ZenBase Documentation


version: Beta 21


Introduction

ZenBase is a light-weight online data management and application builder for non-technical people 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 and use the following details to login:

  • user: yourusername@domain.com
  • pass: password

These login details give Administrator access to your ZenBase applications. During ZenBase beta period, we will email each beta user with their unique user name and password. Users can change their username and password after they login in.

Features

Applications

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.

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).

PLEASE NOTE: Application name does not allow space or any special characters such as @,# \ etc.

Data

Congratulation! You have created your first ZenBase database application. We now need some data for our application.

Data are the backbone of your ZenBase 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 table in rows and columns. Each row is called a ‘record’. Data can be submitted into them through web forms or imported from external files. Data can also be exported.

Importing data

To create a new table, click "Add Table" button, or the blue 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.

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.

When importing data, you can either use this data to build an entire new table, or to add data to an existing table.

Importing data into a new table


PLEASE NOTE: Similar to application name, table name does not allow space or any special characters.


After clicking the button, you should start off by entering a name for your new table (make sure this name contains only alpha numeric 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 check box labeled "First row contains column names", this way ZenBase will use those column names to create your new table.

Primary key
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 wether 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).

Importing data into an existing table

The second way to use the data import function is by importing data into an existing table. To do this, bring up the table into which you'd like to import data. Next, the click the grey button labeled "Import data" which will bring up a popup. In this popup you can choose you're CSV file and upload it.

PLEASE NOTE:
when importing data into an existing table, it's trivial to make sure the structure of your CSV files matches with the structure of your table! If you have 10 columns in your table, you'll need to have 10 values per row in your CSV file. If the structures don't match, the import will probably fail and ZenBase will show you an error message.

You have FULL control of your data. You can create, modify, delete any data in edit form by double-clicking a row.

Once tables are imported, you will have access to additional navigation tabs:

  • Columns
  • Views
  • Notes,
  • and More.
We will cover each in details below.

Columns

A column is similar to a database table column, which a set of data values of a particular type, one for each row of the table. Users can add 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)
  • Decimals
  • Small text (up to 255 characters)
  • Large text
  • Date

Views

Views are representation of your data; they are the screens; they are your user interfaces of your application. While "Data" and "Columns" are the administrative console only for the authorized users who manage data and build application, Views are for your application users who don't have access to your ZenBase account. They interact with the data through externally shared views and are limited to the functionality you provide for them.

Traditionally, a programmer had to use a scripting language to create web-based, database-driven applications. ZenBase automates this slow, expensive process and makes it fast and affordable. Views are created without any coding.

Views also can be used to capture data, edit data, provide search and query capability, and to visualize data. At time of this writing, two view types are supported.

  • Grid
  • Chart

The following two view types are coming up soon!

  • List (coming soon!)
  • Grid + Chart (coming soon!)

Views > Grid

A grid, or sometimes called datagrid, displays data in a table format. It is used for presenting data in rows and columns. In a datagrid, you can enable edit option to allow data be editable. You will also have options to configure export type and search in results page. We also added themes taking from phpGrid, which is the core component for the grid view type. We are gradually porting more exciting features from phpGrid such as condtional formatting, grouping, and pivot grid to ZenBase.

After user creates a grid view, he or she will have access to additional settings for individual column in a grid.

In the column modal window, you can specify settings for each individual column that will be displayed in the datagrid such as column title, text align (left, center, right), edit type (select, autocompelte, button etc.), hidden, read only, required, etc. Click "Add another property" to add additional properties for a column. If you are accustomed to phpGrid API, it essentially adds graphic user interface to all the set_col_* functions. It couldn't be easier! We are working hard to port more features from phpGrid into ZenBase.


Views > Chart

A Chart view presents data in visual, graphical form. Charts can be configured to have the following capabilities:

  • Line or Bar chart display
  • An interactive or pre-defined search query for data filtering
  • Populate data series for plotting from a table column
  • A results page where matching records are display in a chart format


Views > Preview

Finally, let's check out our view. Click on "Preview" button to display the view.

Example of an editable Grid view with pagination and "Humanity" UI theme:

Examples of Chart views:

Views > Share

Click on "Share" button to reveal the unique URL to a view.

In the Share View popup window, copy the unique URL into your page or destination to share with the world!

Notes

ZenBase allows users to attach notes to Tables. These notes can serve to describe what certain items are for and how certain items should be used. Notes for the current table can be created, edited or deleted.

Table List

The available Tables are displayed through tabs at the bottom of the screen when working on an application.


Why ZenBase??

ZenBase offer benefits not available in traditional scripting or desktop software such as Microsoft Excel or Access:

  • Speed – It takes only minutes or hours to create and deploy a view. It takes the average programmer days to script the same in a typical scripting language. Your ZenBase data view can be put to use immediately.
  • Quality – ZenBase require no coding eliminating room for error while traditional programming is about crafting code one line at a time, the quality of which depends on the individual programmer and is be error prone.
  • Scalability – A hand-coded script that is designed to address your current needs may not be scalable enough to handle your future requirements. Views are generated and operated in a manner that gives them enormous scalability.
  • Ease of Editing and Maintenance – Hand-coded scripts are difficult to edit and maintain because they contain hundreds of lines of code that may or may not be properly documented. The original programmer may no longer be available, or the logic behind the script may be forgotten. In contrast, editing a ZenBase view is easy. The same step-by-step process used to create them is used to modify them and changes are effective immediately.
  • Future Proof – Backend technologies, browsers and devices used for accessing the web are changing all the time. An app frozen in code becomes stale quickly and requires frequent updating. However, ZenBase powered applications are guaranteed to work on new technologies.


How do I...?

Create a new application in ZenBase

  1. Log into the application using your username and password
  2. Open the Application drop down from the top menu and choose "Create Application"
  3. Enter a name for the new application

Work on an existing application in ZenBase

  1. Log into the application using your username and password
  2. Select an application from "Application" drop down from the top menu

Add a table to an application

  1. Log into the application using your username and password
  2. Open the Application drop down from the top menu and choose the application you want to work on
  3. Look towards the bottom left corner and look for a blue button with a white + sign in it. Click this button
  4. Enter a name for the new table and create the desired columns
  5. When ready, click the button labeled "Add table" to create the new table

Setup a foreign key on a column

  1. Log into the application using your username and password
  2. Open the Application drop down from the top menu and choose the application you want to work on
  3. Navigate to the table you want to work on using the tabs at the bottom of the page
  4. Click on the second tab (labeled "Table columns")
  5. Find the column you want to create the foreign key for and click the "edit" button for this column
  6. In the popup, find the section labeled "Connect to" and choose the "table > column" you want this column to link to
  7. Click the button labeled "Update column"

Customise the data view

  1. Log into the application using your username and password
  2. Open the Application drop down from the top menu and choose the application you want to work on
  3. Navigate to the table you want to work on using the tabs at the bottom of the page
  4. Click on the second tab (labeled "Columns")
  5. Use the checkboxes on the left of each column to control which columns appear in the data view and which don't
  6. When you're ready, click the grey button labeled "Reload data view"

Rename a table

  1. Log into the application using your username and password
  2. Open the Application drop down from the top menu and choose the application you want to work on
  3. Navigate to the table you want to work on using the tabs at the bottom of the page
  4. Click on the tab labeled "More"
  5. Type the new name into the name field
  6. Click the button labeled "Update table"

Change a user's details

  1. Log into the application using your username and password
  2. Click on "Users" in the top menu
  3. Select the user from the left menu
  4. Make the desired changes
  5. Click the blue update button

How do I export data from ZenBase?

  • Log into the application using your username and password
  • Open the Application drop down from the top menu and choose the application you want to export data from
  • Navigate to the table you want to export data from using the tabs at the bottom of the page
  • In "Data" tab, in datagrid footer, click export icon and your download will begin