You know that Quickbase applications can streamline your processes, eliminate repetitive tasks, and boost productivity, but mastering this powerful platform takes time and practice. With the help of a skilled Quickbase consultant, you can shorten the learning curve and make the most of Quickbase’s capabilities. Whether you’re a new Quickbase user or a longtime fan, chances are the following tips will help you take your skills to the next level. How many of these Quickbase tricks do you use?
1. Add comments to fields, especially Quickbase formula fields
Quickbase recently introduced the Comments tab in field settings. Unless it’s obvious, at Watkyn we always add a comment stating who created the field, on what date, and what the field is meant to be used for.
In a Quickbase formula field, a double slash (//) is used to indicate a comment. Anything that comes after // on a line will be ignored by Quickbase. Formula comments can be helpful to anyone who needs to follow the logic of your formula, especially if you are using Quickbase formula queries to link data from several different tables.
2. Organize your Quickbase reports into meaningful groups
When you expand the Reports & Charts area on any table homepage in your Quickbase application, you’ll see Quickbase reporting listed by name under the heading “Common.” You may not have noticed the little gear icon that says Organize. If you click here, you can then drag reports to create a new group, which can be collapsed or expanded to make it easier to find the report you or other users need. If you’ve saved any personal reports from that table, you’ll also see a report group labeled “Mine.”
3. Try out the Quickbase Performance Bar
An administrator needs to enable the performance bar for app users. Do this from the application settings menu > app properties. You’ll find the checkbox in the performance options section. If the performance bar is already enabled but you don’t see it in your browser, go to your app’s home page and expand the More section at the top right. Under there, you should find an option to Show Quickbase Performance Bar.
4. Use formula variables
You can use Quickbase variables within formula fields to hold values you want to use in your formula. You define Quickbase formula variables using the var keyword and declaring the type of data the variable will hold, such as text, number, or bool (true or false). Variable declarations need to be terminated with a semicolon. You can refer to Quickbase variables in other variables or in your formula by prefixing the variable name with a dollar sign. So, if you have a variable named “quantity,” you refer to it as $quantity.
Say you have a field that should show whether a person’s average heart rate was in the aerobic range during a workout. There are several steps needed to determine this. First, you need to calculate the person’s maximum heart rate, which is 220 minus the person’s age. Second, you need to know the minimum (60%) and maximum (85%) heart rate that is considered aerobic.
You could write this formula in a way to show others how clever you are:
If([Average Heart Rate]>=(.6*(220-[Athlete – Age])) and [Average Heart Rate]<=(.85*(220-[Athlete – Age])),true,false)
Or you could write it in a way that others will be able to understand and maintain:
// define the variables. This isn’t the formula yet.
var number maxHeartRate = 220 – [Athlete – Age];
var number minAerobic = .6 * $maxHeartRate;
var number maxAerobic = .85 * $maxHeartRate;
// Here is the formula that determines what the field will hold
If ( [Average Heart Rate] >= $minAerobic and [Average Heart Rate] <= $maxAerobic, true, false )
This is a much better approach than either creating other fields to hold the intermediate calculations or writing a complex formula with nested calculations that would be hard for others to understand and debug.
Learn more about formula variables in the article at Quickbase Help: http://help.quickbase.com/user-assistance/#formula_variables.html.
5. Add a section heading element to reset the width of fields
We’ve all cringed at forms with ridiculously and unnecessarily wide fields in them. In the example below, does “marital status” really need to stretch that wide?
On the other hand, maybe you like the way everything lines up in a perfect grid. Sometimes I do too.
In any event, when designing forms, you can reset the spacing and width of fields by adding a section heading element. In cases like this, we often turn off the form property “Show horizontal rules between sections.”
This is what it looks like after the extra section heading is added
6. Type the letter “t” in a date field to fill it with today’s date
Date fields slow down data entry. Even many touch typists feel clumsy and slow trying to type in dates from the keyboard and switching to the mouse to use the date picker can be awkward. If the date you need to type happens to be today, a cool shortcut is just to type the letter t. Quickbase will fill in today’s date automatically for you.
7. Star your favorite reports
If you find yourself going to the same few reports over and over again, click the star icon at the top right to add them to your favorites. Then, they’ll just be a click away from your Favorites dropdown at the top of the page.
8. Save time and your memory with your list of recently visited records and reports
While we’re talking about the favorites menu, here’s a hidden gem: a continually updated list of the records and reports you’ve most recently looked at. This is great if a phone call interrupts what you’re working on and takes you to another record. Just click your Favorites dropdown and then expand the Recently visited in this app section to see the list, then click on any of them to jump right back to where you were before.
9. Include a “delete-after” date in the title of ad hoc reports
Quickbase apps can get cluttered with lots of reports that were made to be used at one time. It makes maintenance easier if you add a delete-after date to the title so administrators will know a report can be removed safely. Date it at least a couple of weeks into the future in case you have to come back to it in the next few days.
10. Delete records in bulk (carefully!)
There’s a faster way to delete records in bulk than grid edit. Create a new table report that filters records to show only the ones you want to delete. Then click More > Delete these records and voila. Just make sure the report contains exactly, and only, the records you want to delete because this can’t be undone.
11. Jump back to the top of a long report with the little white arrow
You don’t have to scroll all the way back up to the top of a long report. You may not have noticed the little white arrow that appears in the top middle of your browser viewport when you scroll down a ways into a report. Just click it to jump right back to the top of the page.
12. Have fun when the Internet is down
Quickbase runs in the cloud, which meant that our team could work as normal from Greenville, South Carolina, even though we had evacuated from Hollywood, Florida, ahead of Hurricane Irma in 2017. But that means when your Internet is down, your connection to Quickbase is down too. If you use Google Chrome (our preferred browser for Quickbase), you can play the dinosaur game while waiting for your router to reboot.
Press the space bar on your keyboard to start this little arcade game. Press space to jump over the cacti and other obstacles in the path of your T. Rex.
What if I get stuck?
Quickbase is intended to be user-friendly, but it can still be frustrating at times. What should you do if you hit a roadblock with reports, formulas, relationships, or building an app? Quickbase Help is a well-organized compilation of frequently asked questions. The Quickbase Community forum is a good place to ask other users for help. But for more support, nothing beats having an expert Quickbase consultant to provide tailored advice and effective strategies to help you unlock the full potential of this robust platform.
At Watkyn LLC, we specialize in supporting Quickbase users. We can get you set up, help you learn Quickbase, or solve any problems you might be having. Get in touch for a free consultation or call (954) 900-6690.
Our thanks to Ann Swelgin (#6) and Laura Thacker (#2, #7) for suggesting several of these helpful Quickbase tips.