VOLUME LXXIV               02/23/2021

Start With a Splash Screen

By Jennifer Neighbors, Senior Consultant

If you’ve spent considerable time creating an attractive and powerful database for your business or organization, think about adding a splash screen to welcome your users. Not only can it make a striking visual statement about the database’s subject, but also it can serve as a “Main Menu” to direct users where to go within the database. It can even serve as the navigational home base for your project.

Users, especially new users, can become confused about where to go and what they will find when they select one of the many tables they see on the menu. Simplify by creating a splash screen that offers a few clearly defined choices. Here’s how to get started:

In a table where you store images and information that will be used throughout your database, insert an image of your logo using an image field and name it “Logo”. In my sample database this hidden table is named Utilities. Next, create another image field and name it “Blank”. Don’t store anything in the field. If you have any navigation icons, create an image type of field for each and store the images there, naming them appropriately.

Now create a new table named “Splash screen”, “Gateway”, “Main Menu”, or something similar. Place a tab element on the form and give it a color that would make a light background on your form and that will look nice with the colors in your logo. Use the insert formula tool to make your first screen object. The formula should be:

							
					select Utilities.Blank				
			

Size this field to create a blank space on your form in the upper left corner. Name the field “Blank 1” and hide the field label. You may wonder why we aren’t using spaces to organize the screen. It’s because when spaces are placed next to image fields, the image field is always granted the left-most place. And when formulas contain image fields, they act like them in this way. Formula fields that show images can be placed anywhere, even to the left of another image.

Next, insert another formula field. The formula should be:

							
					select Utilities.Logo				
			

This second object will appear next to the blank space. Name it “Logo” and hide the field label. Finally, create a third formula that contains a blank image and name it “Blank 2”. Hide its field label as well. Adjust all your screen objects so that a pleasing appearance is created. The logo art can be in the middle of the page or more to the right or left depending on what you think looks good. If you kept your artwork in the middle of the page, your splash screen should look something like this:

The next step is to open each of the three formula fields on the form and set their background colors to exactly match the color you used for the background of the entire page when you placed the Tab element on the page. Take a look at your splash page. What else would you like to add?

In the illustration above, I’ve inserted a copyright notice and database version number. This, too, is a formula field but in this instance, I’ve simply used text surrounded by double quotation marks as the formula and then styled the result using the field’s “Style” property.

Let’s assume at this point that this is all you want to do with this splash page. That is, you want to display it for a moment and then take the user inside the database to some other form for data entry or information analysis. How would you do that? Simply enter some code like this in the database’s Trigger After Open function in the database Options screen. (There are a few variations of this code that would also work well.)

							
					openFullscreen(record('Splash Screen',1));
do as server
	sleep(7000)
end;
closeFullscreen();
openTable("Sales", "Sales Dashboard")
				
			

This code opens the splash screen in full screen mode, keeps it open for a brief moment and then opens the Sales Dashboard. You now have a nice splash screen.

What if you want to take things further and add navigation? In the illustration below, I have added a navigation icon to the form. My navigation icon in the Utilities table is named “Exit”. Again, this image is a formula field, and the formula is:

							
					select Utilties.Exit				
			

Because formula fields have “On Click” functions, they execute code when the user clicks them, making them ideal for use as navigation icons. Here is the same splash screen with a single navigation icon:

When using navigation icons on your splash screen, edit the “Trigger After Open” code to include only the lines you need to take the user to the splash screen. Then, insert icons that open forms which are key elements of the program, making your splash screen function as a simplifying and streamlining “Main Menu”.

I hope this guide will get you started making professional looking splash screens for your databases. Your users may especially appreciate their good looks when you add navigation.

Jennifer welcomes feedback and can be reached at jennifer@nioxus.com.

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Just Jim

By Jim Harris, Stargazer

It’s almost the end of February which means the Gold Star Redemption Month will be ending soon. For those who have not redeemed their Gold Stars, please be sure to do so. You can redeem them here by filling out the form. Remember any remaining stars that you do have will roll over to next year. For those who have already redeemed their stars, thank you and enjoy your gift from us at Nioxus!

For the past few issues of the EYE, I have talked about Humor & Laughter as they bring positivity into our days. This week I wanted to tackle a slightly different topic, Mental Block. Now I hate to admit it but I regularly experience a mental block or as I prefer to call it, “Brain Fog”. We all, at some time in their life will feel somewhat disconnected, and that is completely normal.

When you are stuck and you just can’t seem to make any headway, this is the time you need to “Reset your Mind”. It sounds easy to do but really, it does take a little practice. Start by finding an environment that is conducive to clarity. You want to stimulate your mind by changing up how you normally do things, but you want an environment where it’s easy to focus.

One way to begin your practice is mental exercises. Try writing with your non-dominant hand. For many, it is not easy as you think. Be sure there is no-one looking over your shoulders as this may distract you. This is only one way to clear your mind, but it does work. Now, of course there are some people who are ambidextrous, and can write both left or right handed, so this exercise will not work for them.

Now after that, and if you are able to do so, take a short walk. Did you know that just a little bit of time outdoors can improve cognitive functioning? If you want to double it up, take your dog with you.

There is of course my favorite way to get rid of the Mental Block, humor and laughter. Humor is always a quick cure for so many things.

So, these are just a few examples on how to clear any Mental Block you may have. Hopefully, this will be a rare issue for you.

Before I leave, another Mark Twain quote for you:

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

Jim's Comic Strip Corner

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Ninox Emails

By David Gyenes, Director of IT

We get a lot of questions about sending auto emails from Ninox and I thought it would be a good topic to talk about. Andy has created a video about this topic on our YouTube channel as well, feel free to check it out (600.05 Email Integration & Automation).When we talk about automated emails I would like to clarify that emails have to be triggered by a button or action in Ninox. It is not fully automatic. Ninox doesn’t have the capability yet to have a time based trigger without the user interacting with Ninox. First lets take a look of the code block and it’s parameters:

							
					sendEmail({
		from: “ACME COMPANY <” + userEmail() + “>”,
		to: “email@email.com”,
		cc: “”,
		bcc: “”,
		replyTo: “”,
		subject: “”,
		text: “”,
		html: “”,
		attachments: “”
	});				
			

The “from”  is the senders email address. It has to be one of the email addresses that is associated with this team. The “to” / “cc” / “bcc” are the recipients, if we list more than one then it has to be a comma separated list. If we want to specify a different email address than the senders to reply to then we can do that in the “replyTo” parameter. There is nothing special about “subject”, it is just the subject line. The “text” and “html” are referring to the email body. These are the 2 different formats we can use. The “text” would send plain text format but in the “html” we can format the content. From Ninox we can generate PDF files and send them along with the email. Make sure you avoid some of the special characters that cannot be in the name of a file otherwise the attachment won’t send.

What to expect when sending emails from Ninox? Ninox offers Public and Private server options. Why is this important? Ninox Public server is configured with Ninox email engine and sending emails might end up in the recipients junk folder. If you are on a Private server you don’t have this issue.

There are multiple ways to send emails. You can create a button to send the email right away or you can build your own email engine. What do I mean? Let’s create a table that looks like an email platform and import all the parameters into this format so the user can see the email and edit it before it’s sent (see example below).

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