Images In CRM (in agileBase)

Memory boost:

photo thumbnails in reports – useful if you have a better memory for faces than names for example!

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Word clouds for text analysis

The ‘word cloud’ has become very popular, used increasingly by national newspapers and described as ‘the gateway drug to textual analysis‘ by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Word clouds are now available in agileBase.

Analysing numerical data is fairly well understood. There are all sorts of charts and statistics you can use, many of which have been available in agileBase for some time. However, what do you do when you have databases of unstructured text? For example

  • learner records
  • book reviews
  • customer feedback

How do you discern patterns and pick out trends in this mass of text?

Let’s jump straight in with an example.

This is a summary of the learning database that we use in our organisation – books, online articles, videos, PDFs etc. The text includes our reviews and where relevant summaries from amazon.com. You can quickly get an idea of the sorts of things we’re interested in.

What’s more, the word cloud is interactive – you can click on a word to filter by it. This will show a list of results – books etc. – that you can drill down into and also a new word cloud summarising that set of results. In this way, you can iteratively explore an area and find interesting resources – this is a method we’re pioneering.

Here’s the cloud that you get when you click on ‘systems’:

As you can see, it’s cleverly picked up a number of different forms of the word ‘systems’. This is made possible by the use of research from Lancaster University in natural language processing.

In fact, if you hover over a word, you can see the different forms. For example, science includes also sciencific (a spelling mistake), scientific, scientifically, scientism, scientist and scientists. In this way, you don’t have to know the exact word you’re searching for.

To see a word cloud of your own data, just go to the charts tab in agileBase and select a field to use as a source of text – it’s as simple as that!

We predict this will become a useful resource in many different areas. Let us know what you think, especially if you have an idea that you’d like to try it out on.

Improved calendar integration

New calendar integration means data can now be entered directly into agileBase from the calendar interface using our real-time bi-directional links.

In previous posts we talked about the integration of agileBase with Google calendars, an option which is still available. However this month we’re launching a new vastly improved integrated calendar which not only allows you to display data (as google does) but allows you to update the database from the calendar interface.

The integrated calendar is now real time (Google only updates events once a day).

Calendars form the basis for many of the most important interactions in today’s organisations. agileBase has now a fully functional calendar interface which allows you to

  • an automatic easy interface that displays all your reports that have date fields – just tick those you want to see on the calendar
  • different reports are automatically colour coded so they can be compared easily
    e.g. planning 20 engineers’ days on screen at the same time
  • drag and drop events into days or time slots – quick and intuitive
  • full editing facilities are present via the calendar. For some jobs, this means you don’t have to flip between database and calendar views

The calendar’s currently in beta testing phase and will be released in the near future. As with all of our addons, there will be no per-user charge, rather the cost will include as many users as you like.

Here are some more screenshots:

Editing an entry
Editing an entry
Selecting calendars to display
Selecting calendars to display

What’s new? 6 upgrades.

agileBase is now six years old and development is really ramping up. This month’s new elements have all come from experienced clients and include

  • the ability to force text to UPPERCASE, lowercase or Title Case
  • charting improvements: pareto analysis and 3 month averages added
  • the ability to pull in extra read-only data into a data entry screen. In practical terms this means that e.g. in a CRM screen, all previous contact and current issues with a person can be shown
  • the ability to hard code dropdown values
  • iPad usability improvements and dashboard access
  • a quick date picker option for entering dates

Google Calendar synchronisation

You can now sychronise any report that contains date-based data into your favourite calendar application, for example Google Calendar, a phone or the iPad calendar. Here’s an example screenshot.

Next on the horizon is

better dashboard KPI charts

You’ll soon be able to narrow down to show only recent data, expand out to the long term or do a year on year comparison.

We’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, have a great festive season.

Video: Think Drinks adopt agileBase

We thought we’d highlight the most recent company to adopt agileBase because they’re a great demonstration of the decision-making that goes into choosing a lean and agile platform to run IT systems on.

Here’s a video of the owner Tom Collins describing the background to his business and requirements.

When he heard about agileBase, Tom immediately saw the potential of a system that’s so fast to develop with that staff can be brought in on the process. The most important things for Think Drinks were

  • the ability for staff to propose changes to the system and have them immediately implemented, promoting a continuous improvement culture
  • the low initial investment in time and money before seeing working applications
  • having the staff who work with clients in the field be responsible for recording that work. Higher quality data means more accurate and timely invoicing, less administration re-work at later times and freeing up admin staff to concentrate on helping grow the business

Since this video was taken a couple of weeks ago, a complete system has been built in collaboration with Tom and the team, the basics being put together during meetings. It’s now being used on a day to day basis and we’ll follow up soon by revisiting and asking them to describe their experience. Stay tuned!

Major new features

Recently added at client request:

  • iPad compatibility: to allow Think Drinks engineers to record data without having to visit the office to log in to a PC
  • external logins: requested by Castell Howell Foods to allow key clients a limited view of data on their system about products and suppliers – i.e. opening up the supply chain
  • numerous minor improvements, too many to mention here. www.agilebase.co.uk/docs is up to date with the latest information

Top agileBase tips

The latest agileBase version out this week includes some great little ideas from inside and outside the company so I thought I’d compile them into a tips newsletter along with a few other useful general tips – the kinds of things that are really useful if you know about them. So, new stuff first…

1. NEW – tooltips on column headings

For numeric fields, when you hover over a field name in pane 2, a tooltip appears calculating the sum and average for the column. This works when filtering as well – you’ll get just the figures for the filtered data.

For lookup and some other text fields, agileBase lists all values in the report and shows how many times each appears with a little graphic – useful for a quick overview.

These are a couple of examples from our timesheet.

Thanks to Bread Art Collective for some initial inspiration.

2. NEW – chart exporting

Emailing, printing or sharing charts outside outside agileBase is now easy – just click the little ‘download’ button at the top right of a chart which will download an image of the chart that can be easily emailed or shared.

3. Document versioning

When you upload a document to agileBase, it’s kept for the life of the record. Even if you upload another version to replace it, any old versions are kept and can be retrieved from the ‘view’ tab.

But how do you delete a document (without deleting the rest of the record)? Simply clone the record and all other information will remain but the document and document history won’t be copied.

4. The relation picker.

The relation picker’s used for choosing an item in a related table. For example, if editing a contact, you may choose the organisation they belong to. Simply start typing and a dropdown will appear allowing selection of the item. So what’s the tip? Well, you can use * when typing to mean a wildcard, exactly as you would do when filtering. Here’s an example of adding an address to a record: I know it’s somewhere in Bristol…

5. Simultaneous reports

Sometimes it’s good to be able to look at one report in one window and a different one in another, so you don’t have to keep flipping back and forth between the two reports in agileBase. To do this, open each report in a different web browser, e.g. the first in Firefox and the second in Google Chrome. If you do this, the browsers won’t get confused!


Well, there are lots more tips to be had but I’ll save the next five for another post. In the meantime, things keep improving and I hope agileBase allows you to keep improving your business. As Cardinal Newman said, “to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often”.