Dabble DB vs Traditional Relational Databases
“Can I create a lookup field in a table to be viewed in another table?”
“I am a seasoned Access user and thought this would be a breeze --but I'm just not getting it. Your advertisements say that this is a relational database, but I don't see how I build queries, make join relationships, etc…Please help!”
From time-to-time we receive emails from customers that would like to build a relational database in Dabble DB. In a typical database program, a relational database organizes your data into tables that are joined to each other by the specific data in each table.
While Dabble is “relational”, our system differs from that of other traditional databases that some of our customers have become familiar with.
If we look at Access, their relational database is comprised of multiple tables, each relating to a specific topic. Instead of tables, Dabble is made up of different Categories that share similar information. In our example, Physician is our common field that we will be using to create a relationship and build views.
One Category lists patients in a hospital.
And, the other Category contains a list of doctors.
Another important difference is that Dabble doesn't make you worry about keys or identifiers like Access. Instead, links are made between entries using a drop-down menu, and you simply select the entry you want to link to.
The List of Entries field and Link to Entry field are the two ways you can link your data and create relationships. List of Entries lets you create one-to-many relations and Link to Entry lets you create one-to-one relationships. For both of these functions the value of the field becomes a reference other entries in your application, just as it would in Access using keys.
To return to the example: we have Physician in Category A and Category B, we can create a relationship between the two categories by using Link to Entry.
Click the column, go to Configure, and select “Link to Entry.”
Tell the system which category you want to link to. Once you save, Dabble figures out which physicians in category A correspond to which entries in Category B.
After you have created links, you can pull data from the linked Categories and display it on a particular view. First, we’ll create a view that shows us the Physician’s information and what patients are linked to them. To do this, you must add a new column and select the Category that you have linked.
We now have a full view of all the physicians’ information and the patients that are linked to them. From here, we can create different views to suit our needs.
The link is active between both Category A and Category B. So, as you can see in Category A, if we click on the Physician’s name,
We are brought to the information we have entered in for them in Category B.
Now, no matter which Category we are in, we can see both information on the Patient and the Physician – all thanks to Link to Entry.
Derived Fields is a very useful tool that will let us pull data from the Categories we have linked.
So, if I want to compile a list that has all of our Patient information and some of our Physician information, I can go to Category A
Click on Physician and select “Add derived field,” and add “Telephone Number.” Then repeat and add “On Call?” and then again for “Hospital”. (If we wanted the Derived Field to replace the original Physician column, we would simply hold down the shift key and it would replace the column for us.)
Now that we have pulled all the information we would like to see from our Derived Fields, we have a handy view that shows the combined information from differing Categories.
From there, we can do things like group Physicians, set filters on various fields and create lists and views that are appropriate to our needs.
That’s a very brief and basic overview of how Link to Entry, List of Entries and Derived Fields work, but it gives you an idea of how Dabble DB can be used as a relational database, like many of the other programs you may be used to.
For a more intricate example, head over to “OUsful.info” and check out how Tony Hirst used Link to Entry. It’s a great example of how other people are using Dabble DB.
Have you been blogging about how you are using Dabble? If you would like to share the love, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org