Dabble DB

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Archives: December 2006

« November 2006 · January 2007 »

The Demo

Google brings out some interesting new measures of fame: you’ve got to hand it to Jon Udell, for example, who comes up at the top of a search for his first name. In a similar spirit, I was fascinated to notice recently that searching for “the demo” yields our own seven minute demo screencast, right after Douglas Engelbert’s amazing mother of all demos and the DEMO conference. It’s an uncoventional honor, but one I take to heart, so: for all of those who have enjoyed and linked to the demo, thanks.

Rethinking exports

We’ve tinkered with the exports in Dabble which allow you to publish views for your colleagues, or, if you choose, for the general public to see.

The big news is that you can now (finally!) export calendar views. They’re fully browsable too, so someone can click forward and backward through the months, weeks and days of your data. As with any view, you can use filters to limit what is and isn’t included in the calendar to limit the scope of the export. Exportable calendar views are one of our most-requested features so we’re pleased to be able to introduce this. Consider it an early Christmas present for those of you that celebrate such things. Or consider it a right-on-time Hanukkah present if you prefer. Or just consider it a present because we like you for you who you are.

The other big change we’ve made is that, now when you open the export window, you immediately see the web page version of the export. (In the old export system, you had to choose which type of export you wanted first.) The other formats are still there, but now they’re in a handy drop-down menu. You can still bookmark any format of export and the bookmark will always be up-to-date with the latest data in your application.

Finally, we’ve overhauled our PDF engine to make the PDF export more attractive and useful. The new PDF generator replaces all other print-ready versions, which we think nobody will mind because you now have a lot more options. You can choose the paper size, whether you want it printed portrait or landscape orientation, and you can adjust how you want Dabble to do page breaks. Once you’re happy, Dabble will create a PDF for you on-the-fly. For calendars, you can print a range of months, weeks or days, so if you want a print out of your weekly schedule for the next two months, it’s only a couple of clicks away. And as with everything else, you can bookmark a particular PDF with particular settings and come back to it at any time to get the latest data.

Make your data behave

Your data application is only as good as your data. Sometimes you may be faced with data that isn’t as precise as you need it to be. Dabble now lets you merge and split fields — basically equivalent to combining and dividing columns in a spreadsheet, but instead of having to format your data before you import it into Dabble, now you can let Dabble do the dirty work for you.

One nifty thing you can do now is merge a date and time with a duration (a length of time) to produce a value with a start date and an end date. To illustrate, here’s a movie showing a schedule from a recent Web 2.0 conference. I start out with the start time and the duration of each event, and then merge the fields. Once the merged field contains a start and end date, Dabble’s calendar view becomes more useful since you can see at-a-glance which blocks of time are filled and how long each session lasts.

Watch the video for a demonstration.

This video requires the Flash Player version 8 or higher, and also requires JavaScript to be enabled on your browser.

Another useful thing you can do is improve the precision of your data by splitting a text field in two. For instance, the data you’ve imported might have people’s names in one field, but you want to separate the first and last name. What’s the point of that? Once the names are independent, you can sort people alphabetically by last name. Or perhaps you want to group together everyone whose first name is Steve. Here’s another video to demonstrate.

This video requires the Flash Player version 8 or higher, and also requires JavaScript to be enabled on your browser.

« November 2006 · January 2007 »