This is a big one: multiple tables and @mentions

Posted on May 31, 2020 on Obvibase Blog

When we released the rewritten version of Obvibase back in February, our main goal was to make the rollout as smooth as possible, so we kept the new features to a minimum. But even back then, under the hood we were getting things ready for a feature that we're releasing today, and it's one that we're very proud of.

Obvibase had support for multiple tables from the start, but it was limited to a feature we called nested tables. Without going into details, the problem with nested tables was that they covered only a small slice of data structures that one might want to store on Obvibase. As much as we wanted to cover the other use-cases, we had to tread carefully: Obvibase is about ease-of-use, and relationships between tables can take the complexity of your user interface out of control before you know it.

A lot of designing and coding later, the support for multiple, standalone tables in the same database is here, and Obvibase is still as simple and intuitive as before, if not more so. Tables are linked together using @mentions, which are really just links to records that you can put into a text field of another record or a comment. This is the only concept that you need to be aware of to get up and running - type the @ symbol to insert a mention, and the app will take care of the rest, such as displaying the records and comments that mention a record in that record's detailed view, or providing shortcuts that make it easier to create new mentions.

This release also includes a couple of bonus features. First, you can now long-press/click anywhere in a table row to open the record, so you no longer need to move the mouse to the drill-down button at the end of the row. Second, number columns can now be displayed as star ratings - handy not only for actual ratings, but anywhere you'd otherwise have a multiple-choice dropdown with choices like Low, High, Medium (think columns Cost and Benefit, with stars in each).