The Future of Quickbase Will Be Defined by This New Tech!Jun 09, 2020
If you missed Quickbase's Empower Conference last week, that's okay.
This year's event was moved to 100% virtual, so you can still attend virtually all the sessions.
But, with over 40 hours of content available... where do you even start! 😱
As an experienced builder and Quickbase consultant, the 3 technology changes that really wowed me and got the creative juices flowing were:
If you’re an app builder, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these innovations that will surely change the way we all design, build and maintain apps.
Pipelines is a feature that "sits on top of" Quickbase lending additional power and functionality to the platform. It enables you to integrate Quickbase with other applications, transform data, and automate processes.
This new functionality was acquired through the purchase of a company called Cloudpipes in 2019.
Rebranded as Pipelines, it was released to all Quickbase accounts in April of this year.
Quickbase Empower 2020 was certainly not the first we've heard about Pipelines, but it did give an opportunity to dive into additional use cases, demos, and the ever-increasing number of channels.
There were 13 different sessions (7.5 hrs of material) that included Pipelines! I doubt any other topic got more coverage.
From basic setup and layout to advanced connection to on-prem systems and complex multi-channel workflows, these sessions cover a lot of material.
That being said, Pipelines is a different animal.
The interface is different, the vocabulary is different, and there's even a different formula/code language to learn, called Jinja.
The good news is, there are experts who are working hard to understand the ins and outs of Pipelines and can help you with automating your workflows. (wink, wink contact me if you'd like help setting up your Pipelines – exciting things are underway!)
If you're just getting started with Pipelines these sessions will be helpful:
- Basic Pipelines Navigation and Anatomy
- Authenticating Pipelines to Quickbase
- Pipelines Admin Enablement
If you've started to use (or play with) Pipelines check out these sessions:
- Building Your First Pipeline, Part 1
- Building Your First Pipeline, Part 2
- Export a CSV from Quickbase to Box
- Create Your Own Template Copy Pipeline
- Data Transformation Two Ways Using Pipelines
If you've built a few Pipelines and feel ready to take on more challenges, these sessions are for you:
- Creating a Distributed Ecosystem of Apps with Pipelines Record Linking and Buckets
- Pipelines and the RESTful API
- Trending Your Data with Pipelines and the RESTful API
- Integrate Document and File Management Systems into Your Quickbase Workflows
- Extend Quickbase Workflows to Your On-Premise Data
New Formulas & APIs
I nearly jumped out of my seat when I heard the announcement in the Keynote session that new formulas were coming.
But it wasn't just that there were new formulas... shoot, this past year multiple new formula functions were released (SearchAndReplace, UserRoles, and QB32Encode, to name a few).
What made this announcement so exciting is that these new formula field functions will include individual record queries and multi-record queries.
What does that mean?
From what was shared (these won't be available until winter at the soonest) the new formula functions will include terms like "GetRecord" and "GetCellValue".
These functions will enable you to specify another record and a field ID allowing you to pull its value into the formula. Or, if you need the value from multiple records, run a query (ie filter to a specific group of records) and get the total of a field on those records.
For example, say you have a table of sales leads, each with a potential sale value. On each lead you want to know, for the quarter it's expected to close, what % of the total sales (in that quarter) does this lead represent.
Today this is only possible through complex relationship structures and multiple 'helper' fields.
However, with the new formulas, this could be calculated right in a single formula field.
Super cool! Can't wait for winter.
Something we won't have to wait until winter for is the new RESTful APIs.
These new APIs can replace some existing APIs, but also bring new capabilities such as upsert (a combination of update and insert records), get field usage, and update fields.
Some of the common questions during the sessions Q&A:
Question: Will my existing APIs still work?
Answer: Yes, there is currently no plan to deprecate any of the "old" APIs.
Question: Will the new APIs work in formulas similar to the way API_EditRecord or API_AddRecord works for 'magic' buttons?
Answer: No, the new APIs are not designed to work with URL fields, so continue to use the existing APIs for those use cases. There are currently no plans to update or modify these types of APIs.
The new APIs are massively valuable when combined with the Pipelines JSON and Webhook channels. Check out the session on Pipelines and RESTful API to see why.
The new RESTful APIs were released on June 2nd.
Sessions on the new formulas & APIs:
- Product Keynote (these are both right near the end)
- The Next Evolution of Quickbase Formulas
- Introducing the RESTful API
- Trending Your Data with Pipelines and the RESTful API
- Pipelines and the RESTful API
BONUS Session: Automate Your App Documentation and Management
This session is a demonstration of an app from the App Exchange called "Virtual Empower: App Library". The app utilizes the new APIs and Pipelines to fetch information about your apps such as field usage and properties. You can also update your app schema through this app. HOW COOL IS THAT! Make sure to watch the session and follow the instructions provided in the app closely.
Future of the Quickbase UI
You may have already noticed the little toggle switch labeled "New style (beta)" next to the add record button on your table reports.
This is part of the refreshed UI (User Interface) plan that Quickbase has to update the overall look and feel of the platform.
This multi-year effort will include updates to reports, charts, dashboards, forms, as well as the overall navigation.
That little toggle is just the tip of the iceberg!
But don't expect overnight changes. The team at Quickbase is taking their time to make sure they get this one right.
In fact, it was at Empower 2019 that the new Executive Dashboards were first demonstrated to the delight of many Quickbase builders.
But it's been a year and we're still not likely to see the new dashboards until later in 2020.
In order to use the new dashboards and forms, builders will need to 're-build' their dashboards and forms using the new feature.
If you've been around awhile you may remember when 'new' dashboards/homepages were released (maybe 6 years ago). The rollout will likely be similar. Any existing dashboards or forms can continue to be utilized just as they are or rebuilt in the new UI.
Reports and Charts are likely to be a bit different. Like the new Beta table reports, you won't have to do anything other than flip a switch to be in the new UI style.
There is talk of new report types though, which would only be available in the new UI style once released.
And while it's fun to think about what the new dashboards, reports, and forms may look like, I'm also VERY excited by the navigation changes.
Similar to other 'modern' applications Quickbase is looking to move the navigation from the top of the screen to the left side.
For reference, here are a few applications that use this navigation pattern:
Having tables and settings on the left will be a big deviation, but much more real estate will open on the main screen.
In addition to this global navigation change, the team is looking to improve builder navigation as well.
When building a report today you leave the report and enter the customization screen where you make updates to the report.
And... if you're anything like me... you go back and forth numerous times getting the settings just right.
The new report builder experience would open a menu on the right of the screen where changes can be made and reflected in the report which is still open.
Ummm, yes please!
For more information and some slick visuals check out these sessions:
- Future of the Quickbase UI
- Product Keynote (about halfway through)
That wraps it up for my top 3 takeaways from the 2020 Virtual Empower Quickbase User Conference.
But, wait there's more! Sooooo much more!
This is just a small part of what was shared.
There’s a lot of excellent information on all things Quickbase including industry networking, beginner sessions, mobile, governance, and more.
I invite you to expand your Quickbase knowledge and continue to leverage the power of Quickbase to solve your business problems and optimize your business processes.
If you need assistance, I'm here to help.
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