O'Reilly logo

QuickBase: The Missing Manual by Nancy Conner

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Getting Started with Applications

Just as your My QuickBase page is your control center for everything you do in QuickBase, each application has its own home page: the Dashboard (Figure 1-15). The Dashboard is your starting point for working with any application. Usually, it’s the page you see when you open an application. (If you’re invited to join an application [Accepting an Invitation], the link in the email welcoming you takes you directly to the application’s Dashboard.)

An application’s Dashboard is both your starting point and your control center for working with an application. The Info box tells you the purpose of the application and who manages it. Below that is a report displaying some of the application’s data. On the left, the Reports menu lets you choose among existing reports, giving you different ways to look at the data this application holds.

Figure 1-15. An application’s Dashboard is both your starting point and your control center for working with an application. The Info box tells you the purpose of the application and who manages it. Below that is a report displaying some of the application’s data. On the left, the Reports menu lets you choose among existing reports, giving you different ways to look at the data this application holds.

Getting to the Dashboard of any application is a snap. From My QuickBase, look in the Applications box for the application you want, then click its name (in Details display) or its picture (in Icons display). Or, if you’re knee-deep in an application’s records and want to get back to the Dashboard, click the application’s name in the upper-left corner of any page in the application. (Next to the application’s name is a little picture of a house, reminding you to click here to return to this application’s home page—its Dashboard.)

Administrators can create and assign different Dashboards for different roles (for an explanation of roles, see Managing Roles). So if you’re looking at a Sales Leads application, for example, you’ll have a different Dashboard depending on whether you’re a Viewer, a Sales Rep, or a Manager. Figure 1-16 and Figure 1-17 illustrate the difference between the Sales Leads Dashboards for a manager and a sales rep.

The Dashboard for the manager of the Manage Leads application shows all leads that haven’t been contacted yet, organized by sales rep. Leads that need to be assigned to a rep appear first, under “(empty)”. Application applicationsmanagersmanagersapplicationcustom Dashboardsmanagers can customizingDashboardsDashboardscustomizingcustomize their Dashboard by clicking “Customize this Page” (circled). Application managers can also manage the application’s users by clicking Share (also circled).

Figure 1-16. The Dashboard for the manager of the Manage Leads application shows all leads that haven’t been contacted yet, organized by sales rep. Leads that need to be assigned to a rep appear first, under “(empty)”. Application managers can customize their Dashboard by clicking “Customize this Page” (circled). Application managers can also manage the application’s users by clicking Share (also circled).

At first glance, the Dashboard for an individual sales rep looks similar to the manager’s Dashboard, but there are some important differences. For one thing, there’s no “Customize this Page” button or Share menu. Also, the only sales leads listed on the Dashboard are those assigned to the sales rep who’s viewing the Dashboard. So the first table this sales rep sees is the one that’s most important to her—her own leads.

Figure 1-17. At first glance, the Dashboard for an individual sales rep looks similar to the manager’s Dashboard, but there are some important differences. For one thing, there’s no “Customize this Page” button or Share menu. Also, the only sales leads listed on the Dashboard are those assigned to the sales rep who’s viewing the Dashboard. So the first table this sales rep sees is the one that’s most important to her—her own leads.

Administrators can do all sorts of nifty things from their Dashboard (see The Administrator’s Dashboard for details). If you’re a QuickBase user who’s joining someone else’s application, your options are more limited (but almost as nifty). You can:

  • Open an existing report (a report is how QuickBase displays your data).

  • View a particular record (a piece of information your application holds, like a purchase request or a work order).

  • Add a record to the application.

  • Modify an existing record within the application.

  • Find records you’ve worked on recently.

  • Create a new report.

  • Modify a report you’ve created—as long as you have Save Shared Reports permission.

  • Create notifications to alert you about additions or modifications to the application’s data.

The sections that follow dish up all the juicy details.

Open an Existing Report

Reports are an amazingly helpful QuickBase tool: They let you display your application’s data in different ways to make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

For example, in the Manage Leads application shown in Figure 1-15, a sales rep might want to see only those leads that have expressed interest in a follow-up call—a report already exists to put that information right at his fingertips. The sales rep would select the "Interested in follow-up" from the left-hand Reports menu, then pick up the phone and start calling.

As another example, in a Work Orders application, a property manager might want to know how many repairs the tenants are paying for versus how many the management company is paying for. To find out, she’d choose the “% of Billable vs Nonbillable” report to see this info in an easy-to-read chart. In contrast, a maintenance supervisor might want to see all the work orders for the current month or a list of all work orders ranked by priority. And a maintenance worker would want to check out the My Assigned Work Orders report. The different reports let people who need the data see it in the way that makes most sense to them.

Chapter 2 explains everything you ever wanted to know about reports (including how to create your own). The Dashboard page’s left-hand Reports menu lists a smorgasbord of pre-existing reports to choose from. Click any title to display the report you want.

View a Record

No matter how much data you pack into your QuickBase application, it won’t do you any good if you can’t look at it. Imagine attempting to fix a software bug when you don’t know what the problem is, or trying to figure out this month’s payroll when you can’t see anybody’s timecard. Kind of like playing darts while blindfolded.

When you want to look at a particular record, click the record’s Display button (it’s either a button that says VIEW or a small blue dot, depending on how you’ve set your User Preferences—see Managing Your Account Information). The record opens so you can see its details.

Add or Modify a Record

It’s easy to add a new record to an application. For example, say you work in a property management office and a tenant calls to report a broken second-story window that needs fixing, thanks to Junior’s amazing pop fly. You go to the Dashboard page of the Work Orders application, look in the upper-right corner for the “Add a New Work Order” link, and click it. (If you’re working in a multi-table application, you need to find the table you want to add the record to. Table names appear in the blue bar at the top of the page: click the table name, and then click “Add a New Record”.) The Add Work Order page opens, letting you create, prioritize, and assign the work order (thanks to the easy-as-pie maneuvers you’ll learn in Chapter 4, you can have QuickBase automatically email your instructions to your expert window-fixing specialist). When you’ve finished entering the information, click Save and you’re done. Help is on the way to your tenant—until the next time the kids play baseball.

Whatever kind of records you’re working with in an application, you can easily add a new one. If your application consists of just one table holding just one type of record, look for the upper-right “Add a New Record” link. The exact name of this link depends on the kind of records your table holds. For example, in a Document Library application, the link will say “Add a New Document”, and in a Purchase Order application, the link will say, “Add a New Purchase Order”. If an application contains more than one kind of record—such as work orders and rental units—you need to choose the right table before you can add a new record. So if your real estate management company has bought a new apartment complex and you need to create a new record for each unit, you’ll look in the blue bar at the top of the page for the table name (in this case Properties/Units). Click the table name, and then select “Add a New Record”—again, the name of the record depends on the type of record you’re adding.

Modify a record

Sometimes you need to change the information in an existing record. For example, say you’ve scheduled the work order to fix a tenant’s broken window pane, and then the same tenant calls to report that an unfortunate croquet accident has demolished the screen door. You want to update the work order to include both repairs.

The first thing to do is find the record. A quick way to do this is to open a report that you know holds the record. So start by checking out the Dashboard page’s left-hand Reports menu. Looking back at Figure 1-15, you might choose Current Month’s Scheduled Work Orders or Open Work Orders by Priority.

Find the record you want (see the next section), and then click Edit. (This might be a button with the word “Edit” or the letter E, depending on how you’ve set your User Preferences.) The Edit Work Order page opens. Make your changes, and then click Save. Then hope the tenant sends the kids to a movie before they decide to play murder ball.

When you edit an individual record, QuickBase gives you several options of how to proceed after you’ve made your changes. These options appear as buttons at the bottom of the Edit page:

  • Click Save to save your changes and return to the last page you viewed.

  • Click Save & Next to save your changes to this record and jump ahead to the next record.

  • Click Skip to go to the next record without making changes to this one.

  • Click Delete to erase this record from the application.

Find an Existing Record

When an application grows to hold hundreds and hundreds of records, you can’t easily find the record (or group of records) you’re looking for just by eyeballing the list. That’s what Find is for.

To search for records in an application, click Find in the application’s menu bar. The Find box opens, with a text box where you can type in what you’re looking for: a product name, an address, a date. Type in your search criterion and click Find. QuickBase takes you to the Search Results page, which lists all matching records.

Tip

To quickly find a record you’ve worked on recently, click Find, and then scan the list of records under Recent, at the bottom of the Find box. QuickBase lists the last eight records you’ve worked on. Click any record to open it.

What if typing a search term into the Find box still doesn’t dig up the record you’re looking for? Try Advanced Find. From the menu bar, click Find→Advanced Find. QuickBase opens the Advanced Find page, where you can tell QuickBase what to search for in specific fields. For example, if you can’t recall the name of the sales lead who called before lunch to cancel her appointment, but you just know her last name begins with a W, it’s not going to help you to search for every record that contains the letter w. But with Advanced Find, you can tell QuickBase to search the Last Name field and return all records that start with a W. You can search more than one field at a time, too, to narrow your results and home in on just the record you’re looking for.

Find a Record You’ve Worked on Recently

If you’ve just added or edited a record and you need to find it, the Dashboard page makes it easy. Say you’ve updated the price list for your office supply company, and then 10 minutes later you realize that you made a mistake: You mixed up the price of a new super-fast, multi-featured photocopier with the price of a case of toner. Before your in-the-field sales reps start giving photocopiers away, you want to fix the error—fast.

If you’re looking for one of the last few records you’ve worked with, click Recent in the menu bar and see which records it lists. But maybe you’ve just modified several dozen records—and Recent can’t show them all. You can still find the record quickly. On the Dashboard page of the application that holds your price list, look in the left-hand reports menu for List Changes. Click it, and the page that opens displays new and recently updated records. From there, click the Edit button to change a record or the Display button to view it.

Create or Modify a Report

You need permission to create and modify reports. If you don’t have permission, you’ll know—the Customize button on the Dashboard page’s menu bar will not have “Create a new” as an option. To get permission to create or change shared reports, email the application’s manager. (To find an application’s manager, look in the Dashboard page’s Info box; click the manager’s name to send an email.)

Create a new report

You can create a new report from an application’s Dashboard page (or from any other page in the application, for that matter). Just follow these steps:

  1. On the menu bar, click Customize→Create a new→Report. (If you’re in a multi-table application, choose the table for which you’re creating the report.)

    This opens the Report Builder.

  2. Select the kind of report you want to create: Table, Grid Edit, Summary, Calendar, Chart, Timeline. (Chapter 2 tells you more about each kind of report, including what they look like and how they can present your data.)

    A box appears that lets you choose the data you want to display and how you want to display it.

  3. Make your selections, and then click Display.

    QuickBase shows you how the new report will look.

  4. If you’re not happy with the displayed report, click the upper-right “Customize this Report” link to return to the Report Builder.

    Back in the Report Builder, you can make changes and display the new report again.

  5. When you’re happy with the new report, look at the top of the screen for New Report: Save. Click the Save link.

    A box appears, asking you to name the new report and select whether you want it to be a Personal Report or a Shared Report. Personal Reports are for your own viewing pleasure; no other QuickBase users can see them. (If you don’t have permission to save shared reports, Personal Report is your only option.) Shared Reports are available to everyone who has access to the application. If you select Shared Report, the box expands so you can specify which roles have access to your new report and, if you want, write a description to explain what’s in it.

  6. When you’ve filled out the Save Report As box to your satisfaction, click OK.

    Your new report is ready to go!

Note

Chapter 2 gives you all the details about the different kinds of reports and how to create them.

Modify a report you’ve created

To change a report that you’ve created and saved, first open the report. In the blue bar at the top of the page, click the type of record the report holds (such as Leads, Units, or Tasks). The menu that appears is divided into Personal Reports (if any) and Shared Reports. Click the name of the report you want to change. When the report opens, click the upper-right “Customize this Report” link. The Report Builder opens. Make the changes you want, just as you would in step 3 of the previous section, and follow the steps from there.

Stay on Top of Things with Email Notifications

When a record changes, QuickBase flags it with an update icon. But those flags can multiply fast, and you probably care more about some changes than others. If you want to know when a record changes in a specific way—a record is deleted, for example, or someone writes a new response to a survey you designed—you can have QuickBase send you an email notification of the change.

  1. From any page in the application, click Customize→Create a new→Email Notification. (If you’re in a multi-table application, QuickBase asks you which table you want. See Single-Table or Multi-Table? for more on multi-table applications.)

    The Emails: New Notification page shown in Figure 1-18 opens.

  2. Type in your information.

    In the Notification Name box, give the notification a name, like New Task Added (this makes it a lot easier to manage multiple notifications). Make sure that Notify Whom is set to Me (see Sending Notification Emails to Others to learn about sending email notifications to others). Select when you want to be notified: you can receive a notification when a record is added, modified, or deleted, or any combination of the three. Type in a Subject for the email, or leave it blank for QuickBase to use its usual subject line, which depends on the application and the kind of change you want to know about—if you’ve set up a notification for whenever someone adds a new task to your project management application, for example, the subject line says something like Manage a Project: Tasks Task #86 Added.

    Use QuickBase’s default message (a basic notification regarding the type of change) or select Custom to write your own (Signing Up for Emails for Yourself tells you more about creating custom messages). Next, decide whether you want your message in HTML (which can display graphics) or plain text. Finally, turn on the “Include a copy of record” checkbox if you want QuickBase to include the new or changed record in the email. (In Figure 1-17, this checkbox says “Include a copy of task” because that’s the kind of record you’re dealing with in the Tasks table.) When you’re done, click Preview (to check out the email notification) or Save (to start the notifications rolling in).

Use the New Notification of Record Change section of the Emails: New Notification page to specify the kind of change you want to know about. In this example, which deals with tasks in a Project Management application, QuickBase emails you every time a task gets changed in the Tasks table of the Manage a Project application. In the Email Contents section, you can spell out the subject line for such notification emails and, if you want, create a custom message.

Figure 1-18. Use the New Notification of Record Change section of the Emails: New Notification page to specify the kind of change you want to know about. In this example, which deals with tasks in a Project Management application, QuickBase emails you every time a task gets changed in the Tasks table of the Manage a Project application. In the Email Contents section, you can spell out the subject line for such notification emails and, if you want, create a custom message.

Click the triangle next to “Additional criteria” (circled) to display these options. The specific fields (sections within a record) come from the application you’re working with—this example is for the Tasks table of a Project Management application. Another application (Manage Sales Leads, for example) would show a different set of fields specific to that application. Choosing the fields and conditions that trigger a notification email gives you lots of control over what shows up in your inbox.

Figure 1-19. Click the triangle next to “Additional criteria” (circled) to display these options. The specific fields (sections within a record) come from the application you’re working with—this example is for the Tasks table of a Project Management application. Another application (Manage Sales Leads, for example) would show a different set of fields specific to that application. Choosing the fields and conditions that trigger a notification email gives you lots of control over what shows up in your inbox.

If you don’t want to know about every single little record change, turn on “only when multiple tasks change”; QuickBase will email you about changes that affect a bunch of records, like an import. Usually, QuickBase names itself as the sender of notification emails; if you tend to pay better attention to email that comes from a person (as opposed to a database), select the application manager as the sender.

Figure 1-20. If you don’t want to know about every single little record change, turn on “only when multiple tasks change”; QuickBase will email you about changes that affect a bunch of records, like an import. Usually, QuickBase names itself as the sender of notification emails; if you tend to pay better attention to email that comes from a person (as opposed to a database), select the application manager as the sender.

Get Help When You Need It

QuickBase is so fast to learn and easy to use that you can be managing records like an old pro in a matter of minutes. Sometimes, though, you have a question and want the answer fast. With QuickBase's extensive Help files, the help you need is just a click or two away.

QuickBase centralizes its Help resources in the Support Center, shown in Figure 1-21. To get there, click Help→Help & Support. A new window opens, displaying the QuickBase Support Center. At the top of the page is a Search box that lets you get right down to business: Type in your topic and search all of QuickBase's resources (or select the resource you want—Help Files, KnowledgeBase, and so on—from the drop-down list).

The QuickBase Support Center puts multiple Help resources at your fingertips. Check to see if your question is one of the top five (circled, right) or choose a type of help from the Support Resources menu (also circled). You can also cut right to the chase by using the Search box on this page. To email a question or comment to QuickBase, click one of the upper-right buttons (“Enter a support case” or “Send us feedback”), and then fill out and submit the form that appears.

Figure 1-21. The QuickBase Support Center puts multiple Help resources at your fingertips. Check to see if your question is one of the top five (circled, right) or choose a type of help from the Support Resources menu (also circled). You can also cut right to the chase by using the Search box on this page. To email a question or comment to QuickBase, click one of the upper-right buttons (“Enter a support case” or “Send us feedback”), and then fill out and submit the form that appears.

In its Support Resources menu, the Support Center gives you a number of options for finding the help you need:

  • Online Help. This is a traditional Help file. Click this link to search for help by topic. There's also a QuickStart Guide that covers the most common QuickBase activities, such as building an application or customizing forms and reports.

  • Video Tutorials. If you like to see tasks demonstrated before you try them, click this link. It leads to about a dozen videos that show you exactly how to perform frequent QuickBase tasks: add a field or table, create a relationship between tables, customize your application, and more.

    Note

    You need to have Adobe Flash Player installed on your computer to view QuickBase's video tutorials. Don't have Flash? Download the latest version at www.adobe.com/downloads.

  • QuickBase KnowledgeBase. This page brings together often-asked questions and their answers, written by QuickBase staff. Topics range from beginner (Getting Started, Adding Records, Importing/Exporting) to advanced (Exact Forms, Formulas, the QuickBase API). Check the KnowledgeBase for tips and tricks for working with QuickBase, as well as troubleshooting suggestions.

    Tip

    If you’re writing formulas to customize your applications, the Knowledge Base can help you get your formulas right. From any page in QuickBase, select Help→Help & Support→QuickBase KnowledgeBase. Then, look at the Table bar (the blue bar at the top of the page) for two helpful buttons: Formula Functions Reference, which explains the various functions you can use in formulas, and Sample Formulas, which shows actual formulas you can borrow, adapt, or steal.

  • QuickBase Community Forum. Get by with a little help from your QuickBase friends. The Community Forum is where users like you can post questions and get answers from experienced application designers and QuickBase staffers. In the Community Forum, you can post a question or search to see whether your question has already been asked and answered.

  • Developer Information. If acronyms like API, SDK, and XML are more than random groups of letters to you, you'll probably be interested in this page, which has links to relevant documentation.

    Tip

    Looking to hire someone to develop a custom QuickBase application? Check out the Developer Information link (Help→Help & Support→Developer Information). In the left-hand menu, click QuickBase Developers for a list of developers who have experience working with QuickBase. Just be sure to check out any developer thoroughly before you offer a contract; Intuit lists these developers for your convenience but offers no guarantees about their work.

  • Service Notes. Click this link if you need to know whether any scheduled maintenance is coming up or to see the reason for disrupted service (which doesn't happen very often—QuickBase averages normal operation better than 99% of the time).

The QuickBase Support Center also offers a quick and easy route to reading this book online: Look in the lower-right part of the page for the QuickBase: The Missing Manual section and click the "Read the book online" link.

Tip

Some applications have a customized Help file, written by the application designer. When you click Help, look for QuickStart Guide on the menu that opens. Not all applications have one, but when it's there, the QuickStart Guide targets the issues that apply to this particular application—and can save you time searching for answers elsewhere.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required