Dabble DB

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where x >= last thursday

David Phillips writes:

As simple and inviting as Dabble looks, I’m looking for something less managed, more “on the fly.” I noticed, for example, a Dabble screen showing selection of field type: number, date, etc. In my world, input for everything is text and the software makes sense of it depending on how you want to use it. For example, any of these expressions would be meaningful in a “date” field:

four weeks ago
next month

That’s a great example, and not too far off Dabble’s world either. As I mentioned earlier, all fields in Dabble start off as text, and you can enter whatever you like. At some point, you may choose to migrate to a date field - for example, to take advantage of the calendar views - but there’s nothing pushing you to do that up front. Even having done that, however, there’s no set format that you have to enter data in, and in fact we support entry very like what David is describing. These are all valid for a Dabble date field:

last thursday 2:30 - tue 1600
this month
tomorrow 3-5pm

If you enter these into a Dabble field, it will automatically convert them to a fully specified date range or point in time. But supporting the idea of “next month” or “10 days ago” is important for more than just convenient data entry. You can use the same relative date specifications to anchor a calendar view or filter a list of entries. For example, you might want to save a view that always shows you tomorrow’s schedule, that you can look at every night. Or you might want to create a report of invoices that are currently more than 30 days overdue. Dabble will let you create either one of those, and keep them constantly up to date. That’s something that would be almost impossible to support with the kind of mini-calendar date picker that’s so common on webapps these days, but is the most natural thing in the world with text. Unlocking that ability is a small, but important, equals-sign moment.


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