Using Forms in Daylite for project spec sheets

Scaling / August 13, 2012 / Admin

If you use Daylite to manage projects that are similar to one another, you may find it handy to have all the associated data you collect for projects inside of Daylite and linked to each project. Extra fields can suffice for smaller amounts of data, but you may reach the point where you need more. That’s where Forms come in.

Imagine you’re in the printing business. Each job requires that you collect many little details about what exactly your client wants. What size & type of paper, the quantity, what process it will be printed on, ink colours, special treatments like die-cutting or embossing, whether it will bleed to the edges, etc. Out of high school, I worked in a small print shop where paper dockets to keep track of all of these details, each in it’s own plastic envelope regularly piled high on my desk. If the projects you’re managing in Daylite have common details that you collect, Forms may be the answer to your organizational problems and your messy desk.

How to create new forms in prefs

Creating new forms or editing existing forms all happens in the Forms pane, inside Daylite > Preferences. You can have several different types of forms so the list in the left column will show you each of them. Click on the plus icon in the lower left of this column to create a new Form.

The centre column will have two rows initially. The top row (which is slightly taller) will be called “New Form” for starters. Selecting this row shows you details in the right column for the form itself. Give it a name, and optionally a description to make clear to new employees what the form should be used for. New forms are “Active” by default, but should you need to retire a Form without deleting all the data contained in them, unchecking this prevents any new forms of this type from being created.

Finally, you’ll want to check what kind of records this form should be able to be created from, and subsequently linked to. In Daylite 4, a form can be linked to multiple records enabling new workflows like having a form start off in an opportunity for the sales person to collect information, and then linking that same form to a project for the operations team to use in delivering the job.

Let’s look at the different types of fields to choose from when creating the fields for our form.

Types of form inputs

Back to our printing example, creating fields for each of those specs is a matter of clicking plus in the centre column to add a new field, giving it a name (and optionally a description) then choosing its type. The type of field you use dramatically affects how you input data into the form and your options for searching and filtering for that data later on. Here’s a look at each of them:

Text. The default option when creating a new field. My rule of thumb is to use the text field in forms only if none of the other options make sense. Inputs from users will be too unpredictable and you’ll lose the ability to create intelligent filters for this data. Instead, if you are expecting your users to enter in one of several common options, you should define the type of this field as…

Popup Options. Unlike the wild wild west of the text field, a popup option gives the user a menu of choices to pick from. Since a printing company likely only stocks certain paper types, defining these in a popup option makes perfect sense, eliminating any confusion between semi-gloss and lustre for new employees. Enter each option followed by a comma or return, which Daylite will then turn each choice into blue tokens. However, if you are collecting data for something that is typically a standard option, but occasionally need to input something non-standard, you may want to look at the…

Combo Box Options. At first glance when inputting data, this field will look like a standard text field – until you start typing one of your pre-defined options. Just like Google suggestions, a combo box auto-completes your typing when it senses a match. The special treatment field in our example might be a good call for this one, defining “Die-cutting”, “Embossing”, etc as preset options but also allowing for more esoteric and infrequent requests printing like gold foil appliqué, for those 80’s retro-night invitations you needed to be oh-so-authentic.

That’s it for words, now let’s talk numbers. You have three options:

Number. A better label for this might be integer. A perfect choice for quantity in this case, as I don’t imagine anyone would be interested in buying five and a half business cards. However, for the dimensions a better choice would be…

Decimal Number. Since in North America, paper sizes like 8.5 x 11 and 3.5 x 2 are standard choices, you’ll definitely need to select this field type for many kinds of numerical input.

Currency. Functions the same as decimal number, but formats the number with the proper symbols and punctuation, as per your region setting in System Preferences. In other words, “2567.95” becomes “$2,567.95” sticking with my North American bias.

Date, Time, Date & Time. If you need to collect dates and/or times, well, these field types are exactly what you need. A popover with a calendar date picker appears when inputting dates to help you collect a pick up time, for example.

And finally we have Checkbox & Multiple Checkboxes field types. A checkbox is for inputting simple on/off or yes/no bits of information. In our printing example, I’m using one for whether the job will have bleeds or not. If there were several associated options, you could use Multiple Checkboxes instead. A wedding planner could use a form for menu planning with checkboxes for Chicken, Beef, Fish, Vegetarian, etc.

Applying Forms

Remember that you’ve defined a form as being for a project, or person, so be sure you’re looking at an appropriate record and from the plus menu, choose New Form, revealing a sub-menu with the names of each form you’ve created. Select the one you’re working with and a slide over appears, allowing you to enter data into it. Go ahead and tab through your fields, inputting data as you go. Click Back when you’re done and you’re back in your project with the form data you’ve just entered viewable in your activity stream. Double clicking in the activity stream opens the slide over again. To make a change, click the edit button or hit command-E.

Who’s using forms?

In a future article, I plan on going through some of the ways you can search and filter form data, but I’d really like to hear from you about some of the ways you are already using forms, or some of the business problems you think might be possible to solve with forms. Please give me a shout in the comments and your example might even make it into the next article. As always, any other questions are welcome too.

33 Responses to “Using Forms in Daylite for project spec sheets”

    Kia
  1. I love the forms in DL4 the only annoyance is trying to print them out to have a hard copy, also trying to use them graphically not great.

    But as a concept and the way I work one of the more powerful features of DL4.

  2. Forms are pretty critical to my business. I service office equipment — copiers, printers and fax machines — and my clients need both service and supplies. Each client can have one or more pieces of equipment and I link a Form for each to the client. In addition, I completed a separate Form for each service call, with problem, resolution and more.

    But Forms don’t sync to Daylite for iOS, so I can’t take information on my clients’ equipment — particularly service history — on the go. And even if they did sync, Forms don’t link to Forms, so I can’t easily correlate service calls to equipment.

    Currently I’m also creating an Opportunity for each machine and linking the service call Form to it. That gives me the equipment data on Daylite Touch and a service history on the desktop, but it’s still not ideal.

  3. John Leahy
  4. In DL3 I used forms extensively. I was able to print the forms to PDF thereby creating reports/updates for clients on a filtered list of cases. For instance when working for an insurance company I could send them pre-formatted investigation reports or working for an industry body I could send them approval forms for qualification applications. This pre-formatted printing module seems to have disappeared from DL4? Do I need to create a new form from scratch – this seems to involve a steep learning curve. Is there a training/guide for creating forms for printing?

  5. Emily Rudow
  6. @John Leahy We have steps for creating custom forms in Daylite 4. You can refer to our user guide: http://download.marketcircle.com/docs/help/Daylite%204%20User%20Guide.pdf (page 97).

  7. We are a photography and graphic design firm and we’ve been using Daylite for three years now. I’ve been begging for exportable and importable forms for forever, it seems. The ability to mail a form from within daylite to be populated by the client and then imported would be huge! We’ve considered just not upgrading to 4 until this gets resolved. I’m with @Don Morris above me here in the comments too. FORMS NEED TO BE A PART OF THE MOBILE APP!

  8. Mike Auty
  9. There is an form exporter plugin from iosxpert.biz for Daylite 3. I imagine it will make the jump to 4 at some point. There was some bugs fixed recently for Importing to Forms using the delimited import, though now that Forms are a top level object, there’s room for improvement here too. I haven’t tested this myself, just noted that the form widget now shows up when you select form field as a destination as it did in 3.

    And we hear you on the need for Forms in Daylite for iOS…

  10. Forms are incomplete….
    – You are not able to add extra fields to existing forms after the fact
    – You can’t import sales data relevant to each company in Daylite (you could in DL3)
    – Not Mobile
    – You can’t bulk add forms to a list of companies or bulk edit
    – In List view you are challenged to identify each forms association
    I manage 5 brands and work with 300 accounts….since extra fields are limited…I would use forms, but their limitations makes me very hesitant to consider…stuck in a holding pattern.

  11. Emily Rudow
  12. @Christian Raniszewski
    You are not able to add extra fields to existing forms after the fact – This is logged as bug fix
    You can’t import sales data relevant to each company in Daylite (you could in DL3) -logged as a feature request
    Not Mobile -logged as a feature request
    You can’t bulk add forms to a list of companies or bulk edit – What exactly do you mean? Are you trying to add one form to several companies at the same time?
    In List view you are challenged to identify each forms association – We need more information on this. Do you expect to see the linked contacts etc in the list view? If so, we can log that as a feature request.

  13. I use forms a ton. My only problem with them is that after I create them and populate the fields…The data I enter and the field name are the same font color, bold, size and placement. The inability to change the color, size or at the least bold the field name makes it hard to find data. It all looks like a grey list of information. Its hard to tell where the field categories start and end. If you could just bold them, that would be enough. Other than this, Forms are great!

  14. Emily Rudow
  15. @Mike Boland Thanks for the feedback Mike. It has been logged as a feature request 🙂

  16. In your example above, it appears that the fields are bold and the information is grey. That is true when the form is open. However, if you are in a group or project and the form is in the “Past” window to the right, thats when all the fonts are exactly the same. If you could make it have the same look in the “Past” it would be extremely helpful. Thanks.

  17. I agree that forms are incomplete

    They also need repeatable fields – I.e. email addresses – with the ability to add email address 1, 2, 3 etc without having to create spare text fields that are either blank most of the time or sometimes not enough depending on the client. We are a web design agency and we store a lot of information in forms and being able to use repeatable fields would be a huge headache remover

  18. Emily Rudow
  19. @Brendyn Repeatable fields are logged as a feature request

  20. Craig Thorne
  21. We used a custom estimate form in DL 3 and it was important to be able to print a hard copy and have “save to” options. DL4 has really fallen down in an area that lets the user leverage the data base.

  22. Emily Rudow
  23. @Craig Thorne This can be done in DL4. Can you open a support ticket bit.ly/g9WvzH ?
    Thanks 🙂

  24. Ken Cohen
  25. I’ve been using Daylite for about 6 months. What I don’t understand about forms is, what can I usefully do with the collected data? Ideally I think (really not sure if it’s intended for any of this) I should be able to:

    – email a form to every client to fill in and return, then be able to move the data into DL contacts, projects etc.
    – export the data to a spreadsheet
    – merge it into word processor documents

    If not, why collect it? I suspect part of my question is conceptual – I’ve used forms in Word, Excel, FileMaker etc over the years but I always understood why I was using forms and how we would deal with the data. With DL I can’t yet see the forest for the trees.

  26. Emily Rudow
  27. @Ken Cohen We have logged emailing forms as a feature request. As for exporting data to a spreadsheet you can do so by going to Forms>File Menu>Export to CSV.
    What do you mean by merging into a word processor? What exactly are you trying to accomplish?

  28. Steve Alvarez
  29. I would use forms by linking it to a project. As an attorney, if I had two people that I represented for one Incident, I would use the forms for each of the people. In Daylite 3, I was able to add the name of the person to the forms. In Daylite 4 I’m not able to edit the name of the form at all. Also after migrating to Daylite 4 I lost all the names the edited names of the forms. Is there anyway to resolve this problem?

  30. Emily Rudow
  31. @Steve Alvarez This issue has been resolved. I just sent you an email with a script and instructions.

  32. Seonaid Munro
  33. We would like to be able to import data to populate form fields.
    Emily is this script available on the forum site? We would find this helpful. “@Steve Alvarez This issue has been resolved. I just sent you an email with a script and instructions”.

  34. Emily Rudow
  35. @Seonaid It is not available on the forum at this time. I can see if we can put it up, but in the meantime would you like me to email you the script? Thanks

  36. We love the customisability and simplicity of the forms on daylite, which helps to reduce the size of data on our server. However We would like to see a facility which would automatically populate an uploaded PDF report, from the simple form, to present to a customer/client.

  37. Emily Rudow
  38. @Ben Do you mean generate a PDF based on the form? Or upload a PDF form somewhere and populate that?

  39. @Emily @Ben, I work alongside Ben, what he means is a PDF based on the form, like a job sheet from the data entered into the form. Is this something that can be done.

  40. Emily Rudow
  41. @Bradley McBain This can’t be done yet. We’ve logged it as a feature request.

  42. Ted Wood
  43. After years of being able to import CSV data from Excel into custom created forms in Daylite 3, it is very frustrating to find I can’t do this in Daylite 4. Am I missing something, or is there a workaround? Or do I need to go back to Daylite 3? Thanks —

  44. AJ
  45. Ted,
    We will have this corrected in the near future.
    We had to make some big changes to Form under the hood for Daylite 4 and for some other stuff we have planned.

  46. Emily Rudow
  47. @Ted This is currently being worked on for 4.3.

  48. Sergio
  49. Hi,

    I’m creating some custom forms for my business but can’t seem to find a way to export said form and import them into another computer, like I did with custom reports. How can I do this?

    Thanks,

  50. AJ
  51. Sergio, what do you mean export to another computer? You can share a database across multiple computers.

  52. Sergio
  53. @AJ

    I mean using them on another database. I don’t want to share anything else, just the forms.

  54. Nick S
  55. the ability to drag and drop a csv for direct upload into an already properly configured form would be really useful. It gets tedious to have to import and map fields every time.

  56. Thanny Schmitz
  57. Thank you for your feedback. I will log a feature request ticket so our Product Team would consider it for future updates.

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