Mobile offline data entry - technical guide

By Brian Cafferelli posted 06-01-2020 16:10

  

Mobile offline data entry - technical guide

 

Here at Quickbase, we work with many companies facing process challenges out in the field. Whether it’s in manufacturing, utilities, or in other industries, these companies need to support workers who don’t spend much time behind a desk. What makes these processes even tougher to wrangle, is that many of those teams work in areas without a stable internet connection. For example, we see Quickbase used for warehouse operations and for managing installation of wind turbines.

Quickbase supports these types of workflows with our native mobile application, available for iPhone, iPad, and Android mobile devices. However, up until now you needed a strong internet connection to use our mobile app. We’re excited to announce that we’ve upgraded our native mobile application to allow you to create new records while offline. This allows field service teams to record data anytime, anywhere, regardless of their access to a good internet connection.

Read on for a deep-dive on how to use the Quickbase mobile application to add records while offline.

 

How an account administrator can set up mobile offline data entry

The mobile offline data entry capability is available for any customer on the Platform plan and above. You can start using the feature by visiting the Apps section in the admin console. Then, select an app you want to use offline and click Enable Mobile Offline. At this time, you can choose up to 20 apps to make available offline per realm.

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How an end user can select Quickbase apps to use offline

Since each Quickbase app you use offline takes up space on your mobile device, we do not automatically download that data. Instead, you select which apps you’d like to use while offline. If your account administrator has made apps on your account available offline, you can see a list of them by tapping the icon to open the Settings menu on your mobile device,  and then tap on Choose offline apps. At this time, you can choose up to 5 apps to download per mobile device at a time.


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Here, you can see all the apps available for you to use offline. Tap an app to download it.

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How to add records while offline

To start adding records offline, go to the My Apps page and tap one of the apps you’ve made available offline on your device. The green icon shows which apps you’ve selected.

NOTE: You must be connected to the internet to log in to Quickbase. This means that you need to open the Quickbase mobile application before you lose your internet connection. You do not need to have the specific app open before you go offline, however. For example, you could open the Quickbase mobile application while online, sign in, go to the My Apps page, and then go offline. Then, while offline, you can open any of the specific apps you’ve made available offline on your mobile device. Even if the Quickbase mobile appplication is running in the background, that will work if you are still signed in.

When you tap one of your offline apps, the app home page will look a bit different. Since adding new records is the first mobile offline feature we’ve released, it’s not yet possible to do things like view or edit existing records while offline. Instead, we’ve provided a streamlined home page which lets you choose the table you want to add a record to.

 
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You may see an i icon for some tables. If you tap the icon, this likely means that the form for that table includes dynamic form rules. We do not yet support form rules via our mobile offline feature, so your app builder would need to remove those rules for now to enable you to add new records while offline.

 
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After tapping one of the Add buttons, you’ll see the familiar form you’re used to working with while connected to the internet. It’s a similar experience to adding a record while online, but there are some differences. Here’s a bit more detail on what to expect:

  • You can still select parent records to relate your new record to while offline. We’ll display up to 10,000 parent records for each reference field on your form.
  • If your parent record picker includes data from grandparent, great-greatparent tables, etc, they will still work offline. (This is sometimes referred to as Lineage, where you relate a chain of several tables together)
  • Conditional dropdowns are available offline.
  • Parent records coming from cross-app relationships can also be selected.
  • You can still use your mobile device’s built-in features while offline, such as barcode scanning, voice-to-text, and taking a photo or video.
  • We don’t currently support the following field types while offline: lookup, URL, formula, report link, and “Add Child Record” buttons (such as an Add Task button you would see on a Projects form). Forms that include those types of fields will still work offline, and there will be a note on the form where one of those fields would be located.


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Once you’re ready, you can tap Save or Save & New. Records will enter a queue once you’ve saved them. If you want to make edits to one of your queued records, you can tap the Queue icon at the bottom of the screen. From there, simply tap the record you want to edit, then click Save again.

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How to upload records once you’re back online

After you’ve added new records to the offline queue, the records are encrypted and stored on the device and will be uploaded once you are online again. The Quickbase mobile application must be open and visible on the screen in order for your records to be uploaded.

When your records are uploaded, any custom data rules will run and validate those records. If some of the records being uploaded do not pass the table’s custom data rules, they will not be uploaded. Each record is uploaded individually. So, if you were uploading 10 records, and 1 of the records violated the table’s custom data rules, 9 records would be uploaded successfully and you’d see an error message for the 1 remaining record. To address any records that did not upload, open the Settings menu and tap View offline upload status. From this page, simply swipe on a record to edit or delete it.

After each record is uploaded, email notifications, pipelines, etc. will trigger as usual. The Date Created will be set to the time the record was uploaded (not the time it was created while offline).

If you'd like to record the date/time, you can add a date/time field to the table and set the default to now. This will record the time the form was opened offline.

Dealing with spotty connections

Most of us have been in that situation where we are technically within WiFi range, but the connection keeps dropping out then coming back. That would cause the Quickbase mobile application to switch in and out of offline mode accordingly. In that case, you can force offline mode to stay on until you return to an area with a strong signal. To do this, Click to open the Settings menu and flip the Force offline mode toggle.

In addition, in the chance that you unexpectedly lose internet connection while adding a record, the Mobile Application will automatically save the record as if you were offline and add it once internet connection is regained.  

How can I download the Quickbase mobile application?

You can download the Quickbase native mobile application by going to Apple’s App Store or the Google Play store, then searching for “Quickbase”. Your feedback is critical for us, so please rate and review our mobile app and let us know what you think.

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