Knack Blog

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

 

Knack for Designers

06/22/2013 Posted by Brandon

When we first launched Knack we weren’t exactly sure who our target audience would be. Knack is a flexible product that can be used by anyone to manage all sorts of online databases.

We had some guesses, but we deliberately kept our marketing neutral. We wanted to throw Knack out there and see what happened!

One use case we’ve enjoyed seeing develop is web designers and front-end coders who use Knack to integrate online databases with client websites and their own applications.

In many cases it’s a perfect fit, as designers are able to take advantage of many core Knack functions:

  • Knack apps can be embedded seamlessly right into a website, so designers can add online databases directly to their client websites.
  • Knack apps can be customized with CSS, so designers can control the look and feel of the app. We hear designers love this.
  • Knack apps can be customized with jQuery, so designers can add features and do even more customization of the UI if needed.
  • Designers can set up a special client user roles, so clients can view and update database records without affecting the look and feel of the app.
  • Designers can use the API if they ever need to add special functionality.
The bottom line is Knack enables designers to build online databases and web apps for their clients and still focus on what they do best: the look and the feel.

We’ve created a special page for designers at:

https://knack.com/designers

Know any web designers? Send them to the link above, we’d love to know what they think about Knack!

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New Feature: Table Summaries

06/11/2013 Posted by Brandon

This feature has been in beta for a while but we never announced it.

You can now add summaries to a table to run formulas like sum and averages on all the rows in the column:

To add a summary simply edit any table and click on the Options section. You’ll see options to add summaries at the bottom:

Any label you add will be placed in a left column if available. You can add multiple summaries to a table.

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New Feature: User-based Global Tabs

06/06/2013 Posted by Brandon

We added an additional option to our Global Tab Menu. You can now set it so that the tabs will show based on User Roles:

This means that when a user logs in they will only see tabs for scenes that share a user role they are assigned to. They will also see tabs for any scenes that are not protected with a login.

This should allow for more flexible apps where you can design for the user without worrying about hiding or showing the right scenes.

This feature is currently in beta, so please let us know if you run into any issues.

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May Online Database Examples

05/29/2013 Posted by Brandon

April and May have been record-breaking months with new customer sign-ups! We want to welcome aboard all our new Knack customers. Here are some examples of the apps and online databases they’ve been building.

  • Patient Database: a biotech company uses Knack to track treatments and results for patients.
  • Project Dashboard: a software developer uses Knack to track project budgets and predict cash balances.
  • Legislation Database: an educational institute is using Knack to enable legislative data to be easily searched and categorized.
  • Enterprise Resource Planning: a jewelery E-commerce company uses Knack to manage all customer shipments and manufacturer orders.
  • Alumni Database: a sorority uses Knack to manage alumni information and chapter officers.
As always we’re thrilled to see the huge variety of amazing apps that Knack customers are building every day.

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New Feature: Scene Printing

05/10/2013 Posted by Brandon

You can now print any of your Knack scenes!

You can add a “print” link to the top of your scene that will automatically send the scene to your browser’s print preview.

We remove everything except the views so the printed version is nice and clean. We also remove links and submit buttons where it makes sense.

To activate the print link, edit a scene in your interface and click on “Scene Options” in the right column.

PDFs are next. We’re still looking for decent options for that.

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Example App: Purchase Orders

04/24/2013 Posted by Brandon

We’re starting to add more compex apps to our example catalog that show off some of Knack’s advanced features.

First up is a purchase order app. Staff can log in and manage vendors and products and submit purchase orders. Reports can be run on weekly totals and vendor and item totals.

Some features the purchase order app is using:

  • Equations: Item totals are automatically calculated from the quantity and item price
  • Formulas: Totals are summed for each product and vendor.
  • Form Rules: The logged in user is assigned via a form rule as the author of the purchase order
  • Reports: Reports are run for weekly totals and vendor and item totals.
We’re planning on starting on some project management and CRM apps next.

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New Feature: Using Remote Images

04/22/2013 Posted by Brandon

Knack image fields now have the ability to use images hosted on other websites. You can set this option when editing an image field in your database:

This means you can now easily use images hosted on your own site, CDN or asset library with your Knack app. It also means these images can be imported by including the URL in the CSV.

We also included the ability to add thumbnail versions. It still needs to load the full image but you have the option of using different sized thumbnails of your images throughout you app.

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Example App: Equipment Tracker

04/11/2013 Posted by Brandon

Our latest example app is an Equipment Tracker. This is an online database of available equipment that employees can log in and view. They can then “check out” an item, which sets that item as unavaliable for anyone else to checkout.

We used “Equipment” but this app would also work well for libraries, rentals, and any resource tracking where items need to be removed from availability.

This is a good example of using form rules to add connected records. In this case, whenever an item is borrowed or returned, it adds a log of the transaction to the item’s history.

This enables Admins to view a complete checkout history of each item, tracking when it was checked out and returned:

This is type of logging could be used for a variety of scenarioes including versions, history, change logs, and more.

It’s also a good example of establishing “work flow” in Knack, where you can use a form rule to set a “status” field and then filter your views to only show records with certain status values.

In this case, we’re only showing equipment items where “status” equals “available”. Checking out an item uses a form rule to set the status to “unavailable”.

You could use form rules to set a status from new to pending to approved and have different user roles see the records for each status.

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Filtering and Limiting Connections

04/02/2013 Posted by Brandon

We recently added features to filter and limit the records that show in connection inputs.

Filters

You can now add filters to any connection input to filter which records will display.

For example, let’s say you have a form to add a new Rental. Each Rental is assigned to a Product, which has an “available” field. You can now add a filter to only show those Products where “available = true”.

Showing records connected to another form input

Multiple connection inputs can be added to a form so that the records of a child connection input will display depending on which parent connection record is selected.

For example, if you have connections to both companies and employees, you can edit employees so that only records connected to the currently selected company will display. When the user selects a different company the employee records will automatically update.

Limiting child records connected to the same parent

You can also limit connection records that have a parent that has been selected in the app or connected to the logged-in user.

For example, let’s say you select a Company from a table and then have a form to add a Project to that Company. Projects can also be assigned to an Employee. When selecting Employees, you’ll only want to show the Employee records that are connected to the selected Company.

You can now edit that Employee input in the form and have

Please note: these features are in beta

Please note that these features are in beta. Please contact us immediately if you notice any issues with these features.

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Announcing the Knack API

03/06/2013 Posted by Brandon

We’re thrilled to announce the release of the Knack API!

The API was designed to provide access to your Knack online database, as well as tools and documentation for extending your Knack apps:

  • Root Data Access: a secure API is provided for full access to your raw data. You can use this for integrating your data with other services and APIs, running maintenance tasks, inserting and updating records…the opportunities are endless.
  • Scene Access: a scene API is provided for working with your app’s Scenes and Views. This is much more limited and follows any rules defined by your application, like logins and user roles. This API can be used with JavaScript to respond to app events and further extend the functionality.
  • JavaScript Events: you can add JavaScript listeners to respond to specific events triggered by your app. For example, when a view renders you may want to insert your own button or set the color of a specific element. Or when a form is submitted, you may want to insert that record into Salesforce.
  • CSS Customization: when you publish a Knack app to your own website you can use your site’s CSS to modify the visual look and design of the app.
We’re really excited to see how it’s used:
  • Front-end coders can use Knack to easily build a custom online database, set up a basic interface, and completely control and customize the app with jQuery and CSS.
  • Mobile developers can create apps where the data is stored in the Knack online database. You can create Knack apps that can enable admins to update or view the data the mobile app is using.
  • Designers can publish Knack apps directly in their client websites and completely control the look and feel to match their designs.
You can access documentation for the API here:

http://support.knack.com/knowledge_base/topics/working-with-the-api

Please try it out and let us know what amazing creations you come up with!

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