21
May
2021
Tutorial

Using the Notion API to Build a Content Management System

0
 minutes

At Appsmith, we use Notion to manage our content calendar. We also work with a few external agencies and freelancers for some of our content. It is impossible to create granular access control and develop a workflow on Notion to run the process smoothly and thus, as soon as Notion released their API, we decided to build an application that helps us manage our entire content management in one place while giving our collaborators the necessary access only.

Our application uses our Notion (mock) Table as a data source and lets you plant, submit and edit articles on the application, while at the same time has a provision for integrating with an email service of your choice (we use SendGrid here) to send reminder emails or updates to people in the project.

In this tutorial, we’ll build an essential Content Management System, which will let you:

  • Submit new content idea submissions from authors
  • Set deadlines for submissions
  • Follow up with authors directly with their Emails
  • Organise all data on a Notion page

Check out the live demo here. Here's a screenshot of how the app looks like:

Notion App Screenshot.png
Appsmith is an open-source framework that lets developers build dashboards, workflows, and CRUD apps with only the necessary code. You can connect to any API or databases like MongoDB, PostgreSQL, or MYSQL and get access to multiple widgets, including charts, tables and forms, for building a UI fast.

Let’s dive right in!

Configuring the Notion API

Notion API lets us connect to Notion Pages and Databases. Now, let's look at how we can set up the API, gather all the required keys and connect to Appsmith.

  • Firstly, choose the workspace you want to work with on your Notion. If you want to test it, feel free to create a new workspace.
  • Now, open the workspace setting by clicking on the Settings and Members option on the left navigation bar. We should see a new modal with all the settings.
  • Find the select the Integrations option under Workspace options in the settings modal. This will redirect to the integrations tab.
  • Next, choose the Develop your integration option. Now we'll be redirected to our integration page.
Image One.png
  • On the integrations page, select the New integration option and add a name and associated workspace you want to work with and hit submit. This will create us a new secret key!
Image Two.png
Image Three.png
  • Now head back to our workspace, choose a specific page and click on the share option (we can find this on the top-right corner)
  • Next, hit the invite button, a new modal opens, here we can find our created integration. Select the integration and confirm the invite.
  • With this, we should be able to add an integration to a Notion page; also, make sure to save your integration key; we’ll have to use it for using the Notion API
In Notion, integration has a secret key; when added to a workspace, we could perform all the actions (create, read, update). We'll use the secret key of the integration to connect with third-party applications.

Setting up a Notion Page

To work with the Notion API, firstly, let’s create a database for our content calendar.

  • On your page, add a new table with the following fields that are required for our content manager:
Title: Text Field
Description: Text Field
Author: Text Field
Category: Text Field
Status: Dropdown Field
Notes: Text Field
Deadline: Date Field
Author Email: EMail Field

You can also use this Notion page of ours, which can be used as a mock database. You can click on this link duplicate to one of your workspaces. Also, make sure to add the integration to this page to use the Notion API.

Now that we have our page and integration-ready, we’ll start building an App on Appsmith.

Querying Data from Notion API

In this section, we’ll be querying data from Notion API. Follow the below steps:

  • Firstly, we should have an Appsmith account; if not, sign-up here (it's free)! Next, create a new application under an organisation by clicking on the Create New button.
  • We’ll now find Widgets, APIs, and DB Queries on the left navigation; we can use these features to build our application. We’ll start by creating a Notion API.
  • Click on the + icon next to the APIs and click on Create new and name the API as query_data_from_database
  • Now, add the following in the URL for the API:
https://api.notion.com/v1/databases//query
  • Here, db-id is the database id for a notion page. To find this, we’ll have to open our Notion Table as a page and pick the database id from the URL.
  • Following is an example URL showing the id of a Notion page.
https://www.notion.so/myworkspace/a8aec43384f447ed84390e8e42c2e089?v=...
                                  |--------- Database ID --------|
  • Next, add the following keys under the Headers tab.
	Authorization: 
	Notion-Version: 2021-05-13
	Content-type: application/json

Below is a screenshot of how the configuration looks like:

Image Four.png
  • Lastly, hit the RUN button, and we can find all the data from our page in the Response Body pane.

Awesome, we now have the response from the Notion API; let’s bind this onto a List Widget.

Binding Notion APIs onto Appsmith

Now that we have an API containing data from the Notion Table let’s bind this onto a list widget to display all the details. Follow the below steps:

  • Select Page1 on the left navigation and click on the + icon next to the widgets section. Now we should see different UI widgets that we can use to build UI.
  • *Based on your preference, you can either choose a table widget or a list widget to bind the data from Notion API. In this example, we’ll be using a List widget.
  • Now drag and drop the list widget onto the canvas; we should see list items filled with Pokemon information. To inspect these, we can click on the cog icon on the top of the list widget and check out the data in the Items property. You can find more information from the docs here.
  • Now, we’ll be using the moustache syntax to write JS in Appsmith, replace the Items property on the list widget with the following code snippet:
In Appsmith, you can access the API’s anywhere inside the moustache syntax using the API name.
{
{
	query_data_from_database.data.results.map(
    	(item) => {
        	return (item.properties)
    	})
}
}

Here, we’re using the query_data_from_database and mapping it to return item properties. This how the response looks like:

Image Five.png

Awesome, now let’s add some widgets onto the list widget and show the details from the Notion API. Drag and drop six text widgets and set its Text property to the following:

- Title
- Description
- Status
- Author
- Email
- Deadline

Add six more text widgets next to them, where we’ll be binding their corresponding values from the Notion API.

Now in the text widget next to the Title text widget, set the Text property to the following:

{{ currentItem.Title.title[0].text.content }}

Here the currentItem corresponds to a unique item in the list widget, and next, we access the Title property from the Items on our list and parse the JSON. Below is the screenshot of how the response looks like:

Image Six.png

Great, we can now see our Titles from the Notion API on items of our list widget; similarly, let’s set the Text property of other text widgets to show the contents from the API:

  • Description text widget set the Text property to:
{{currentItem.Description.rich_text[0].text.content}}
  • Status text widget, set the Text property to:
{{currentItem.Description.rich_text[0].text.content}}
  • Author text widget, set the Text property to:
{{currentItem.Author.rich_text[0].text.content}}
  • EMail text widget set, the Text property to:
{{currentItem["Author Email"].email || "Not Added"}}
  • Deadline text widget set, the Text property to:
{{currentItem.Deadline.date.start}}
  • Category text widget set the Text property to:
{{currentItem.Category.rich_text.map(row => {return row.plain_text})[0]}}
The code for parsing through items changes based on the API response from the Notion API.

We’ve added some additional styles and added a button widget at the end so that admins can send Emails to the authors directly from Appsmith. Below is how the App looks like after we parse all the data from the Notion Table onto the Appsmith List widget:

Notion App Screenshot.png

We can also add a refresh button to the query_data_from_database query. For this, drag and drop the Button widget onto the canvas, set the Label property to Refresh. Next, open the onClick property, click the Call an API option, and select the query_data_from_database API. Now, whenever we click the refresh button, we should see all the new data updated on the Notion page.

Adding an Item into Notion Database

For our content calendar, we can list all the details from the Notion Table. Now let’s add a feature to add new items on the table from Appsmith. Follow the below steps.

  • First, let’s create a new page named “Author Submission” now drag and drop a form widget onto the canvas.
  • Inside the Form widget, let’s add some text widgets and input widgets from which the authors should submit their new content ideas.
  • This is how our form should look like:
Image Eight.png

Following are the fields we’ve created for reference:

Now, let’s name these widgets (so that we can use them to refer in the POST API method) to the following:

Title - titleInput
Description - descriptionInput
Author Name - authorInput
Email - emailInput
Category - categoryInput
Submission Date - dateInput

Let’s create a new API that’ll add a new value to the Notion page when making submissions from the Appsmith form. Follow the below steps:

  • First, create a new API under the Author Submission page and name it as add_an_item_to_database
  • Next, add the following keys under the Headers tab.
Authorization: 
Notion-Version: 2021-05-13
Content-type: application/json
  • Now in the body tab, paste the following code:
	"parent": { "database_id": "" },
 "properties": {
           "Author": {
          "type": "rich_text",
          "rich_text": [
            {
              "type": "text",
              "text": {
                "content": "{{authorInput.text}}",
                "link": null
              }
            }
          ]
        },
        "Author Email": {
          "type": "email",
          "email": "{{emailInput.text}}"
        },
        "Category": {
          "type": "rich_text",
          "rich_text": [
            {
              "type": "text",
              "text": {
                "content": "{{categoryInput.text}}",
                "link": null
              }
            }
          ]
        },
        "Status": {
          "type": "select",
          "select": {
            "name": "Not Started",
    "color": "blue"
          }
        },
        "Description": {
          "type": "rich_text",
          "rich_text": [
            {
              "type": "text",
              "text": {
                "content": "{{descriptionInput.text}}",
                "link": null
              }
            }
          ]
        },
        "Deadline": {
          "type": "date",
          "date": {
            "start": "{{dateInput.selectedDate}}",
            "end": null
          }
        },
        "Title": {
          "type": "title",
          "title": [
            {
              "type": "text",
              "text": {
                "content": "{{titleInput.text}}",
                "link": null
              }
            }
          ]
        }
      }
  }

This is how Notion API allows us to add new items to a database. Here we'll also have to add the database id in the place of <db-id>. If we observe the body inside each property's content field, we added a moustache operation from which we'll take the input from the Appsmith input forms.

Now open the Submit button’s property pane, update the onClick property to Call an API, and choose add_an_item_to_database API. With this, we should add new data to the Notion table using the Appsmith form!

Send Grid Email Integration

Our content manager now shows all the data and also has a feature to add new content ideas. Now let’s add an email integration to communicate with Authors via Appsmith. We’ll be using Sendgrid to achieve this.

Creating a Modal for sending emails:

  • First, create a new modal when the Send Mail button is clicked on the list item. We can do this by setting the onClick property to Open Modal and selecting Create New.
  • Set the modal type to Form modal by toggle the option in the property pane.
  • Inside the Modal widget, let’s add some text widgets and input widgets from which we should send Emails.
  • Following are the fields we’ve created for reference:
Sending To: Input Widget
Email subject: Input Widget
Email content: Rich Text Editor Widget
  • Now, let’s name these widgets (so that we can use them to refer in the POST API method) to the following:
Sending To: emailInput
Email subject: subjectInput
Email content: contentInput

Below is a screenshot of how the Modal should look like:

Image Nine.png

Configuring the SendGrid API:

  • Firstly, we should have a SendGrid account, and if you don’t have one, you can create a free account here.
  • Next, navigate to the Integration Guide by clicking on the Email API on the left navigation pane.
  • Choose the Web API and choose the cURL language. Now you’ll be redirected to the verification tab.
  • On the verification, tab click on the Create API by giving it a name. With this, we should have our SendGrid API key.
  • Next, open Appsmith and create a new API under Page1, name it as send_email. Set the request type to POST and add the following under the URL form:

https://api.sendgrid.com/v3/mail/send

Authorization : Bearer 
Content-Type : application/json
  • Lastly, set the body to the following:
{"personalizations": [{"to": [{"email": "{{emailInput.text}}"}]}],"from": {"email": "test@example.com"},"subject": "{{subjectInput.text}}","content": [{"type": "text/plain", "value": "{{contentInput.text}}"}]}

This is the default configuration from SendGrid that lets us send Emails, but here we are dynamically passing the to-email, from-email, subject and content field from the widget’s we’ve created on the Modal. Now, set the onClick property of the form to Call an API and choose the send_email query. With this, we should be able to send Emails from Appsmith successfully!

Conclusion

Deploy your application on the cloud and share it with others, and that's it. We're done!

We've seen how easy it is to build an application on Appsmith, specifically a CMS with Notion as a backend. This guide covered how to create a CRM and connect it to a Notion API and how to create and read data. You learned how to build interactive pages, work with widgets, and customize them for your purposes.

We have made a slightly more robust application public here; try it out and let us know what you think. You can also check the live demo of our app here.

Using the Notion API to Build a Content Management System

Share this

At Appsmith, we use Notion to manage our content calendar. We also work with a few external agencies and freelancers for some of our content. It is impossible to create granular access control and develop a workflow on Notion to run the process smoothly and thus, as soon as Notion released their API, we decided to build an application that helps us manage our entire content management in one place while giving our collaborators the necessary access only.

Our application uses our Notion (mock) Table as a data source and lets you plant, submit and edit articles on the application, while at the same time has a provision for integrating with an email service of your choice (we use SendGrid here) to send reminder emails or updates to people in the project.

In this tutorial, we’ll build an essential Content Management System, which will let you:

  • Submit new content idea submissions from authors
  • Set deadlines for submissions
  • Follow up with authors directly with their Emails
  • Organise all data on a Notion page

Check out the live demo here. Here's a screenshot of how the app looks like:

Notion App Screenshot.png
Appsmith is an open-source framework that lets developers build dashboards, workflows, and CRUD apps with only the necessary code. You can connect to any API or databases like MongoDB, PostgreSQL, or MYSQL and get access to multiple widgets, including charts, tables and forms, for building a UI fast.

Let’s dive right in!

Configuring the Notion API

Notion API lets us connect to Notion Pages and Databases. Now, let's look at how we can set up the API, gather all the required keys and connect to Appsmith.

  • Firstly, choose the workspace you want to work with on your Notion. If you want to test it, feel free to create a new workspace.
  • Now, open the workspace setting by clicking on the Settings and Members option on the left navigation bar. We should see a new modal with all the settings.
  • Find the select the Integrations option under Workspace options in the settings modal. This will redirect to the integrations tab.
  • Next, choose the Develop your integration option. Now we'll be redirected to our integration page.
Image One.png
  • On the integrations page, select the New integration option and add a name and associated workspace you want to work with and hit submit. This will create us a new secret key!
Image Two.png
Image Three.png
  • Now head back to our workspace, choose a specific page and click on the share option (we can find this on the top-right corner)
  • Next, hit the invite button, a new modal opens, here we can find our created integration. Select the integration and confirm the invite.
  • With this, we should be able to add an integration to a Notion page; also, make sure to save your integration key; we’ll have to use it for using the Notion API
In Notion, integration has a secret key; when added to a workspace, we could perform all the actions (create, read, update). We'll use the secret key of the integration to connect with third-party applications.

Setting up a Notion Page

To work with the Notion API, firstly, let’s create a database for our content calendar.

  • On your page, add a new table with the following fields that are required for our content manager:
Title: Text Field
Description: Text Field
Author: Text Field
Category: Text Field
Status: Dropdown Field
Notes: Text Field
Deadline: Date Field
Author Email: EMail Field

You can also use this Notion page of ours, which can be used as a mock database. You can click on this link duplicate to one of your workspaces. Also, make sure to add the integration to this page to use the Notion API.

Now that we have our page and integration-ready, we’ll start building an App on Appsmith.

Querying Data from Notion API

In this section, we’ll be querying data from Notion API. Follow the below steps:

  • Firstly, we should have an Appsmith account; if not, sign-up here (it's free)! Next, create a new application under an organisation by clicking on the Create New button.
  • We’ll now find Widgets, APIs, and DB Queries on the left navigation; we can use these features to build our application. We’ll start by creating a Notion API.
  • Click on the + icon next to the APIs and click on Create new and name the API as query_data_from_database
  • Now, add the following in the URL for the API:
https://api.notion.com/v1/databases//query
  • Here, db-id is the database id for a notion page. To find this, we’ll have to open our Notion Table as a page and pick the database id from the URL.
  • Following is an example URL showing the id of a Notion page.
https://www.notion.so/myworkspace/a8aec43384f447ed84390e8e42c2e089?v=...
                                  |--------- Database ID --------|
  • Next, add the following keys under the Headers tab.
	Authorization: 
	Notion-Version: 2021-05-13
	Content-type: application/json

Below is a screenshot of how the configuration looks like:

Image Four.png
  • Lastly, hit the RUN button, and we can find all the data from our page in the Response Body pane.

Awesome, we now have the response from the Notion API; let’s bind this onto a List Widget.

Binding Notion APIs onto Appsmith

Now that we have an API containing data from the Notion Table let’s bind this onto a list widget to display all the details. Follow the below steps:

  • Select Page1 on the left navigation and click on the + icon next to the widgets section. Now we should see different UI widgets that we can use to build UI.
  • *Based on your preference, you can either choose a table widget or a list widget to bind the data from Notion API. In this example, we’ll be using a List widget.
  • Now drag and drop the list widget onto the canvas; we should see list items filled with Pokemon information. To inspect these, we can click on the cog icon on the top of the list widget and check out the data in the Items property. You can find more information from the docs here.
  • Now, we’ll be using the moustache syntax to write JS in Appsmith, replace the Items property on the list widget with the following code snippet:
In Appsmith, you can access the API’s anywhere inside the moustache syntax using the API name.
{
{
	query_data_from_database.data.results.map(
    	(item) => {
        	return (item.properties)
    	})
}
}

Here, we’re using the query_data_from_database and mapping it to return item properties. This how the response looks like:

Image Five.png

Awesome, now let’s add some widgets onto the list widget and show the details from the Notion API. Drag and drop six text widgets and set its Text property to the following:

- Title
- Description
- Status
- Author
- Email
- Deadline

Add six more text widgets next to them, where we’ll be binding their corresponding values from the Notion API.

Now in the text widget next to the Title text widget, set the Text property to the following:

{{ currentItem.Title.title[0].text.content }}

Here the currentItem corresponds to a unique item in the list widget, and next, we access the Title property from the Items on our list and parse the JSON. Below is the screenshot of how the response looks like:

Image Six.png

Great, we can now see our Titles from the Notion API on items of our list widget; similarly, let’s set the Text property of other text widgets to show the contents from the API:

  • Description text widget set the Text property to:
{{currentItem.Description.rich_text[0].text.content}}
  • Status text widget, set the Text property to:
{{currentItem.Description.rich_text[0].text.content}}
  • Author text widget, set the Text property to:
{{currentItem.Author.rich_text[0].text.content}}
  • EMail text widget set, the Text property to:
{{currentItem["Author Email"].email || "Not Added"}}
  • Deadline text widget set, the Text property to:
{{currentItem.Deadline.date.start}}
  • Category text widget set the Text property to:
{{currentItem.Category.rich_text.map(row => {return row.plain_text})[0]}}
The code for parsing through items changes based on the API response from the Notion API.

We’ve added some additional styles and added a button widget at the end so that admins can send Emails to the authors directly from Appsmith. Below is how the App looks like after we parse all the data from the Notion Table onto the Appsmith List widget:

Notion App Screenshot.png

We can also add a refresh button to the query_data_from_database query. For this, drag and drop the Button widget onto the canvas, set the Label property to Refresh. Next, open the onClick property, click the Call an API option, and select the query_data_from_database API. Now, whenever we click the refresh button, we should see all the new data updated on the Notion page.

Adding an Item into Notion Database

For our content calendar, we can list all the details from the Notion Table. Now let’s add a feature to add new items on the table from Appsmith. Follow the below steps.

  • First, let’s create a new page named “Author Submission” now drag and drop a form widget onto the canvas.
  • Inside the Form widget, let’s add some text widgets and input widgets from which the authors should submit their new content ideas.
  • This is how our form should look like:
Image Eight.png

Following are the fields we’ve created for reference:

Now, let’s name these widgets (so that we can use them to refer in the POST API method) to the following:

Title - titleInput
Description - descriptionInput
Author Name - authorInput
Email - emailInput
Category - categoryInput
Submission Date - dateInput

Let’s create a new API that’ll add a new value to the Notion page when making submissions from the Appsmith form. Follow the below steps:

  • First, create a new API under the Author Submission page and name it as add_an_item_to_database
  • Next, add the following keys under the Headers tab.
Authorization: 
Notion-Version: 2021-05-13
Content-type: application/json
  • Now in the body tab, paste the following code:
	"parent": { "database_id": "" },
 "properties": {
           "Author": {
          "type": "rich_text",
          "rich_text": [
            {
              "type": "text",
              "text": {
                "content": "{{authorInput.text}}",
                "link": null
              }
            }
          ]
        },
        "Author Email": {
          "type": "email",
          "email": "{{emailInput.text}}"
        },
        "Category": {
          "type": "rich_text",
          "rich_text": [
            {
              "type": "text",
              "text": {
                "content": "{{categoryInput.text}}",
                "link": null
              }
            }
          ]
        },
        "Status": {
          "type": "select",
          "select": {
            "name": "Not Started",
    "color": "blue"
          }
        },
        "Description": {
          "type": "rich_text",
          "rich_text": [
            {
              "type": "text",
              "text": {
                "content": "{{descriptionInput.text}}",
                "link": null
              }
            }
          ]
        },
        "Deadline": {
          "type": "date",
          "date": {
            "start": "{{dateInput.selectedDate}}",
            "end": null
          }
        },
        "Title": {
          "type": "title",
          "title": [
            {
              "type": "text",
              "text": {
                "content": "{{titleInput.text}}",
                "link": null
              }
            }
          ]
        }
      }
  }

This is how Notion API allows us to add new items to a database. Here we'll also have to add the database id in the place of <db-id>. If we observe the body inside each property's content field, we added a moustache operation from which we'll take the input from the Appsmith input forms.

Now open the Submit button’s property pane, update the onClick property to Call an API, and choose add_an_item_to_database API. With this, we should add new data to the Notion table using the Appsmith form!

Send Grid Email Integration

Our content manager now shows all the data and also has a feature to add new content ideas. Now let’s add an email integration to communicate with Authors via Appsmith. We’ll be using Sendgrid to achieve this.

Creating a Modal for sending emails:

  • First, create a new modal when the Send Mail button is clicked on the list item. We can do this by setting the onClick property to Open Modal and selecting Create New.
  • Set the modal type to Form modal by toggle the option in the property pane.
  • Inside the Modal widget, let’s add some text widgets and input widgets from which we should send Emails.
  • Following are the fields we’ve created for reference:
Sending To: Input Widget
Email subject: Input Widget
Email content: Rich Text Editor Widget
  • Now, let’s name these widgets (so that we can use them to refer in the POST API method) to the following:
Sending To: emailInput
Email subject: subjectInput
Email content: contentInput

Below is a screenshot of how the Modal should look like:

Image Nine.png

Configuring the SendGrid API:

  • Firstly, we should have a SendGrid account, and if you don’t have one, you can create a free account here.
  • Next, navigate to the Integration Guide by clicking on the Email API on the left navigation pane.
  • Choose the Web API and choose the cURL language. Now you’ll be redirected to the verification tab.
  • On the verification, tab click on the Create API by giving it a name. With this, we should have our SendGrid API key.
  • Next, open Appsmith and create a new API under Page1, name it as send_email. Set the request type to POST and add the following under the URL form:

https://api.sendgrid.com/v3/mail/send

Authorization : Bearer 
Content-Type : application/json
  • Lastly, set the body to the following:
{"personalizations": [{"to": [{"email": "{{emailInput.text}}"}]}],"from": {"email": "test@example.com"},"subject": "{{subjectInput.text}}","content": [{"type": "text/plain", "value": "{{contentInput.text}}"}]}

This is the default configuration from SendGrid that lets us send Emails, but here we are dynamically passing the to-email, from-email, subject and content field from the widget’s we’ve created on the Modal. Now, set the onClick property of the form to Call an API and choose the send_email query. With this, we should be able to send Emails from Appsmith successfully!

Conclusion

Deploy your application on the cloud and share it with others, and that's it. We're done!

We've seen how easy it is to build an application on Appsmith, specifically a CMS with Notion as a backend. This guide covered how to create a CRM and connect it to a Notion API and how to create and read data. You learned how to build interactive pages, work with widgets, and customize them for your purposes.

We have made a slightly more robust application public here; try it out and let us know what you think. You can also check the live demo of our app 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

Square
Try Appsmith
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.