Knack Blog

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


Feature Highlight: Users

10/29/2012 Posted by Brandon

We recently completed a mammoth tutorial documenting our Knack user features. When were done we realized that we had to blog about how fantastic they are!

Adding users to your app is what can turn it from a simple online database to a dynamic web application.

The following are examples of how some of our customers are incorporating users into their web apps:

  • Sharing data with clients so they can log in and only see their specific data. You can set up whether they can only read the data or if they can update it as well.
  • Assigning data to employees so they can log in to access information for jobs, deliveries, installations, and more.
  • Creating member directories where each member can login to view every member’s data and update their own data.
  • Assigning roles for different users of the app. For example, everyone can read data, but only admin roles can log in to update the data.
The following are some of the core features:

  • Registration: you can add users manually or they can register themselves right from the app. When they register they can get immediate access or wait for your approval.
  • Logins: you can protect the entire app with a login or only specific scenes. For example, you can publish an unprotected scene to your website to view your app, and then use a protected scene to update it.
  • User Roles: You can create multiple user roles that have different access. So you could create an “Admin” role and protect a scene so that only Admin users can view it.
  • User Data: You can connect users to other object records so when they log in they can only see their own data, and not any data connected to other users.
We think these features allow Knack users to build a wide variety of powerful online database and web apps. Please contact us if you’d like us to help set up a user-driven app for you.

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Example App: Catalog

10/19/2012 Posted by Brandon

Today we released a new example web app: a customizable catalog app that can be embeded right to your site.

A catalog is a great example of how you can have different apps and publish them for different audiences of your online database.

For example, you could have the following apps for the same product database:

  • An admin app where staff can update all the product data.
  • A sales app for your salesforce that could include sales materials and PDFs to download and leave for customers.
  • A catalog app you can publish to your consumer site for customers to view and purchase.

Knack makes it easy to create separate web apps and publish them to different websites like this.

The example catalog app includes features like:

  • Grouping products into categories for easy browsing.
  • Adding payment solutions like PayPal.
  • Including custom options for each product that might be unique to your company.

Check out our customizable catalog app and let us know what you think.

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New Feature: Calendars

10/15/2012 Posted by Brandon

We’re pleased to release a major new feature for Knack- a calendar view!

A calendar was one of our most requested features. It can enable great online database and web apps like online scheduling.

Now you can easily display any date-driven data in a calendar, just like you could in a table or search:

The calendar follows a look and feel very similar to a Google Calendar, so it will be very familiar and easy to use:

The calendar comes loaded with some great features right out of the box:

  • Easily navigate between dates and month/week/day views
  • Allow users to add events by clicking on the calendar
  • Allow users to edit events by dragging to new times
  • Click on events to view and edit details.
We’ll also be continually improving the calendar with some great features coming soon:

  • All day events
  • Repeating events
  • Scheduling by available slots
  • RSS and Google Calendar export
Let us know if you use the calendar in your own online database or web app. We want to see it in action!

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Using Knack for Government Web Apps

10/05/2012 Posted by Brandon

Today we released a new example app: an online database displaying government funding.

We think this is a great example of how local, city, and state governemnts can use Knack to make more government data accessible to their constituents.

Knack has a few key features that work particularly well for e-governemnt apps:

  • Knack apps can be embedded directly on government websites and look completely integrated.
  • Knack apps can handle millions of records and still be extremely fast. Databases of this size are difficult to keep speedy in traditional non-cloud IT systems.
  • Knack apps are simple to build for non-IT staff. This way IT staff can spend their resources on more critical
  • Knack apps are extremely cost efficient and can unlock data for constituents that might otherwise not be available.
If you’re considering adding online database apps for your government, please contact us and let us know how we can help.

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Feature Roadmap: Equations, Calendars, and Triggers

09/27/2012 Posted by Brandon

We’re always super excited about the new functionality we’re working on to make Knack even better. We’d thought we’d share a few of the features you’ll be seeing soon:

  • Custom Equations: we’ll be adding a new field type called Equations. You’ll be able to create custom equations using other field values and simple math. This way you can easily create fields to track totals, averages, sales commissions, etc. And it’s all in an easy point-and-click editor.
  • Calendar View: we’ll be adding a new view for displaying events and date records. This will operate very much like a Google calendar. Users will be able to shift between month, week, and day views. You can even set options for users to add events to the calendar, so scheduling and event apps will be simple to build.
  • Form Triggers: we’re taking our time with this one because we want to get it right. The idea is that after a form is submitted, you may need that submission to trigger an action. It might send an email, update another record, or simply post the form data to an API.

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Current Web Apps: August

08/21/2012 Posted by Brandon

This is the latest entry in a series describing different web apps that our current clients are building with Knack:

  • Records Search: a tax advisor from India is using Knack to enable users to search for critical bank and tax codes in an online database with over 80,0000 records.
  • Volunteer Management: a hospice agency is using Knack for a volunteer database app. They track the locations and hours for each volunteer and run reports on total hours and estimated value.
  • Inventory Managment: a restaurant and club is using Knack to manage their food inventory. They track inventory levels for each product and generate reports for products that need to be re-ordered.
  • Book Search: a synagogue uses Knack so members can use a tablet to search all the books in their library.
As always we’re astounded by the variety of these great apps!

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New Feature: Inline Editing

08/14/2012 Posted by Brandon

We are thrilled to announce a major new feature we’re really excited about: inline editing for tables.

What’s inline editing?

Inline editing enables any table to work more like a spreadsheet where you can click on a cell and edit the value of that cell. This all happens without having to load any scenes or refresh:

Clicking on a cell immediately brings up a form to edit it.

Why use inline editing?

Inline editing is a perfect match for certain web applications. Think of any inventory app where someone is updating inventory with a tablet. You’ll have to continually be clicking on a product record, having it load an edit form, updating the inventory, hitting submit, clicking back to select another record…. that’s a lot of steps.

With inline editing you can directly edit a cell with just a few clicks and with no reloading. This can really add up for certain applications.

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What can you build with Knack?

07/23/2012 Posted by Brandon

Claiming that Knack enables anyone to build their own web application and online database is a bit like magic. After all, your definition of a web app could be incredibly creative, or just much different than ours.

So we want to start listing examples of different web apps built by Knack. This should help present an idea of the type of apps that work well with Knack and may even provide some use cases very similar to what you’re looking for.

We’ll be listing apps in two main areas: a Demo Library with plenty of working examples you can play with; and a Current Apps tag here on this blog where we’ll describe actual apps built by Knack users.

Here’s a list of some current apps being used by our beta users:

  • Talent Database – A talent agency is using Knack to manage all of their models and actors in an online database. The models can update their own information leading to more accurate and timely info, and using filters makes searching through thousands of models a breeze.
  • Class Management – A dance studio is using Knack to manage all of their classes and students in a single web application. Parents can register for classes directly online and reports on classes and contacts can easily be generated.
  • Inventory Management – A cattle ranch is managing all of the animal inventory online. Weights are frequently imported a reports can be generated to track all inventory counts.
  • Customer Database – An IT consultant tracks their customers so they can easily pull up any server and computer info on a job, make notes, and generate invoices.

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What is Knack?

07/02/2012 Posted by Brandon

Knack is a web application platform that makes it easy for anyone to build widely distributed, highly customized, data-driven web applications.

Ok, that was way too technical, so let’s break down exactly what we mean by that.

Making it easy

Web applications and online databases can be hugely complicated. There’s a reason that most web apps are built by computer geeks (wait, that’s us!) with computer science degrees. You need to design the database, code the interface, host the data, and make sure this all works together. It’s not simple.

Making this easy is our primary vision. We are distilling this process into digestible steps, wrapping it all in natural language and a simple interface that anyone can understand.

Along with simplifying this, we want you to enjoy using Knack. We will not require you to learn a programming language and we will not allow you to get frustrated with a 10 step process.

Widely distributed

Today’s web apps need to do a lot of heavy lifting, both in how they are delivered and who they are intended for:

  • Delivery: Apps need to work on multiple devices and have the flexibility to adapt to the advantages of each.
  • Users: different users can access applications in different ways. Apps need to be able to respond to different intentions of each user group.
Knack enables you to distribute your web application across multiple platforms and use cases:

  • You can publish different versions of your app to different websites. One version can be designed for web, and another simplified version for mobile.
  • You can design different versions for different users. For example, an admin version for managing data on your intranet, while a mobile version might be for employees to quickly update project data.
  • You can even set up user roles so each user must login and only has permission to see their own data.

Highly Customized

Today’s internet is offering more and more solutions for virtually every niche possible. And yet you will still struggle to find that perfect match for your exact requirements.

When you can build your own app you can match it to your exact specifications rather than trying to fit into someone else’s solution.

Knack was designed from the beginning to be highly customized:

  • Data Flexibility: You can define your data from scratch to perfectly match your exact needs.
  • Design Flexibility: Your apps can be embedded directly on your websites and blogs and adapt perfectly to the surrounding design. Designers can easily update each app with custom themes and styles.
  • Customization: Developers can completely customize the application using an open API and JavaScript events.

Data Driven

Today’s web apps are largely driven by data. You need to be able to easily add data, manipulate it, share it, and understand it. It needs to play well with social media and other apps and APIs.

Data is front and center when building Knack apps. We make it simple for anyone to create online databases and build web applications based on that data.

And that’s just the start. We have an amazing road map in place to capiltalize on the future web where data is all-pervasive. Sign up to get started building your own web apps today.

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