I’m proud to announce that version 2.8 of the Livebase platform has been released and is now in production, featuring a number of improvements both in the modeling environment and in generated applications. We also switched to MySQL 5.5 on all servers (including the hosting infrastructure) and we have fixed some bugs in the functionality to import an Excel file into a Cloudlet.
Developers who want their cloudlets to take advantage of the new features of Livebase 2.8 just need to login and press the upgrade button now available on each cloudlet. The upgrade process is automatic and will regenerate all the applications running on the cloudlet while preserving existing data.
Improvements in generated applications
Native MS Excel connectivity
Cloudlet members (i.e. end-users) can now access their cloudlets from Microsoft Excel and download data right into their Excel sheets. All they have to do is creating a Web Query within Excel (command available under the “Data” tab) pointing to the same URL of the cloudlet followed by the “/rest” postfix. Excel will ask for username/password of an existing cloudlet member, and will apply all the filters and security restrictions associated to the profile of that member.
Excel can be also configured to update the data periodically and automatically. With Web Query connectivity, cloudlet members can get the best from both worlds: safe data management with strong data-quality controls (via Livebase) and total control over statistics, calculations, pivot tables and charts (via Excel).
Livebase developers can now easily model applications that change the language of their user interface according to the language of the user who logs in. The Livebase Designer allows to define language-specific strings for each text element in the generated GUI, and also the platform can now generate warnings and error messages according to the end-user language settings. Additional languages will be supported in the near future (French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian).
Custom number formats
End-users of generated applications can now be configured with specific preferences for number formats: the characters to be used as thousands and decimal digits separator, and whether thousands separators should be used by default or not.
Iconization and relocation of major commands
Main commands to Edit, Save and Cancel changes are on the top-right corner of the form, and they have big icons that highlight on mouse-over. Other commands used less frequently (Print and Refresh) are on the top left of the form and have smaller icons. We have also improved learnabilty by enforcing a consistent behavior for the Save button. In fact, the Save button was previously used in two very different contexts: when confirming changes on a part object (which only happens in memory because changes might still be cancelled for the whole object) and when confirming changes on an entire, top-level whole objects (which is permanent and happens on disk). The command to confirm changes on part objects now appears as a simple Ok button, and the Save button is now used only for actual (on-disk) database transactions.
New option for rendering associations
Since version 2.7 Livebase allows to very easily choose how to manage associations in the user interface of generated applications. Associations with a “to-one” cardinality, can be represented as a dropdown menu, as a set of radio buttons, etc., while associations with a “to-many” cardinality can be represented as a table with add/remove buttons, as a set of checkboxes, etc.
In Livebase 2.8 is now available a new representation for “to many” associations: it consists of a dynamic set of dropdown menus and it’s perfect when the user has to choose a small number of associated objects from a set of candidates approx. between 20 and 200.
Non-aggregated PieChart and BarChart reports
Modelers previously had to specify an attribute to group-by when creating a Pie or a Bar chart. This limitation has been removed in Livebase 2.8, so it is now possible to get charts where each pie-slice (or each bar) represents an individual object in the database.
Improvements in modeling
and administration dashboard
We hope that new customers will enjoy the interactive tutorial which now starts automatically the first time they log in. The tutorial guides the customer step-by-step in the creation of its first database application. The tutorial will be improved in the next release of the platform, but it’s already pretty useful, just make sure to execute exactly the suggested steps.
Engines in Library now editable
Previously engine models could be edited only within a non-running Cloudlet, which was unnecessarily restrictive. With Livebase 2.8 modelers can now create and edit engines in the Library, and stop the target Cloudlet just for the time required to install the new engine.