Knack Blog

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


Connection Upgrades

11/19/2015 Posted by Brandon

Connections are at the heart of any database. Being able to connect one record to another record is what separates a spreadsheet from a database.

Our goal for Knack has always been to enable unlimited flexibility with connections.

Need a one-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-many relationship? No problem. Need more than one connection between the same objects? Can do.

Once your connections are set up we automate everything behind the scenes so they are simple to use and leverage throughout your application.

We recently released some new features that continue to improve this flexibility and automation.

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Moving and Copying

10/21/2015 Posted by Brandon

One benefit of having a passionate user base is that they don’t hesitate to let you know how you can improve your product.

A major refrain over the years have been variations on the need to copy and move different things:

  • “Can I copy this form I just built to another page? I don’t want to create it again.”
  • “I created a calendar but put it on the wrong page, can I move it?”
  • “How can I copy the fields from this object into another object”.

We listened! We’ve now incorporated move and copy functions for objects and fields in the database and pages and views in the interface.

Copy and Move Views

You can now drag any view in your interface to move and copy it to another page.

Simply drag it into the page from the left menu:

You can only copy a view to an eligible page: for child pages this means the page knows about the same object as the view you’re copying. For example, you can only copy an employee details view to another page that is displaying a specific employee record.

Once you drop it over a page you can confirm if you want to move or copy that view.

If you copy a view that links to child pages those pages will also be copied. For example, copying a menu linking to a new page or a table linking to a details page.

You can also copy views using the settings link in the top right when you are editing a specific view:

Copy Pages

You can copy top level pages from the right menu:

This will create a new copy of that entire section: the top level page and any child pages.

If you need to copy specific child pages then you can copy the view that links to those page (see above).

Copy Objects and Fields

You can copy objects and fields using the link in the right column:

You can choose to copy to an existing object or create a new object, and then choose which fields to copy:

Currently only fields will be copied. Future upgrades will include the ability to copy your records as well.

We’re constantly working on improving the builder experience and we hope these changes will make it easier and faster to work with your application. As always, let us know what else we should be working on!

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Enhance your Tables

10/05/2015 Posted by Brandon

Your tables are about to thank you. We’ve released some great new options for enhancing colors, icons, backgrounds, and more!

To access these new features, edit a column in any table in your interface. A new Layout tab let’s you control width and alignment:

The Display Rules tab let you create conditional rules for applying different colors, icons, and styles to each value in that column:

Here are some popular examples for enhancing your table:

  • Display icons for different project statuses
  • Display expiring dates in red
  • Display high priority leads in bold
We’re excited to see some enhanced tables out there, and we have more options in the works!

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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.

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Report Groupings

09/22/2015 Posted by Brandon

You can now add multiple groups to your reports!

Most reports in Knack work by running calculations on groups of records. For example, you could group orders by date and then calculate the average order total for each date. You can then display these calculations in line or bar charts.

We recently added the ability to add multiple groups. Here’s an example where orders are grouped by both date (month) and by product:

We also expanded which fields are eligible to use for groups. Beyond dates, connections, and multiple choice, we added yes/no and most of the text and numeric fields.


  • The most groups you can add is two.
  • You can only add 1 calculation if you have more than one group.

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Accept Payments with your Knack App

09/02/2015 Posted by Brandon

When we first started brainstorming about the idea that would lead to Knack we always talked about including payments. It was a while ago, but I’m pretty sure that some dollar sign or credit card drawing was on one of those early whiteboards.

It made perfect sense: E-Commerce adds so much power and really opens up the potential for the types of apps that can be built with Knack:

  • A customer portal can allow customer to pay invoices.
  • A purchase order app can include payments for those orders.
  • A donation management app can take live donations that plug right in.
After a lot of careful thought and development we’re thrilled to release our first round of E-Commerce features so you can now accept payments with Stripe or PayPal!

Please note that E-commerce features only available on our Pro plans and above.

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User Workflow

07/22/2015 Posted by Brandon

User logins are one of Knack’s most powerful features. They let you build applications where users can log in and have permissions to access specific records.

We recently converted two user attributes into database fields:

  • User Status: this controls whether the user has active access to log in. Options include “pending approval” and “inactive”.
  • User Roles: this controls which roles the user is assigned to. Each role can have access to different pages of the app and be connected to different records.
These two attributes used to be private settings that couldn’t be exposed in your app. By making them fields you can now use these in your apps just like any other field — including filters, form rules, and the API.

This opens up some powerful user workflow features:

User Paywalls

Form rules, tasks, and the API can be used to update the user status to “approved” or “inactive” when a certain transaction happens. If you start a user as “pending approval” then they won’t be able to login until the status is updated. You can even use Zapier to update this status when a payment is made from Stripe or Paypal.

Role Promotions

Likewise you can assign a user role with form rules or tasks. Conditions can be used to determine which user role to assign. For example, a user can be assigned a role when a certain amount of points are scored.

User Management

Because these attributes are now easily controlled from your app, you can create a specific page for “Admin” users to login and manage user rights and statuses without needing to access the builder.

We’re really excited about the possiblilties this opens up to add user workflow features to your online database. Let us know how you’re using these so we can share other great examples.

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07/14/2015 Posted by Brandon

You can now add icons to the menus in your apps!

Here’s an example of a menu with icons added:

Edit a link in a menu view to add an icon:

To add an icon to your app’s global page menu first click on a page from the list in your interface, then click on the “Page Options” link in the right column.

There’s a ton of icons to choose from! Not only are icons fun, they can help guide and educate the user experience.

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Task Upgrades

07/02/2015 Posted by Brandon

Scheduled tasks are one of the most popular features on our Pro plan.

Tasks let you define actions to send emails, update records, or even insert new records based on dates and criteria you define.

We’ve recently posted some improvements to scheduled tasks, including some new features.

Tasks are now managed with a tabbed pop-up window:

New features include:

  • Next run date – this will always list the next date the task will run and can be changed at any time.
  • Pause – temporarily pause the task so it won’t run. The task won’t be deleted and will maintain it’s schedule and can still be manually run.
  • Manual Run – run the task in real-time on demand.

We’re also now logging each time a task is run, along with the results and how many records the task processed. This way you can confirm the task ran and is processing the records you are expecting. You can view a history of these logs in the History tab.

As always please let us know what other task features you’d like to see!

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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.

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