RESTful API updates: relationship and file attachment calls, portal improvements, and more

By Brian Cafferelli posted 08-21-2020 09:25


RESTful API updates: relationship and file attachment calls, portal improvements, and more

I’m excited to announce some recent improvements to our RESTful API, including new relationship and file attachment API calls, API portal improvements, and updates to our PowerBI connector.


Our story so far

The RESTful API provides a modern and intuitive new experience to help our community of app builders and developers extend their workflow beyond the native capabilities of their Quick Base apps. Whether your business process needs Quick Base to integrate with third party software tools, to aggregate data from multiple systems, or even to support a new end-user experience with a customized mobile and web interface, there's is no limit to what's possible.

Timed with our Virtual Empower conference in June 2020, we released our all-new, JSON-based, RESTful API. Since then we have been hard at work building on that foundation. We started with the basics, building RESTful APIs for things such as tables, fields, and reports. Then we started adding functionality not seen in the XML API such as the ability to run summary reports and pull field usage data.

Now we’re taking the RESTful API to the next stage by bringing relationships and file attachments into the picture.


Relationship API calls

Calls for creating, updating, deleting, and getting the definition of relationships have been added to the RESTful API. This makes it easier to build a complex app and then privately deploy it many times. The new relationship calls also allow you to build a more powerful system for automatic app documentation.

Many larger enterprise customers create a robust template for an app, and then deploy it to various business units across their company. For example, imagine a manufacturing company uses Quick Base to manage repairs of the machines on their factory floor. They build an app to meet this need, but they run factories across dozens of different states. Each factory location has a high volume of operational data to track, so they want each facility to have their own instance of the repair app. This is an element of application lifecycle management strategy. Today, such customers will write a script that automatically creates and provisions user access to a new copy of the app, including all the tables and fields. But they are not able to create the relationships via API, so they must take time to create those relationships by hand. This problem intensifies as admins update and make additions to the base app template. That means they must deploy those changes to update each of app instance that uses that template. The new relationship API calls will improve the speed and reliability of this kind of process.

Many companies with a robust application lifecycle management strategy for Quick Base also have created scripts to read the structure of their apps so they can keep track of them. They keep a catalog of the structure of each app, and each change that’s made to the structure of each app – such as the tables and fields each app includes. Though again, there was not a way to read the details of the relationships an app contains so that information needed to be gathered and maintained by hand. The new relationship API calls allow admins to save time when keeping track of their apps’ structure.


File attachment API calls

Calls for downloading and deleting attached files have been added to the RESTful API. The Quick Base XML API allows builders to base64-encode files and upload/download them from records. Now you can do the same using the RESTful API.

When querying records which contain file attachment fields, the RESTful API will now give you a complete list of the file versions which have been uploaded. This list includes all details related to each file version, including who uploaded it and when. With the XML API, you can query a specific version number, but there was not a way to get the complete list. Deleting a specific version of a file attachment is also new functionality not supported by the XML API. Here's an example of the data our file attachment API calls will return:



API portal improvements

The API Portal allows you to easily discover and test RESTful API calls. We’ve made a few improvements to the portal recently, allowing you to:


  • Download our OpenAPI spec and use your favorite programming language with the RESTful API. Visit the main page of the API Portal, then click “Download as OAS” for a JSON description of the RESTful API.


  • Test your API calls more quickly by creating a temporary auth token. When you’re testing API calls from the API Portal, you need to provide authentication just as you would if you were writing those calls from scratch. Now you can save time by generating a temporary auth token to use for testing. To do so, you can:

    1. Open the app or table you want to test with.
    2. Copy the dbid from the address bar.
    3. Visit the portal page for our new Get a temporary token for a dbid.
    4. Enter your realm name, paste the dbid, and click Send.
    5. For the next five minutes, any calls you run from the portal will use this auth token. To use the temporary token, while building your test API call simply click the icon in the Authorization field:

PowerBI Connector improvements

The Quick Base Connector for Microsoft PowerBI now uses Quick Base’s RESTful API under the hood, giving the connector a dramatic performance boost.

The Quick Base PowerBI connector allows you to pull data from a Quick Base table into PowerBI to create rich visualizations. This also allows you to merge data from multiple sources and aggregate it into a single dashboard in PowerBI. Since the RESTful API is going to be the API we invest in going forward, we decided to upgrade our PowerBI Connector to use the new RESTful API. Here are a few stats to give you an idea of what kind of speed to expect from the PowerBI Connector going forward:


Time to complete using old version (QB’s XML API)

Time to complete using new version (QB’s RESTful API)

Table preview (small table)

~40 seconds

~20 seconds

Table preview (table with 202K rows and 23 columns)

~160 seconds

~5 seconds

Data load

~10 minutes

~4 minutes


What will you build?

The Quick Base community is home to some of the most creative minds in the business world. So, with these powerful improvements in your hands, we can’t wait to see what you build!

Have you tried out our RESTful API yet? If not, you can head to our RESTful API Portal to get started. To learn more about why we see the RESTful API as a transformative upgrade for the Quick Base platform, check out our blogpost Introducing the RESTful API.