Sunday, December 16, 2012

Enabling fine-grained Public Access to your Online Database

A lot of our users have been requesting an option to enable publishing of selected subset of data from their online database application, which they have hosted on their Google App Engine account and mapped to their Google Apps domain.

This may be for use-cases like sharing the knowledge-base section from the online database application or may be, to allow users to view a directory of some sort, without having to ask them to login into the application, using their Google / Yahoo! / Google Apps user account.

We have now enabled this public-access facility as a premium feature in iFreeTools, available for paid single-tenant deployments. Preview of the feature is also made available in the free multi-tenant deployment at, which will work like in the paid deployment, except that it will list limited data, so that you can try out the feature before you sign-up for the paid deployment.

To enable public access to your database, you will have to :
  1. Define a new Auth Profile with permissions set for the View operation and select the fields which you would like to make visible for public access. Other permissions set for Add / Edit / Delete / etc.,. will be ignored, when this auth-profile is used in the context of public-access.
  2. Add a new user with email-id as, associating the auth-profile
That is it!

You can now access the application by tweaking your URL to use a /x/ instead of /b/. That is, if the direct link to your application instance is..

then, the public access for this web-application will be available at..

All "write" operations (Add / Edit / Delete) are disabled for the public-access. Your users can still use the embed-able public web-forms, to enable adding new records into the database.

All the public access pages will be marked with a noindex and nofollow meta-tag, so the contents would not be indexed by crawlers which follow this meta directive. This meta-tag can be removed on request, in paid single-tenant deployments.

Hope you like this new feature. Feel free to use the feedback form in the application and let us know how we can help you meet more of your business use-cases with iFreeTools.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Twilio integration : Trigger SMS messages from your online database

We are glad to add another premium feature in your favorite online database application for Google App Engine. iFreeTools is now integrated with Twilio to send out SMS messages, triggered as part of workflow actions (database change triggers) or from within the list view (manual trigger).

This facility is available as a preview in the free version, where the messages will get added as Notification Tasks with Preview status, while in the paid single-tenant deployment (starts at $99/year), the messages would be sent out to the mobile numbers with the task's status getting marked as Completed.

To make use of this SMS facility, you will have to first configure your App Settings (under Admin), to provide the Account SID and the Auth Token from Twilio, as shown below. If you also have a short-code configured for your use, you can specify the same to be used as the Sender ID, else you can provide your Twilio number (listed under the Numbers tab)

Your Account SID and Auth Token will be available under the dashboard tab on Twilio :

For the Sender ID, proceed to the Numbers tab and copy your Twilio number. If in case you have a short-code, you can provide the same in the App Settings in iFreeTools.

The Send SMS option will automatically list all the phone numbers available in the records, which have been marked with Other Rendering as Phone, in the attribute details page.

The option to Send SMS will be available in the list views for records which have a phone number, so that you can select the records and trigger an SMS manually, as shown in the image below..

The resulting page will work similar to how you can send out email-notifications using mail-merge like field values. The Send SMS option will also be available as part of the Workflow actions, so that you can trigger the SMS automatically when the records get added/updated/deleted, as shown below..

You can verify the contents and the status of the messages from under Notification Tasks, which will list all the notifications triggered from the application.

Phone number format (as per Twilio docs)

The phone number values need to be in the [+][country code][subscriber number including area code] format to work without issues. Other formats are not guaranteed to work with Twilio, as detailed below..

We strongly encourage E.164 number formatting for all phone numbers both in the ‘to’ and ‘from’ fields. This format is the internationally-standardized format for all phone numbers, and it includes all the relevant information to route calls and SMS messages globally. E.164 numbers can have a maximum of fifteen digits and are usually written as follows: [+][country code][subscriber number including area code]. Phone numbers that are not formatted in E.164 may work, but it depends on the phone or handset that is being used as well as the carrier from which the call or SMS is being originated. 
For example, to convert a US phone number (415 599 2671) to E.164 format, one would need to add the ‘+’ prefix and the country code (which is 1) in front of the number (+1 415 599 2671). In the UK and many other countries internationally, local dialing requires the addition of a 0 in front of the subscriber number. However, to use E.164 formatting, this 0 must be removed. A number such as 020 7183 8750 in the UK would be formatted as +44 20 7183 8750.
Hope you like the new Twilio integration. Keep sending in your feedback and suggestions on how we can make your online database application hosted on Google App Engine work better for you.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Enable Record-Locking to allow users to Lock / Unlock database records

We have now added a new feature in your custom online database application creator to enable record-locking facility for your online database records. In the Add / Edit Entity form, you will now find an option to enable record-locking for that specific entity's records, as shown below.

Once you check on the Enable Record Locking option and save the entity, you will now see options in the list view and in the details view to lock / unlock / request-unlock of database records. These options will be made available only for those users who have edit permissions to the record.

The following image shows all the database records in unlocked state, with a button under Actions to have them locked.

When the records get locked, the action buttons would change to reflect their locked status. You can also get to know who has currently locked a record from the Locked By attribute, as shown below.

When another user who also has edit permissions to the same record accesses the list view, the user will get to see the locked status. They will not find the option to edit / delete the locked records. They can request for the record to be unlocked. This will trigger an email to the user who has currently locked the record, in case of paid single-tenant deployments, while notification tasks will get added in the free version with Preview status.

Admin users can unlock records locked by any other users, if such a need arises. All locking / unlocking operations are automatically audited and will be available under Admin > Audits.

Record-locking is a premium feature available as a preview in the free version, wherein you can enable this facility for one entity (record type). If you are a paid single-tenant deployments customer, you can enable record-locking for any number of entities.

Hope you like the new feature. Feel free to get in touch with your feedback and suggestions for improving iFreeTools, to help meet more of your business requirements.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Rule based Email Triggers to Automate Business Processes, using Workflows

Apart from helping build your own online database application, iFreeTools can now help with automating more of your business processes, using workflows. Workflows in iFreeTools can check for criteria-rules during database changes and can trigger actions before or after those database changes.

For the first cut of the workflow implementation, we have enabled sending out emails as part of the workflow actions. More workflow actions like adding / updating records (like creating a task), invoking external web-APIs, etc.,. are to be supported very soon.

Defining and using workflows is as simple as filling in a form.

Let us assume, for example, that you have a custom customer support database application built and hosted using using iFreeTools single-tenant deployment in your own Google App Engine account and that you have a web-form in your website using which support requests can be made.

Now, if you wanted to send an automated email to the user's email-id informing that the request has been received and will be processed by your staff soon and to also notify your team of the new support request, then the workflow configuration can be as given below..

Configuring the workflow actions is also very easy, where you can enter the details of the recipient and providing the subject and the contents of the email in the Select Action form. Both subject and contents can have template fields from the database record and will be replaced with actual values when sending out the email.

For this workflow we did not add a workflow rule or the criteria to be matched before the workflow action can be executed. But in case you want to restrict the notifications to only High / Medium severity support requests, you could have done that too. The criteria form  is similar to the Custom Views form and you can specify criteria based on operators is, is not, contains, does not contain.

As can be seen in the messages in the screen-shot images, workflows will be a premium feature available for paid, single-tenant deployments alone, which by the way is very much affordable :

  • $99/year for up to 25 users (which works out to $8.25/month or $0.33/user/month)
  • $198/year for up to 100 users (works out to $16.5/month or $0.165/user/month)
  • $297/year for unlimited users

If you are using the free multi-tenant deployment, you can still try out the feature by creating the workflows and viewing the Notification Tasks records added in Preview status, showing the actual subject and the contents of the email, based on the email-template provided in the workflow configuration.

We will be adding more workflow actions to add / update database records (like creating a task), invoke external web-APIs, etc.,. If you are looking for some specific use-case which you would like to automate using workflows, kindly get in touch with us with details, using the feedback form in the application.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Create Free Online Web Forms to Embed in your Website

iFreeTools Creator - your custom online database application builder, built for and hosted over Google App Engine - now supports free online web-forms, which you can link-to or embed directly in your websites. When the data is filled-in and submitted using the online forms, the data will get added directly into your iFreeTools Creator online database application, which you (and your authorized users) can sign in to access.

As part of the Entity configuration, you can now specify if you would like to enable web-forms for that entity, as highlighted in the image below.

Once the online web-forms are enabled, you can get the link for the web-form and the IFRAME code in the entity's list views. You can either provide the link to the public web-form in your website / blog or you can embed the form using the IFRAME code, directly within your website.

The link / embed-code will open up the online form, for your users to enter the details. Sample public web-form accessed via the link is shown below.

Currently, as part of the free plan, you can enable web-forms for just one entity, while with paid deployments you can enable public web-forms for unlimited number of entities.

Update : It is also possible to restrict the fields in the web-form, using authorization profiles. For this you will have to..
  1. Define a new Auth Profile with permissions set for the Add operation and select the required fields. Other permissions like View / Edit / Delete / etc.,. will be ignored, when this auth-profile is used in the context of web-form.
  2. Add a new user with email-id as, associating the auth-profile
Please note that having such an user-account configured will affect all the public web-forms.

Hope you find the public web-forms support useful in your database application.