As part of the recent Workspaces update to TIMU, we launched a new kind of module: databases! Database modules make the features of TIMU's task modules available for organizing information in cases where a task module isn't a perfect fit- you can use a database module to create a robust grid view for things like personnel rosters, activity logs, or order lists.
The organizational power of databases also serves another purpose. In combination with reference-type custom fields, database modules also act as a replacement for shared lists and dropdown-type fields.
Get ready to get aquainted with databases!
The first step in working with databases is to add one to your workspace. To add a database, open the workspace settings page, scroll down to the bottom, and click '+ Add Functionality'. You can select a module pack that already includes a database module, or add an empty database from the 'blank' module category.
Rows and Columns
A newly created database doesn't contain any built-in fields- not even a 'name' or 'status' field- so you'll need to add some fields to the module before you can start using the database. As an example, we'll build a simple table of customer contact information.
After adding the empty database to your workspace, click the 'More' link on the right-hand side of the screen to expose the database's settings, followed by the 'Fields' link. You can utilize any of the predefined custom fields for your database, or create your own as necessary. For our purposes, we'll need several text-type custom fields for the customer's street address, phone number, and email address, as well as an identifier-type field for creating customer IDs. Since we're going to want to reference the customer list in our 'Orders' database (more on that later), we also need to make sure to add the built-in 'name' field. Once you've added all of the fields the database will need, save your changes and open up the database.
Blank databases come without any preconfigured views, so before we can start adding customers to the database, we'll need to create a view that displays the custom fields we just created. Click '+ New View' to create a view. Open the 'Fields' link from the filter bar, and click '+Add Fields' to open a menu that lets you add your custom fields to the view. Once the fields are added, you can click and drag them into the desired order- the fields will be displayed from left to right.
After you've configured the fields for your database, you can begin adding rows of data. You can create a new empty row by clicking '+ New Row'. Type data into any fields in the row and press the tab key to move to the next field. Press the Enter key to save the row.
Using References and Replacing Shared Lists
Besides storing and organizing information, database modules also act as a replacement for shared lists. In the past, you could create a dropdown-type custom field that pulled its values from a shared list. Now, you can use a database module and a reference-type field to do the same.
Once you've got your database configured and started adding information, you can take advantage of reference fields to make connections to that data from elsewhere in TIMU. In this example, we've created a database for tracking orders, with a reference field that gets its values from the 'name' field of our customer database:
To reference your database in another module, open that module's settings and head to the 'Fields' area. You'll need to create a new reference-type custom field to act as a container for the information from the source database. After you choose 'reference' as the field type, click the blue 'Browse' link in the next window, and a modal will open and prompt you to navigate to the source database. Once you've configured the reference, remember to save!
After the custom field is created, it still needs to be added to a view. Open the desired view, click the 'Fields' link on the filter bar, and add your custom reference field to the view.
The reference field will display as a dropdown list showing the 'name' field from each row of the source database. Select the name that corresponds to the desired row, or start typing the name in the search box to filter the list.
Creating a new database is a bit like painting a large artwork- the huge empty canvas can be a bit intimidating, but you also have enough room to capture every detail accurately- what are you going to create on your canvas? We'd love to hear about the different ways you are putting the database module to use in your workspaces- drop us a line in the comments section!
Subscribe to TIMU Blog
Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox