Think in Technical Terms

WorkXpress is based on a very simple concept; that you know your business better than anyone.

But in order to actually build software, you will have to learn to think of your business as combinations of five fundamental types of building blocks. As you answer these 5 questions, and as you recognize that each one corresponds to a building block type, you are successfully beginning to think technically!

  • What do you want to track? (“Tables!” )
  • What do you want to know about the things you are tracking? (“Fields!” )
  • How are the things you are tracking connected? (“Relationships!” )
  • What web interfaces do you want your users to use? (“Forms!” )
  • What do you want the computer to do automatically? (“Actions!” )

Track Things Using Tables and Records

For example: In Bob's business, he tracks contacts, accounts and products. Bob would create three tables; Contacts, Accounts and Products. A specific Contact, “Jane Doe”, would be a Record in the Contacts Table.

Definition: “Records” are specific people, places, and things you are tracking in your application. Records of the same type are grouped together into “Tables”. Tables are the red building block.

Steps: First Create a Table, then create specific records within that Table.

More Table Examples:

  • Contact (a record in this table might be “Jane Doe”)
  • Account (a record in this table might be “Acme Company”)
  • Task (a record in this table might be “Pickup Groceries”)
  • Project (a record in this table might be “analyze last quarters sales results”)
  • Part (a record in this table might be “Q9042 - Left Assembly”)
  • Appointment (a record in this table might be “9:00 - 10:00, meet with Tom”)
  • User (a record in this table might be “Smith, John”)
  • Group (a record in this table might be “Administrators”)

Information about Records are stored by Fields

For example: Bob wants to track details about his Contacts like their name, address and description. So, Bob creates three fields in his Contacts Table; a short-text field called “Name”, an address field called “Address”, and a long-text field called “Description”.

Definition: Fields store data that describe Records. Fields are the orange blocks.

Steps: Create Fields within a Table to store and display details about a Record.

More Field Examples:

  • Name (a Short Text Field)
  • Birthdate (a Date Field)
  • Description (a Long Text Field)
  • Cell Number (a Phone Number Field)
  • File Attachment (a File Upload Field)
  • Social Security Number (a Social Security Number Field)
  • Status (a Selector Field)
  • On/Off (a Checkbox Field)
  • Assigned To (a Selector Field configured to point at the User Table)

STOP! Review Tables and Fields

In the example below, Bob wants to create a Table called “Contacts” to track specific Contact Records. To describe those Records, he also creates Fields within the Table.

This is what he needs to create:

Connect Records Using Relationship Blocks

For example: Bob knows that certain accounts are actually “employers” of certain contacts. The connection is an “employer to employee” connection. Bob wants his software to indicate which Contacts are employed by which Accounts. Therefore, Bob creates a Relationship Table from his Accounts Table to his Contacts Table called “employer to employee”.

Definition: A Relationship Table is a group of similar Relationships (Similar to how a Table is actually a group of similar Records). Relationships connect two different Records. Relationship tables are the green block.

Steps: Create a relationship table between two or more tables. Then, you can create specific relationships.

More relationship table examples:

  • Connect Accounts to Contacts via an “Employer to Employee” relationship table
  • Connect Accounts to Users via an “Account to Assigned Salesperson” relationship table
  • Connect Parts to Products via a “Component Parts to Product” relationship table
  • Invite Users to an Appointment via a “Invited Users to Appointment” relationship table
  • Invite Users to an Appointment optionally via an “Optional Invited Users to Appointment” relationship table
  • Make Notes about a Patient via a “Notes to Patient” relationship table
  • Store Time Sheets about Project via a “Time Sheets to Project” relationship table

STOP! Review Tables and Relationships

Bob realizes that his application needs to show which Accounts employ which Contacts. He knows he needs to create a relationship table called “employer to employee” between the Account and Contact table. He knows that specific Relationships will later connect specific records.

This is what he needs to create:

Screens become Form Blocks

For example: Bob wants to show a page about an Account. On that page, he wants (1) general information about the account, and (2) a list of employees of that account. Bob creates a page, puts a Field Grid Form at the top to show general account information, and then puts a List Form underneath to show the list of employees.

Definition: Screens organize how your application presents information (i.e. how it presents Fields). Screens become blue Form blocks.

Steps: On a Page, add a Form Block. Within the Form, add Fields.

More Form Examples Include:

  • Field Grid populated with Fields about an Account
  • Field Grid used to add Notes
  • Field Grid used to edit Notes
  • List populated with Employees, and Fields about Employees
  • Calendar populated with Appointments, and Fields about Appointments
  • Tree populated with a list of Companies, where each Company expands to show its Employees
  • Tab form that allows the user to choose different tabs, one with a list of Contacts, another with a list of Accounts
  • Parent form that allows 3 Field Grids and a List to be edited all at the same time, but separately from the rest of the page

Automation, Rules and Workflow become Action Blocks

For example: Bob knows that whenever an account record is updated, he wants to send an email to that accounts sales person notifying them of a change. Bob creates an “Email Action” and sets it to fire whenever the account record is updated.

Definition: Actions are things the computer will do for you automatically. Actions are told when to act by “triggers”. Actions are the yellow block.

Steps: Go to any page, find a trigger, and attach Actions to that trigger.

More Action Examples Include:

  • Send an Email
  • Send an SMS text message
  • Change a Status
  • Evaluate whether a value is incorrect, and if it is, give an error message
  • Evaluate whether the Current User is allowed to see this form, and if not, then hide it from them
  • When a link is clicked on, show a Flyout Menu
  • When a link is clicked on, Open a new page in a popup
  • When the Save Button is pressed on an Invoice, subtotal the costs, and save that Total
  • When a different Employer is selected for a Contact, delete the relationship

FINAL REVIEW! The Five Blocks

In order to build software, you will have to think technically. Thinking technically is about transforming knowledge of your business into five blocks; tables (and their records), relationship table(and their relationships), fields, forms and actions (fired by triggers). If you can do that, you can build sophisticated applications using WorkXpress.

Self Test

Question 1: If Bob wants to track properties, maintenance companies and work orders, what blocks would he use?

Question 2: In order to track the name, address, phone number and a description of each maintenance company, what blocks would he use?

Question 3: Bob wants to connect work orders with properties. What block would he use to do this?

Question 4: Bob wants to create an interface that includes name, address and phone number of the property he is viewing, but also shows a list of work orders associated with that property. What blocks would Bob use to show general information about the property, and to show a list of related work orders?

Question 5: Everytime a work order is added to a property, Bob wants the system to email him notifying him of this new work order. What building block would Bob use to send an email?

(Answers: 1. Tables, 2. Fields, 3. Relationship tables, 4. Forms, 5. Actions)

think in technical terms.txt · Last modified: 2016/09/14 14:19 (external edit)
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