The first thing I noticed about EasyDB is that the set up – although simple – does take some patience.
First off, you'll need to set up a database on your hosting server.
Well, I'd guessed that already, but it's a painless process once you've accessed you control panel – and Bill has a video online to show you how just how to do it.
In my case, it's just two mouse clicks. Just make a note of the login details, you'll need them very soon.
Using the EasyDB Login stack, you should now add a login page to your site, so that you'll be able to access the data in your database once it's online.
So – it's time to get started! You'll need to add a database Credentials stack to your RapidWeaver page and publish it. The credentials stack contains the name and location of your database and the login details. The Credentials stack allows your page to access the database that you just created and that is necessary before we can continue.
Then, following the video tutorials on Bill's website, you need to load the page into your browser and confirm the setup messages, you then need to deactivate "setup credentials", republish and refresh the page in the browser.
The next step is to add a Database stack to your page. We have a database on the server, but it doesn't contain any data. The database stack adds the data rows and columns to the database. As such, you'll need to give the database a name and define the fields that you require in the setup panels, e.g. firstname, lastname, email, address, etc, etc. Once that's done, you can publish the page, and check online that the action was successful.
Because "setup database" is still active in the settings panel, you'll need to deactivate that, republish the page and refresh your browser.
If you check the database on your host's servers, it should now contain all of the filed names that you just added – just waiting impatiently for your data.
But we're not quite ready yet, we don't have anywhere to display the data.
We need a TextGrid stack to get us started.
This is the exciting part: publishing your first data list to your page. Your database can actually contain more information than you want to display on this page, so you need to inform the page which fields to display. So in the TextGrid stack, you need to add the names of the dbase fields that you want your visitors see and supply a display-name for each of these fields. Once you've done this, you're almost there: repeat the publishing process as before and you should now see a database awaiting content!
Log in and add some content. If you already have your content in a spreadsheet, you can import it into EasyDB as a CSV file.
So what can your database contain? Well this will make a lot of people happy – the TextGrid can contain Small Text, Large Text w/ carriage returns, Integers, Floating Numbers, Date, Time, Money, Email, Images, Links, Checkboxes, Color, Rating & Progress Bar
The FreeForm stack can contain Text, Integers, Floating Numbers, Date, Time, Money, Email, Images & Links.
And all of this information is grabbed by some magic PHP code that Bill has hidden somewhere behind the curtains and displayed dynamically on your page. The second that an entry in the database is altered, it changes on the page – live.
FreeForm? Did someone mention FreeForm? Yes, EasyDB also supplies a FreeForm Setup stack and a FreeForm stack.
The FreeForm stack setup is a little more complicated, but it will allow you to dynamically grab individual data-rows from your data base and display them more, or less in a layout of your design. I've not gone through the process of setting up a FreeForm Stack because, to be quite honest, I just didn't have the time. However the process is similar to those mentioned above, it simply involves adding and defining multiple FreeForm Stacks.
The result… Each line of your database will now be displayed within a slideshow. Obviously cool, if you've added images.
If you've added a TextGrid to your page, it will display selection fields that will allow your data to be filtered by field name and content. You can set how many entries should be displayed per page and, of course, EasyDB adds a page navigation when there are further entries. Your data can also be exported to a CSV file
EasyDB, true to its name, makes setting up a complicated database relatively simple. It also has the added advantage of being able to grab data from a database for freeform display on any of your pages. The setup needs a little patience and, in my personal opinion, a centralised admin page could perhaps simplify matters, but – as I already stated database is way above my pay grade, so I'm not the expert to pass judgement on that…
If you need to publish a database online and need something that is more 'in-depth' than the simple CSV solutions that are available, EasyDB is the way to go.
Being a PHP/MySQL solution, depending on the content collected within your database, you can process and republish that data as required – dynamically.
Bill has placed a multitude of instruction videos on the product page to get you started. I wouldn't have known where to begin without them!
Let's say you have recipes online and you'd like your visitors to be able to cross off the ingredients that they already have and have the browser remember them. Or on your very private homepage, you'd like a list of 'Things To Do' before you publish an RW project. TaskList is an ingenious little stack even supports subheadings so that you can divide your recipe into Meat Dish, Sauce and Trimmings.
The possibilities are almost endless…
TaskList has extensive Style settings for the list itself and even includes options for the Checked Items such as Bold, Italic, Strikethrough, Opacity, Background Colour and Text Colour.
A ToDo List sounds so simple, yet it can be so configurable. Grab TaskList as part of RWExtra's Black Friday Promotion now!
Pricing Tables is so simple to set up that if you have your content prepared, your first comparison table will be complete within mere minutes – you just need to work your way down the stack settings! The example below took less than five minutes to set up.
When you drop a Pricing Tables stack onto your RapidWeaver page, all you'll see is a box with a logo inside it.
Oops! 'What did I do wrong?' Was my first thought.
However, when I switched to preview mode, I discovered the same Pricing Tables on my page, as demonstrated on the RWtuts website.
Huh? I didn't do anything yet!
So let's take a look at the settings:
Columns Styling. Pricing Tables is set up to display the 'standard' three options that we see online on a daily basis. No amount of juggling will allow you to add just a single price table, or compare four options – it's "take it, or leave it". So after choosing a Font from a choice of ten options (the dreaded Comic Sans is also included), your next option is the column width, set in percentage of the container stack.
The next setting is Space (in px) and governs the spacing between the columns.Next up – Border width, BG Colour and Border Colour.
Header Styling. Set the Header Colour for Headers 1 through 3, the Font Colour and the Font Size.
Price Styling. Price Colour (actually the background colour which also formats the background behind the submit button) and Font Size.
Button Styling. Button Colour, Font Colour and Font Size.
Once you have your formatting set up, you can add your content. Moving down the settings panel you will find containers for the contents of each panel.
These include Title, Price, Descriptions 1 through 6, Button Link and Button Text.
Once you've added this content, you can go proceed to publish – your setup is complete already.
Pricing Tables is a minimalistic stack that takes the work out of building a flat comparison table. There are no bells, or whistles, with the exception of the fact that the column that your visitor hovers over grows a subtle shadow. The setup is simple and the results will suffice in many situations.
Greg has just updated Grid Iron to version 3 and it now processes not only Google Spreadsheets, but also CSV and Excel files. Not only that, but Grid Iron also understands Markdown so you can now add links, embed images, bold text, or other HTML styling directly into your spreadsheet.
Your data is added to the RW resources, unless of course you are accessing a Google Spreadsheet, and you have many, many options to format the appearance of your tables.
Grid Iron is responsive – albeit in an unusual fashion: If your data can not be contained within the width of your page, the first column will display a plus button which, when clicked, opens a dropdown with the 'missing' data. This is, of course, a matter of preference and many might prefer a solution with a slider.
But let's take a look at the stack settings. First off, you need to set the format Type for the data that you wish to import. As already mentioned, you may choose between CSV (default), Excel or Google Spreadsheet.
You then need to Link Grid Iron to the data. Sadly, because your data is warehoused, you can't preview your finished table until it has been published online, instead the preview displays a dummy table filled with weather data. This is sufficient for general formatting, but you won't see if your Markdown formatting is correct until it has been published.
Grid Iron automatically formats the first line of data as a header. The stack settings allow you to duplicate the header as a Footer – useful for longer tables. The next option is Responsive Table. If this is deactivated, it doesn't mean that your table has a set width – it will still adapt to your viewport, but you will not be able to activate the dropdown to view any data from the overflow.
When set to Responsive, you can set the colours for the open and close state of the plus/minus button in the first column.
The next settings are for the Table Header Styling. They include Cell Padding; Border Width; Border Style; Enclose Header With Border; Bold and Italic Text; Horizontal and Vertical Alignment; Font Size; Top Spacing; Background Fill colour; Border Colour and Text Colour.
The same settings are repeated for the Cell Styling, but with the addition of alternating colours for the Rows and Omit First & Last Borders. There are two more settings which will allow both Hovered and Selected Rows to be highlighted with colours of your choice. Selected Rows also include formatting for the Focus Borders and Focus Text (see below).
The Table Controls settings let you choose which additional buttons and information are added to your table. The first setting, Controls Display, is a little cryptic at first glance, but allows a number of settings without needing a checkbox for each of them. B=buttons, L=length, S=search, R=processing, T=table, I=info, P=pagination.
One extremely useful feature of Grid Iron is the option to allow your visitor to export the table data in various formats. There are checkboxes for each of the Export Buttons: Copy; CSV; Excel; PDF and Print. But we're not done yet; the colour of the Button, the Button Text and the Button Border in passive and active states may be also be set and then follow settings for the Button Height; Button Padding Button Radius and Button Size. Next follow individual settings for the search box.
We now come to the Pagination Settings. A Grid Iron table does not have to be displayed as a whole, but can be reduced to a maximum number of lines. The default Page Size is 25 lines.Columns, both left and right, can be pinned within the table. This means that however narrow the viewport, the pinned columns will always be visible. It is also possible to hide columns from the table. Search settings will also allow you to exclude specific columns form the search function.
Grid Iron columns can be sorted, ascending or descending. Sorting Settings lets you Exclude Columns from the function while the colour of the Sort Column, Sort Text, the Icon Size and Colours may be set individually.
Fixed Column Settings (you thought we were done, didn't you?) allow columns to have a fixed width in px or % and once more, you can define which columns are affected by this setting.
And now, finally, follow some settings for Status Board for which, sadly, development has been discontinued. However, if you are a Status Board user, you may still take advantage of its functions.
Unlike other solutions, all Grid Iron content is embedded directly within the HTML of your page. This makes it compatible with all major search engines. A lightning fast networking and cache engine means that your sites load faster, and searches give instantaneous results.
When you publish your data, you'll be surprised at the number of files that need to be uploaded. My tip – go and make yourself a pot of tea while you're waiting.
A lot of thought has gone into Grid Iron 3 and if you are in the situation that you need to publish tabular data, you will find it to be a highly professional solution!
I deployed the old version of the stack many times and found it to be the most versatile table builder available for RapidWeaver. Nothing has changed my perception of the stack, except that it got better!
The results that the old TableBuildr stack produced were, it can't be denied, great. The only problem with the stack was that table cells were listed vertically in edit mode. This meant that if you had a number of columns in a table, your edit page would be a mile or two long; not least due to the fact that the stack header was also very large.
The new Table Builder stack has undergone a complete re-write and its presentation on the edit page is much more logical and compact. The resulting tables also appear much cleaner than before.
So where do you start? Once you take a look at the settings panel, you'll realise that everything is actually quite simple.
The first settings are the number of Columns, the Column Sizing – Pixels (Default), or Auto (the cell size adjusts to fit your content) – and the Column Width. The Pixel Width should be understood as maximum width; Table Builder columns have limited responsiveness and will shrink to some extent to accommodate narrower viewports. However, we have defined a 'fixed' cell. We can't reasonably expect a 10 column table to fit onto a mobile screen and still be readable. When Table Builder is wider than the screen it is being viewed on, a slider appears at the bottom of the table..
Next up, you can set the cell Borders. The default setting is All Sides. The options are Table Box Only i.e. the outermost border; Horizontal and Vertical. The default Border Size is set to 1px. You'll notice that in the screenshot above, the border between the top three columns is actually 2px wide; that's is because these are actually three tables set next to each other. This allows my table to reflow on a mobile screen and still display the information comfortably with each table displayed below the other.
The option Table Fill allows you to change the default None to Alternating Rows, Alternating Columns, or Solid. The text Alignment is a global setting for the whole table, but can be overridden on a row-by-row basis, the same applies to the setting Vertical Align – we'll come to these once we take a look at the stack itself, but first the final settings: These are Cell Padding, Line Height, Text Colour and a check box Make First Column Heading which, when clicked, opens up the formatting for the first line of content.
So let's build our table! When you click the blue + button to add your first cild stack, the first Table Row will appear with the number of columns that you set previously. Each cell has a container into which you can drop the stacks for your content. A cell may remain empty without breaking the Table Builder layout.
Once you've added your content to the first row, you can add more child stacks until your table is complete.
The situation may arise, where you wish to format Table Builder rows differently to the overall table content – for dividing headings for instance. Just click the table row and re-open the settings panel. It will now display a checkbox Override Table Styles. In Preview mode, your row will immediately alter its appearance to bold text with a grey background.
You can now set to work to reformat this specific row with the following settings: Bold Text (is activated by default), Disable Borders, Italicized Text, Column Fill for Odd and Even columns, Text Alignment, Vertical Alignment, Cell Padding, Font Size, Line Height and Text Colour. If you need to repeat the formatting further down the table, you can copy and paste or Alt drag and drop the row to its new position and replace its content accordingly.
Table Builder is, in my humble opinion, the best of its kind. I've had it in my toolbox for a number of years and wouldn't want to miss it. And if you have a larger table that needs to be viewed on a mobile device without swiping horizontally, there's always a workaround (see above).
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