Knack Blog

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

 

Knack and Workflow

10/08/2013 Posted by Brandon

Knack can be used to build some very complex apps. One element of a complex app that will often come up for discussion is workflow.

What do we mean by workflow? A workflow is a series of steps that are followed in order to complete a task. Typical workflows consist of a user completing some work and then alerting the next user in the flow to do further work, until the task is completed.

Rather than a rigid workflow design tool, Knack offers flexible features that can be used to create multiple types of work flow:

  • Filter Records: each view can filter records based on any criteria you define. This is great for workflow where you can create “status” fields to track the stage of a process. For example, you can filter a table of projects by “proposal”, “active”, “pending approval”, and “complete”. This way you can just show “active” projects when managing a work schedule.
  • User Roles: user roles are used to define different permissions and access to your data. So “Project Managers” can see an entire project and assign tasks to “Staff”, while Staff can log in and just view the tasks that have been assigned to them.
  • Form Rules: you can use form rules to trigger actions to update records, insert records, and more when a form is submitted. So when Staff fills out a form to complete a task, a form rule can then set the “Status” of that task to “complete”.
  • Email Notifications: another form rule option is to send emails. So when the task is complete an email could be sent to the Project Manager notifying them of the update.
  • Scheduled Tasks: tasks can be scheduled to update records or send emails based on criteria you define. So if a project due date is past the current date, an email could be sent to the Project Manager.
What kind of workflow have you built in to your app? We’d love to hear about it!

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September Online Database Examples

09/30/2013 Posted by Brandon

We’re back with our monthly update on some of the great apps and databases built by Knack customers.

Since we skipped a few months we’ll be adding more than normal. As always, these are examples of the apps and online databases that have been build with Knack:

  • Student Management: a martial arts center uses Knack to manage student registrations and belt tests.
  • School Directory: the American Association of Colleges of Nursing is using Knack for a directory of nursing college.
  • Dealer Locator: a propane dealer uses Knack to track their dealers and search by zipcode.
  • Transportation Management: a transportation logistics company uses Knack for a complete online transportation management portal, including shipments, drivers, and dispatches.
  • Disupte Resolution App: a legal firm uses Knack to manage disupte resolutions, including claimant and defendant logins, case reviews, and easy searching.
  • Moving Management: a moving company uses Knack for a complete moving management solution, including projects, orders, accounts, and jobs.
  • Product Information Management (PIM): an Ecommerce company uses Knack for a central database to manage all product data.

There’s some great apps in that list and we’re always thrilled to see the incredible variety of online databases being built with Knack!

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New Feature: Two Column Forms

09/24/2013 Posted by Brandon

You’ve been asking for it, so we delivered. You can now add two-column layouts to you forms to add your inputs to.

Inputs are added to groups, and each group has an option to control the number of columns:

You can add multiple groups and use different columns for each to control layout and alignment.

You can drag your inputs from group to group and column to column to update the layout. You can also click and drag the icon above a group to change the order of your groups.

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New Feature: Custom Calendar Event Colors

09/18/2013 Posted by Brandon

We’ve added the ability to add custom colors to your calendar events:

You can now set the default background color and add multiple rules to apply different background colors to your records.

This feature is in beta so please get in touch if run into any issues.

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Custom Javascript & CSS

09/05/2013 Posted by Brandon

We're pleased to announce an exciting new feature: the ability to add custom Javascript and CSS code directly to your apps!

One of the strongest features about Knack is that designers and developers can easily use jQuery and CSS to customize each app.

Until now, this was only possible by first publishing your Knack app to your own website and adding the code there. Any code you applied wouldn't be available on the hosted Knack apps at knack.com. So if you weren't interested in publishing your app to your own site you were out of luck.

We've now added the ability to add this code directly into your app, so it can be applied to both hosted and published apps. We've combined it with the API tab under Settings:

There are separate editors for both JavaScript and CSS. Each editor is color-coded and will follow common syntax highlighting for those languages.

Some notes about this custom code:

  • Any code added will be called after all Knack code and styles have been loaded.
  • You don't need to wrap the JavasScript code in window.KnackInit().
  • JavaScript code has access to the Knack $ jQuery object.
  • The code is called for every load regardless of which scene is first viewed.
  • You can still add code and CSS to your site if you want to limit customization just to your published apps.
Please note that although we're providing these tools we can't debug or add code for you. If you'd like us to provide these services please consider filling out a request here:

https://www.knack.com/custom-development/

Feature Upgrade: Date Equations

07/26/2013 Posted by Brandon

We’ve upgraded our Equation field type to include date calculations.

Date calculations will allow you to create dynamic equations combining date fields, the current time, and your own time values.

Some common examples of date equations are:

  • Calculating age by subtracting birth date from the current time
  • Calculating expiration dates by adding days to a start date
  • Calculating time spent by subtracting a start date from an end date

How does it work? When you add or edit an Equation field you can determine if it’s a numerical or date type:

Selecting Date will display any eligible date fields you can add to your equation. There’s also a special Current Time field you can use to represent the current time when the calculation is run.

You can control the Date Type. This will convert any numbers used in the equation into the selected date type. In the example below the 30 will add 30 days to the start date since days is selected as the type.

Date Equations are in beta so please let us know if you run into any issues.

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New Feature: Repeating Calendar Entries

07/22/2013 Posted by Brandon

We’ve upgraded our Calendars to now allow repeating calendar entries.

You can format any Date-Time field to use Calendar Options:

This will add two options to your Date Inputs:

  • All Day
  • Repeat
All Day will remove any time inputs and display the event as an all-day event in the calendar.

Repeating will allow you set various repeating options:

These events will then display as separate repeating entries on a Calendar.

When editing or deleting a repeating event you’ll have the option of updating the entire series of events or just the event you’re working with.

Repeating calendar events are currently in beta. If you run into any issues, please let us know so we can investigate.

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Feature Upgrade: Filtering by Logged-in User

07/15/2013 Posted by Brandon

We added the ability to filter records by the logged-in user to your Knack views.

This is useful in a scenarios where you want to display child records that are connected to a parent object and to the logged-in user:

  • Show tasks for a specific job that are assigned to the user.
  • Show comments about a specific project the user added so they can edit them.
You can add a rule to the Data Source by setting a connection field to the logged-in user:

Combined with the form rule to assign a logged-in user to a record, you can now easily add user functionality to any child object in your database.

If you just need records directly connected to the logged-in user you can click “Add View” to any Entry Scene for all your options.

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Feature Upgrade: Reusing Scenes

07/11/2013 Posted by Brandon

Today we released a feature that was commonly requested: the ability to reuse scenes.

For complex applications you may be listing the same records in a variety of ways in many different places.

When a user clicks on one of those records, you can create scenes to view more details about that specific record, edit it with a form, or even show connected records.

Sometimes these scenes can get quite complex, so re-creating them each time you list those records can be cumbersome and inefficient.

We’ve added the ability to link to another scene so you can now reuse these scenes. These links are available in the Links and Special sections of most views:

Currently there are a few limitations:

  • Only scenes that are directly connected to an Entry (top level) scene are eligible. We’re working on selecting any scene.
  • Only scenes displaying the same object as the view are eligible. We’re working on adding scenes displaying connected objects.
We’re excited about this new feature. Please let us know if you run into any issues or have any suggestions on how we can improve it.

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June Online Database Examples

06/28/2013 Posted by Brandon

Another huge month for Knack with great apps built by Knack customers! Here are some examples of the apps and online databases they’ve been building.

  • Volunteer Management: a non-profit uses Knack to manage volunteer efforts for fund-raising, tracking assignements and tasks.
  • Faculty Tracking: a college uses Knack to track faculty contact info, workshop and event participation, and consultation scheduling.
  • Corporate Planning: a brewer uses Knack to manage strategic planning by assinging members to planning groups and assigning tasks and events.
  • Camp Management: a summer camp uses Knack for child registration, parent contact info, payments, donations, and more.
  • Product Catalog: a wholesaler uses Knack to enable customers to log in and view a private catalog. Different customers can see different prices based on their classification.

As always we’re thrilled to see the huge variety of amazing online databases and apps being built by Knack customers.

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