Pull data into an App

Updated: June 15, 2020

If your app is part of a project, it can pull data from that project's database. This lesson will teach you how. Other lessons can teach you how to pull data out of Clio or Google Sheets.

Pulling data is how you allow the end-user of the app to "look up" information in your database. The most common use-case for pulling data into an app is using that data to populate a document template.

Pulling data into your app is a two-step process: 

  1. Add a data source; and
  2. Specify how you want your app to "look up" a row of data within that data source.

There are four methods for accomplishing step 2 (detailed below), but regardless of the method you choose the end result is the same: you create variables inside your app for each column in your database.

Step 1: Add a data source

A data source is where your app pulls data from. Add a data source under the Data Sources tab of the app builder: 

Add a "Database" data source if you want to pull data from the Afterpattern database associated with the project that your app is in.

After you add a data source to your app, it will be listed under the Data Sources tab. You will notice that the data source is represented as a variable. As always, it's a good idea to rename the variable's label to something that makes sense in context (e.g. "client_data"): 

That's it for Step 1. Next, you need to specify how you want your App to "look up" a row of data in this Data Source.

Step 2: How to "look up" a row in the data source

There are 4 different ways to "look up" a row in your data source, each designed for a different use-case. These questions will help you understand your use-case:

Will the end-user be able to view the database? 

There are two situations where the end-user will be able to view the database this app is pulling from: 

  1. You are the end-user; or
  2. The app is in a portal that exposes the end-user's data to them.

For this use-case, you can "look up" a row in the data source by attaching the app to the database toolbar.

Attach app to database toolbar

Do you want to allow the end-user to "look up" any row in the database? 

You can provide the end-user with a search field that allows them to find any row in the database:

Row selector question

Do you want to ask the end-user a question and then "look up" a row(s) based on their response? 

You can ask the end-user a question (e.g. "what is the name of your employer?") and then you can "look up" one or more rows that match their response.

If you want to "look up" a row by searching through the key column of the database, use an index expression: 

Index into the database

If you want to "look up" a row using any column of your database, use a Query Block. Note, this will return a list of all matching rows. There is an extra step required when working with lists (organize the list data with list text blocks).

Query the database

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