Knack Blog

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

 

Recent Updates

02/10/2015 Posted by Brandon

We’ve been so busy lately with our server upgrades we’ve let a few recent updates go by unannounced.

This, of course, is unacceptable — announcing updates is exactly what this blog is for! We’re making this right and listing them here all at once.

Maps

Maps now have the option of working with kilometers:

You can also set a map’s starting point to be the user’s current location:

This uses the user’s browser or phone’s GPS features to get the closest point to search by.

Note – the user will have to approve revealing their location.

Search

You can now configure your search view to show search results by default:

This means results will dispay before the users submits any search criteria. The results will follow the Data Source to determine which records to show (similar to a table or list).

User Email Templates

You can now customize the emails that are sent to users when they are approved or emailed their account info.

These links are available in the right column when viewing user records in your database:

Click on a link to edit the Approval template or Account Info template. Each user role can have their own custom templates:

 

Number Formats

You can now customize how you want to separate decimals and thousands in your number fields:

 

Email Subject Fields

You can now include dynamic fields in the subjects of custom emails that are sent when forms are submitted. Click the “field” button by the subject line to access:

 

Billing Receipts

You can customize the billing information that displays on your receipts. This is helpful if you need to include VAT numbers are other specific identifiers. Click on the account settings in your dashboard to customize:

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Super Speeds and Better Job Processing

01/31/2015 Posted by Brandon

In the past year we’ve more than tripled the number of Knack customers! This is obviously fantastic but there was a downside: our infrastructure was starting to feel the strain of this increased traffic and activity.

The past few months we’ve focused on improving this infrastructure and some of the job processing that requires intensive resources.

We launched these upgrades last week and we’ve been thrilled with the results! We’re seeing increased speeds across the board and improved job processing.

We’ve detailed these updates below.

Infrastructure

We’ve completely upgraded every aspect of our cloud-based infrastructure:

  • Speed – we’ve beefed up our servers, streamlined code, and optimized our databases to speed up how quickly your apps and records load.
  • Capacity – we’ve doubled our capacity by utilizing multiple cores on each cloud server. We’ve re-wired our job processing so we can now add unlimited capacity with a click of a button.
  • Compression – we’re now compressing all data delivery through our API before delivering it. For some pages and views this means up to an 80% smaller data payload.

Job Processing

An online database needs to be able to run big jobs to insert, update, or delete many records at once. In the past we’ve handled these without communicating much about how the job was going or how fast it was processing.

Along with increased speeds from the infrastructure improvements above, we’ve added some nice features for processing imports, batch updates, and batch deletes:

  • Real-time Progress: you can now see how fast your job is processing and how much is left to run.
  • Cancel Jobs: you can cancel your job at anytime. Any records processed before the cancel will be saved.
  • Delay Alerts: if our job queue is too busy we’ll let you know if there’s a delay.

What’s next?

Although most of these improvements are behind the scenes these changes set us up to grow well into the future.

It also allows us to get back to focusing on on adding great features and improvements.

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New Feature: Shared Builders

12/17/2014 Posted by Brandon

We recently released a new feature where you can share your apps with other builders.

This means that you can now collaborate on creating and managing your apps with other builders.

These shared builders won’t be able to delete your app or add new apps, and won’t have access to your account details like billing. They will be able to fully edit the app you share with them, including adding, editing, and deleting elements from both the database and interface.

You can share your apps by clicking on the “settings” icon for any app in your dashboard:

You then enter the email of the builder you want to share that app with and they’ll be emailed a link notifying them of this shared access. If they don’t already have a Knack account they’ll have one created for them automatically.

You can view any apps that have been shared with you in the Shared Apps link in your dashboard.

Shared builders are available on our new plans which you can view here:

https://knack.com/pricing

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New Example App: Donations Manager

12/08/2014 Posted by Brandon

When we launched our AppsGiving campaign we decided to include a new example app specifically for non-profits: a donations manager.

Knack has a heart for non-profits so a targeted example app was long overdue!

We hear from many of our non-profit customers that they struggle to find simple solutions that are focused and easy-to-use amidst the glut of software options out there.

Knack is such a great choice because it meets those exact needs. You can focus the features on exactly what you need your software to accomplish.

We designed the donations manager to be a great foundation for simple and focused donor management.

It comes included with these features:

  • Track donations by assigning each donation to the donor and campaign.
  • Calculates total donations, average donation, as well as minimum and maximum donations for each donor and campaign.
  • Easily search and filter to find your donors and donation data.
  • Run reports to view percentage of donations by campaign, donations per month, and much more.

As with every Knack example app you can install the donor manager straight from your dashboard and customize it to fit your exact needs.

Get in touch if you need any assistance building a fantastic donor management app for your non-profit!

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Dynamic PDFs and Documents with WebMerge

12/02/2014 Posted by Brandon

When it comes to using your Knack database to generate formatted PDF, Word, and other documents, WebMerge is a great tool that we often recommend.

Although Knack lets you print any page in your interface to a PDF, sometimes you need more custom formatting or other document types.

WebMerge makes it easy to set up your documents and then use Zapier or our API to populate those documents with records from your Knack database.

The following is a guest post by Webmerge’s very own Jeremy Clarke on how to to do some custom integration with Knack and Webmerge.

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AppsGiving

11/20/2014 Posted by Brandon

This holiday season Knack is running our first ever non-profit campaign. We’re calling it AppsGiving (yes, really) and you can see all the details here:

https://knack.com/appsgiving.

AppsGiving is our modest attempt to give back to the non-profit community.

Non-profits have been a huge supporter of Knack from the beginning. Knack’s affordability, ease of use, and powerful features is a great combination for non-profits looking to help run their organization with an online database while managing expenses.

AppsgGiving is giving back in two ways:

  • We’re giving away a free Knack account to 10 non-profits in need. We’ll also work with that non-profit to help them build and customize their app. Non-profits can sign-up to win a Knack account on our AppsGiving page.
  • We’re donating $10 for each sign-up to two great non-profits. Knack was born in Philadelphia and Lancaster, PA, so we chose a non-profit from each: Schreiber Pediatric Center and Cradles to Crayons.
We’re pretty excited about AppsGiving and we’re asking for your support:

  • Share AppsGiving with any non-profits in your network that may benefit from an online database app. We really want to find non-profits who have a great need and could see a big impact from improving how they run their organization with an online database app.
  • Share AppsGiving with your social network. Here’s a convenient link to help you tweet about it. The more non-profits that sign-up for the chance at a free Knack account, the more money we can donate!
We’ll be accepting sign-ups through December 19th. We’ll keep you posted on the progress and hope to feature chosen non-profits throughout the year.

To our current non-profit customers: thank you for placing your trust in Knack and we wish you a fantastic 2015!

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Introducing the new Knack Help Desk

11/11/2014 Posted by Brandon

We recently decided to migrate our help desk to a new provider and it’s now ready to use! You can see it at:

http://helpdesk.knackhq.com

Some of the advantages of the new help desk include:

  • Better organization: we can group article groups into sections.
  • Ticket management: if you create an account you’ll be able to view and manage your pending tickets.
  • Chat integration: we can now convert chats to tickets and more easily track those.

The only downside with the new help desk is that you’ll have to create a separate login in order to submit tickets (we’re looking at automatically integrating with your Knack login).

Now that the new help desk is in place we’ll be working on lots of more articles, cookbook recipes, code examples and how-to’s!

Knack User Forum

The biggest addition to the help desk is a new user forum! The forum is located here:

http://helpdesk.knackhq.com/support/discussions

We’re dividing the user forum into 4 main groups (trying to keep it simple):

  • Feature Requests: replacing more the “proposed” list here. We’ll then move ideas from the forum to this Trello board that we’re “considering” before “in development”.
  • How do I…?: if you aren’t sure how to do something or if something is possible or not, ask here. Odds are, someone else in the community has already tried or implemented it.
  • Tips & Tricks: discuss design patterns, best practices, and other creative solutions that may not be obvious in the documentation. We’re really excited for this one!
  • API & Customization: post code examples, ask questions, and discuss strategies for using the API and customizing your apps.
We feel the time is right is to open up more communication between our users and we hope this becomes a tremendous resource for everyone.

We’d love to see your participation and feedback!

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Knack is Hiring!

10/02/2014 Posted by Brandon

We’re continuing to see tremendous growth here at Knack and we’re looking to add to our team to help take Knack to the next level.

You can view our available positions at our new jobs page here.

Although we’ve defined some specific positions, we’re much more interested in fit and culture. We’re not looking for hired-guns — we want team members to join our long-term vision and be invested in building something great!

To help spread the word we’re offering a free year of Knack to any referrals you send our way that we end up hiring. We know we’ll find the best candidates from our awesome customers who understand what Knack is all about.

Please spread the word to any talented techies you know who want to be a part of a great company building a great product!

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New Feature: Copy Pages

10/01/2014 Posted by Brandon

You can now copy any of the start pages in your interface. Click on the page from the left menu, and then click on the “Copy Page” link in the right column:

A new window will pop up where you can give the copied page a name:

Click “Save” and your new page will be copied into your interface. All views and child pages will also be copied with it.

Combined with the ability to re-use pages this can help save time when you start to work with many pages in your interface.

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New Feature: Add a Custom Logo

09/26/2014 Posted by Brandon

You can now add your own custom logo to your Knack apps! Combined with custom colors you can now customize your app to match your own look and branding.

Click on the settings icon in the top left, and then the “Custom Logos” tag from the “Layouts & Colors” tab:

Click “Upload Logo” to browse and upload your logo, and then “Save Logo” to submit it. This will add the logo to your app:

When you view you app the logo will now display in the header at the top:

Some notes on using your logo:

  • A transparent .PNG or .GIF file will display best on top of the gradient background.
  • No resizing is done, so make sure you resize the logo before uploading.
  • The logo only shows up on the hosted version of your app at the knack.com domain. It won’t display on embedded apps.

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