29
April
2021
Tutorial

Building an Admin Panel with Appsmith


Admin panels are an important part of every organization. They are necessary to serve customers better and run business processes smoothly. They help reduce management and people overhead significantly. But on the other hand, they take a lot of time to build and are troublesome and expensive to maintain. As a result, it is not the choice of project for most developers.

Thankfully, there are a lot of options available to developers today to build complex admin panels and dashboards fairly easily while making maintenance easier. An example of such a framework that we have explored, React-admin. We’ve written an article on how to use it. It’s better than building an admin panel from scratch, but it is still cumbersome to move from a simple admin panel to an admin panel that behaves like an internal app.

And that’s one of the reasons why we built Appsmith. Building Admin panels and internal apps should be easy and, more importantly, fun. Appsmith offers a drag and drop interface for creating UI elements and provides the option to write code wherever you may need to. You can build dashboards a hundred times faster on Appsmith, and that’s not an exaggeration.

For this article, I’d like you to imagine it's 2005. Netflix doesn’t stream video yet. You run a local DVD store, and you need software to manage your rentals. You’re the only developer in the organization. How do you go about building one that is fast, scalable and easily maintainable? In this article, I’m going to show you how to build an admin panel using Appsmith to manage DVD rentals for your store.

The app would have two pages. The first page would have a table listing all registered members of the store. The second page will have a table that holds all rental records. From here, new rental entries can be created, and existing rentals can be updated i.e from borrowed to returned. We would also be able to click on a customer from the first page and then taken them to the rentals page to see his rental history.

Before we begin, I’d like to give you a quick overview of the dataset we’ll be making use of. We’ll be using a modified version of the Sakila dataset. The database of choice is MongoDB on MongoDB Atlas and here’s the schema for each collection

// Customer collection
{
  "store_id": String,
  "first_name": String,
  "last_name": String,
  "email": String,
  "address_id": String,
  "activebool": Boolean,
  "create_date": Date,
  "last_update": Date,
  "active": Number
}
// Film collection
{
  "title": String,
  "description": String,
  "release_year": Number,
  "language_id": String,
  "rental_duration": Number,
  "rental_rate": Number,
  "length": Number,
  "replacement_cost": Number,
  "rating": String,
  "last_update": Date,
  "special_features": String,
  "fulltext": String
}
// Rental collection
{
  "status": String,
  "rental_date": Date,
  "film_title": String,
  "customer_email": String,
  "return_date": Date,
  "staff_id": String,
  "last_update": Date
}

That’s the overview of everything. Now let us get started!

Oh, snap! I almost forgot. Here are some of the core Appsmith concepts we’re going to cover:

  • How to connect Appsmith directly to your database (eliminates the need for an API server)
  • How to create data-driven widgets
  • How to perform CURD operations
  • How to securely share your application (no auth required)
  • How to deploy your application

We can get started now!

Connecting to your data source

It’s quite important that our application is linked to a persisted data source because admin panels are almost always data-driven applications. This data can come from an API, a database, or a Google sheets table as we have the freedom to use any of these on Appsmith. We’ll be with the database route.

Create an Appsmith account if you do not have one yet and let’s begin to smith our application 😁

As highlighted earlier, our application would be based on a MongoDB database. Don’t despair if you would like to follow along and do not have a ready-to-go database. Here’s a database connection you can make use of. Mind you, it’s read-only (don’t forget to say thank you)

Username: article_reader

Password: 0HkfXpxVpvvSvUOx

Connection url: cloud.r4vra.mongodb.net

Database name: movie_store

Alright, we’ve removed all hurdles from the track, now let’s start racing!

Go ahead to create a new application from your Appsmith dashboard and give it a fancy name. Next, let’s connect to the mongo database. Click on the DB Queries button on the left panel on the page and select MongoDB from the list of supported databases. Now go in and supply the database credentials to the from, also give this data source a descriptive name i.e. movie_store or movie_store_db. I think I’ll go with movie_store. And lastly, hit the big green save button.

1-connecting to mongodb.png

Awesome! We’ve connected the application to the database. We can now do some querying and build data-driven widgets. Let’s move on to the next section.

Creating data-driven widgets

We now have a database connected to the application. The next thing we need to do is to create a widget that can be used to create, update and display data from the database. To achieve this, we need a way to fetch data from the database. This can be done on Appsmith by writing database queries.

Rolle up your sleeves because we’re going to be writing our first DB query! Click on the DB Queries section again, and you’ll see a button to create a new query on the MongoDB movie_store data source. Give the query a name i.e. get_customers, and select a read template from the list because we’re going to be reading documents from the Customer collection.

The get_customer query should find all customers in the Customer collection, sort them by email and return a fixed limit of customers. Your query should look like this.

// Customer collection
{
  "find": "Customer",
  "sort": {
    "email": 1
  },
  "limit": 10
}

Configure your query and hit the run button, and you’ll get a list of 10 customers. Sweet!

It would be much readable to display this data in a table. So let’s do exactly that. Click on the Add widget button just below the query editor, and you’ll get a new table widget on the canvas that has been automatically linked to the get_customers query. An alternative way would be to click on the Widgets section and drag a table widget to the canvas. Then, data from the query can be bound to the widget via the Table Data property on the widget’s configuration menu using moustache syntax.

// Customer collection
{{get_customers.data}}
It’s important you give the table a descriptive name. Consider changing the name from Table1 to customers_table
2-writing binding for customer table.png

Go ahead to customize the table by re-ordering the columns and hiding columns you don’t like. We’ll also need to paginate the table, so on the table’s config menu, turn on Server Side Pagination and configure the onPageChange action (in the Actions subsection of the menu) to execute a DB query and then select the get_customers query.

We’ll need to update the query and add a skip property that calculates a skip based on the current table page number to simulate pagination. The moustache syntax would be very handy in this case to perform quick evaluations, so let’s make use of it. Your updated get_customer query should look like mine.

{
  "find": "Customer",
  "sort": {
    "email": 1
  },
  "skip": {{(customers_table.pageNo - 1) * 10}},
  "limit": 10
}

As you may have noticed, we are accessing the table’s page number from within the {{}} through the object bearing the widget’s name (customers_table in this case). You can learn more about writing Javascript in Appsmith here.

Click on the page number on the table widget now fetches new records. We’ve been able to query the database, bind data to a widget and perform customization on the widget. Good job!

Now, we’re going to create a new page to manage rentals. Click on the plus button on the Pages section of the left-hand panel and create a new page. Call this the Rentals page and update the name of the home page to Customers. On this new page, you’re going to be building a table to display rentals like we just did for the Customers page. You’ll need a query (should be named get_rentals) and a table widget (should be named rentals_table) for this. Your query to get rentals should look like this.

{
  "find": "Rental",
  "sort": {
    "_id": 1
  },
  "skip": {{(rentals_table.pageNo - 1)*10}},
  "limit": 10
}

Where rentals_table is the name of your table widget on the Rentals page.

Good luck!

Creating new rentals

After completing the table on the Rentals page, the next feature we need to build in is the ability to create new rental records.

Here’s the game plan: We’re going to build a form that takes as input the status, rental data, film title, customer email, and return date. This form would be housed within a modal widget that would be triggered by clicking on a ‘Create new rental’ button. Now, you have a good overview, let’s get started!

On the Rentals page, head to the widget’s section and drag in a modal widget. In the modal’s config menu, update the name to create_rental_modal and set the Modal type to Form Modal. Now you see we have more space to work with.

With create_rental_modal open, drag in three dropdown widgets and two date picker widgets. The name of the first dropdown widget should be updated to customer_dropdown. Following this convention, go ahead and rename the other two dropdowns to film_dropdown and status_dropdown. For the two date pickers, their names should similarly be updated to rental_datepicker and return_datepicker. You should drag in a few text widgets to label these inputs.

4-create rental modal.png

We need a button on the UI to trigger the opening up of the modal. Let’s drag a button from the widgets section to the canvas. Give this button a new label i.e Create New Rental, and set the onClick action to Open Modal, then select create_rental_modal. Clicking on the button now opens up the modal.

Nice! We’ve completed the UI for the crate form. Now let’s wire it up with some queries.

The first query we’ll be writing for the create form would get all registered customers from the DB. We would use the returned data to build the options for the customer_dropdown. This query would be similar to the get_customers query from the Customers page.

Go ahead and create a new query named all_customers. It should be configured as shown below

{
  "find": "Customer",
  "sort": {
    "email": 1
  }
}

Now, we can use the data returned from this query to build the options of the customer_dropdown. Open up the create_new_rental modal and head to the config menu of the customer_dropdown. Now replace the content of the Options section with the snippet shown below.

{{all_customers.data.map(c => ({label: c.email, value: c.email}))}}

This returns an array of objects whose label and value are the email addresses of the customers from the all_customers query. You can play around with the dropdown and see that the options generated from the query. Sweet 🤩

Now you’re going to do the same thing for the film_dropdown. Create an all_films query and use the title field of each document to build the options for the dropdown. Your query should look like this.

{
  "find": "Film",
  "sort": {
    "title": 1
  }
}

Cool! For the status_dropdown, we can simply hard code the Options with this simple JSON array.

[
  { "label": "borrowed", "value": "borrowed" },
  { "label": "delayed", "value": "delayed" },
  { "label": "lost", "value": "lost" },
  { "label": "returned", "value": "returned" }
]
Don’t forget to set a default option for each dropdown widget The rental_datepicker and return_datepicker widgets do not require further configuration, and they are good to go. The last thing we need to do is to write a query that would create a new document on the ‘Rental’ collection using the data from the input widgets. Alright, go ahead and create a new query called create_rental and configure it this way.
{
  "insert": "Rental",
  "documents": [
    {
      "staff_id": "{{appsmith.user.email}}",
      "status": "{{status_dropdown.selectedOptionValue}}",
      "customer_email": "{{ customer_dropdown.selectedOptionValue }}",
      "film_title": "{{ film_dropdown.selectedOptionValue }}",
      "rental_date": "{{ rental_datepicker.selectedDate }}",
      "return_date": "{{ return_datepicker.selectedDate }}",
      "last_update": "{{moment().format()}}"
    }
  ]
}

Now we can go back to configure the big green Confirm button on the modal to run this query when it is clicked. We also want to close the modal and refresh the rental table when the button is clicked. Because what we want to do is a complex chain of actions, we can write some JavaScript to achieve this. Click on the JS button just beside the onClick button of the Confirm button and supply the bellow code snippet.

{
{create_rental.run(
  ()=> {
      closeModal("create_rental_modal");
    get_rentals.run();
  }
)}
}

Great Job! Go ahead, give it a spin and create a few new rentals.

Updating a rental

The flow for updating a rental is quite similar to that of creating a rental. We’ll need a modal that would be opened by clicking on a button. The modal would only contain form elements for updating the status and return date of the rental.

The only difference here is that we want the rental in question to be the one selected from the table. To do this, we need to head back to the config menu for the rentals_table and create a new column by clicking on the Add a new column button. Click on the gear icon of the newly created column and set the column name to Update. Also, set the Column type to button and set its Lebel property to Update. For its onClick action, it should be configured to open up the update_rental_modal which you’re going to build on your own.

And that all you need. Oh, you’ll also need to write a update_rental query too. It should look somewhat like this.

{
  "update": "Rental",
  "updates": [
    {
      "q": {
        "_id": "{{rentals_table.selectedRow._id}}"
      },
      "u": { 
        "$set": {
      "status": "{{ update_status_dropdown.selectedOptionValue }}", 
          "return_date": "{{update_return_date_datepicker.selectedDate}}",
          "last_update": "{{moment().format()}}"
     } 
      }
    }
  ]
}

Now you have everything you need to know. Go ahead and build the update flow.

Putting it all together

You’ve done a good job making it this far. I’m so proud of you that I’m going to leave the gif below. 🤗

We’ve been able to accomplish most of what we set out to do. We have a table on the Customers page to view all customers. On the Rentals page, we can view all rentals, create a new rental or update existing rentals. It was no small feat we accomplished.

I’ll like us to add one more feature. Let’s make it such that clicking on a customer on the customers_table takes us to the Rentals page, and then we can view all rentals made only by that customer.

We’ll need column buttons for each row like we did for the update flow. In this case, the onClick action of the custom column buttons would perform a navigation to the Rentals page and pass the selected customers’ email from the table as query params. Use the below snippet in the Query Params configuration for the navigation.

{{{customer_email: customers_table.selectedRow.email}}}

And lastly, we need to update the get_rentals query in the Rentals page to filter by customer_email coming in as a query param. We also add a fallback just in case no email is passed.

{
  "find": "Rental",
  "sort": {
    "customer_email": 1
  },
    "filter": {
    "customer_email": {
      "$regex": "{{appsmith.URL.queryParams.customer_email || ""}}"
      }
    },
 "skip": {{(rentals_table.pageNo - 1) * 10}},
  "limit": 10
}

And that’s it! You’ve completed the app. 🥳️🎉🎉

Sharing and deploying the app

It’s quite easy to hand off your application to the team that would make use of it i.e customer support. You don’t have to worry about an authentication/authorization flow; Appsmith does all the work for you.

There’s a SHARE button on the top right side of the page. You can easily use it to invite users to the application and set roles i.e app viewer or developer. No hassle is required!

Clicking on the ‘DEPLOY’ button to the right of the share button will publish all changes made in the editor to the hosted version of the application. Isn’t that cool?

Wrapping up

We set out to build an admin panel, and we’ve seen how we can do it very easily using Appsmith. Going this route will drastically reduce the development time and resources put into maintaining the app.

If you found this tutorial helpful, please consider giving us a star on Github.

Cover Photo Credits: Photo by Serpstat from Pexels

Building an Admin Panel with Appsmith

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Admin panels are an important part of every organization. They are necessary to serve customers better and run business processes smoothly. They help reduce management and people overhead significantly. But on the other hand, they take a lot of time to build and are troublesome and expensive to maintain. As a result, it is not the choice of project for most developers.

Thankfully, there are a lot of options available to developers today to build complex admin panels and dashboards fairly easily while making maintenance easier. An example of such a framework that we have explored, React-admin. We’ve written an article on how to use it. It’s better than building an admin panel from scratch, but it is still cumbersome to move from a simple admin panel to an admin panel that behaves like an internal app.

And that’s one of the reasons why we built Appsmith. Building Admin panels and internal apps should be easy and, more importantly, fun. Appsmith offers a drag and drop interface for creating UI elements and provides the option to write code wherever you may need to. You can build dashboards a hundred times faster on Appsmith, and that’s not an exaggeration.

For this article, I’d like you to imagine it's 2005. Netflix doesn’t stream video yet. You run a local DVD store, and you need software to manage your rentals. You’re the only developer in the organization. How do you go about building one that is fast, scalable and easily maintainable? In this article, I’m going to show you how to build an admin panel using Appsmith to manage DVD rentals for your store.

The app would have two pages. The first page would have a table listing all registered members of the store. The second page will have a table that holds all rental records. From here, new rental entries can be created, and existing rentals can be updated i.e from borrowed to returned. We would also be able to click on a customer from the first page and then taken them to the rentals page to see his rental history.

Before we begin, I’d like to give you a quick overview of the dataset we’ll be making use of. We’ll be using a modified version of the Sakila dataset. The database of choice is MongoDB on MongoDB Atlas and here’s the schema for each collection

// Customer collection
{
  "store_id": String,
  "first_name": String,
  "last_name": String,
  "email": String,
  "address_id": String,
  "activebool": Boolean,
  "create_date": Date,
  "last_update": Date,
  "active": Number
}
// Film collection
{
  "title": String,
  "description": String,
  "release_year": Number,
  "language_id": String,
  "rental_duration": Number,
  "rental_rate": Number,
  "length": Number,
  "replacement_cost": Number,
  "rating": String,
  "last_update": Date,
  "special_features": String,
  "fulltext": String
}
// Rental collection
{
  "status": String,
  "rental_date": Date,
  "film_title": String,
  "customer_email": String,
  "return_date": Date,
  "staff_id": String,
  "last_update": Date
}

That’s the overview of everything. Now let us get started!

Oh, snap! I almost forgot. Here are some of the core Appsmith concepts we’re going to cover:

  • How to connect Appsmith directly to your database (eliminates the need for an API server)
  • How to create data-driven widgets
  • How to perform CURD operations
  • How to securely share your application (no auth required)
  • How to deploy your application

We can get started now!

Connecting to your data source

It’s quite important that our application is linked to a persisted data source because admin panels are almost always data-driven applications. This data can come from an API, a database, or a Google sheets table as we have the freedom to use any of these on Appsmith. We’ll be with the database route.

Create an Appsmith account if you do not have one yet and let’s begin to smith our application 😁

As highlighted earlier, our application would be based on a MongoDB database. Don’t despair if you would like to follow along and do not have a ready-to-go database. Here’s a database connection you can make use of. Mind you, it’s read-only (don’t forget to say thank you)

Username: article_reader

Password: 0HkfXpxVpvvSvUOx

Connection url: cloud.r4vra.mongodb.net

Database name: movie_store

Alright, we’ve removed all hurdles from the track, now let’s start racing!

Go ahead to create a new application from your Appsmith dashboard and give it a fancy name. Next, let’s connect to the mongo database. Click on the DB Queries button on the left panel on the page and select MongoDB from the list of supported databases. Now go in and supply the database credentials to the from, also give this data source a descriptive name i.e. movie_store or movie_store_db. I think I’ll go with movie_store. And lastly, hit the big green save button.

1-connecting to mongodb.png

Awesome! We’ve connected the application to the database. We can now do some querying and build data-driven widgets. Let’s move on to the next section.

Creating data-driven widgets

We now have a database connected to the application. The next thing we need to do is to create a widget that can be used to create, update and display data from the database. To achieve this, we need a way to fetch data from the database. This can be done on Appsmith by writing database queries.

Rolle up your sleeves because we’re going to be writing our first DB query! Click on the DB Queries section again, and you’ll see a button to create a new query on the MongoDB movie_store data source. Give the query a name i.e. get_customers, and select a read template from the list because we’re going to be reading documents from the Customer collection.

The get_customer query should find all customers in the Customer collection, sort them by email and return a fixed limit of customers. Your query should look like this.

// Customer collection
{
  "find": "Customer",
  "sort": {
    "email": 1
  },
  "limit": 10
}

Configure your query and hit the run button, and you’ll get a list of 10 customers. Sweet!

It would be much readable to display this data in a table. So let’s do exactly that. Click on the Add widget button just below the query editor, and you’ll get a new table widget on the canvas that has been automatically linked to the get_customers query. An alternative way would be to click on the Widgets section and drag a table widget to the canvas. Then, data from the query can be bound to the widget via the Table Data property on the widget’s configuration menu using moustache syntax.

// Customer collection
{{get_customers.data}}
It’s important you give the table a descriptive name. Consider changing the name from Table1 to customers_table
2-writing binding for customer table.png

Go ahead to customize the table by re-ordering the columns and hiding columns you don’t like. We’ll also need to paginate the table, so on the table’s config menu, turn on Server Side Pagination and configure the onPageChange action (in the Actions subsection of the menu) to execute a DB query and then select the get_customers query.

We’ll need to update the query and add a skip property that calculates a skip based on the current table page number to simulate pagination. The moustache syntax would be very handy in this case to perform quick evaluations, so let’s make use of it. Your updated get_customer query should look like mine.

{
  "find": "Customer",
  "sort": {
    "email": 1
  },
  "skip": {{(customers_table.pageNo - 1) * 10}},
  "limit": 10
}

As you may have noticed, we are accessing the table’s page number from within the {{}} through the object bearing the widget’s name (customers_table in this case). You can learn more about writing Javascript in Appsmith here.

Click on the page number on the table widget now fetches new records. We’ve been able to query the database, bind data to a widget and perform customization on the widget. Good job!

Now, we’re going to create a new page to manage rentals. Click on the plus button on the Pages section of the left-hand panel and create a new page. Call this the Rentals page and update the name of the home page to Customers. On this new page, you’re going to be building a table to display rentals like we just did for the Customers page. You’ll need a query (should be named get_rentals) and a table widget (should be named rentals_table) for this. Your query to get rentals should look like this.

{
  "find": "Rental",
  "sort": {
    "_id": 1
  },
  "skip": {{(rentals_table.pageNo - 1)*10}},
  "limit": 10
}

Where rentals_table is the name of your table widget on the Rentals page.

Good luck!

Creating new rentals

After completing the table on the Rentals page, the next feature we need to build in is the ability to create new rental records.

Here’s the game plan: We’re going to build a form that takes as input the status, rental data, film title, customer email, and return date. This form would be housed within a modal widget that would be triggered by clicking on a ‘Create new rental’ button. Now, you have a good overview, let’s get started!

On the Rentals page, head to the widget’s section and drag in a modal widget. In the modal’s config menu, update the name to create_rental_modal and set the Modal type to Form Modal. Now you see we have more space to work with.

With create_rental_modal open, drag in three dropdown widgets and two date picker widgets. The name of the first dropdown widget should be updated to customer_dropdown. Following this convention, go ahead and rename the other two dropdowns to film_dropdown and status_dropdown. For the two date pickers, their names should similarly be updated to rental_datepicker and return_datepicker. You should drag in a few text widgets to label these inputs.

4-create rental modal.png

We need a button on the UI to trigger the opening up of the modal. Let’s drag a button from the widgets section to the canvas. Give this button a new label i.e Create New Rental, and set the onClick action to Open Modal, then select create_rental_modal. Clicking on the button now opens up the modal.

Nice! We’ve completed the UI for the crate form. Now let’s wire it up with some queries.

The first query we’ll be writing for the create form would get all registered customers from the DB. We would use the returned data to build the options for the customer_dropdown. This query would be similar to the get_customers query from the Customers page.

Go ahead and create a new query named all_customers. It should be configured as shown below

{
  "find": "Customer",
  "sort": {
    "email": 1
  }
}

Now, we can use the data returned from this query to build the options of the customer_dropdown. Open up the create_new_rental modal and head to the config menu of the customer_dropdown. Now replace the content of the Options section with the snippet shown below.

{{all_customers.data.map(c => ({label: c.email, value: c.email}))}}

This returns an array of objects whose label and value are the email addresses of the customers from the all_customers query. You can play around with the dropdown and see that the options generated from the query. Sweet 🤩

Now you’re going to do the same thing for the film_dropdown. Create an all_films query and use the title field of each document to build the options for the dropdown. Your query should look like this.

{
  "find": "Film",
  "sort": {
    "title": 1
  }
}

Cool! For the status_dropdown, we can simply hard code the Options with this simple JSON array.

[
  { "label": "borrowed", "value": "borrowed" },
  { "label": "delayed", "value": "delayed" },
  { "label": "lost", "value": "lost" },
  { "label": "returned", "value": "returned" }
]
Don’t forget to set a default option for each dropdown widget The rental_datepicker and return_datepicker widgets do not require further configuration, and they are good to go. The last thing we need to do is to write a query that would create a new document on the ‘Rental’ collection using the data from the input widgets. Alright, go ahead and create a new query called create_rental and configure it this way.
{
  "insert": "Rental",
  "documents": [
    {
      "staff_id": "{{appsmith.user.email}}",
      "status": "{{status_dropdown.selectedOptionValue}}",
      "customer_email": "{{ customer_dropdown.selectedOptionValue }}",
      "film_title": "{{ film_dropdown.selectedOptionValue }}",
      "rental_date": "{{ rental_datepicker.selectedDate }}",
      "return_date": "{{ return_datepicker.selectedDate }}",
      "last_update": "{{moment().format()}}"
    }
  ]
}

Now we can go back to configure the big green Confirm button on the modal to run this query when it is clicked. We also want to close the modal and refresh the rental table when the button is clicked. Because what we want to do is a complex chain of actions, we can write some JavaScript to achieve this. Click on the JS button just beside the onClick button of the Confirm button and supply the bellow code snippet.

{
{create_rental.run(
  ()=> {
      closeModal("create_rental_modal");
    get_rentals.run();
  }
)}
}

Great Job! Go ahead, give it a spin and create a few new rentals.

Updating a rental

The flow for updating a rental is quite similar to that of creating a rental. We’ll need a modal that would be opened by clicking on a button. The modal would only contain form elements for updating the status and return date of the rental.

The only difference here is that we want the rental in question to be the one selected from the table. To do this, we need to head back to the config menu for the rentals_table and create a new column by clicking on the Add a new column button. Click on the gear icon of the newly created column and set the column name to Update. Also, set the Column type to button and set its Lebel property to Update. For its onClick action, it should be configured to open up the update_rental_modal which you’re going to build on your own.

And that all you need. Oh, you’ll also need to write a update_rental query too. It should look somewhat like this.

{
  "update": "Rental",
  "updates": [
    {
      "q": {
        "_id": "{{rentals_table.selectedRow._id}}"
      },
      "u": { 
        "$set": {
      "status": "{{ update_status_dropdown.selectedOptionValue }}", 
          "return_date": "{{update_return_date_datepicker.selectedDate}}",
          "last_update": "{{moment().format()}}"
     } 
      }
    }
  ]
}

Now you have everything you need to know. Go ahead and build the update flow.

Putting it all together

You’ve done a good job making it this far. I’m so proud of you that I’m going to leave the gif below. 🤗

We’ve been able to accomplish most of what we set out to do. We have a table on the Customers page to view all customers. On the Rentals page, we can view all rentals, create a new rental or update existing rentals. It was no small feat we accomplished.

I’ll like us to add one more feature. Let’s make it such that clicking on a customer on the customers_table takes us to the Rentals page, and then we can view all rentals made only by that customer.

We’ll need column buttons for each row like we did for the update flow. In this case, the onClick action of the custom column buttons would perform a navigation to the Rentals page and pass the selected customers’ email from the table as query params. Use the below snippet in the Query Params configuration for the navigation.

{{{customer_email: customers_table.selectedRow.email}}}

And lastly, we need to update the get_rentals query in the Rentals page to filter by customer_email coming in as a query param. We also add a fallback just in case no email is passed.

{
  "find": "Rental",
  "sort": {
    "customer_email": 1
  },
    "filter": {
    "customer_email": {
      "$regex": "{{appsmith.URL.queryParams.customer_email || ""}}"
      }
    },
 "skip": {{(rentals_table.pageNo - 1) * 10}},
  "limit": 10
}

And that’s it! You’ve completed the app. 🥳️🎉🎉

Sharing and deploying the app

It’s quite easy to hand off your application to the team that would make use of it i.e customer support. You don’t have to worry about an authentication/authorization flow; Appsmith does all the work for you.

There’s a SHARE button on the top right side of the page. You can easily use it to invite users to the application and set roles i.e app viewer or developer. No hassle is required!

Clicking on the ‘DEPLOY’ button to the right of the share button will publish all changes made in the editor to the hosted version of the application. Isn’t that cool?

Wrapping up

We set out to build an admin panel, and we’ve seen how we can do it very easily using Appsmith. Going this route will drastically reduce the development time and resources put into maintaining the app.

If you found this tutorial helpful, please consider giving us a star on Github.

Cover Photo Credits: Photo by Serpstat from Pexels

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

  • xvcmbmvkmnkmbknmbkmlnj
  • A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

  1. A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

ksnopirirfnb [aorewmb[oiewsn b[opebr
  1. then connect a rich text

dfbstjsrykmsry

Square
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Debugging your apps in Appsmith with the Appsmith Debugger, part 2
27
September
2022
Product

Debugging your apps in Appsmith with the Appsmith Debugger, part 2

Debugging your apps in Appsmith with the Appsmith Debugger, part 2
Ayush Pahwa
0
 minutes ↗
#
product
#
errors
#
troubleshooting
#
debugger
Product
Meet the sidekicks, Logs and Inspect Entity

The first part of this teardown helped you see how the Error pane can save you hours in debugging and build better internal apps. In this one, let’s meet two seemingly innocuous features that can give you debugging super-powers when used right.

Logs

The Logs pane shows you everything logged by Appsmith and, like Errors, in lockstep with the sequence of code execution in your build. Borrowing from the experience of showing logs in general—in the browser console, from a shell, or on your favorite IDE—the Logs pane has four views for specific debugging use cases.

Post_5.jpg (1920×1080)

All Logs

This view shows you all logs timestamped by when we saw them in your Appsmith session. Updated a widget’s property? Wrote a new action to your GraphQL datasource? Ran a JS Object to concat two queries? It all gets logged, including the errors you see in the Errors pane, in a separate view called Error Logs. You will see how that can be useful in a GIF, pun intended.

The All Logs view can be a little overwhelming, though, and a bit of work when you have been at your build for a while. For easier tracking of relevant logs, use one of the three options below.

Post_6.gif (1440×810)

Errors Logs

Everything you learned about the Errors pane applies to this view, too, but there’s more to this view. Here's a likely scenario to show that.

State #1

You have a button to reload a table, presumably to refresh the data from your datasource.

Condition #1

You use the Button property, onClick, which runs the query to fetch the latest data into the table.

Scenario #1

Your query fails.

- On just the Error pane

  • You see just the error for the failing query. Although helpful, it doesn’t offer context for the before and after of the error.

- On the Error Logs pane under Logs

  1. You see logs for the Button click and the executed onClick event .
  2. Because the onClick property is binded to queries and JS Objects, you see the ones that are successfully executed and those that fail.
Error_Logs__Appsmith.gif (1440×810)

The triaging in our example above is especially useful when you have nested queries, several dependent bindings, and a more complex workflow overall.

Console Logs

console.log_in_the_Editor__Appsmith.jpg (1920×1080)

Just introduced in the Debugger, console methods in Appsmith help you see statements for just JS Objects and JavaScript bindings so much better than in the browser sub-window.

Set points in your code that you want to log statements at, view tabular data, or see groups for repeated errors.

System Logs

Post_7.jpg (1920×1080)

Automatically tracking all your interactions with Appsmith during build, System Logs show a helpful trail of activity by descending order of timestamp, especially useful when you want to go back in time or pivot from a point of failure to everything that led to it.

They show up for different situations and interactions for the type of entity you are working with.

With widgets, you see a log when you

  • Drag-and-drop a new widget on the canvas.
  • Update the widget’s properties
    Updating a property also updates all its dependent properties which then show up in System Logs.
Dependent_properties_updates_in_system_logs__Appsmith.gif (1280×720)
For example, when you update the tableData property, you also see its dependent properties like selectedRowIndex, filters, triggeredRowIndex, and so on.
  • Trigger events with an end-user action.
Trigger_events_with_an_end-user_action__Appsmith.gif (1280×720)
For example, when you are using an end-user action to store a value with storeValue or when you want a click-action to trigger an operation like an update or delete and are using onClick, you see them show up in System Logs.
  • Delete a widget from the canvas

With actions, you see them when you

  • Create a new datasource or a query
  • Update query properties like queryName, queryBody, queryConfiguration, and queryProperties.
  • Execute a query
Execute_a_query.gif (1440×810)
This can be either from query pane, running a plain REST API query, a JS Object, or via a widget’s bindings.
  • Delete a query

With JS Objects, you’ll see system logs when you

  • Create and update code inside JS Objects
  • Execute JS Objects
Execute_JS_Objects.gif (1440×810)

Just like errors, system logs are native to entities and have four parts to them.

Parts_of_a_system_log_line__Appsmith.jpg (1920×1080)

The timestamp

Logged as your entities are created, updated and deleted, these little breadcrumbs help you track back from when the error occurred to when it was last A-Okay.

Timestamped_logs_in_System_Logs.gif (1440×810)

The message

Useful during build, the message of the log answers two questions— what were you doing with an entity—creating it, updating it, deleting it—and what happened with your action—success or failure.

  • With widgets, outside of CRUD information, you also see event-specific info like onClick and showAlert linked to those widgets.
  • Queries and JS Objects are straightforward with start and end points that indicate if they were updated, ran, and failed.

The source

Like errors, a system log has two parts to its source—the entity’s name.the type of entity, e.g., SELECT1.TABLE1.WIDGET.

Redirect_from_an_Inspect_Entity_sub-window.gif (1440×810)
👌🏽 Appsmith Experience plug

Clicking the source from the logs takes you to the associated entity anywhere in Appsmith, be it a widget, a query, or a JS Object. Noice!

The response

This doesn’t always show, but when it does, it can be useful confirmation of a binding working, a query running successfully, or a JS Object executing completely.

  • For widgets, you see which properties are updated when you are configuring them and how.
    Say you’re updating the text widget’s background property and you don’t see it change on the canvas. Track the log to the response for a quick confirmation of that and troubleshoot the canvas next.
  • For queries, you’ll see two different logs—the start of a query run and the status of its execution.
    The first type of log will show you configuration details of the query—helpful to verify if the config matches the request.        

{
    "timeoutInMillisecond":10000
    "paginationType":"NONE"
    "encodeParamsToggle":true
    "body":"SELECT * FROM public."users" LIMIT 10;"
    "pluginSpecifiedTemplates":[
        0:{
            "value":true
        }
    ]
}

  • The second type will throw an error if the run fails. When the query runs successfully, it shows all the parameters that the query ran with and the time taken for the response.

{
	"response" : [...],
	"request" : {
		"actionId" "6321c1193668£71e£7caala2"
		"requestedAt" : 1663912830.640344
		"requestParams": {...}
}

  • With JS Objects, you see the response from the function as a JSON after an object is successfully run. This shows you how Appsmith handles the function while evaluating and running it and can be useful for spotting conflicts, undefined references, or troublesome variables.

Inspect Entity

Borrowing from a modern browser’s Inspect Element feature, Inspect Entity lets you see incoming and outgoing entities for any widget. These entities can be queries, JS Objects, or even other widgets.

Group_8480.png (1920×1080)
  • Incoming entities are those that fetch data from the datasource into the widget.
    For example, if the data on a table is populated by a Postgres query, you’ll see the query name under the Incoming entities column.
  • Outgoing entities are those that can specify the data that’s to be sent to the datasource in a typical CUD operation and then send it to your datasource.
    Say, a text widget is binded to a table's selectedRow property, you will see the text widget’s name under the Outgoing entities column.

The Inspect Entity pane lets you see dependencies for all your widgets on the canvas, especially useful if you have a medium-complex app with several widgets working off of each other. For example, when you have a parent widget or query that controls bindings on other dependent widgets---call them children widgets---, Inspect Entity can show you all those children when you click the parent and quickly take you to any one of them directly.

In combination with Errors, Logs and Inspect Entity round out the Debugger for several scenarios during build and save you hours in building an app end-users love. Try out the Debugger and let us know how you like it, what it's missing, and what we can improve. Our Discord is the best place for that feedback.

The Appsmith Debugger now supports Console methods
23
September
2022
Announcement

The Appsmith Debugger now supports Console methods

The Appsmith Debugger now supports Console methods
Rishabh Rathod
0
 minutes ↗
#
debugger
#
troubleshooting
#
console-methods
Announcement

For a while now, you have used and loved the Appsmith Debugger, nearly complete with a Error pane, system and error logs, and an entity inspector. We say nearly complete because it was missing one of the most popular debugging tools in a dev’s toolkit—console methods.

We are happy to announce the availability of console methods for both cloud users and self-hosters on v1.8.0.

“But, what is the Appsmith Debugger?”

Image_1.png (1920×1080)

Think of the Appsmith Debugger as a set of Chrome DevTools—like for Appsmith. It lives on the familiar 🐞 everywhere in Appsmith and

  • shows helpful error messages for bindings, queries, and variables
  • lets you inspect entity relationships
  • filters system and user logs

All of this is helpful when debugging unexpected API responses or app viewer experiences. Should you care to learn more, this post breaks down the debugger by each one of its features.

“Okay, and console methods are…”

Just one of the most popular ways of print debugging in modern browsers, console methods, exposed by the console API, are a set of functions that help you log the values of variables at set points in your code, messages, or even tabular data so you can investigate them in your browser’s debugging console.

Before today, you could use all supported browser console methods, but only in the browser’s dev tools sub-window. To any developer with their hands dirty with front-end code, the browser debugging subwindow is a necessary evil—a thousand lines of errors, messages, values, and steps that you would have to sift through. We are not going to say, “Looking for the literal needle in the haystack”, but you know you are thinking it.

“And the Appsmith Debugger has a console now?”

Yes! 🥳

So, instead of something like,

you now see,

Image_3.png (1920×1080)

Sweet? This gets sweeter.

Supported methods

  • log

Almost synonymous with console, the .log() method is one of the most popular ways to log a message or the values of variables defined in your Javascript.

It can also be used to show helpful messages or comments, say, the entry and exit points of functions.

Example


getUUID: () => {
		console.log("entry - getUUID function");
		let prefix;
		
		let d = new Date().getTime();
		console.log("new date created -", d);
		d += (parseInt(Math.random() * 100)).toString();
		console.log(d, "random number generated by getUUID")
		if (undefined === prefix) {
			prefix = 'uid-';
		}
		d = prefix + d;
		console.log("UUID created -", d);
		console.log("exit - getUUID function")
		return d;
	}

Result

Image_4.png (1920×1080)
  • error

the .error() method logs an error message to the Appsmith console, be it a a string like, “This is an error message” or the value of a function.

Say you've written a function and you suspect it’s returning an error., but you don’t know what kind. For unknown unknowns like this, `error` comes handy.

Example


checkTextWidget: () => {
		const element = Text1.text;
		if (element == "") {
			console.error("There is an error. The Text property is empty ");
		}
		return element;
	}

Result

Image_5.png (1920×1080)
  • warn

Jus as .error() aids error investigations, .warn() shows, well, warnings for known knowns. Some situations this can come in handy are,- When the evaluated value of binded data on a widget is not using the same datatype as the expected value- When widgets continue to use deprecated queries or functions- When the timezone used in a datetime functions doesn't match the browser’s

Example


selectDefaultValue: () => {
	 const defaultValue = Select1.selectedOptionValue;
		if (defaultValue == ""){
			console.warn("No values selected on Select1 widget ")
		}
		return defaultValue;
}

Result

Image_6.png (1920×1080)
  • table

table (.) just does what it says—logs a Table widget’s data in key-value pairs for rows as objects. While we support this in Appsmith, we are still working on a browser console-like table, especially as we make the Table feature-richer.

Example


table1DataFunc: () =>{
		const data = Table1.tableData;
		console.table(data)
}

Result

Image_7.png (1920×1080)

That’s it! You now have the power of the console right within in Appsmith. There are other useful views available under Logs and we'll talk about them in a follow-up to the Debugger teardown soon. Bookmark this page. Thank us later.

Debugging your app in Appsmith with the Appsmith Debugger, Part 1
20
September
2022
Product

Debugging your app in Appsmith with the Appsmith Debugger, Part 1

Debugging your app in Appsmith with the Appsmith Debugger, Part 1
Ayush Pahwa
0
 minutes ↗
#
product
#
errors
#
troubleshooting
#
debugger
Product

That title is a tongue twister, innit? Almost.

Here’s a meme that isn’t. It’s just the painful truth.

Debugging_is_like_being_lost_in_a_deser.jpg (749×500)

There is no perfect code, so you know debugging is inevitable, but it’s still a chore and is as crushing often times as the meme claims it is.

But, while debugging is inevitable, making it painful is optional, especially when you have the Appsmith Debugger. We have claimed we champion developer experience as many times as we could before without being brazen about it. We think. So, we thought some more and said, “Let’s prove the claim, too.”

“Wait, wait. What is the Appsmith Debugger?”

In 2021, we shipped the Appsmith Debugger, a set of Chrome DevelTools-like features that have helped you investigate and resolve errors in Appsmith.

We recorded a video for it in a series about the Debugger, talked about it in our docs, and referenced it enough times to make you groan about our obsession with errors. If this is the first you are hearing of it, get on our Discord so we can tell you some more about it.

Why we did this

Browser dev tools are as helpful as a magnet when looking for iron fillings in a pristine haystack. To the untrained eye, they can be downright criminal, too.

Browser_debugger.jpeg (960×506)
Source: Reddit

Sure, sure, they nest groups of errors and there are separate tabs for the console and the debugger, but meh! There’s a sea of error messages, system logs, console logs, and then there’s you swimming in it.

Before we shipped the debugger, you saw,

  • errors inside a widget's Property pane that floated on your canvas which probably already had several widgets
  • the Editor’s Response pane, which clubbed legit responses with errors

The Debugger solved several of those problems.

Post_8.jpg (1920×1080)

What’s the Debugger have

Available on app.appsmith.com and our self-hosted release images, it can be called by toggling the debug icon—the one that looks like a bug—on the bottom-right corner of your Appsmith screen or with CTRL/CMD +D.

Inside the Debugger, live three panes, Errors, Logs, and Inspect Entity, each with their own uses. In the first part of this two part post, we will break the Error pane down for you and see how it can save you hours over browser dev tools in debugging.

If you would much rather just learn about Logs and Inspect Entity, bookmark this post. We will link to Part 2 in five days. :-)

Errors

Borrowing from a browser’s dev tools sub-window but improving on it radically, the Error pane lists all errors that we see when you are building inside Appsmith. Familiar examples include syntax errors from JavaScript bindings, reference errors from queries, and datatype mismatch errors.

Errors in the pane are specific to an Appsmith entity. Translated from Appsmithlish, it means you see helpful error messages about a faulting widget, a rogue query, or a stubborn JS Object.

Untitled.gif (1440×810)
Example of a faulting widget and the error beaconing it
Untitled.gif (1440×810)
A JS Object error

  • These errors get logged to the pane in lockstep with the sequence of code execution in Appsmith.
  • The Error pane is the default view when working with widgets—most noticeable if you have the Debugger sub-window resized as in the pictures in purple—so you know what’s going wrong and where in real-time.
  • The Editor's Error Pane is smarter. It doesn’t automatically switch to the Error pane—Response is the default on this screen—when an error occurs. Instead, the Debug icon lights up in red with a numeric notification that’s like a running ticker for the number of errors the Debugger sees with your queries or JS Objects. Click it to open the Error pane.
  • Every error you see in the pane follows a template with a few helpful pieces of info to help you debug.
image_high.jpeg (1920×1080)
Numbers on this image correspond to bullets below. Images in sub-bullets below show what the sub-bullet talks about.

The timestamp

Logged as your code executes or a value evaluates with your widgets, these little breadcrumbs help you track back from when the error occurred to when last it was A-Okay.

The issue

Depending on the error type, you will see a couple different kinds of issues.

  1. With widgets, you’ll see the faulting widget property’s name. An example of this is the commonplace The value at tableData is invalid, occurring when the property tableData expects an Array<Object> datatype but you have an Array<List> instead.
  2. With queries, you see more specific errors, often specific to the datasource you are running your queries to, often indicated by status codes returned by your failing requests.
  3. With JS Objects, we straight-up level with you about the parseability of your functions. Parseability probably isn’t a word, but you know what we mean.

The source

This has two parts to it—the entity’s name.the type of entity the troublesome one is, e.g., SELECT1.WIDGET. As is obvious and has been to you, SELECT1 is the entity’s name and WIDGET is the entity type.

👌🏾 Appsmith Experience plug: Clicking the source takes you to the faulting entity anywhere in Appsmith, be it a widget, a query, or a JS Object. Noice!

The message

This is the most helpful part of the message, beginning with Error and ending with a helpful bit of text or a number.

  1. Because widgets bind to queries or JS Objects using JavaScript, quite a few errors you see are the same as familiar JavaScript errors like SyntaxError or TypeError. Some other errors show is not defined. This is when a variable, a query, or a JS Object isn’t defined, but you have specified it in the Property pane.
  2. In the Editor, these messages go a step further and call out the line number in the editor that has the faulting code. For example, Line 2: Unrecognized token '$'. This type of message has three parts to it.
Post_9.jpg (1920×1080)

1. The type: Error

2. The string: relation “public.user” does not exit

3. The line number: Position 15

😻 Appsmith Experience plug: Clicking the message will open our in-app docs finder and run a helpful search to show you top docs matching the error.

Response from queries or bindings

This doesn’t always show, but when it does, it can show you helpful responses with query params or evaluated values of data bindings.

Post_10.jpg (1920×1080)
  1. With widgets, you’ll see the evaluated value from the bindings.
  2. With queries, you’ll see the payload from the API you are querying.

“How does all of this help?”

Consider two situations we have painfully drawn for you.

State #1

You have several queries and widgets on your way to a complete build.

Condition #1

You have nested queries inside JS Objects. Meaning, these queries are binded to multiple widgets via JavaScript transformations and have dependent parameters with each other.

Scenario #1

A query fails and returns an error.

Without the Appsmith Debugger

You decide to sift through the browser dev tools sub-window, trying to locate the faulty query in something that looks like ↓.

The_browser_console.png (1920×1080)

When you find the first problem query, you’re hoping against hope this is your patient zero.

  1. If so, congratulations aren’t quite in order yet. You’re still going to have to surgery the query to see what went wrong where.
  2. With browser tools, may you be lucky and find a fix in the first hour.

Most times, though, Murphy’s Law applies.

  1. Meaning, you will need to find the last problem query.
  2. Repeat steps #1 and #2 with all the sub-steps in between

If you have a friend who’s on Appsmith, you hear them say, “Good morning. Do you have a ready app? No? Try the Debugger. 🙄”

With the Appsmith Debugger

You see all the errors from all the failed queries In the Error pane and nothing else to crowd your investigation.

  1. You quickly scan by the type of errors.
  2. Errors are listed in the sequence of query execution.
Post_11.jpg (1920×1080)
So you can simply scroll to the first failed query, and investigate further.

  1. The error message tells you what failed with the params in which line, neatly indented neatly for you.

Don’t remember the query’s name? Pfft! We got it. Click the error message, and go right to the error source.

Trouble troubleshooting? Click the error message and find super-relevant docs in Appsmith’s doc finder.

At the end of it, you save a whole night’s hair-pulls, wake up bright and fresh, sip your coffee, and wonder why some people still use browser dev tools. 🤔 Maybe you should refer them to us.

State #2

You have the data from a REST API and the table for your dashboard, but you have left the chart for the very end. You are sensible like that. Charts are tricky things in general.

Condition #2

You have to bind the chart widget from Fusion Charts or one of our defaults with a query that should output the format Array<{ x: string, y: number Required }> as input to the widget. This will need JavaScript transformations.

Scenario #2

You get a datatype mismatch error.

Without the Appsmith Debugger

You toggle around the floating EXPECTED STRUCTURE, EXPECTED STRUCTURE - EXAMPLE, and EVALUATED VALUE panes to understand the chart widget’s configuration.

You have a JS Object for the transformation, so you now switch back and forth between the canvas and the JS Editor for each possible fix in the JS code.

  1. By now, you have console.loged your way to the browser tools sub-window. Magnet, meet Iron Fillings In A Haystack.
  2. Forgot the change you made to the JS Object five tries ago? Yeah, well, no System Logs, so what can you do, right? Maybe note each change on Sublime or VS Code from this point on.

With the Appsmith Debugger

Post_12.jpg (1920×1080)

Right after you run the transformation, you see the floating-pane-that-we-don’t have-a-name-for-yet show you some red and the Error pane light up with all your errors, timestamped and sequenced by the order of code execution.

  1. You see the type of error and the evaluated value for the faulting entity. Stick to this without worrying about the unnamed floating pane.
  2. Your query has trouble getting a response from your datasource, so you see that error, but hey, you also see the binding failure of that same query with the widget.
  3. No hunting for the query or the widget you want to troubleshoot. One click from the Debugger and you are transported to the associated entity.
Debugger_with_click-actions__JS_Editor.jpg (1920×1080)

You see all the errors from the transformation in one pane with click-actions for each one of them.

Docs_finder_from_Response__Appsmith.gif (1440×810)

Error messages not enough? Click the error and choose, Browse code snippets, and voila! You now now search for the chart + the query right there and see some of our helpful docs.

Made it to here? Your life inside Appsmith is going to change.

Also, this is just part one of this two-part breakdown. What’s next?

https://media.giphy.com/media/3kIGmlW0lvpnmF3bGy/giphy.gif

Better than post-credits. A whole other movie featuring Logs and Inspect Entity. Meanwhile, here’s a few things you can do.

Until the next Debugger post, Appsmiths.

P.S.: We love you.