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Knack database App Building 101: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

Updated: Aug 23, 2023


knack online database

Knack is an easy-to-use online database app builder that allows you to create customized business apps without any coding required.


Knack online database app builder 101


In this Knack online database app builder 101 step-by-step tutorial, you'll learn how to build a simple Knack app from scratch. We'll cover setting up your Knack account and builder environment, creating tables to store your data, building connections between tables, adding fields to capture information, entering records, building pages and views to display data, setting up users and logins for your app, and configuring tasks and email notifications to automate key functions.

With Knack's intuitive, drag-and-drop interface, you'll be building your first database app in no time.Let's get started. In a few short steps, you'll have an app up and running to help streamline your business processes.


Using the Knack database app builder


To build your first app using the Knack database, you'll start by accessing the Knack builder. The Knack builder is the central hub where you can create the components for your app.

  1. Once in the builder, the first step is to create the tables and connections that will store your data. Tables represent the types of information you want to track, like customers, products, or orders. Connections define the relationships between tables, for example, linking customers to their orders.

  2. After creating tables, define the fields within each table. Fields represent the individual pieces of data for a record, such as name, email, price, or shipping address. Select field types that match the kind of information you need to store, e.g. text, number, date.

  3. With tables and fields set up, you can add records which represent individual entries in a table, such as a single customer's information. Then create pages to input and display records for end users of your app.

  4. Views allow you to filter and organize records for display on pages. Create views to show relevant subsets of records to users. For example, show only recent orders on an orders page.

  5. To allow users to log in and access your app, enable user and login functionality. Once enabled, you can set permissions to control what users can see and do.

  6. Finally, use automations like tasks and emails to trigger events based on user actions. For example, send an email when an order is placed or task a user when a new customer signs up.

With a little time and patience, the powerful yet user-friendly Knack builder allows you to create a custom database app to suit your needs. Let the building begin!


Create Tables and Connections


To build your app, you'll first need to create the tables and connections that will store your data.

In the Knack builder, click the "Add Table" button to create your first table. Give the table a name that describes the type of data it will hold, such as "Customers" or "Products".

Next, add fields to your table to capture specific pieces of information. For example, in a Customers table, you might add fields like:

  • First Name

  • Last Name

  • Email Address

  • Phone Number

Choose a field type that matches the data, such as "Text" for names and "Email" for email addresses. You can make fields required or optional depending on your needs.

To relate data across tables, create connections. For example, in an e-commerce app, you could connect Customers and Products tables. To do this:

  1. Open the Customers table and click "Add Connection".

  2. Choose the Products table and select the type of relationship, such as "Customer Purchased Product".

  3. Map related fields, such as "Customer ID" to "Customer ID" and "Product ID" to "Product ID".

  4. Save the connection.

With your tables and connections established, you're ready to start adding records, building views, creating users, and designing tasks. Using the tools in Knack, you can build a fully customized app to meet your business needs without any coding required.

Keep practicing and learning. With experience, you'll be automating business processes in no time! Let me know if you have any other questions.


Add Fields to Your Tables


To build your Knack app, you’ll need to add fields to your tables to store data. Fields define the type of information that will be captured for each record in the table.


Add Text Fields

Text fields allow users to enter letters, numbers, and symbols. They are useful for names, addresses, notes, and more.

To add a text field:

  1. Click the “Add Field” button at the top of the table.

  2. Select “Text” from the options.

  3. Enter a name and label for the field. The name is used in the database, while the label appears on data entry forms and table views.

  4. Set the field size to the maximum number of characters allowed. For names and short responses, 100 characters is typically sufficient. For longer responses, allow 500-1000 characters.

  5. Click “Save” to add the field.

Add Number Fields

Number fields store numeric data, such as quantities, dollar amounts, percentages, etc. They can be formatted to round to decimal places and use thousand separators.

To add a number field:

  1. Click “Add Field” and select “Number”.

  2. Enter a name and label for the field.

  3. Select a format for the number, such as decimal, currency, or percent. Choose how many decimal places to round to.

  4. Click “Save” to add the field.

Add Date Fields

Date fields contain calendar dates and times. They are useful for tracking events, deadlines, delivery dates, and more.

To add a date field:

  1. Click “Add Field” and choose “Date” or “Date & Time”, depending on your needs.

  2. Enter a name and label for the field.

  3. Select a format for how the date should be displayed. Options include MM/DD/YYYY, DD/MM/YYYY, etc.

  4. Click “Save” to add the date field.

By adding fields of various types, you can build dynamic tables to store all the information you need for your Knack app. Let me know if you have any other questions!


Build Records, Pages and Views


To build the core components of your Knack app, you must first create records, pages, and views.


Records

Records contain the data for your app. Create a record for each type of information you want to track. For example, you may have a “Contact” record to store customer information. Give the record a name and select a color to represent it. Then add fields to the record to capture details like first name, last name, email, etc.


Pages

Pages display the records to users and allow them to add, edit, and view records. Build a page for each of your records. Select the record you want the page to display, choose a page layout, and pick which fields to include. You can also set a default view for the page to determine which records are shown when the page first loads.


Views

Views filter and organize the records on a page. They allow you to specify conditions to control which records display. For example, create a view to only show “Contact” records where the “Status” field equals “Active.” Give the view a name and description, select the fields to show in the view, and set filter conditions. Choose whether you want the view to be the default for the page.

To connect your records, pages, and views, set up relationships in the builder. For example, link a “Company” record to a “Contact” record to associate contacts with the companies they belong to. You can then create views to only show contacts for a specific company.

Building well-designed records, pages, and views is key to developing an easy to use Knack app. Take time to plan out the information you need to capture and how you want to display it to users. With the right components in place, your Knack app will be on its way to helping you organize and share data efficiently.


Manage Users, Logins, Tasks and Emails


Manage Users

To allow others to access your Knack app, you must set up user accounts and logins. Under the Settings tab, select “Users & Groups.” Here you can add individual users or create user groups.

For each user, enter a first and last name, email address, and password. Determine their user level - Admin, Editor, or Viewer. Admins have full access, Editors can modify records but not settings, and Viewers are read-only. You can also set password requirements like minimum length and complexity.

Once users are added, they will receive an email with login instructions. Users can then access your app and perform actions based on their user level. Be sure to provide thorough onboarding for new users to ensure they understand the app’s purpose and functionality.


Enable Logins

To require users to login to access your Knack app, go to Settings → General and turn on “Require login to view app.” This will prompt users to enter the email address and password you provided when setting up their account.


Automating Tasks and Sending Emails

Knack allows you to automate various tasks and send email notifications based on triggers and schedules you define. Under Settings → Automation, you can set up:

  • Workflows to automatically run when records are created or updated. Use workflows to update fields, send notifications, create related records, etc.

  • Scheduled tasks to run periodically. For example, send a weekly status email or back up your app data daily.

  • Email alerts to send messages when a trigger event occurs, like when a task is assigned to someone. You can customize email content with record field values and more.

  • Webhooks to send data to external services. Post messages to Slack, track app usage in Google Analytics, push updates to Twitter, and many other options.

With some configuration, you can build a robust automated system and notification process within your Knack app. Let Knack handle the routine tasks so you can focus on high-priority work.


Summary


In summary, you now have the foundational knowledge to build a fully functional app using Knack's easy-to-use platform. You've created tables to store your data, built connections between those tables to relate information, added custom fields to capture details, and populated your database with sample records. You designed pages and views to allow users to easily input and access information. You set up user roles, logins, and permissions to keep data secure. Finally, you automated key tasks and email notifications to streamline processes. With these essential building blocks in place, you're ready to customize and deploy your Knack app to solve your unique business needs. The possibilities are endless.


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