Before we get into the ‘tutorial’ part of this tutorial, I want to reiterate what exactly Links are. They’re really quite simple in concept, but can be powerful when used well. Essentially, Links are simply connections from one record to another. What makes Flexile is unique is that it makes it very easy for you to make these connections and it arranges and displays them for you right along with the record. In most databases, doing this is not always very easy…. actually, it can be down-right confusing and frustrating at times. There’s a lot of “internal structure” that has to be setup just to make it possible for one table to connect to another. And just because you’ve set it up doesn’t mean those connections will be “visible” in your record. Flexile aims to hide that complexity (there’s nothing to setup) and make all connections a record has visible.
This creates a kind of “paradigm” shift in the way you can use Flexile as a database. Compromises tend to be made in most standard databases because of the difficulty inherent in setting up table relationships. For instance, a “Contact” table will often have Fields like: Work Phone 1, Work Phone 2, Cell Phone, Home Phone, etc. This is done because 1) it’s easier to create extra fields than add the structure necessary to relate a “Phone Numbers” table to the Contact table and 2) even if you do manage to setup the table relationships, you don’t want to visit another table just to see a Contact’s phone numbers. However, in Flexile none of those compromises need to be made. There’s absolutely no table relationships to setup. Moreover, all of a Record’s Links are included in collapsable sections…. so the data is right there along with the Contact.
The strength of databases is data “re-use”. When you have extra fields like, “Cell Phone, Work Phone, etc”, you can’t reuse that data elsewhere. Often, you may actually enter data in more than once (for instance if a family shares a home phone). If you need to change that data (the family number changes) you need to find all the places you entered the number and change it in each place. This is why you “split” the phone numbers into a separate table and then link each phone number to the appropriate contact(s). If the phone number changes, you need change it only once. Moreover, you can visit that phone number and see all the people who are using it.
So Flexile isn’t exactly doing something you can’t do in other databases. What Flexile does is make so easy that you won’t want to go back to using anything else…. or so I hope. :-)
If you’re using an iPad, accessing Links is as easy as opening up a record. The Links will be laid out either on the right or bottom of the record, depending on how you’re holding the iPad (landscape or portrait orientation). The iPhone, however, is another story. Given the size of the iPhone, I kind of had to hide the Links (sorry about that). Once you’ve opened a record, there are two ways to access Links on an iPhone: 1. The simplest way is to tap the Links button at the bottom of the record in the toolbar (looks a little like the Flexile icon). Once you do, you should notice that the record slides over to the right to reveal the Links for the record. This should give you a hint as to the second way to access Links: 1. Swipe Right. To access the record again you can tap on the Records button (next to the Links Button) or Swipe Left. Just be aware that if you want to Swipe Left to access the record again, don’t swipe on any of the Links else it won’t work. The Links can have multiple pages to them (same as Records) and swiping on a Link will trigger that Link to change it’s page rather than switch back to the record detail.
To add Links to a record tap on the Add Links button. Tapping on this button will first bring you to a Table Selection screen. Find the table that contains the record you want to Link to (it can be the same table as the Record you’re linking from). Once you’ve selected the appropriate table, you’ll be brought to the Link Selection Screen. This screen should look eerily familiar. It is, in fact, the same screen used to display all your records. However, it acts a little differently. If you tap on a record it will simply be highlighted (instead of editing the record). This means you’ve selected that record to be added as a Link. You can as many records as you wish.
If you’ve already added Links to a record, those Links will be pre-selected when you visit the Link Selection Screen. If you tap on those records, they will be de-selected. When you save, Links that have been de-selected will be removed.
It’s important to realize that what you see in the Link Selection Screen represents the Links that will exists when you save. This makes it easy to add/remove Links in the same screen. When you’re done, tap on the “Save” button (top-right) to add those Links to the record.
If you already had Links to that Table, additional Links will be added at after the existing Links so the original order of the existing Links will be preserved.
Note: Reference Fields can also add/change Links to a record conveniently. Check out the support page for the Reference Field for more info.
After you’ve added Links to a record, you’ll notice that there is an Add/Remove for the Table Section those links were added to. If you tap on it, you’ll be brought straight to the Links selection screen for that table. This will save you the hassle of find the appropriate table first. It’s a small thing, but it can help.
As mentioned above, you can delete Links through the Link selection process by unselecting them. That’s not the only place you can delete Links though. You can also swipe-right on a link. You’ll be presented with a dialog asking if you want to delete the Link. If tap “Delete”, the Link will be deleted, simple as that.
Yet another way to delete Links is to tap the “Edit” button. This will insert a “-“ button next to each Link on the left. Tap on one, and then tap on the “Delete” button to delete the Link.
Links can also be rearranged within their respective table. Simply “Tap and Hold” on a Link until it turns semi-transparent (takes about .25 seconds). Then drag that Link where you want it.
You can also tap on the “Edit” button. When you do you’ll see a “grab” symbol to the left of each Link. You can use this to drag the link where you want it.