Sharing data across apps
Quickbase apps manage data for processes. When you need to replicate, share, or transform these data, you have the following seven options:
Consider your particular data needs and the pros and cons of each option to select the one that best suits your app. Key factors to consider are your needs for immediacy, consistency, and control. The Venn diagram below shows where the different options fall according to these factors.
Key differentiators and examples
|1. Automations||Multi-step workflows, included in Quickbase platform||
For an asset management use case, you could use automations to:
|2. Webhooks||Single-step workflows with some code||
|3. Pipelines||Multi-step workflows with integrations||
|4. Table-to-table imports||Replicate data from multiple source tables into one target table||
|5. Quickbase Sync (connected tables)||Ability to easily configure and schedule data replication||
|6. Cross-app relationships||Ability to create one-to-many relationships between tables in separate apps||
Pros and cons and other considerations
There are trade-offs with each option. To help you decide which one to use, review the pros and cons and considerations below.
Quickbase Automations allow builders to automate multi-step workflows based on the same event triggers and constraints available for Quickbase email notifications.
Ensure data compatibility
When moving data from one field to another in an automation, make sure the data and field types are compatible. Data transformation is currently unsupported.
Don’t create infinite loops
Webhooks and automations all execute based on a trigger. Ensure triggering one automation doesn’t create subsequent triggers.
Schema changes can break automations
Automations do not have control over changes made to the schema. Therefore, any change to a field used in an automation can cause the automation to have an error. Owners of automations should set up a mailbox folder to capture and monitor for failures.
Consider the rate at which your automations will run
For any app, a maximum of 20 automation messages can be sent per second. If you exceed this rate, subsequent messages will not be sent and the app manager will receive an alert and an email notification that the message was not sent. The limit of 20 automation messages per second becomes increasingly important with scripts involving a high frequency of adds, edits, and deletes that will trigger something.
Quickbase webhooks allow builders to automate simple workflows or send automated HTTP messages to third party services based on the same event triggers and constraints available for email notifications.
Use the right API for adding, editing and deleting
When adding or editing records in Quickbase, app builders should use API_ImportFromCSV. When deleting, builders should use API_PurgeRecords. Use these API calls instead of API_AddRecord, API_EditRecord and API_DeleteRecord, to ensure your webhook can handle bulk updates.
Consolidate multiple webhooks into one when possible
When the only difference in multiple webhooks is the destination table ID or app ID and you have the destination ID stored with the triggering record, use the field with the destination ID in place of the hardcoded ID in the webhook endpoint URL. For example: https://example.quickbase.com/db/bnmrvfx22 would become https:// example.quickbase.com/db/[D...TableID]
Don’t create infinite loops
Webhooks and automations all execute based on a trigger. Ensure triggering one doesn’t create subsequent triggers.
Consider the rate at which your webhooks will run
For any app, a maximum of 20 webhook messages can be sent per second. If you exceed this rate, subsequent message(s) will not be sent and the app manager will receive an alert and an email notification that the message was not sent. The limit of 20 webhook messages per second becomes increasingly important with scripts involving a high frequency of adds, edits, and deletes that will trigger an action.
Integration platforms allow builders to create and automate workflows across multiple apps and services.
Consider the volume, frequency, and time of day your integrations will run
High volume runs should be run when app usage is low. High frequency runs should be optimized to execute quickly when app usage is high.
Document all the steps involved in your integration
Platform integration tools allow multiple steps, and the logic can be difficult to follow later, even if you are the creator. Documenting the steps will help with further enhancements, maintenance, and troubleshooting.
Don’t create infinite loops
Ensure a triggering event doesn’t create subsequent triggers. Establish an auditing process. Over time, your app schema will change. It is important to ensure that changes made to the field types and drop-down values do not create unwanted behavior. Additionally, tools like Workato and Zapier provide the ability to be notified on failures.
4. Table-to-table imports
Table-to-table imports allow you to move data from one table into another, within the same app or across different apps. You accomplish this by defining field mappings from a source table with fields in a destination table.
Use an automation to run table-to-table imports
You can set up an automation to run a table-to-table import on a schedule or when data changes.
Ensure data types are the same when mapping fields
When you configure your table-to-table import, ensure your field types for source and destination match, to prevent unwanted results. The one exception is importing a numeric into a text field, which displays the number in text form.
Ensure you have the correct permission levels set for the destination
Once the data is imported into the destination, viewing and modifying the data follows the same roles and permissions as data entered by a user. If your intention is for the data to be read-only/not editable, be sure to configure each role to have view only permissions.
Leverage table-to-table imports for trend reporting
Table-to-table imports allow you to configure an import to capture data over time (snapshots) for trend reporting by executing the import at a desired interval.
Document the purpose of the table-to-table import and the intended field mappings
Periodically review the table-to-table imports and ensure field mapping and filter criteria still exist and make sense. The documentation and periodic review are especially useful when multiple app managers work with the schema, because field type changes and field deletions can affect the import.
Table-to-table imports create dependencies between apps when executed
Executing table-to-table imports results in the share of system resources. This sharing of system resources can become an issue with leveraging table-to-table imports for roll-up reporting across a large number of apps or a few apps that are large and complex.
5. Quickbase Sync (also known as connected tables)
Quickbase Sync connects tables to numerous cloud services, other Quickbase apps, and CSV files with SFTP servers or via cloud storage services such as Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive.
Don’t schedule unnecessary updates
Consider the frequency of updates being made in the source and how quickly you need the updates in the destination. Your needs will help determine the refresh schedule and eliminate unnecessary updates.
Consider alternative Quickbase functionality when real-time updates are needed
Sync updates are scheduled or manually executed. When real-time updates are needed consider using other tools which trigger updates on changes in the source, such as webhooks or automations.
Use Sync to decouple app dependencies
Sync allows builders to easily connect tables between apps without sharing system resources. As such, Sync can be useful when you need to connect multiple large and complex apps with high usage
Schedule Syncs during low-use times when possible
Sync refreshes can use significant resources and take minutes when data sets being replicated are large. When using Sync, a best practice is to schedule refreshes during non-business hours.
Ensure the connection owner has admin permissions in the destination
The connection to the source table is established and maintained with the credentials and permissions of the person that created the connection. The user creating the connection in the destination app must be in a role that has administrative rights. User access to the destination table is controlled the same way as any other table in the destination app, through roles and permissions.
6. Cross-app relationships
Cross-app relationships provide the ability to connect two tables from different apps within a given account. They are quick to set up and follow the same pattern as relating two tables within the same Quickbase app.
Ensure data visibility is as expected
Roles and permissions can be complex with cross-app relationships and it is important to ensure you are securing data in the way you intend. In the parent app, you must grant access to the child table. You must also assign a role for all users of the child table. Additionally, if a user has access to both apps the role in the parent table will take precedence
Document the purpose of the cross-app relationship
Document why you are creating each lookup and summary field.
Use a consistent naming convention for cross-app fields
Understanding the source of data is especially important for builders. By developing a naming convention for lookup and summary fields, a convention which indicates the data is coming from another app, you can help save a lot of time when creating or modifying reports, forms, or relationships. This convention becomes even more important as your apps grow in size and complexity.
Cross-app relationships create app dependencies
When a cross-app relationship is created, it results in the two apps sharing system resources. This sharing of system resources can become an issue when daisy-chaining apps or creating a hub-and-spoke structure with a large number of apps (10 or more apps, for example) or a few apps that are large and complex.
Determining an app’s complexity level
Small with little complexity = The schema is easy to understand and navigate. You understand what is going on with formulas, roles, and permissions without requiring a refresher every time you update the app.
Medium and somewhat complex = The schema is understandable with a small amount of studying. You need some re-grounding around what formulas, relationships, roles, and permissions are doing before making any changes.
Large and complex = Anytime you are working with the schema you must reground yourself or review documentation to ensure you have a solid understanding of why things were built a certain way. You find it challenging to articulate certain areas of the app to new builders. This is a clear indication that documentation is necessary for your app
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