Knack Blog

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

 

New Template App: Attendance Tracker

06/15/2015 Posted by Brandon

One of the most common app questions we get is if Knack can handle different attendance apps:

  • Schools taking class attendance.
  • Churches managing small group attendance.
  • Corporations taking attendance and roll-calls for trainings and meetings.
Attendance apps sound simple but can quickly get complicated. How are you reporting attendance? Who’s in charge of taking attendance? Are you recording any additional information? Maybe you want to track each member that attended and if they brought any visitors.

Knack shines in building custom attendance applications like this where you need to tailor your attendance around specific needs.

We recently built a new template app to show a few examples of how attendance can work.

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API Upgrades: Working with logged-in users

06/02/2015 Posted by Brandon

We’ve added some new features to our API so that you can now make login requests and work with the logged-in user!

Highlights include:

  • Secure user tokens to authenticate request for Knack users.
  • Utility functions for getting properties of the logged-in user and checking for role permissions.
  • Remote login requests.
This opens up a lot of great possibilities for developers to work with Knack apps:

  • Mobile developers can have mobile users log-in with their Knack credentials.
  • Make page requests with views that are connected to the logged-in user.
  • Permission customization with user roles.
We’ve include an article in our API documentation that goes into more details:

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Case Study: More baskets for your database eggs

05/28/2015 Posted by Brandon

Joshua Guy Lenes replaced a custom-programmed database with a Knack solution so more team members could help build and maintain it.

Joshua Guy Lenes is familiar with complex, custom database solutions. He works with the American Association of University Professors to manage union memberships. They used to employ a custom-engineered database coded in python, django and sql.

It was a suitable system but there was one big problem: Josh, a trained and capable developer, was the only person who knew how to manage the database and keep it running smoothly. It was too complex to easily bring on others to help.

He knew this would not be sustainable in the long run — if Josh somehow became unavailable how would the system be maintained?

Josh needed a more flexible database solution that his team could easily use and manage without his assistance, and the search began for a replacement.

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Recent Upgrades

05/20/2015 Posted by Brandon

Even though everyone loves big new features, most of our favorite upgrades are often to existing features — little tweaks that improve performance or add functionality.

We recently completed a round of smaller upgrades and wanted to post about them.

Submit the current location of the user

You can now add a Form record rule to set the value of an address field to the user’s current location:

Note: this option is only available on Pro plans and above.

Separate time defaults

For Date/Time fields you can set separate default values for the time component:

Default menu tabs

Format menus to work like tabs and start with the first menu link selected:

Empty tables

Format a table to hide any columns where every column value is empty or blank:

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Yes/No Feature Upgrades

05/11/2015 Posted by Brandon

We’ved added some new input options for a Yes/No field:

You can now choose from the following inputs to display the field in forms:

  • Dropdown
  • Radio Buttons
  • Checkbox

The checkbox display has an additional option for text to display by the checkbox:

This is a great option for adding “agreement” inputs where you want the user to check the box before proceeding. You can use a special text field (from the “special” tab) above the checkbox, and set the Yes/No field to required:

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Case Study: Medical Healthcare Network Solutions

04/24/2015 Posted by Brandon

When MHCNS first looked at Knack they simply wanted an internal data management solution. What they found was a comprehensive application platform that is expanding their revenue and growing their business.


MHCNS enjoying their success!

Early in the summer of 2014 Josh Cameron was researching online database systems for his employer Medical Healthcare Network Solutions, a Houston-based provider of tech services for medical-based businesses and private practices.

He needed an internal data management solution — something that could cut through all the spreadsheet confusion and bring clarity to their projects and clients.

A Forbes.com article about online database tools led Josh to give Knack a try.

He quickly got a sense for Knack’s potential and built a comprehensive company portal including project management, a knowledge base, and equipment tracking.

“We had hundreds of excel sheets that were wasting so much time”, Josh explained. “Our clients were constantly contacting us with the same issue. Knack has allowed us to reinvent ourselves as a company. We have less paper, spreadsheets, and confusion. This has allowed us to have more clients, revenue, and efficiency across the board.”

This would be a great Knack success story if it stopped there. But it gets better!

A little more than 6 months later, MHCNS started hiring staff to round out an entire department devoted to building web applications on the Knack platform.

How did Knack go from meeting an immediate data management need into helping develop an entirely new profit center?

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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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