underestimate how creative people can be with it. In hearing these personal accounts, I’m continually surprised and delighted. The stories never get old.

Click here to read the full case study.

Guest Blog post: How doctors can track continuing medical education credits using Knack and Zapier

07/11/2016 Posted by Brandon

Alex used Knack and Zapier to create CMElog, his own service for tracking medical credits

Knack is loaded with features right out of the box that make it simple to build powerful online database apps. What can be easy to forget is how much more power you can add by integrating other services with your Knack database.

Our API makes it easy for developers to add integrations, and Zapier is great for creating simple connections and triggers between these services.

In our first guest blog post, Alex Mohseni explains how he used Knack and Zapier to build a TripIt like clone to help manage education credits.

Alex is a practicing Emergency Medicine physician around Washington, DC. He integrated  Knack with services like DropBox and Mandrill to combine their functionality into a single powerful service that gave him the exact features he needed.

Part of what makes Knack so powerful is that it integrates easily with Zapier — but how to do that can be a bit tricky, so Alex decided to include some of his “lessons learned” with a fantastic tutorial.

Take it away, Alex!

Continue reading...

Case Study: SwagRobot

09/23/2015 Posted by Brandon

John Katez turned to Knack for a comprehensive E-Commerce solution that could scale with his fast-growing company.

When you have “robot” in your name you know that automation and reliability are going to be major areas of focus.

For John Katez, that is exactly how he built SwagRobot, his customized apparel company. He makes it as simple as possible to order custom swag like pins, lanyards, and keychains branded with a company logo or design.

John has crafted a concise order management system and has plugged in multiple software solutions over the years to keep it running smoothly. These swag “bots” range from popular services like Wufoo for order collection to good old fashioned email for delivering proofs back and forth.

Each of these solutions may have been ideal for a specific feature, but managing similar data across so many systems made it almost impossible to scale or create efficiencies.

“With the business growing rapidly we needed to scale our operations,” John explained. “The mixture of services that we were using could not accommodate this growth while allowing for a customizable solution geared toward our needs.”

John knew he needed a service that was customizable and could effectively manage his entire order process, including E-Commerce.

Fortunately John found Knack, and the release of our recent E-Commerce features was timed perfectly to enable him to build a comprehensive order management system.

Continue reading...

Case Study: Kinetic Events

06/30/2015 Posted by Brandon


The Kinetics Event Staff

Erik Lillquist gave up on finding a canned solution and instead, built a custom application with Knack.

Erik Lillquist runs Kinetic Events, an events management company that specializes in staffing and marketing high profile corporate and entertainment events.

Running events is a big juggling act – it means managing multiple streams of information. Everyone from managers to employees to freelancers needs different access to different info at different times from locations all over the country.

Erik had specific requirements he needed to manage this process:

  • An application accessible from any location on several different types of devices.
  • A portal style database for both managers and employees to access personal information.
  • Calendar features for managing events.
  • Job Board for managing job listings.
  • Secure login for all users

His initial thought was to find a software product specifically for event management. He quickly discovered that most of the products he explored either couldn’t cover these requirements or were super complex products that were too expensive, difficult to use, and couldn’t be easily customized.

Erik realized that an out-of-the-box solution just wasn’t going to work. What he needed was a database solution he could customize to meet his exact needs.

Continue reading...

Case Study: More baskets for your database eggs

05/28/2015 Posted by Brandon

Joshua Guy Lenes replaced a custom-programmed database with a Knack solution so more team members could help build and maintain it.

Joshua Guy Lenes is familiar with complex, custom database solutions. He works with the American Association of University Professors to manage union memberships. They used to employ a custom-engineered database coded in python, django and sql.

It was a suitable system but there was one big problem: Josh, a trained and capable developer, was the only person who knew how to manage the database and keep it running smoothly. It was too complex to easily bring on others to help.

He knew this would not be sustainable in the long run — if Josh somehow became unavailable how would the system be maintained?

Josh needed a more flexible database solution that his team could easily use and manage without his assistance, and the search began for a replacement.

Continue reading...

Case Study: Medical Healthcare Network Solutions

04/24/2015 Posted by Brandon

When MHCNS first looked at Knack they simply wanted an internal data management solution. What they found was a comprehensive application platform that is expanding their revenue and growing their business.


MHCNS enjoying their success!

Early in the summer of 2014 Josh Cameron was researching online database systems for his employer Medical Healthcare Network Solutions, a Houston-based provider of tech services for medical-based businesses and private practices.

He needed an internal data management solution — something that could cut through all the spreadsheet confusion and bring clarity to their projects and clients.

A Forbes.com article about online database tools led Josh to give Knack a try.

He quickly got a sense for Knack’s potential and built a comprehensive company portal including project management, a knowledge base, and equipment tracking.

“We had hundreds of excel sheets that were wasting so much time”, Josh explained. “Our clients were constantly contacting us with the same issue. Knack has allowed us to reinvent ourselves as a company. We have less paper, spreadsheets, and confusion. This has allowed us to have more clients, revenue, and efficiency across the board.”

This would be a great Knack success story if it stopped there. But it gets better!

A little more than 6 months later, MHCNS started hiring staff to round out an entire department devoted to building web applications on the Knack platform.

How did Knack go from meeting an immediate data management need into helping develop an entirely new profit center?

Continue reading...

Databases through the eyes of a 10 year old

04/09/2015 Posted by Steve


Video games: the perfect 10-year old treasure trove of data

Meet Mason, he is 10. He is an avid reader of reference books, a video game junkie and a professional database builder. Ok, maybe not a professional…yet.

But his dad is. That's me, Steve. Knack customer success agent and database builder by day, soccer dad and zookeeper by night.

Stats and data have always been an area of deep interest for Mason. Ever since he was able to read and write, he has enjoyed creating his own reference books. Books may be stretching it; more like sheets of scrap paper about video game characters stapled together, but you get the idea.

Being the son of a parent in the tech space, there was never any doubt technology would play a big part in his life. So to channel his inner nerd, I thought it might be fun for him to build his own web app and online database.

Working for Knack, it seemed like this would be a perfect opportunity to introduce my son to the company I work for and, since Knack is perfect for creating reference databases, give him the ideal toolkit to take his own reference “publications” to the next level.

Continue reading...

Case Study: DNAeX

01/14/2015 Posted by Brandon


Running a desert marathon!

In 2016 Scott Longden plans to run in the Marathon Des Sables, a 250km self supported run across the Sahara Desert where you carry everything you need on your back in temperatures approaching 50C/122F.

Not my idea of fun.

For Scott a jog across the Sahara seems like the logical next step — he’s participated in numerous triathlons and marathons and is ready for the next challenge.

At that level you can’t simply trust your training or body to know if you are “competition-ready”. What is on the surface may not reveal the potential, or lack of potential, for competitive success.

Science has come along way in helping athletes like Scott. DNA science can now measure athlete-to-sport compatibility and tailor programs for specific genetic make-ups.

So how does this relate to Knack?

Continue reading...

Featured Industry: Beer, Wine, & Beverages

01/09/2015 Posted by Brandon

Here at Knack we have the unique opportunity to see all of the web apps and online databases that are built for specific industries.

A great example is the beverage industry, where we”ve seen a particularly strong fit amongst the craft beer and wine sectors.

This attention may or may not be heightened by the near and dear place wine and craft beer holds in our hearts 🙂 Eric makes his own wine, Steve ran a wine blog, and craft beer is always on Brandon”s Christmas list.

Why Knack?

Many of the breweries and wineries we”ve worked with are big enough to have significant I.T. needs, but don”t have the technology budgets to pay for bloated software or full-time technology staff.

Many of these individuals not only manage “the books” but they wear several hats like purchasing agent, production supervisor or even brewmaster.

This is why Knack is so appealing: it”s quick, easy to use, and perhaps most crucially can immediately provide major benefits. Customized apps can quickly be built to help manage sales, inventory, and distribution without a huge investment in time or money.

Ninkasi Beer Industry Database

This combination of simplicity and customization were exactly what appealed to Jessica Jones of Ninkasi Brewery:

“We needed a platform for group project management and collaboration. Other options were either not customizable enough or too complex to teach all of our staff at varying levels to use.”

Trey Bowden of Dogfish Head Brewery was pleased with the ease of use when creating a production management database:

“When I was recently tasked to build an internal database-driven app for “beer product holds & dispositions”, I knew Knack was the right tool to get the job done in a timely manner…You can”t beat the simple user interface, built-in reporting, and cloud-connected capabilities with it”s Zapier interface (as opposed to using something like MS Access).

“We just launched our first app in early 2015 and our production team couldn”t be happier!”

Here”s a look at some of the apps we”re seeing for beer and wine users:

Continue reading...