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Data Explorer

Data Explorer is a user interface built directly from your schema. You can test, prototype, perform back-office data maintenance, view data for existing systems, regardless of their architecture, and create new managed databases using Data Explorer.

For more information about how to create a new managed database using Data Explorer, see Database Creation.

Database tools are great for complex SQL, but they are clumsy for exploring your data as business objects, that is, with related data. Data Explorer is a useful companion for your database tools. You can explore data, prepare use cases, and make repairs using Data Explorer.

Data Explorer:
  • Uses the same REST API as the other Live API Creator components. Everything it does you can do using the REST API.
  • Uses HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, so it runs well on desktops and tablets.
  • Is layered over Live API Creator and enforces your logic and security.

The following video provides a walk-through of Data Explorer:

Key Services

Data Explorer provides the following key services:
  • Multi-table application interfaces derived from your parent/child relationships, including:
    • Master/Detail. View child objects for a parent (for example, products for category or orders of customer).
    • Drill-down navigation. View related data (for example, Orders for Product or SalesRep for Order).
    • Automatic joins. (For example, show Product Name, not Product Number.)
  • Filtering on multiple fields. Includes paginated scrolling (subject to row/column security).
Note: Fields represent the columns in your database. The term field is used to stay within the metaphor of applications and screens, and not database terminology.
  • Row-sharing. Send the current row in the Form to colleagues.
  • Update services.
    • Updatable grids.
    • Lookups. Relate a child to a parent (for example, Company Name for Product).
    • Enforcement of reactive logic.
      For more information about reactive logic, see Logic.
  • Authoring. Control which attributes are displayed, grouped, and formatted, and skinning.
    For more information about customizing the appearance of behavior of your forms, see Author Mode.

The following image shows Data Explorer running on a simulated tablet (click to enlarge image):

Instant HTML5/AngularJS Back Office Apps

You can use Data Explorer on any existing database. Typical scenarios:
    • Back-office database maintenance applications
    • Schema exploration
    • Data administration and repair
    • Prototyping
For new systems or new components, integration with reactive logic means you have a solid back-office interface that enforces your business logic and security, working in conjunction with REST-based mobile and web apps.

ERP Technology for Custom Systems

Data Explorer provides an ERP-style automated UI for a database. It leverages the schema so that you do not have to configure settings files or maintain them when the schema changes.

Many "back office" packaged systems (Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM)) contain many hundreds of screens. It is costly and time-consuming to hand-build each screen, which moreover does not reflect subsequent schema extensions. These packages often build screens automatically, based on models and configuration files. You can query, browse, and update data using the screens for "back office" use.

Internal custom systems have the same requirements. Not only can this represent substantial time and cost, in many cases these applications are simply not provided, with the result that data maintenance tasks are often performed with raw SQL, which is tedious and risky.

Access an End Point

You can access database tables, views, and API resources using Data Explorer. In Data Explorer, select your database table (default), API resource, or view from the end point types drop-down in the Grid.

To view the Data Explorer functions, such as Grid, Form, and Child Grid, see the "Data Explorer Functions" section on this page.

Schema-driven

Data Explorer implements a number of heuristics based on the foreign key relationships in your database:
  • As you create child tables, a relationship between the child and the parent is created. This child relationship is represented as a tab in the Child Grid.
  • Data Explorer uses each parent relationship for lookups and navigations.
For more information about the heuristic Live API Creator uses to introspect target (child) for an entity-type method that returns the type of the source (parent), see InsertIntoFrom System Method.

Automatic Joins

Many databases employ surrogate keys. For example, the Business Logic API project sample identifies a product by product_number, instead of a name like Hammer or Shovel. These basic heuristics produce a usable result for child tables containing foreign keys to products, such as Lineitem. It is not interesting to see a list of ten part-1'2, five part-2's, and so forth. You want to see the name of the parent row.

When parents are identified by a numeric key, Data Explorer selects the first text fields to be the UserKey: a field likely to be a more recognizable name. You can reselect the keys when the heuristic makes the wrong choiceFor such joins, you can select parent and view parent.

For more information:

Clumsy using Database Tools

The following image show the DbVisualizer Free tool:

Simple and Fast with Data Explorer

Data Explorer is layered over API Creator so you have full security and logic. It includes:
  • Filter search
  • List/form view
  • Master/Detail (Order and Order Details)
  • Drill-down navigation (see selected Order of Employee Fuller)
  • Automatic Joins (see Product Name, not number).
    For more information about automatic joins, see the "Automatic Joins" section on this page.
  • Formatting, such as currency.
  • Update, including lookups (for example, for Product)
 The following image shows Customers and Orders from the Demo database in Data Explorer:

Launch Data Explorer

Launch Data Explorer in Live API Creator or as a stand-alone application. You can deploy Data Explorer to any server. Use the following URL:

http://mylocalserver/DataExplorer/index.html#/

Start Data Explorer in Live API Creator

Start Data Explorer in a new tab by clicking the Data Explorer fly-out and log in (Log in using admin if you are using the defaults). The following image shows the fly-out in the left navigation menu:

Data Explorer Functions

The following image shows the Data Explorer functions:

The Grid is a tabular list of searchable rows. You can update the Grid. Each row represents a record in the database. The Form is the scalar version of the selected row in the Grid. Each field represents columns in your database. The Child Grid includes tabs. Together, the Form and the Child Grid are often called a Master/Detail form. They are the children linked by way of the foreign key (relationship) or virtual user-defined relationships.

Create a New Row

Create a new row in the Grid, Form, or Child Grid by clicking InsertThe number of rows returned to the grid are controlled by pagination settings.

For more information about how to control the pagination settings, see API Properties.

Return the Next Set of Rows

Return the next set of rows in the Grid or Child Grid by clicking Fetch More.

Revert Changes

Revert changes before you save them by clicking Undo.

Save and Delete Rows

Save one or more rows in a Grid or the current row in a Form by clicking Save. You can mark a row for deletion by clicking Delete and saving your changes.

Place a Row in the Form

Place the selected zoom row (for example, Order Details in the Child Grid) in the Form by clicking ZoomPlace the parent (view parent) in the Form (for example, Product) by clicking the triangle in the Child Grid.

Select a Parent

Open the dialog to select, or look up, a parent (select parent) by double-clicking the parent in the Child Grid (for example, the product name).

Move a Row as Focus Table in the Grid

Move a row in the Child Grid as the main focus table in the Grid by clicking Focus Table. You can also view a table in the Grid by selecting the table from the end point types drop-down in the Grid.

Return a Row in the Form to the Grid

Return the scaler version of the selected Grid row back to the original scalar selection by clicking Back.

Move a Row in the Form

Move a selected row in the Form forward or backward by clicking Previous or Next.

Navigate to Related Data

You can navigate to related data using Data Explorer, such as moving from a customer and list of orders to an order with a list of items, or from an Orders' item to the referenced Product. Navigation is based on foreign keys. If these are not in your schema, you can define virtual foreign keys using API Creator.

For more information about defining virtual foreign keys, see Database Connectivity.