Dabble DB

The Dabble Blog

Archives: April 2009

« March 2009 · May 2009 »

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.

                                                 Category A

And, the other Category contains a list of doctors.

                                                 Category B


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 info@dabbledb.com

See these pages in the help index:

Introducing Dshbrd

Like anyone on the web, traffic is the lifeblood of our business.  We use Google Analytics to track our visitors, referrals, conversions and other crucial metrics.  It's easy to spend hours immersed in the charts and tables that Google provides.  Too easy: we've often wished that Analytics did a little more, well, analysis.  Could a piece of software look for some of the same things we do, summarize the most important findings, and cut our analytics sessions from hours to minutes?

The Google Analytics data API, released to the public today, but in private beta for the last several months, was our chance to find out.  We've used it to pull together some clever math, some fun visualizations, and a lot of guesswork, with one goal: to show us less than we were seeing in the standard interface, but tell us more.  In this spirit of concision, we've been calling the result our "dshbrd", and it's been a great boon for us in understanding our business.  Now that the API is open to anyone, we're working to bring the same benefit to everyone else.  If this sounds interesting, head over to the signup page at dshbrd.com, and we'll contact you in the coming weeks.

“Software is Passé”

Webware hit the nail on the head when they said that. Here at Dabble DB, we believe that hosted databases are the way of the future and boxed software will eventually be a thing of the past.

Think of hosting your data online like having your own database personal assistant. We backup your data every two hours, instead of you having to take care of this yourself. When you have a question, we’re here to help you along. And, there’s no need to wait for next year’s edition for new features - you get them as we develop them.

Boxed software often limits your use to a single computer, which makes it impossible for remote access and sharing your data. Dabble DB lets you, and the people you would like to share your database with, have access from any computer around the globe.

Our newest addition has taken Dabble DB’s remote capabilities one step further by allowing you to access Pages from your Apple iPhone, Apple iTouch and all other Android services. As if you need another reason to be glued to your phone…

Dabble DB has been nominated in the “Say no to boxed software,” category for the Webware 100 awards and voting is taking place right now. We’re up against some pretty big players; so if you feel like showing Dabble some love and casting a vote for us, head over here

iPhone and Android support on Pages

We're happy to announce a new feature on Dabble DB. Dabble Pages are now optimized for mobile use on the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as on all Android devices.

There's no special configuration nor any settings to change. Existing pages will already be optimized and will now display in a different format on mobile devices. The main differences are that certain elements are hidden by default, to be revealed by a click tap, and we've adjusted font sizes to be more legible on the small, high-density screens that these mobile devices feature.

Here's a regular Page as seen in your desktop browser:


The same page as seen on the iPhone is at right. Note how certain elements — navigation to other Pages, for example, and view filters — are now hidden behind links to save space. Tapping Menu opens the navigation menu as a pop-up, and tapping Toggle Filters will reveal the filters (no page reload required).

If your Page includes both a view and a form, handy links will appear to scroll you from the top of one to the other. In addition to bigger fonts, form elements are also enlarged for the small screen and because of this, even if you have specified multiple columns for your form, they will be shown in a single column on the mobile device. This should make it much easier to enter and edit data on the go.

Mobile support has been requested by a number of our customers. We hope you enjoy it!

« March 2009 · May 2009 »