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Podio Quick Tip – App Section Headers

Scott Costello All, Blog, Featured 28 Comments

From it’s flexibility to it’s ease of use, there are a lot of great things about Podio. As a software developer it’s not all great…there are some issues I have with it. One of those issues is that there is no easy way to break up long App forms that contain a lot of fields.

One such example of this is a Property (or leads) App that could reach to 30 or more fields. Not being able to group those fields into sections makes information tough to find quickly. What we need is a Podio App Section Header!

Here is the problem…

Below is an example of my Property Details App form. There are a total of 52 fields! Do me a favor and try and find the field What is your asking price?.  It takes me a minute even though I know it’s some where in the middle of the form. 

My Solution to Grouping…

Like I said before, Podio does not have a method for grouping your fields. Sure you could break each section into different Apps but that would be a PITA for sure. My solution is much simpler.

The idea is to re-purpose one of the Podio predefined field types to create a line break (or even just a gap). There are really only 2 field types (Category and Calculation) fields that can be used.

Category Field Type

My first attempt was to use a category field. My goal was to create a gap between groups in order to visually break up the different sections of the form.

The setup for this is very easy…

  1. Drag a Category field to a spot in-between two of your groups
  2. Add a Label that describes the group below it
  3. Remove all Category Items

In the template editor what you should have is something like in the image below.

After saving the template, here is what you will get. Notice how you see the extra white space between the sections.

While this solution is simple and does provide a visual gap between sections, I find it kind of ugly and only marginally effective. Additionally, since this is a category field, Podio will also auto-create a filter item along the left side. Only a minor annoyance and you can delete it, but it is useless.

Calculation Field Type

My next attempt was to use a calculation field. Since you can output text in a calculation field I felt it could be the solution I was looking for. I’ll go through this one step at a time because there are a few things to consider.

1. Add the Calculation Field

Put this field where you want your group section to start.

2. Add the text you want to use for the heading

Any text that you out put in a calculation field must be surrounded by double quotes (“).

"— Group Property Details —"

Now if you went to save this right now you would get an error telling you that The calculation field must reference at least one other field.  It cannot be entirely based on static data, such as strings or numbers.

To get around this minor annoyance you can just add in a dummy variable and assign it a value from one of the existing fields.

var a = @Address

"— Group Property Details —"

Now you’ll be able to save and you’ll get something that looks like the below image.

That is much better then the category field example above, but I still think it looks terrible.

3. Add Formatting

We are in luck, because the calculation field supports something called markdown syntax. This means we can do some formatting and make it look nice.

The Heading

Let’s start off by making the group heading text actually a heading. We can do this using Markdown Syntax by putting a single pound sign (#) before the text like so…

var a = @Address

"# Group Property Details"

I decided to take out the dashes before and after the heading because I thought it looked better. The text will now be bold and slight larger then the rest of the text. Here is what this now looks like…

Horizontal Line

The next thing i’d like to add is a horizontal line to create even more of a visual cue that a new section is starting here. We can do that by adding a new line (“\n”) and also three dashes (“---”). Let me show you…

var a = @Address

"# Group Property Details"
+ "\n ---"

I’ll cover this a bit later, but the + sign is used to concatenate two strings of text. I could have put this all on one line (“# Contacts \n ---”) but it is much easier to read if I break up the different parts of the string.

Group Description

The last part that I like to add to my section headers is a short description.  It says what the group is but also serves to help catch your eye even more as you scroll through the form.

To do this we add another line break (“\n”) and then the text.

var a = @Address

"# Group Property Details"
+ "\n"
+ "---"
+ "\n"
+ "The **Group Property Details** section is where you can add add information about the property."

That is pretty much it. If you noticed i surrounded the phrase Group Property Details with ** and **. In markdown these characters will make the phrase bold. So here is how this will look…

Now this I like!

One thing that I didn’t mention is that you need to have a value in the Calculation field label on the left side. You can use what ever you want, I chose to use a ‘>’ symbol.

Here is a look at what my entire form looks like with the calculation field section groups inserted. Do you think it looks better?

Quick Markdown Guide

You can use Markdown in any Podio field that displays text and doesn’t have the formatting toolbar.  So basically you can use them in Comments and Calculation Fields.

Headers

There isn’t much noticeable difference between the different levels of headings in Podio.  The Header 1 (#) works best in my opinion.

# Header 1
## Header 2
### Header 3
#### Header 4
##### Header 5
###### Header 6

Links

Use this to insert links into your headings.  For instance, you can put a link to the Tax Assessor’s website in the heading.  This way you can just click the link to quickly go there to grab the properties tax info.

[example link](http://example.com/)

Underlines

These create a full width underline.  3 or more or each will get you a line.

---  dashes
*** asterisks
___ underscores

Emphasis

*Emphasis*  = Emphasis
_Emphasis_ = Emphasis
**Emphasis** = Emphasis
__Emphasis__ = Emphasis
**
__Emphasis__** = Emphasis
~~
Emphasis~~ = Emphasis

More…

If you want to see what else you can do, go over to this cheat sheet 

https://github.com/adam-p/markdown-here/wiki/Markdown-Cheatsheet

 

One Minor Issue

This solution isn’t perfect however or I’m sure Podio would call it a feature and have a write up about it. Calculation fields by nature only run their calculations after there is data in the fields…in other words, after an item has been created.

What this means is that when we are adding a new item the section group headings will not show. What you see is a “—” value. This means there is no value.

To me…I don’t think this is a big deal. Generally when I’m adding a new item I’m going through each field one by one. So when I’m done, I save the record and close out. When I go back in the section group headings are now there.

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Scott Costello

Scott is a part time wholesaler, but full time real estate investing addict! As his family grows and his free time shrinks,He has been slowing building his wholesaling business over the past 7 years in between life events.Drive, dedication and never giving up are his strengths.
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Comments 28

  1. THIS IS DOPE!!

    Thank you for creating this helpful blog.
    Simple tips like this really improve our business.
    Thanks Scott!

    Raphael Vargas (CEO Ace Equity Pros) Washington DC

      1. Post
        Author

        Hi James,

        What happens when you try and duplicate what I have? Are you just cutting and pasting?

        If you are cutting and pasting what I have into Podio, the quotes ( ” ) don’t translate correctly. You have to delete them and put the quotes back in. Very strange but that is what just happened to me if I cut and pasted the code into my podio.

      2. Post
        Author
  2. Hey Scott — this looks amazing. I’m trying it right now, however, and am not getting any luck. It keeps saying there’s a syntax error. Would you be able to help me at all? I’m by my email if you get this.

    Many thanks!!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hey Joe D,

      If you are cutting and pasting what I have into Podio, the quotes ( ” ) don’t translate correctly. You have to delete them and put the quotes back in. Very strange but that is what just happened to me if I cut and pasted the code into my podio.

      Let me know if that solves your problem,

    2. Post
      Author
  3. Scott,

    Thanks for the awesome solution to organizing convoluted information in the long form setup! Our Seller Leads App looks a lot cleaner now! Appreciate the time you took to put all of this together for the masses!

    Arnell

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      Author
    1. Post
      Author
  4. Scott,

    Do you actually gather ALL of this info from the owner by way of your website contact form or over the phone with them?? Or do you get some of the info and gather the rest by online research and/or visiting the property? This seems like a lot to gather from the owner.

    1. Post
      Author

      Unless I have great report with the seller, I would typically gather the information over a few contacts. Some over the phone, some over email, some when I make a visit. It is a lot of information for sure, so I do also have some automations to pull property details from places like zillow.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Orlando,

      This does still work. Typically the undefined result error message means you have a type or have just copied and pasted my code that contains the ‘@’ field tokens. You can’t cut and paste @ Field Tokens because the system will just convert that to text. You’ll have to retype the @ Field tokens manually.

      Another thing to look at when cutting and pasting are the quotes, single (‘) and double (“). Occasionally they will paste as something called a “fancy quote” which is different. So best to retype those as well.

      Hope that helps.

  5. Great Job Scott! You have saved million of lives who are using Podio Forms. One question though, will this be well formatted for Mobile or Tablet usage?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Fady,

      The mobile Podio versions are a bit limited on calculation field formatting. They just did release an update to the IOS version that might make the links work better but I don’t have an iPhone so I can’t test it.

  6. First and foremost; this article was a LIFE saver when I discovered it! I taught other folks in my company how to use it and it’s really helped us leverage Podio in an even more efficient way.

    The one thing I keep coming back to is wishing there was a line-break option, or a bullet point option. I don’t suppose you’ve ever researched those to see if it can be done?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Eve,

      To create line breaks you would use a “\n” within your strings. So “This is Line 1\nThis is line 2″
      For bullets you would need to do something like…”* Item 1 * Item 2 * Item 3”

      These codes are part of what is called Markdown language. For more info look here Markdown Language

      1. Extremely helpful Scott – thank you!! Now I have line breaks AND bullets. So fancy. Thanks for also providing the Markdown Language linkout – I foresee getting even fancier with its help. 🙂

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