This feature for agileBase administrators and developers allows massive improvements in usability and capabilities. In the long run it will also allow us to tailor the system to suit developers of different levels, doing different types of jobs.
So a beginner (called a ‘superuser’) will be able to see a simple, user friendly array of tools to let them customise the experience for themselves, whereas certified architects will be able to use much more functionality. These advanced users will be able to see much more about how the system is put together, seeing how different parts of a system are connected, with relations, workflows etc. The processes of constructing, updating and deconstructing large scale applications can be visualised, planned and executed more easily.
The first step being released in January is the framework for all of the above, introducing some really useful ways of doing things.
As a developer, you may be used to using the ‘developer mode’ toggle at the top right of the screen. That stays the same and in fact all the features it enables stay the same, but the UI is a bit better.
There are three places the developer toggle can be used
- when looking at a view, to edit that view
- when looking at a record, to edit the table that record belongs to
- on the homepage, to see structure and lists of objects, and edit anything
Editing a view
When a view is open, toggling developer mode on will initially simply show pencil icons next to each field’s column header. Clicking on a pencil will edit that field, allowing you to sort the view by that field, edit the field properties, set a filter on that field [coming soon] or remove it from the view.
There is also a plus button at the end of the columns, letting you add a new field or calculation to the view.
When a pencil is clicked, a panel opens allowing details to be edited. The panel can be moved around on the screen and the data remains visible underneath. Any change immediately updates the view underneath – the results can be seen in real time as you work.
As well as the fields, the other view constituents like joins and filters can be edited by clicking the large pencil icon at the top left, next to the view name:
As you can see, you can also see and edit the complete set of view options – API settings, workflow options etc.
Editing a table
Similarly to view editing, when a record is open, toggling the developer mode on will show pencils next to every item that can be edited. For a table, this is each field, tab and the table properties/options (with the large pencil at the top left).
On the homepage
When on the homepage, toggling the developer mode on will by default show a map of all the tables in the system, with connections between them where one table references another (such as contacts belonging to companies).
You can select one or more types of objects, i.e. tables, views, tiles, roles and users to show the connections between them.
The display will change according to what the most useful output is. For example, if you tick just views, all the views will be displayed with connections representing the joins between views. However if you tick both tables and views, the connections will then link each view to its parent table. You can select multiple options if you wish, e.g. tables, roles and users will show the roles which have privileges on each table, then the users which belong to each role.
Using these visualisations is particularly useful if you’re coming to a system that is new to you – you can build up a picture of how it works and what the main parts are (objects are sized depending on how many connections they have to other objects).
Here’s a map of the connections between tables in a CRM system.
Clicking an object will show it to the left of the map. Objects can be kept in place with the pin icon, so you can build up a list of objects to work on, mixing tables, views, tiles etc. Each can be edited with the relevant button, e.g. EDIT TABLE.
You may also want to see the objects as a list – to do that, use the ‘list’ selector at the top.
Here’s a list of some views from a sample application, including a chain of workflows:
Scrolling right, you can also see and filter on other properties, such as whether the view is used for a workflow or API.
By the way, pinning views can be done from anywhere in the system, not just from the homepage. Whenever you see a view when developer mode is on, you’ll be able to pin it, then when you return to the homepage it will be visible on the left.