The most common way to view and edit data is through a spreadsheet. It provides an intuitive grid/table where users can easily view, browse, and edit data. While they are powerful and can handle many use cases, some cases cannot be handled in a complete and convenient way. One of those use cases is improving and maintaining high data quality within a database. This use case is critical for a database administrator (DBA) and generally important to the business, as low data quality can result in poor decision-making, wasted resources, and negatively impacts KPIs. Using spreadsheets come with its own set of challenges that we discussed in our in-depth guide on how to import, validate, and edit data into your database. So if spreadsheets aren’t built to solve this use case, then what is?
To bring this product to life, we would need build a table/grid that keeps all the features that make spreadsheets great for editing data, remove all the features that make spreadsheets slow and heavy, such as formula, styling, and analytics engines, and add additional features that make collaboration, data validation, and syncing very easy.
A Smart Table should prioritize safety above all. In the constant trade-off between safety and time, we often take calculated risks to meet deadlines, for example, making direct edits in the database using an editor. These edits can inadvertently break the database or result in inaccurate records. On the other hand, you may refrain from making edits until you have deployed a set of admin panels that lets users safely correct data, but data remains inaccurate for a longer period of time. What if you didn't have to compromise either?
There are various on-the-market applications that provide ‘Smart-like’ features for tables. We believe however, that a truly Smart Table should have an auto-staging functionality to both protect and efficiently update data. This would enable you to select a specific production table that would be automatically staged for edits, updates, and validations. Auto-staging not only reduces the time-burden on DBAs, but it also creates a controlled environment that ensures the safety of your database.
Being able to control and oversee table edits allow you to monitor and maintain the database as you normally would, but in an entirely different manner. Instead of putting time into manually syncing data and risk breaking the database, you can concentrate on reviewing conflicts, approving changes, setting validation rules, and granting access controls. With a streamlined, automated sync process, DBAs have more control and can focus on ensuring data safety.
A Smart Table will sync data consistently and preview revisions using a sync log that allows users to inspect and approve of all changes, no matter how small or large. Depending on permission controls, you may grant users direct syncing capabilities, while others would require approval by a DBA. Validation rules can also be assigned to specific tables, making the data cleaning process more manageable. Table syncs can be analyzed in depth during the preview stage before the final sync. Every measure has been enforced within the sync process to optimize safety and allow better control of the database.
A Smart Table should be collaborative to allow Postgres DBAs, owners, and administrators to work alongside business users in a productive manner. This eliminates the back-and-forth between teams that often lead to bottlenecks.
The intuitive design of a Smart Table should enable collaborative roles whether it be an administrator or editor to the staged tables. By granting role permissions, each user may be invited to edit, import, and validate data using the staged Smart Table. Streamlining this process revolutionizes the way data is managed by teams, reducing the need for custom scripts and building admin panels.
A Smart Table should ideally comprise of an intuitive UI interface. A spreadsheet is the most familiar and widely understood. Implementing a spreadsheet-like interface for a Smart Table makes it accessible and easy to use for business users, developers, and roles-alike.
Smart Tables are made accessible to business users via editor view. With this UI, business users can access a staged table to perform various actions. Whether it be importing new data, adding validation checks, or making manual changes, updating the database is made easy with the spreadsheet-like interface.
When it comes to managing data in tables, it is ideal for validation be done in real-time. Business teams can only effectively use accurate data in decision-making, and it is up to DBAs to deliver valid data in a timely manner.
We envision Smart Tables allowing you to easily add data validations checks, such as capitalization for text fields, and number ranges and custom codes for number fields. This capability would ensure that the data being imported is consistently accurate and meets every specific use case. With automatic column mapping, it only takes a few minutes to get your data in order. This automated process would simplify the responsibilities of developers, and allow data to be cleaned and corrected at a quicker pace.
At Dropbase, we are building our ideal Smart Table and wanted to share what ‘Smart’ means for us. With upcoming developments to our product, we are excited to share what we have in store for the future of database management and data quality. Check out the full demo of Dropbase’s Smart Table below: