Adventure Works in 5 minutes
This is a quick but complete run down of how easy it is to make a functional web application from the contents of a database. You can go to the Application Setup Overview to get the step-by-step documentation.
In this tutorial we are going to walk through the process of taking an existing database and building a web interface using dbFront. We are going to be using a Microsoft sample database named Adventure Works.
Once the database is created and populated, we can start up dbFront. When you log in you must use an account that has administrative privileges. For more information, you can see the knowledgebase.
Once we log in, we see the following screen because this account does not yet have any created views.
We will need access to a database account at this point. It is a good idea to use an account that will only have the necessary access. This account will be stored and used by dbFront to provide access to users.
Now we connect to the database to start building the view.
When the view has been created, we will see the list of databases the database connection has access to.
By default, any system databases are automatically hidden.
Notice the small gear icon next to the database name. Whenever you see this icon it means that there is something you can adjust. In this case, it is the preferences of the database.
In the database preferences we see two tabs. The first tab allows us to set a meaningful name for the users and a short description.
We can also place the database into a group that our users can understand. The group could be a department name or business area.
We can also specify a theme for the database to make it easier for users to distinguish one application from another.
The "Manage Tables" tab is where we start managing how the tables will appear. We will need to drag the tables into one of the four columns.
The first column is for the main tables. Those would be the primary tables a user is interested in such as Customer, Product and SalesOrderHeader.
The second column is for child tables that are usually only relevant while related to something. For example, Address, CustomerAddress and SalesOrderDetail.
The third column is for lookup tables such as ProductCategory, ProductDescription and ProductModel.
The last column is for system tables that will be hidden for Non-Admin users.
We would also use this for lookup tables that you don't want the user to be able to edit.
Now we save the database preferences.
Before we leave the advanced database view, it should be noted that this view is targeted to database administrators and other IT personnel who understand databases and servers.
Let's switch to the simple version of the Database View to see what a regular user will see when they log in.
In this view all databases from all locations would be mixed. That is why dbFront gives you the ability to group these databases, now by using groups a business user would understand.
You can see there is a tab with our database in it.
Let's select our newly created database application.
As you can see the main tables appear in the menu along the top. This allows for easy access. If there are too many main tables then dbFront will show the first few tables and place the remainder under a menu item named "Main".
Those tables marked as child tables won't appear on the menu, but they will appear wherever they are related to the current table.
The tables marked as lookup tables will have a menu allowing users to open and edit them. If you want a lookup table to be hidden from the average user then mark it as system. System tables will only be used to populate drop-downs.
The exception is that administrators will have access to the hidden tables via a menu named "System".
Once you open a table you will see more gear icons, beside the table, the fields and various other places. Again, those icons are only available because you are logged in as an administrator.
Now let's look at the table preferences and rename it.
In the table preferences you can quickly update the caption of the table to match what a business user would understand. On the first tab you will also have the ability to pick the caption fields. This allows you to choose the fields that most clearly describe the record.
You can also select what fields you what to see in the table at the top of the screen...
and what fields you want to see in the details pane. In addition to choosing the fields, you can also specify the field order.
One other important thing you can do here is create action buttons which can trigger database procedures and perform other special functions.
That will be explained in another tutorial.
Once we save the table preferences we see our changes including the updated menu.
Now let's switch to the Product table and look at some other field preferences.
There are different preferences available depending upon the field type. One of the most basic field preferences is its caption. dbFront will attempt to come up with good captions based on the existing field names but you will most likely need to change some.
Another thing that will likely need updating before a user can use the database is the columns that are visible for lookup fields. For example on the product table we have a drop-down which will allow a user to select the product category. dbFront will pick possible fields but it is likely that you want to change or reorder the selected fields.
Further changes can be made such as fine-tuning how specific fields display or validate, but we will cover that in more detail later.
When we are done making the needed changes to clean things up for users then we can switch back to the database view to give the various users access.
The "Connection Access" button brings up a dialog that allows us to quickly choose specific users and the type of access we will give them.
Once we have saved our changes then it is all ready for your first users to start using and updating your data.
As your users start using your new Web Application they will likely have suggestions and change requests. With dbFront, you can quickly log back in and make the needed changes. Even live.
Thank you for watching.