Community Expression Library

What would it look like for there to be a Community-Driven “Open-Source” Expression Library??

@Henry_Scott brought this up first on the thread for the QREW Tools Chrome Extension, suggesting adding in a library of @Steve 's helpful expressions in the AppSheet documentation. I feel like this would be a valuable community resource.

Would this be something that should stay in the AppSheet documentation, or should this be it’s own thing??

This could take many forms, but I think some key features are:

  • Searchable
  • Easy add into an Expression Editor
  • Implementation MetaData (Notes on how to use this expression)
  • Open Source

Tagging the usual suspects: @Bellave_Jayaram @LeventK @Grant_Stead @MultiTech_Visions @Fabian Kirk_Masden @Jonathon @praveen (Would add more but there is a 10 person limit, lol)

A resource like this would be really helpful, many times people in the community are asking about formulas that are pretty straight forward - they just need an easy/good way to find details that already exist about it. Having something where people could search for something, even possibly bring in natural language magic… :slight_smile:

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I have created an app for that purpose maybe one year ago… but there has been always something more important job to do. Maybe I should just launch it :yum:

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That would be cool. With it being in an AppSheet app, would you allow users to add their own expressions?

One thing that rolling out in an AppSheet app would not allow is

monospace

formatting of the expression. Not critical, but cool

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Yes, that would be the idea.

Nice. Would you make the underlying data available for export?

I’m curious to see the UX / data structure you’ve chosen for it.

Years ago when I was first wrapping my head around the logic of complex formulas, I built an app that was essentially an expression builder; with forms that would lead someone through the process of building whatever expression they were trying to build.

It was nice because you could keep certain parts of a formula that you might use over and over to easily insert them into a new formula. Things like USEREMAIL() = [UserEmail] or something.

I looked to see if the app was still there, but it’s not. I made that at least 3 years ago. (Crazy!!!)

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Probably not a bad idea, but I don’t know how much of a dent it would make in reducing questions on the forum - It’s hard to make one-size-fits-all examples.

That said, if some sort of community wiki existed, I would probably contribute to it.

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I feel like the main value of a tool like this is to open people’s minds to what is possible with expressions, and giving them some freebies to work around a complicated situation (like formatting time data). Being searchable is super helpful, but even simple categorization could maybe be enough.

I would have fun just scrolling through a list of cool expressions that people have made and learning from them.

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It would be handy for people to be able to add alternative uses/versions of the formula as well; this way people could see the starting point then how other people are using it elsewhere. :slight_smile:

Doable with the app :slight_smile:

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It would be cool if we could build a chat bot that led the user through a series of questions to hone in on the top 5 or 10 matches for the user’s scenario and also list related expressions.

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I too would like to see this. For me, this forum, combined with the basic documentation has been my expression library. The basic documentation is useful but doesn’t contain many examples. In the forum, however, many examples have been shared but they are hard to search for so I strongly agree with this idea.

I would also like to second @Jonathon’s suggestion about a wiki. If there could there be a “documentation wiki” of some sort (that is, not limited to expressions), I think that would be great. I think the people at AppSheet are quite busy and have difficulty maintaining the documentation, especially as the capabilities of the AppSheet platform continue to expand. A wiki might be a way to organize the information that has been shared in the forum in a way that is easier for other people to find and utilize.

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@Bellave_Jayaram - That would be a cool feature. I like the UX of a chatbot for something like that. It’s almost like the programmer talking to the “Rubber Duck”. The simple act of verbalizing your process helps you better understand it.

Chat bots can exist unobtrusively in the App Editor experience and a 3 or 4 question logic pathway to best results, or a search bar as an alternative would be cool.

I feel like @MultiTech_Visions logic used in his app could help shape this experience

I like the idea of @Aleksi’s app for starters. It’s an easy way to test the concept and find what’s helpful and what’s not.

Aleksi, would you mind sharing access your app with the people in this thread so we can test and start contributing to an expression knowledge base?

I was just starting to write something like “Keep it simple” :smiley:

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The setup that I had made before was explicitly an expression builder, and you had to know what you wanting to build - then it would guide you through that process.

  • I had an enum to select the type of formula you were building
  • I had individual tables to represent each element that could be used in a formula (table, column, slice, view, formula pieces (operators, commas, periods, slashes, etc.), static values, etc.)
  • Then I had a form to guide you through selecting each of these references
  • At the end there was a concatenate that put it all together with de-references.

You had to know what you were wanting, but it would build it for you while also filling in a DB of elements you could use again later (speeding up formula construction).


It was a builder, not a library; but after awhile it accumulated enough to become a library.
Eventually I got really good at building expressions and deleted the app. :frowning:

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Having something dedicated to helping people learn and build expressions would be excellent. Expressions are, after all, the things that allow people to develop the functionality they want, and they can be real stumbling blocks, especially when you are trying to grasp stuff that you’ve never dealt with before. My modest level of expertise was gained by looking at other people’s expressions and deciphering correct usage from them. Steve’s Function examples are great, but could be complemented by something (a wiki, an app, etc) that has some kind of commentary on the expressions, as well as examples.

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Maybe as a way to “experiment” in a simple way is to have @Stefan_Quartemont ‘s chrome add-on provide a link out to @Aleksi ‘s app. If the app can combine clean enough library structure, with well laid out descriptions (like @Steve does), this could at least be a way to quick browse examples (and possibly see demos live). Not sure if this more than an “app” should be used for, but it might be an interesting approach and a fast way to see if it gets used. Learn from that and evolve later? …

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I love the idea to be able to learn from other users. That’s why I like the “Tips & Tricks”.
But sometimes you find real good ideas also in the “Questions”.
Someone thinking outside the box. Like this one.

Perhaps the Community Admins could tag Posts like that as “Tips & Tricks”?
Because I think, for many people it’s not possible to read all the Questions. But it may be possible to read about 5 Tips & Tricks each week.

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