In any database system, or even an intelligent spreadsheet, it helps to give your computer hints about what kind of data you're working with. In Dabble DB, this takes the form of field types and selecting one informs Dabble whether you're working with, for example, numbers, money or geographical locations. We already support lots of different data types, but starting this week, we've added some new field types. And we've made some of the existing types smarter.
Better choices for choices
First off, our choice fields just got a lot smarter. You can now re-order your existing choices any way you like, at any time using a spiffy new drag-and-drop menu. After you add a new choice you can move it to the top of the list or somewhere in the middle. You can also now edit your choices with the changes applying to existing entries. So now when your boss says that "incomplete" sounds too negative -- can you please change that to "in progress"? -- it's not a problem.
The other new feature for choice fields is to present them with radio buttons instead of drop-down menus. With radio buttons, choices are shown beside a circle, each on a separate line, with the selected choice's circle filled in.
Radio buttons make it easy to show a few choices clearly. Sometimes though, you only really need two choices -- a basic "yes" or "no". Many of our customers have requested the option to use checkboxes in these situations, and we're happy to provide them as a new field type on their own.
Checkboxes combine very nicely with our Edit Column feature (for spreadsheet-style editing), making it easy to change many entries at once without cumbersome drop-down menus. On longer forms, checkboxes are more usable and efficient for your users. And lastly, you can create attractive table reports by using icons to show checkbox data instead of words.
Clean up your links
For a long time, you've been able to put web links and email addresses into text fields using a special formatting option. Well we've now broken them off into their own separate types. Better still, we've added the option to label links and addresses. You can use a default label for all entries (the proverbial "Click here" for example), or use a custom label and write a meaningful phrase to identify each particular link. No more long, indecipherable map URLs.
To complete this contact information circle, we've finally added a phone number type. We still have some plans up our sleeves to make this a rich feature, but as a starting point, this field type will give you one-click dialing for your contacts if you're a Skype user. Support for mobile phone dialing is also forthcoming.
Finally, all of this comes part and parcel with an overhaul of field configuration itself. Because there are now 15 different field types, we decided it was time to split the configuration in two parts. Selecting a field type is now one screen, and once you've made your choice, the window rolls up to reveal options for that particular type. (Of course you can still change the field later by going back to the list of types.)
You can find a video showing the new field configuration on our help pages.