Dashdash 101: the absolute basics

Overview

You might be new to spreadsheets, or perhaps you come from a different platform, but want to get the most out of dashdash? We know that sometimes it can be a little difficult, so that’s why we’ve got a few posts coming up covering the basics of spreadsheets, and then onto how to apply them all in dashdash :slight_smile:

In this article we’ll go through:

  • basic terms (which you really should know)
  • how to enter data into a function
  • our function helper

Basic terms

With spreadsheets (pretty much all of them) you’ll commonly hear some terms that you really need to know in order to quickly start using some advanced features.

Spreadsheet, table, and page

In dashdash, whenever you want to create something, you’ll either create a:

  • Spreadsheet
    Basically, this is a “book” that contains all your tables and pages.
  • Table (previously called a view)
    This is a single “sheet” where you can enter in your data.
  • Page (previously called a group)
    When you have two or more tables you want to see on the same screen, you put them into a page.
    :memo: Note: You can only have up to five tables on a page.

Row vs Column

A row is a horizontal set of cells. Rows are represented by a number.

A column is a vertical set of cells. Columns are represented by a letter.

Cell vs Range

A cell is a single “box” on your spreadsheet. For example, A1. Or as our CEO says, it’s the smallest unit of life :wink:.

A range is two or more cells put together. For example, A1:A5.

Ranges can be either one dimensional or two dimensional. What does that mean?

A one-dimensional range only has cells from the same row or column. For example: A1:G1 (same row) or A1:A20 (same column).

A two-dimensional range has cells from multiple rows or columns. For example: A1:B5 or A1:E2.

Number vs Date and time vs String

The main data types that you’ll probably be using are:

  • Numbers
    Numbers can either be “whole” (that is, they don’t have a decimal - known as an integer) or decimals (also sometimes called a float).
  • Dates and times
    In spreadsheets, dates are formatted as YYYY-MM-DD (for example, 2020-07-13), while time is formatted in 24-hour format as HH:MM:SS (for example, 2:30 pm would be written as 14:30:00).
  • Strings
    Strings are basically text - Anything that’s a word or a sentence is… a string! For example: Hey there, I’m a string!

Function vs Formula

A function a little “program” that already exists in the spreadsheet software. For example, ADD() which is a little program that adds numbers together.

A formula is whatever combination of functions you create to get the result you want. For example: ADD(5,7)/50.

“Returns”

A term that you’re going to hear a lot when it comes to functions is that it returns something. Simply put, this means that when you use this function, it’s going to give you some kind of result. When this happens, we say that the function returns the result.

Entering data into a function

Functions need data to work, just like in maths: you need numbers to add together in order for there to be a result, right?

The data that you enter depends on the parameters a function requires. For example, the ADD(number1, number2, [number3]) function requires at least two numbers to add together. These numbers that we need to add are the parameters.

In ADD()We know that it’s at least two parameters, as they don’t have square brackets [] around them. Any parameter that has square brackets around it, for example [number3], means that this is an optional parameter. In other words, the function will work just fine without it.

Each parameter that you enter needs to be separated with a comma ,. Why? Well, we need to tell it somehow that some data belongs to one parameter, and other data belongs to another parameter. And at dashdash, we decided to use a comma :wink:.

So, if we want to use ADD() to add together 4 and 5:

=ADD(4,5)

Then if we want to add more numbers, we just keep adding commas and numbers!

=ADD(4,5,6,7,8,9)

Functions and data types

Now, depending on the data type you need to enter into a parameter, you need to format it differently.

If it’s… then…
a number just type in the number. For example: 5 or 5.50.
a word write your word in quotation marks. For example: "dashdash rocks".
a date write the data in quotation marks. For example: "2020-02-02".
a cell just write the cell. For example: B4.
a cell range write the starting cell, then a colon, and then the end cell of the range. For example: A1:A20
a number range write the starting number, then a colon, and then the ending number. For example: 1:50.
a date range write the starting date, then a semicolon, and then the ending date (all in quotation marks). For example: "2015;2017".

Even if you use one of our integration functions (more on that in another article), these rules hold true. So commit this information to memory :brain:.

Dashdash Function Helper

To make things easier for you, and so that you don’t always need to remember what parameters a function needs, dashdash has a pretty awesome function helper. What does it do? Well, as soon as you type in the function that you want, the function helper will guide you on what parameters to put in.

For example, if you type in =SUM and then click on SUM in pop-up window, you’ll see the function helper. And as you go through entering the parameters, the function helper will highlight where you are in the function:

Also, if you need some more information, or would like to see some examples, you can click Learn More at the bottom of the pop-up window for that function, and the side panel will show up with a whole host of extra information for you :slightly_smiling_face:.

Function side panel

Summary

And that’s it! With these basics under your belt, you’re ready going to be flying through advanced tutorials in no time! And don’t worry if you forget something - you can always come back to this post if you need a refresher.

Next week, we’ll talk about some of those annoying errors that you might sometimes get, what they mean, and how to resolve them.

Until next time, happy building :rocket: !

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