Part 2: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Database Application

ultimate cheat sheet 2

 

Here is the second half of the cheat sheet on database application field properties. You will find tricks for the tree, user list and number field and a few extra tips that apply to almost all types of fields.

 

Tree

 

Trees are just like dropdown fields but with one or more extra layer of values. For example, when I am tracking where I am posting my blog posts in different social medias, I have a tree in my blog tracking application with the names of the social medias as the first level of values and the name of the groups or communities as the second level.

Show as dropdowns/show as dropdowns on separate lines

If you have many values at each level of your tree, your field can quickly take a lot of space in your application and it is not very effective to have to scroll up and down. To avoid this, use the show as dropdown property. Your values will only take one line with two (three, four, etc.) dropdown menus side-by-side. If you don’t like to have them side-by-side, add the show as dropdowns on separate lines property. Your dropdowns will then be on top of one another.

Dropdown titles

When you use your tree with dropdowns, it is nice to give titles to each line since it helps you visually identify each set of values. For my blog tracking application, I simply added the titles “media” and “Group/Community” for my two dropdowns.

Inline editing

Just as I explained for the dropdown fields in the first half of this cheat sheet, you can use the online editing property for trees too. If I go back to my blog tracking example, when I’m joining a new group or community, I can quickly add it to my second level of values simply by clicking the plus icon to the right of the dropdown. There is no need to go back to the application-editing tab for that.

 

User List

 

The user list field is mainly used to assign items to a specific user in your account. This is the way you can use to render a user responsible for a task or any other item. User list fields are also useful as the basis for searches.

 

Created by

The “created by” property is an automatic field that is leaving the trace of the name of the user who created the item. All you need to do is save the item after you create it and the system will log the information in for you. You can also see it as a signature.

Default user: current user

This property is great to use if the user creating the item is usually the user assigned to this item. This will save you a few seconds since you won’t have to select your own name in the user list dropdown. If you ever create an item assigned to another user, you simply have to change the name in the list.

Send notifications

On the other hand, if you are creating items that are assigned to other users, you want to notify them that you just created something without having to make call or write an email. With the “send notification” property, the system will automatically send a preformatted email to the user who just got assigned the item to inform her that item #1234 is now hers. This is an especially great property when you have managers assigning tasks to subordinates.

 

Number

 

Numbers are numbers… yes but you can add a little twist to make your life even simpler.

 

Currency symbol

Add the currency symbol in use in the country you are working at the beginning of your number field. This currency symbol will remind the user that this field is all about money and you will also get this same symbol will appear in your reports.

Maximum/minimum value

To make sure the users aren’t making any mistakes by entering out of range numbers, you can hardcode a minimum and/or a maximum possible value for your number fields. This can be useful for prices associated to a contract for example.

Percentage

When a number field has the percentage property selected, the maximum is automatically fixed to 100 and the minimum to 0 to ensure quality data. This type of field can be used to give the information about the completion of a tasks or any other item.

 

Useful properties for all fields

 

Here are some extra properties you can use on virtually any type of field.

 

Mandatory

A mandatory field is a double edge sword you want to use gingerly. If you create a new item without filling in a mandatory field, the system will give you an error message until you put something in that field. This can lead to users making up data just to be able to save the item and bypass the error message. But if you really don’t want users to be able to save the data before logging in specific information (name, email, etc.) you should use the mandatory field property.

Log changes

Selecting the “log changes” property will not visually change anything to your application until you go and check the history of each specific item. This is where you will know that information has been changed along the way. The system is logging in which field was changed, the user who did it, the old value, the new value and the date and time of the change. If you have accountability issues within your team, this is the property for you!

Display linked field

Finally, the “display linked field” will help you select the fields you want to see appear when you link an item to the other. For example, if I’m linking a few tasks to a client, for each task, I want to see limited information about this client. For example, if I only want to see the name, company and email address, I will select “display linked field” for each of these fields in my client application. You want to keep the number of fields you display to a minimum not to take too much space in your application. If you need more information, you can always open the full item in a pop-up window for easy access.

 

This was the second half of the ultimate cheat sheet on database application. You now know every secret you need to create amazing database applications.

 

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Marie-Josee Porlier

Sales Director at Kohezion
Marie-Josée Porlier is the Sales Director and main blogger @ Kohezion. Ask her your questions about the cloud computing industry, online database software, database applications, legacy systems, business solutions and business productivity. She can be reached at mjporlier(at)kohezion(dot)com.
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