13
June
2022
Tutorial

How To Display and Manage Documents on Appsmith

Today, modern websites that use document-based data have provisions to view, manage and download these documents. Such documents can range from simple files showing budgets, tutorials, or even notes. With these features, application users can upload and manage files. While such features are nice to have, building an ideal solution to handle them are not feasible and can be time-consuming. Often developers find it hard to code PDF-viewers on their web apps because of dependency issues (libraries and frameworks), and when working with frontend frameworks — React, Vue.JS, etc. — configuration can get complicated. 

When building apps on Appsmith, the in-built document widget takes care of some important functionalities related to managing documents. This widget supports multiple file extensions, such as .txt, .pdf, .docx and .xlsx among others. Documents can also be populated via APIs and URLs. 

In this tutorial, we will learn what the document viewer widget is, and its applications. At the end, you will be able to fetch and display documents in Appsmith, and also learn to configure different properties that come with the widget.

Set-up the  Document Viewer Widget

The document viewer widget on Appsmith can be used to display a wide range of documents. This document widget has support for numerous file extensions of documents. Documents to be displayed can be of type: .pdf, .docx, .xlsx, .pptx, .ppt and .txt.

To get started using this widget:

  • You will first need to have an Appsmith account. You can log in if you have a pre-existing Appsmith account, otherwise, you can create a new Appsmith account.
  • Once logged in, you are navigated to a dashboard. Here, create a new application. On the left sidebar, you will see a number of widgets offering different functionalities.
  • Find the document viewer widget and drag it into the workspace.

Adding the widget will give a result similar to the image below:

Within the widget, you will notice there is a document being displayed. This document is being generated with the link in the Document Link property of the widget. 

To display documents, you can either add links/URLs or connect a data source that can be connected to display documents. The document widget provides the option to download or print the displayed document.

Alternatively, a data source can be used to provide the documents. 

The data source could be a database or an API pointing to the file you want to display. 

The Connect Data button will take you to a page to add a data source.

Here you will see options for APIs and different databases. 

In this tutorial, we will use the MongoDB database to supply our documents. 

First, you will need to create a database on MongoDB (I will show you how to do this in the next section) and then link it to our application. 

Select MongoDB from the datasource link

Here, I’ve renamed my data source to “Book Datasource.” Take note of the IP addresses; you will need to allowlist this when creating your MongoDB cluster to allow external access via Appsmith.

Creating a MongoDB Database

To get started with MongoDB, navigate your browser to MongoDB and click on Try free to create a user account.

After logging in, select your database plan and click on Create Cluster.

Next, set up security credentials to authorize access to the database.

Finally, allowlist the domains from Appsmith, click on the Finish and Close button, and click 'Go to Database' on the popup dialogue that appears.

On the new page that opens up, you will have your database and a cluster created for you. 

On the cluster, click on the Browse Collections button.

You will get a page to manage the data stored in your database.

Select Add My Own Data to define our own database’s content. On the new page, select Insert document to add new documents to the database.

Our 'Collections' will contain two fields, namely: Name and Url, along with their corresponding values. Above I have a URL for a Javascript tutorial document. Click on the Insert button when done to add the new document.

Below, I have three documents in my database collection.

On the side pane, click on Database to navigate to the cluster. Click on the Connect button and select Connect with Mongodb Shell

Copy the selected area in the image below

Add the Newly-Created Mongodb as a Datasource

Now that we are done setting up our database, we need to add it as a datasource to Appsmith. For this, you will need to navigate back to Appsmith and fill in the required fields.

Select Replica set for the connection type, paste the copied connection string into the host address field, and enter your database name. Under authentication, enter the username and password you defined when creating the cluster.

Click on test to check the validity of the datasource, then finally, click on Save. Click on the new query to create a query for the datasource.

Enter the name of the collection in the field provided and click on the Run button. You will get a response showing the database content. Click on Add new Widget and select Table on the left window pane. This will create a table widget with the database as its data source.

You can link this new widget to your document viewer widget. 

To do this, open the document viewer widget option pane. Within the Document Link field, add the following moustache syntax

{{Table1.selectedRow.Url}}.

This will set the document to be displayed in the document viewer widget, to be the URL of any row you select from the table.

The document viewer widget has 3 properties: the Document Field, visible and Animate Loading properties. The visible field determines if the widget will be visible upon production while the latter controls the loading of the widget.

Approving and Rejecting Documents

In the Filepicker widget, criteria can be set, which the document to be uploaded has to satisfy, else it would be rejected. Select and drag the file picker widget onto the workspace to add it.

Above is the file picker option pane. The label property is the text to be displayed on the widget. With this, you can also set the number of files to be uploaded, max size of the files, and allowed file types. Documents not meeting the predefined criteria will be rejected. Documents uploaded with the file picker widget can also be linked and displayed using the document viewer widget.

Click on the widget to upload a file.

You can either drag and drop files unto the widget to upload them, or you can browse your system directories for the files to be uploaded.

Here is a file I’ve added using the widget. Note that the file picker widget stores uploaded documents in the form of an array. To view your uploaded document, add the following mustache syntax to the document viewer widget document link property: {{FilePicker1.files[0].data}}. Here, the document at position zero is the first document which I added.

Above is an image showing the document uploaded using the file picker widget.

Sending Documents as Mails

Documents can be sent to specific email addresses using the Appsmith SMTP email service. To do this, you will first need to do is to add SMTP integration. Navigate to datasources and select SMTP.

To be able to use this service, you will need to create an account with an SMTP provider. On the configuration page, add the host address, port and authentication credentials of your SMTP provider.

With SMTP setup, you can build a form to send the documents to an email address. To do this, add the form widget to your work environment.

Here is a form which will take the values of the name of the email and the file name of the document to be sent.

To send emails, create a new query using the configured SMTP service.

Here is the query screen. The from email property would take the email address you used to create your SMTP service, the To email(s) property can be bound to the input field of the form using the following moustache syntax: {{Input1.text}}. The subject would be: {{Input2.text}} and finally the attachment would be the file uploaded to the file picker widget. So use the moustache syntax: {{FilePicker1.files[0]}}.

Finally, you will need to bind this query to the submit button on the form to run it.

Here, I’ve added the query to the onClick event handler, and added a message to be displayed once the document has been sent. Clicking on the button will run the query and send the attached document to the email specified in the form.

We also covered using the file picker widget to upload files and send documents to specified email addresses. You can take a look at the tutorial here. 

How To Display and Manage Documents on Appsmith

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Today, modern websites that use document-based data have provisions to view, manage and download these documents. Such documents can range from simple files showing budgets, tutorials, or even notes. With these features, application users can upload and manage files. While such features are nice to have, building an ideal solution to handle them are not feasible and can be time-consuming. Often developers find it hard to code PDF-viewers on their web apps because of dependency issues (libraries and frameworks), and when working with frontend frameworks — React, Vue.JS, etc. — configuration can get complicated. 

When building apps on Appsmith, the in-built document widget takes care of some important functionalities related to managing documents. This widget supports multiple file extensions, such as .txt, .pdf, .docx and .xlsx among others. Documents can also be populated via APIs and URLs. 

In this tutorial, we will learn what the document viewer widget is, and its applications. At the end, you will be able to fetch and display documents in Appsmith, and also learn to configure different properties that come with the widget.

Set-up the  Document Viewer Widget

The document viewer widget on Appsmith can be used to display a wide range of documents. This document widget has support for numerous file extensions of documents. Documents to be displayed can be of type: .pdf, .docx, .xlsx, .pptx, .ppt and .txt.

To get started using this widget:

  • You will first need to have an Appsmith account. You can log in if you have a pre-existing Appsmith account, otherwise, you can create a new Appsmith account.
  • Once logged in, you are navigated to a dashboard. Here, create a new application. On the left sidebar, you will see a number of widgets offering different functionalities.
  • Find the document viewer widget and drag it into the workspace.

Adding the widget will give a result similar to the image below:

Within the widget, you will notice there is a document being displayed. This document is being generated with the link in the Document Link property of the widget. 

To display documents, you can either add links/URLs or connect a data source that can be connected to display documents. The document widget provides the option to download or print the displayed document.

Alternatively, a data source can be used to provide the documents. 

The data source could be a database or an API pointing to the file you want to display. 

The Connect Data button will take you to a page to add a data source.

Here you will see options for APIs and different databases. 

In this tutorial, we will use the MongoDB database to supply our documents. 

First, you will need to create a database on MongoDB (I will show you how to do this in the next section) and then link it to our application. 

Select MongoDB from the datasource link

Here, I’ve renamed my data source to “Book Datasource.” Take note of the IP addresses; you will need to allowlist this when creating your MongoDB cluster to allow external access via Appsmith.

Creating a MongoDB Database

To get started with MongoDB, navigate your browser to MongoDB and click on Try free to create a user account.

After logging in, select your database plan and click on Create Cluster.

Next, set up security credentials to authorize access to the database.

Finally, allowlist the domains from Appsmith, click on the Finish and Close button, and click 'Go to Database' on the popup dialogue that appears.

On the new page that opens up, you will have your database and a cluster created for you. 

On the cluster, click on the Browse Collections button.

You will get a page to manage the data stored in your database.

Select Add My Own Data to define our own database’s content. On the new page, select Insert document to add new documents to the database.

Our 'Collections' will contain two fields, namely: Name and Url, along with their corresponding values. Above I have a URL for a Javascript tutorial document. Click on the Insert button when done to add the new document.

Below, I have three documents in my database collection.

On the side pane, click on Database to navigate to the cluster. Click on the Connect button and select Connect with Mongodb Shell

Copy the selected area in the image below

Add the Newly-Created Mongodb as a Datasource

Now that we are done setting up our database, we need to add it as a datasource to Appsmith. For this, you will need to navigate back to Appsmith and fill in the required fields.

Select Replica set for the connection type, paste the copied connection string into the host address field, and enter your database name. Under authentication, enter the username and password you defined when creating the cluster.

Click on test to check the validity of the datasource, then finally, click on Save. Click on the new query to create a query for the datasource.

Enter the name of the collection in the field provided and click on the Run button. You will get a response showing the database content. Click on Add new Widget and select Table on the left window pane. This will create a table widget with the database as its data source.

You can link this new widget to your document viewer widget. 

To do this, open the document viewer widget option pane. Within the Document Link field, add the following moustache syntax

{{Table1.selectedRow.Url}}.

This will set the document to be displayed in the document viewer widget, to be the URL of any row you select from the table.

The document viewer widget has 3 properties: the Document Field, visible and Animate Loading properties. The visible field determines if the widget will be visible upon production while the latter controls the loading of the widget.

Approving and Rejecting Documents

In the Filepicker widget, criteria can be set, which the document to be uploaded has to satisfy, else it would be rejected. Select and drag the file picker widget onto the workspace to add it.

Above is the file picker option pane. The label property is the text to be displayed on the widget. With this, you can also set the number of files to be uploaded, max size of the files, and allowed file types. Documents not meeting the predefined criteria will be rejected. Documents uploaded with the file picker widget can also be linked and displayed using the document viewer widget.

Click on the widget to upload a file.

You can either drag and drop files unto the widget to upload them, or you can browse your system directories for the files to be uploaded.

Here is a file I’ve added using the widget. Note that the file picker widget stores uploaded documents in the form of an array. To view your uploaded document, add the following mustache syntax to the document viewer widget document link property: {{FilePicker1.files[0].data}}. Here, the document at position zero is the first document which I added.

Above is an image showing the document uploaded using the file picker widget.

Sending Documents as Mails

Documents can be sent to specific email addresses using the Appsmith SMTP email service. To do this, you will first need to do is to add SMTP integration. Navigate to datasources and select SMTP.

To be able to use this service, you will need to create an account with an SMTP provider. On the configuration page, add the host address, port and authentication credentials of your SMTP provider.

With SMTP setup, you can build a form to send the documents to an email address. To do this, add the form widget to your work environment.

Here is a form which will take the values of the name of the email and the file name of the document to be sent.

To send emails, create a new query using the configured SMTP service.

Here is the query screen. The from email property would take the email address you used to create your SMTP service, the To email(s) property can be bound to the input field of the form using the following moustache syntax: {{Input1.text}}. The subject would be: {{Input2.text}} and finally the attachment would be the file uploaded to the file picker widget. So use the moustache syntax: {{FilePicker1.files[0]}}.

Finally, you will need to bind this query to the submit button on the form to run it.

Here, I’ve added the query to the onClick event handler, and added a message to be displayed once the document has been sent. Clicking on the button will run the query and send the attached document to the email specified in the form.

We also covered using the file picker widget to upload files and send documents to specified email addresses. You can take a look at the tutorial here. 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Example of a faulting widget and the error beaconing it
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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.
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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.
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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.

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  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 ↓.

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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.
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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

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

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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?

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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.