Knack Blog

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

 

New Feature: Page Pop-ups

04/21/2015 Posted by Brandon

You can now choose to display specific pages as pop-ups.

This is perfect if you have a table and want to quickly view more details about each record. Instead of viewing those details on a new page and clicking “back” to refresh the table, you can now view them in a pop-up:

To set this feature simply click on the page in your interface and the “Page Options” link in the right column:

And enable in the “Edit Page” window:

Notes:

  • The popup only works on the designated page. Any further links to other pages will return to the main window.
  • The popup will only work if navigated to from another page. The page will still display in the main window if it’s the first page the app loads.
  • This is in beta so let us know if anything is off.
See, not all pop-ups are annoying!

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Report Upgrades

04/14/2015 Posted by Brandon

A major goal for 2014 has been an upgrade to our Reports view.

We originally released reports a few years ago and they’ve been looking dusty for a while now. At the time we were content to use a Google Charts library with some basic functionality.

Since then our wonderful customers have helped us compile a giant list of improvements to make and we’ve found a great new chart library. The first wave of these upgrades is now ready!

Better Chart Rendering

The new chart library means improved chart rendering that animate into place and have clearer graphics and numbers:

You can hover over the plot points for more information and click on any group in the legend to show or hide that group from the chart.

Larger charts will also auto-resize to better accomodate the available data.

Visual Customization

We’ve added multiple features for controlling the size and layout of the charts:

  • Dimensions: let the chart auto-size or enter your own width and height.
  • Legend Placement: place the legend at the right or bottom.
  • Orientation: flip the axes of bar charts.
  • Data Points: show or hide
  • Tilt Data Labels: to save more space

New Data Features

Our biggest new features are around the data the reports use:

  • Filters: you can now use filters to limit the records the chart uses, including filter menus and user-defined filters.
  • Exclude Empty Groups: if any of the report data is empty or zero you can choose to exclude it from the report.
  • Allow Print and Export: include links to print the report or export it as a PDF.
Expand Group Records

The best new feature is the ability to click on any of the report groups to view the records that comprise that group in a modal page:

This page will limit any records to the report group, but you can add and customize your own views like any other Knack page!

What’s next?

Lots:

  • Better sorting and limits.
  • Better mobile resizing.
  • A new chart type!
  • More customization and advanced report chart features.
Take a look at your reports and let us know how the new upgrades look!

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Databases through the eyes of a 10 year old

04/09/2015 Posted by Steve


Video games: the perfect 10-year old treasure trove of data

Meet Mason, he is 10. He is an avid reader of reference books, a video game junkie and a professional database builder. Ok, maybe not a professional…yet.

But his dad is. That's me, Steve. Knack customer success agent and database builder by day, soccer dad and zookeeper by night.

Stats and data have always been an area of deep interest for Mason. Ever since he was able to read and write, he has enjoyed creating his own reference books. Books may be stretching it; more like sheets of scrap paper about video game characters stapled together, but you get the idea.

Being the son of a parent in the tech space, there was never any doubt technology would play a big part in his life. So to channel his inner nerd, I thought it might be fun for him to build his own web app and online database.

Working for Knack, it seemed like this would be a perfect opportunity to introduce my son to the company I work for and, since Knack is perfect for creating reference databases, give him the ideal toolkit to take his own reference “publications” to the next level.

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Building online quizzes with Knack

02/27/2015 Posted by Brandon

With our recent form upgrades it’s now possible to create multi-step processes using forms and other views.

With each form you can redirect to a child page that works with the same record. You can continue to create a path to work with the same record using as many forms or other views as you need.

This is perfect for quiz apps where you can ask a single question on one form and then redirect to a child page to show whether the answer was correct or not.

A menu can then link to question 2. You can cycle like this through all of your questions until you eventually hit a “results” page to show a final score.

We built an example quiz to show you how it can work.

https://knackapps.knack.com/quiz

We also added a walk-through with some animated GIFs of how we built it:

http://helpdesk.knackhq.com/support/solutions/articles/5000567220-how-to-build-a-quiz-app

Knack now makes it easy to build simple quizzes like this. Throw in all the extra features Knack provides and you can start to build some very complex multi-step processes.

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Major Upgrade: Form Rules

02/23/2015 Posted by Brandon

Form rules are hands-down one of our most powerful and flexible features: you can define rules to trigger actions like custom emails and record updates when a form is submitted.

Form rules can really expand your app to include work flow features and sophisticated data management.

We recently decided to do a form overhaul to better organize rules and include new features that have been popular requests with our users.

This upgrade is now live! Here’s what’s included:

New Organization

We’ve organized the rules into some new groupings that make more sense:

  • Display Rules: identical to the old “Field Rules”. These rules control how the form is displayed: you can show and hide form inputs and change input labels based on other form and record values.
  • Record Rules: rules that add or update records in your database. For example, you can insert a connected record, or update the form’s record. These were in the old “Submit Rules”.
  • Submit Rules: new! These cover the old form “Options” for what to do when the form is submitted, like show a confirmation message or redirect to another page.
  • Emails: rules for sending custom emails or email alerts. This combines the general alert options and the email options from the old “Submit Rules”.

Submit Rules

Major upgrade! Submit rules include 3 major new features:

Redirect to the parent page

After the form is submitted the user will be redirected to a parent page. Perfect if you’re adding a child record and want to quickly go back to a parent list showing all those record.

Redirect to a new child page

You can now create a new child page to direct the user to. You can add any views you wish to this page and it will automatically work with the form’s record. This means you insert a new record and immediately show other views for that record.

Criteria

You can create different Submit Rules and define criteria for using each rule.

We’ve also tweaked the confirmation message with rich text and the ability to hide the reload link or automatically reload the form.

These features add quite a few new form possibilities:

  • Multiple Paths: create different paths based on different answers. One choice can lead to one page while another leads to a second page.
  • Multi-page Forms: break up a long form into multiple pages.
  • Confirmation Pages: create child pages to show details and connected views.
  • Quizzes: Show multiple questions on different pages and end with a “results” page.

Emails

We’ve also added new features for form emails:

You can add multiple emails rules and choose between sending a simple notification or a custom template

Dynamic Recipients

You can add multiple recipients to a custom email and choose the type, including Reply-to:

Template VariablesWe’ve included 3 variables you can add to your templates:

  • Page URL – include the URL for the current page.
  • Parent Page URL – inlude the URL for the parent page, if a parent page exists.
  • Record ID – the ID of the record
These variables are listed in italics below the list of fields.


Note: please review your current form rules and email tasks to ensure everything was migrated correctly, and get in touch if there appears to be any issues.

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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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Case Study: DNAeX

01/14/2015 Posted by Brandon


Running a desert marathon!

In 2016 Scott Longden plans to run in the Marathon Des Sables, a 250km self supported run across the Sahara Desert where you carry everything you need on your back in temperatures approaching 50C/122F.

Not my idea of fun.

For Scott a jog across the Sahara seems like the logical next step — he’s participated in numerous triathlons and marathons and is ready for the next challenge.

At that level you can’t simply trust your training or body to know if you are “competition-ready”. What is on the surface may not reveal the potential, or lack of potential, for competitive success.

Science has come along way in helping athletes like Scott. DNA science can now measure athlete-to-sport compatibility and tailor programs for specific genetic make-ups.

So how does this relate to Knack?

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Featured Industry: Beer, Wine, & Beverages

01/09/2015 Posted by Brandon

Here at Knack we have the unique opportunity to see all of the web apps and online databases that are built for specific industries.

A great example is the beverage industry, where we”ve seen a particularly strong fit amongst the craft beer and wine sectors.

This attention may or may not be heightened by the near and dear place wine and craft beer holds in our hearts 🙂 Eric makes his own wine, Steve ran a wine blog, and craft beer is always on Brandon”s Christmas list.

Why Knack?

Many of the breweries and wineries we”ve worked with are big enough to have significant I.T. needs, but don”t have the technology budgets to pay for bloated software or full-time technology staff.

Many of these individuals not only manage “the books” but they wear several hats like purchasing agent, production supervisor or even brewmaster.

This is why Knack is so appealing: it”s quick, easy to use, and perhaps most crucially can immediately provide major benefits. Customized apps can quickly be built to help manage sales, inventory, and distribution without a huge investment in time or money.

Ninkasi Beer Industry Database

This combination of simplicity and customization were exactly what appealed to Jessica Jones of Ninkasi Brewery:

“We needed a platform for group project management and collaboration. Other options were either not customizable enough or too complex to teach all of our staff at varying levels to use.”

Trey Bowden of Dogfish Head Brewery was pleased with the ease of use when creating a production management database:

“When I was recently tasked to build an internal database-driven app for “beer product holds & dispositions”, I knew Knack was the right tool to get the job done in a timely manner…You can”t beat the simple user interface, built-in reporting, and cloud-connected capabilities with it”s Zapier interface (as opposed to using something like MS Access).

“We just launched our first app in early 2015 and our production team couldn”t be happier!”

Here”s a look at some of the apps we”re seeing for beer and wine users:

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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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