ZenBase is a light-weight online data management and application builder for non-coders such as sales staff, customer service reps, accountants etc, and technical people alike. It provides the tools for users to create powerful online applications quickly through its simple user interface.
Your first login
Navigate your web browser to ZenBase login and use the login credentials created during signing up:
- username: firstname.lastname@example.org
- password: password
The username is the email you used during sign up. You should have received the temp password in the email. You can change your password once logged in.
ZenBase can be used to either manage existing applications or to create and manage new applications. If you logged in for the first time, you will be able to create your first ZenBase database application in the dashboard.
To create a new application, navigate to the application section (click “Applications” from the top menu and then click “Create Application“). You will now see all applications in your account (or none if there aren’t any applications created yet).
Alternatively, click “Create Application” on the dashboard to start.
You can select from one of the many existing templates to jump-start creating your new application:
or create one from scratch.
Note that application name should not allow space or any special characters such as @,# \ etc.
To create a new table, click “Add Table” button, or the button with the white “+” in front of your table tabs at the bottom of the window (in the bottom left corner). If you’re not seeing this button, this means you don’t have permission to create new tables and you should contact the application’s administrator.
Create table by importing
Data are the backbone of your application. They hold all of your data and are the starting point of your application. The first step in creating a database-driven web application is to hook data. Data are represented in the table in rows and columns. Each row is called a ‘record’. Data can be submitted to them through web forms or imported from external files. Data can also be exported.
At the moment of this writing, ZenBase supports importing of comma-separated values (CSV) files only. If you have Excel sheets you’d like to import into ZenBase, you should export these as CSV files from Excel first after which you can import the data into ZenBase.
Note that table name should not contain space or any special characters.
After clicking the button, you should start off by entering a name for your new table. Note that the name should only contain only alphanumeric characters: a-z, 1-9, underscored and dashes, NO SPACES.
Next, you should choose the file you’d like to import. When importing a CSV file, it’s possible that your file contains the column names on the first line of the file, if this is the case, make sure you tick the checkbox labeled “First row contains column names“, this way ZenBase will use those column names to create your new table.
ZenBase requires all tables to have a primary key set, it will add a primary key column to your imported data as well. It will first detect whether the first column contains unique values, if it does, ZenBase will set this column as the primary key.
If the first column does not contain unique values, ZenBase will add an additional column to your table which will function as the primary key (which will be set to auto increment).
Adding records into an existing table
The second way to use the data import function is by adding records into an existing table. The process of adding new records into an existing database table sometimes is called “append query”. To do this, bring up the table into which you’d like to import data. Next, click the grey button labeled “Import data” which will bring up a popup.
In the Import Data popup, you can choose your CSV file and upload it that would merge with the existing table.
Things to watch out when adding into an existing table – AKA Appending query:
It’s critical to make sure the structure of your CSV files matches with the structure of your table! If the structures don’t match, the import will probably fail and ZenBase will show you an error message.
- The number of fields per row in your CSV files matches with the number of columns in the ZenBase table. If you have 10 columns in your table, you’ll need to have 10 values per row in your CSV file.
- The values in the primary key fields in your CSV file are unique. If ZenBase detects primary key values which already exist in your table, the import will fail.
A column is similar to a database table column in which a set of data values of a particular type, one for each row of the table. Users can add a new column or edit existing ones.
In the modal window, users can set column properties including column name, column type, default value, index, and position.
At the time of this writing, ZenBase supports the following column types:
- Numbers (up to 11 digits)
- Small text (up to 255 characters)
- Large text
- Binary (file or image)
Roles, Users and Permissions
ZenBase is built with user roles in mind. This means that you define a certain role (for example Sales Rep, Customer Service or Accounting) and setup permissions for this Role. Next, you assign a Role to a user account which will determine what the user can or cannot do.
For each Role, permissions are set on an application level AND on a table level; meaning different applications and different tables can have different permissions.
When a new user account is created, ZenBase will automatically send a notification email to the user’s email address with the login details.
Users and Roles can be managed by users belonging to the Administration group or users who have been assigned the permission to manage Users and Roles by an Administrator.
Administrator (AKA Super User)
The user who signed up for the ZenBase account automatically has the “Account Administrator” role. This role cannot be modified or deleted to make sure admins can always access the application. The Admin User can create new role and users for the same account. One account is limited only to one administrator.
ZenBase automatically stores old values of records and individual cells which can be restored at any given moment. When a cell or record is updated, the previous values are stored and can be accessed through the “Revisions” tab.
Both the Cell and Record popups have the Revisions tab, allowing to restore single cells or entire records.
Video demo (click to view in full screen):
There is no expiration date set for Revisions, meaning all revisions are stored indefinitely. You can, however, remove Revisions manually for any Cell or Record.
ZenBase allows for a column in a certain table to be connected to a second table, which means that the first column will hold the value from the second table.
Foreign keys will have to be declared within the application before ZenBase will be able to use them.
To set up a foreign key on a column, you will need to have permissions to modify tables in the database based on Role. An administrator can manage the user roles in the Roles page.
Once declared properly, ZenBase will automatically present a drop-down box displaying the allowed options when editing a single Cell or Record.
ZenBase allows users to attach notes to Columns, Tables, and Applications. These notes can serve to describe what certain items are for and how certain items should be used.
When looking at a table screen, you’ll find a tab named “Notes“. In here, notes for the current table can be created, edited or deleted.
When editing a column or Cell, notes can be attached to the Column through the “Notes” tab in the popup.
When editing a Record, notes can be created, edited and deleted through the “Notes” tab.
ANY user can create notes, no matter what permission this user has. Administrators can edit and delete other users notes as well as their own.
The available Tables are displayed through tabs at the bottom of the screen when working on an application. Click on the plus (+) icon to create a new table.
Application Database Schema
ZenBase has an easy-to-use and navigates application database schema viewer. Click on any of the schema navigation icons to navigate. You can also navigate using the keyboard.
Click a table in the schema diagram to go to its content.
ZenBase comes with built-in password recovery as well. If you or another user forgot his or her password, simply click the “Forgot your password?” link on the login page. This will send out an email with a link to the password reset page on which a new password can be created.
Visualization tool in ZenBase produces visualizations that are normally difficult to produce with other software. ZenBase has a very specificated visualization tool built-in with the goal of making the visual representation of complex data easy for everyone.
In our tutorial, we will visualize our data in “bar chart”. The table must contain at least two columns: one containing the name of the categories (for X-axis), the second one containing their values (for Y-axis).
1. Click “Visualization” button
First of all, once the table is loaded on the screen, select “Visualization” from the table tools.
2. Choose a chart layout
After click “Visualization” button, for the sake of simplicity, select the “bar chart” visual model, which is the simplest chart type. You can certainly choose other chart types you prefer.
3. Map your dimensions
It’s time to map your data and create the visualization. On the left, you have the list of dimensions in your dataset, on the right the available visual variable of the bar chart layout.
4. Refine and export
To reach the final results we can customize the visualization with some parameters you can find next to the visualization.
5. Download or Embed the Reports
You can choose to download the visualization directly in SVG, PNG, or JSON, then share with others as an email attachment. You can also directly embed the generated report visualization in your own web page.
Demo: Video walk-through (click to view in full screen)
Next, you’ll see a quick demonstration of the basic features of the visualization tool. Simply click the “Visualization” and pick your model, then map your dimensions and you’re ready to go.
Can I edit the visualizations?
Yes. You can export the visualization in vector format (SVG) and open it with any vector graphics editor (e.g. Adobe Illustrator, Sketch, Inkscape, …)
Can I embed a visualization on my website?
Sure! You can just copy and paste the code you find at the bottom of the app into any HTML page to embed it.