VOLUME LXII                12/01/2020

Client Showcase

By Dottie Worster, Media Manager

Lemon Dog Project helps clients build a brand through combined services focused on graphic design, website design, marketing and advertising that communicate clearly to a targeted audience. Clients reach their marketing and branding goals through advertising, brochures, direct mail, websites, and more. Opened in the fall of 1989 by Cynthia Pinsonnault, Lemon Dog Project (formerly Pinsonnault Creative) is dedicated to “bridging technology and creativity” to provide practical marketing, advertising and website design that looks good, makes sense and works!

Why Ninox?
At first, Cynthia was looking for a more affordable alternative to File Maker Pro. She thought databases were just for keeping client data organized in one space. She “didn’t know how much she didn’t know” when she started. “I had no idea how powerful Ninox was.”

As she started working with the software and started using the weekly training, she started realizing all of the things she could do for her business with Ninox. 

It’s rare, she says, for a company to be as accessible as Nioxus. There are not many companies where you can hop on a weekly live webinar and ask questions and learn new tricks. 

Some of the things Cynthia started to do with her database included: keeping client data, linking project data to each client, tracking time and expenses, and her favorite task – keeping on top of domain and server expiration dates.

Custom Solutions
A custom technology solution developed by Nioxus provides an easy way to organize and deploy a large collection of photography. All of these images are cataloged in the Ninox database with keywords and Metadata information that includes the last time it was used, and for which client.

“When I am putting a website together and I need an image with a blue background, I can use my custom module and find exactly what I am looking for.”

Cynthia likes that Ninox is not a canned solution, “there aren’t things in the platform that I don’t need. I can start with one of the prompts, but it’s easy to customize and modify to do exactly what you want.” All in all, Ninox absolutely exceeded the goals that Cynthia had for her business. “It wasn’t even in my mind the kinds of things I am able to do with Ninox. In ten years my whole life will be in a Ninox database.”

 * Screenshot of Cynthia’s database showing client jobs and time tracking

Ninox University YouTube Channel

Nioxus has created nearly 100 videos and over 200 hours of content teaching you how to use and optimize Ninox, as well as our supplementary products: CalendarPLUS, ReportsPLUS and DocumentsPLUS

Nioxus Today

By Amelia Neighbors, GM Global Operations

Well, that was fast. December already – what a year!

We have come farther than we imagined last January and so much has happened that we have been able to share with you. December is a time for family, a time for joy and the Nioxus family is no different. We are so excited to share with you all the amazing tools and solutions that we have been working on and there is so much more to come. Be sure to sign up for a 30-day free trial (a Nioxus first) of CalendarPLUS and be on the look-out for more exciting advancements from the Nioxus team and we continue to enjoy hearing from you.

Thank you so much for all of your support and we hope to see you all on our Thursday Ninox University Learning Lab sessions – bring your questions and have some fun learning about what is possible with Ninox.

This Week in the Learning Lab

Join us this Thursday on the 3rd at 12:00pm EDT for our Learning Lab covering using the trigger after update. Make sure to register and have your questions ready!

Did you know that Nioxus has built over 125 templates which are available to all Standard, Deluxe and Premier Nioxus members?

Gold Star Program

By Jim Harris, The Stargazer

Well, it is hard to believe but the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is officially over. That doesn’t mean one won’t sneak up and develop something, it just means that the National Hurricane Center in Miami has officially called it over. Finally!

What does that have to do with Ninox or Nioxus? As the manager of the Florida branch of Nioxus and with a love of meteorology, Hurricane season is something I dread.SO during the last few months, we have had Halloween, the arrival of multiple jaw-dropping Nioxus Applications, Thanksgiving AND the end of Hurricane Season. Let’s see now, a few birthdays coming up, and then my favorite: Christmas. Not too shabby if I do say so.

Speaking of Christmas (and Hanukkah), what is your favorite part of the holidays?

Is it going to the mall for looking for those special gifts for those special people in your life, the lighting of the menorah, getting THE perfect tree to decorate inside the home, going to the garage to find the lights and decorations for outside the home, etc…?

Do you or your family have something very special for the holiday season that you would like to share?

Share yours with us at jim@nioxus.com

Christmas is a very special time for me for many personal reasons and hearing your stories would be great to read.

As for me and my most fond memory? That, my friends, is for next week.

Jim

Stargazer

Developer Tips of the Week

Ninox & Calendar Plus Tips

Create Your Own Code for Code

By Jennifer Neighbors, Senior Consultant 

Today while writing the same line of code for what seemed like the hundredth time in the same day, I realized I needed to find a better way. Do you have a line of code you use over and over? For me, it’s the first line in my typical code block – one that’s intended to get and store the id number of the current record. Most of my code starts with this line and it’s the same line no matter what the database or table I am working in:

let xCurrRec := number(Id);

I need this short line of code, but I’m tired of typing it over and over again. In my moment of frustration, I had a realization. My iPhone has a text replacement feature that allows me to store shortcuts for frequently used names and phrases. My Mac will do the same

How? From the Apple menu, select System Preferences and then Keyboard. Under the Text tab press the plus icon. Enter a short “code word” in the “Replace” column. Then, in the “With” column, type the phrase you want it to replace. Press enter. That’s it! Now whenever you type your code word your Mac will insert the phrase you want to use. And this works fine in your Ninox code editor.

As you can see from this illustration, I selected the code word “cr” for my line of code. Next, I experimented to see if I could store a few lines of code rather than just one line and found the problem with this is it’s impossible to enter a carriage return in the available space. The solution is to copy and paste your lines into the “With” column rather than typing them there. I created a code word “sw” to represent a case switch statement. Using my Notes app, I typed this:

switch do

     case

     case

     case

end

Then I copied and pasted these lines into the “With” column and it worked. I could only see the first line, but all the lines were there. This won’t prevent me having to add my own customization each time I use it, but it will still save time.

When you use this text shortcut method, you will see your substitution appears as a choice. It may seem as though you must use your mouse to indicate that you do indeed want to enter your “With” phrase, an action that would slow you down. Don’t reach for your mouse. Instead, press the spacebar after you type your code word and your text substitution will be instantly made.

 The possible applications for this are endless, aren’t they? If you are like me, tired of typing the same code phrases over and over, and you use Ninox on a Mac, you’re probably already planning what you can do using this simple trick.

Jennifer welcomes feedback and can be reached by email to jennifer@nioxus.com.

Databasics

With Great Colors Comes Great Responsibility  

When creating a Ninox database solution, it’s easy to add lots of colors to any variety of objects. Whether it’s choices in a Choice Field, Click Buttons or form background colors, there are more than a few ways to add eye candy to your database. When it comes to adding color to your database however, remember the old wisdom that says “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something.”

 This advice is particularly sound when you are building a Ninox application that others are going to use. Keep in mind that users will look for meaning behind any non-standard component of the user interface. For example, you may colorize all buttons in your system with blue except for those that trigger the deletion of content and those you may present in red. As blue is the defined standard, the user will rightfully expect there to be something about the red buttons that demands a non-standard visual treatment. In another example, you may present all of the numbers in a column in standard text while the number at the very bottom – the bottom line as it were – appears is blue bold text. Again, this exception to the visual standard implies there is something special about that final figure.

 In the situations described above, the reserved use of color and formatting can serve to make the system more intuitive and the user experience more pleasant as the user will be able to easily navigate your screen designs and find the critical information they demand. But if you overuse the colors, or mix bold, italicized and standard fonts all over the place and to the point where there is no discernable standard, what could be a valuable and powerful tool in your UI design toolbox will become a distraction reducing usability and, potentially, turning off your users.
 
So when it comes to colors and all of the various formatting options developers have at their disposal in Ninox, remember – less is almost always more and just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Construct a Creative Calendar Page

By Jennifer Neighbors, Senior Consultant* 

Our database add-on product Calendar Plus is my new toy.  Ever since one of my coworkers introduced it to me, I’ve been having fun finding new ways to use it. And, while it wasn’t initially shown to me in this way, I’ve almost exclusively used my own take on a user interface for the calendar that I really like. To make things intuitive and super easy for users, I’ve been making pages like this one:

Instead of manually opening a “light box” on the calendar to add events, users simply need to fill out a form and press a button. The event will be posted on the calendar for them. Notice that a small copy of the calendar is embedded on the page where the user can instantly see the results of their work.

Like it? Here’s how to create it:

You’ll need to have administrative privileges for this. First, create your form with fields for calendar event details like the shown one above. Add a button and name it whatever you like. Create a hidden Yes/No field and name it “refreshCalendar”. Next, go to the Calendar Plus page and open the formula field that contains the calendar. Surprised? I, too, was floored to find out the entire calendar is contained in a standard Ninox formula field. It is! You may need to click once on the calendar’s border to expose the red square with a wrench symbol inside. Then you’ll see you can open this formula as you would with any formula field.

Using the copy to clipboard function, copy the entire formula inside the formula field. Next, back in the page you are building, add a blank formula field where you want the calendar to appear and copy the formula from your clipboard to that new formula field’s formula property. If you want to force the calendar to refresh every time you add to it, you’ll need to add a line of code to the formula near the end. Enter the new string of code just before these characters: </html>”). The string of code to add is:

<div style=’display:none;’>” + refreshCalendar + “</div>

Press OK to save your changes. Name the new formula field something like ‘Calendar 2’ and hide the field’s label. Resize this formula object to fit your form. Looking good, right?

Now you just need to add some code to your button. First, you’ll create variables to store your important field data. Then use them to post to the calendar. Your lines of code will look something like this:

do as server
     let xSDate := ‘Start Date’;
     let xEDate := ‘End Date’;
     let xDesc := Description;
     let xPart1 := ‘Participant One’;
     let xPart2 := ‘Participant Two’;
     let xTClr := ‘Text Color’;
     let xBClr := ‘Background Color’;
          (create ‘CALENDAR PLUS ENTRIES’).(
          ‘START DATE’ := date(xSDate);
          ‘END DATE’ := date(xEDate);
          PARTICIPANTS := xPart1 + “,” + xPart2;
          DESCRIPTION := xDesc;
          ‘BG COLOR’ := xBClr;
          ‘TEXT COLOR’ := xTClr
          );
     if refreshCalendar then
          refreshCalendar := false
     else
          refreshCalendar := true
     end
end

What I am doing here is posting a record to the hidden table named “Calendar Plus Entries”. This table’s records populate the calendar, so by adding a record I can post a new event to the calendar. To delete a calendar entry, all I need to do is delete the record from this hidden table. And so forth. It’s a regular table and can be treated like any other Ninox table. Because I am using the cloud version of Ninox, I’m doing the whole thing on the server to speed it up.

To wrap up my code block, I might delete the values in the form so the user can start again, and then let the user know it’s been done:

‘Start Date’ := null;
‘End Date’ := null;
…etc.
Alert(“Your event has been posted to the calendar!”)

I like this form approach to calendar entries; it’s particularly useful for teams where most users won’t want to learn all the many (albeit wonderful) functions of the calendar but, instead, just need to post their event in a simple, easy, and fast way.


Here’s an interesting variation:

What I’ve done here is design the form to create a sequence of events that occur periodically for a user-defined number of times. To do that, add a number field to your form and invite users to “repeat” their event the number of times they enter. Then, using looping code and date formulas, enter the event multiple times to the calendar. This is useful for a series of meetings, for example, where the day, time, and attendees will be the same each time.

Try Calendar Plus yourself and you’ll soon be playing with this cool toy, too. For more information, check out our Calendar Plus web page at https://nioxus.com/products/calendar-plus/.

*Grateful appreciation goes to Adam Davidson, Senior Programmer, for technical help with this article.

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