The App Tips Blog: Getting Personal with Inputs

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I hope you've been finding our App Tips Blogs helpful and useful.  Recently, we taught you how to Reduce Noise Pollution with the Filter block in Presto Wires.  This week things will 'get personal' by building an App from a Filtered Mashup with user-friendly input boxes to make the App, well, personal.

Apps are meant to house any and all relevant information for easy access and easy viewing.  But sometimes "all" necessary information is just way too much.  By allowing user input in your Apps you can quickly reach only the data you need, when you need it.  Sounds useful, right? 

As with all Presto Apps, the story begins with a Presto Mashup.  So, we need to make a Filtered Mashup.  Take a peek at my 'Noise Pulloution' blog for all the details.  In the end, you'll end up with a Mashup that looks like this:

And when you select your 'Filter' block, here's what you should see:

In my case I'm searching Google News for articles on "money".  So when I run the entire Mashup I get all articles with "money" in the title.

Now we get to the fun part: make an App from this Mashup.  Find and select your Mashup in Presto Hub, click "Create an App", and you'll be thrown into Presto App Maker.  The App Maker recognizes that your Mashup has a Filter, and you should immediately see the option to modify the look-and-feel of the filter:

There's lots of juicy stuff to play with here.  For example, change the 'Label' so the user knows what kind of input you want from them.  Or, as in my example, change the 'Default Value' from "money" to "democrat."  (Important note: Whichever Default Value you set here will override the default value you might have set on the Mashup.)  

I have also selected "Yes" to "Allow User Input" meaning that the input value is not locked, and can be changed by future users.  And I saved my favorite for last: the 'Input Type' (shown in the orange box).  With this option you can make an open-ended text box or a well-defined drop-down list of values (so the user doesn't get lost).

That's it!  Save the App and it might look like this, with an open-ended input box:

Or like this, with a well-defined drop-down list of values (in the orange box):

Without input parameters your Apps can return hundreds of results.  When you add input parameters to your Apps you can easily hone in on the results that matter to solve your business problems.  In other words, you can make your Apps work for you by "Getting Personal."

As always, these App tips aren't a substitute for the documentation or the full-featured How-Tos. Stay tuned for the next entry, but until then enjoy "gettin' personal".