Today’s Topic: Tables vs. Views
One of the foundational concepts in Coda is understanding the difference between Tables and Views. Without this knowledge, it’s hard to use Coda as anything more than a fancy Google Doc, and we definitely want to get past that!
Mastering tables and views is the difference between having a Coda doc that people say "I love using this tool at my job!" and "Are you kidding me, another Coda doc I have to use?"
Views allow you to create pages like "Completed Tasks" or "Priority Customers" - they allow you to create pages with meaning.
Today’s newsletter is geared toward Coda beginners, but even if you’ve been with Coda for a while, take a look at the Other Sweet Facts section for some tips you may not have seen before.
What is a Table? 🍽️
Tables are Coda’s foundational building blocks, and they are a way to store structured information. Tables are organized in rows and columns, but do not get them confused with spreadsheets! They are far different from a Google Sheet or Excel Spreadsheet. (More to come on that in a later lesson.)
Each row in a table represents a distinct object, while each column represents a distinct characteristic of or information about that object.
For example, in the People table below, each row represents a single individual while the columns tell us information about those individuals.
What is a View? 🧐
So then what is a view? A view is like a mirror-image of your table, a way to display that table elsewhere in your document. Any changes you make to the view will be reflected in the original table, and any changes you make the original table will in turn be reflected in the view.
Notice the GIF below - You have a core table and a view of it. Notice how the Views values change whenever the core tables value changes. The fact that views are all fundamentally connected (if the table is a view of the same original table) allows you to have an always up to date source of truth.
Views are important for two main reasons:
- A single table is accessible and editable from multiple locations.
- You can show unique slices of data with unique column setups.
Think of a very simple example: a team has a task table where each task is either “Done” or “Incomplete.” Rather than having a large, cluttered table where all the tasks live in one place (making it difficult for your team to know what is really urgent), you can make a View on a new page that contains only the tasks that are “Incomplete.”
Here is a quick example where the CORE table of projects is now filtered down only the the "URGENT" tasks so that a team can focus on whats really important.
Or think of a table of projects where you have multiple columns:
- Due Date
- Project Owner
- Outstanding Tasks
- Reflection on Project
The Reflection on Project column is only applicable once a project has actually been completed. As a doc builder, you can create two views of the projects table and filter them accordingly.
Main Table: All of the data - where you build the structure from
View 1: Projects being worked on. In this view, you’d only show rows of incomplete projects. You would also show any columns applicable to incomplete projects.
View 2: Projects completed. In this view, show only rows of completed projects. You would also show any columns applicable to complete projects.
Other sweet facts
- You can have as many views of a table as you want!
- No tables or views anywhere within a document can have the same name. Names are important in Coda as they are intricately tied to writing formulas in Coda. More on naming conventions will be covered later.
- The original table you created has some special powers and properties. It’s important to always store this table on a unique page for easy locating. Sign up for 30 Days of Coda to learn more.
- Next to each table and view name is a small and faint chain-link icon. If you click on that icon, it will open up a left-hand side-bar that shows you what that table is connected to and all the other views of that table throughout your document.
Enjoyed learning more about Coda with this post and want to learn more? From Coda lover to Coda lover, we've selected some other interesting and useful resources we think you'll love. Check them below👇