We’ve developed Forest Admin to give full autonomy to business teams and to facilitate the scaling of their operations. With Forest Admin, there is no more need for endless back-and-forths with developers teams. We provide you out of the box with a back office solution covering your main operational needs and with a UI 100% customizable. There are no more compromises with your back office’s efficiency. We’ve designed Forest Admin with scalability in mind to help you achieve operational excellence.
Forest Admin provides immediate access to common admin tasks such as CRUD operations, simple chart rendering, user group management, and a WYSIWYG interface editor. That’s what makes Forest Admin a quick and easy solution for admin interface.
This guide is designed to help marketing, operations and business teams make the best use of Forest Admin solution and allow them to tailor it to their specific needs.
The main advantage of Forest Admin’s architecture is that absolutely no data transits over our servers. Users connect to their application data directly from their browser and Forest Admin is just there to allow them to display and interact with the data. Read more about hosting.
With Forest, your data are transferred directly from your application to your browser while remaining invisible to our servers. See how it works.
If you want to know more about how we ensure the maximum levels of security on our app, check out our FAQ.
With the following user guide you should be good to go in no time, with virtually no learning curve.
Once you have entered your Forest Admin interface, you will have access to all of the app’s possibilities through navigation bar at the top:
Throughout this User guide you will see 4 types of tags, which indicate to whom the current feature or action is accessible:
Forest enables you to unleash the power of your data in the simplest way. Browse, Organize, Reconcile, Streamline, Manipulate, Listen, Collaborate and customize your Forest Admin back-office : all of this is at the tip of your finger!
Examples in this User Guide are taken from the Forest Live Demo project. This project aims to illustrate with working examples all possible features and available options.
You just accessed your Forest Admin interface for the first time and want to know where and how all the data is accessible? In this section, we will help you to browse efficiently through the data and access the information you want in the fastest way.
The Forest Admin interface has two lateral menus with different tabs, the most important tab being the one called ‘Data’ on which we will focus in this section.
By opening the Data tab you will access the Collection tables.
In Forest Admin, your data is divided into several data tables relevant to your business, such as : Companies, Transactions, Customers, etc… We call each data table a collection (1).
You can display as many collections as you want in the left panel list. Your developers may have narrowed this list of visible collections to just a few ones. In a further section called ‘Organize’ you will see how you can change this setup if needed for your operations.
All records of the same collection share the same fields. For example, each company will have a specific Status (1), Name (2), Headquarter (3), Industry (4), etc.
In the Forest Live demo, we chose to have a limited number of attributes, but this is not mandatory. In fact, you can have as many Fields as you want. Having a lot of fields only means that you will have to move laterally to visualize your columns.
After browsing through the table view of a Collection, you might want to dig further into a specific record. Click on a specific row (1) to display a record’s page (2).
Being able to browse manually is useful, but sometimes you are likely to want to access a specific record you need to check directly.
Forest Admin always displays a search bar on top of your collection’s table view (1). Just type in the keyword you want to search for and let the search function browse through the records to find the one you are looking for. In practice, Forest Admin will take your keyword and search it against each field of all the records in the collection.
The extended search is proposed when some of your collection’s fields point to related data tables. If this is the case, just select this option (1) and the search will be extended to these particular fields.
These numerous possibilities make the Table view very customizable and easy to browse. However, in some particular cases, it is visually more intuitive to check your data a glance through what we call a Smart view.
A Smart View is an alternative way of visualizing the data from a collection. Smart Views lets you code your views using JS, HTML, and CSS. They take data visualization to the next level. Ditch the Table view and start displaying your deliveries on a Map, your orders in a Shipping view or your products in a Gallery. All of that is made easy by Forest Admin.
Learn more about how to implement a Smart view in our developers’ guide.
Accessing and modifying records depend a lot on the Smart view you have developed internally, but usually accessing records is not different in a Smart view than in a Table view : just click on the record name or picture and you will land on the record’s page.
Although the Smart View is helpful to quickly see your data, there might be times when it is not the best view to allow you to act on your data. You need not worry: Forest Admin allows you to switch back to the Table View anytime. There is a specific button (1) next to the search bar that does this (2) !
The Summary view can prove itself useful and even more adapted than the default table view to display your collection.
If you want to put the Smart view as the default view for a specific collection, you need to do it through the Layout Editor. Click on Edit layout (1), then on the window icon (2). In the example below, we drag the “Gallery” view and place it in the first position above the “table” view (3). This way, the Products collection will display itself through a Smart view instead of a table view.
Note that this new default view will also be reflected in Summary Views when the collection is present as a related data.
The Summary view includes all the fields, related data and actions associated with a given record so that you don’t have to toggle between different views to access them.
Create your own customized Summary view -using our seamless drag & drop Visual builder- to visualize or manipulate your data more efficiently, no code required!
Activate the Visual builder by clicking on the edit button to customize your Summary view (1).
The builder works as a standard drag and drop tool. It is divided into four categories: Formatting, fields, related data and actions (2). Add first a “Section” (3) from the formatting category and fill it with related fields.
If you wish to delete a Section or a Module from your Summary view, simply click on Edit then drag the item to the trash.
In the related data category, you will find all fields associated to your record (1). For example in the demo, a customer has many orders, so you find ‘Orders’ in the related data section (2). Adding a related data field works exactly the same way as other modules in the builder: just drag and drop it where you want (2).
The Summary view is of course very useful to check at a glance all the information on a record. However, it is also possible to Act on the data straight from this View. The last menu, ‘actions’ (1) allows you to insert into a Section any of the actions that your developers have implemented.
For example in the Forest Live Demo, you can upload Legal Docs (3) for a company and Mark it as Live (2) from this Summary view.
The Summary view will most likely be the main check point for your operational teams, so customize it wisely. Another useful customization tool to refine your Forest Admin interface is the Edit layout mode which allows you to organize your content.
Your daily usage of Forest Admin will inspire you to personalize your back-office even further. No coding skills are needed to make small changes to the structure of the data displayed! This is where the ‘Edit’ layout mode comes into play.
When you are on the Data tab, enabling the ‘Edit’ mode will show a lot of new possibilities highlighted with a distinctive orange color. All these are options that you can act on.
Some collections might not be relevant for your operational team. When the Edit mode is ON (1), you will see a box on the left of each collection (2). If this box is marked with an orange square it means that the collection is shown. You can check or uncheck the box (3) if you wish to show or hide a specific collection.
The same behavior applies to the columns (or fields) of a specific collection. When the Edit mode is ON, you will see at the very left end of all column headers a small Cog on an orange background (1). If you click on it you will be able to reorder the fields (2) and hide/show the desired ones (3).
When the Edit mode is ON, the editable elements are surrounded by dotted lines. If this the case, then you can change the order of the elements by drag-and-dropping them.
Once your collection is set, it is time for you to browse through your records. An efficient way to display the data of your records is to use filters.
Navigating the Forest Admin interface is pretty straightforward, and it won’t come as a surprise that our pagination is equally straightforward.
Very large collections can’t be displayed on a single page. Where this is the case, you will be able to check the number of records in the collection at the bottom left side of the Table view (1). At the bottom right side of it you will be able to browse through the different pages of the collection (2).
By default, we choose to display 10 items per page of records. However, you are free to change this number if needed.
To do so, you must use the ‘Edit’ layout mode, which is accessible through a button at the bottom left side of the Forest Admin interface.
We recommend not having too many results on a single page for performance reasons.
Searching is just one way to be faster at finding the desired data. Forest Admin also allows you to use filters to sort your data.
By clicking on the double arrow immediately to the right of a column’s header (1), you will sort the data by descending or ascending order, depending on the type of data in this field. For example, in the Demo if you do this on the ‘Created At’ column which are dates, you will sort the data by order of creation, from the latest to the oldest or vice versa. If you do the same on the ‘Beneficiary’ column, it will reorder the data in alphabetical order.
You can add filters to the displayed list of records by clicking at the very end of the search bar on ‘Add a filter’ (1). You can also change the filter on the right of each field (2). Then, you will have to define the options of this filter: on which field it operates and what defines this filter (3). The list of filtering options available depends on the nature of the selected field.
Once applied, you can save filters as segments (learn more about segments)
Forest allows you to display in the most efficient way the data coming from your database. Yet, you might need to reconcile other data coming from third party services or API.
We integrate some of the most used third-party services such as Stripe, Intercom, Mixpanel and also allow custom integrations. Check out our developers guide to learn more about how to implement integrations.
Configuring the Stripe integration for Forest Admin allows you to have your user’s payments, invoices and cards alongside the corresponding user from your application (1) . A refund action (2) is also available out-of-the-box (3).
You will be able to browse through these tables just as you would browse through a regular collection.
Configuring the Intercom integration for Forest Admin allows you to have your user’s session data (location, browser type, …) and support conversations directly alongside the corresponding user from your application.
Import user actions and properties from Mixpanel into your Forest Admin. See what actions users have taken before and get Mixpanel’s default properties, so that there’s no need to ask a user for their browser, app version or device.
You need Forest to gather some information or communicate with another API ? Ask your developer to implement a custom integration through our Smart features !
Reconciling all your data is the first step to streamlining your operations with Forest Admin.
Forest provides a straightforward UI to configure the segments you want step-by-step. The only information Forest Admin needs to create a segment within a collection is a name and some filters.
Segments allow you to save a filtering request on a collection and build a sub-collection from it. This is what you see below ‘Companies’ in the Live Demo: ‘New signups’, ‘Pending’, ‘Rejected’ and ‘Live’ are the 4 segments of the collection ‘Companies’.
To create a new segment activate the Edit mode (1) on the bottom left part of your screen and click on the cog just next to the collection you want to edit (2). Then, select ‘Segments’ (3) in the menu and click on ‘New segment’ (4). Here it works exactly as the filter does (5), just add the name (6) on top of it and click on ‘Save changes’ (7). Your segment will be created.
Forest gives you a second option to create segment. SQL queries allow you to create advanced filters and connect your data through a few lines of code if you know how SQL queries work. In
Segments (1), we create a
New segment (2) for which we choose a
name (3). Pick the
Querymode instead of the simple one (4), type in your SQL query (5) and do not forget to save (6).
Usually, you want the organization of your segments to match the sequencing of your business workflows. As anticipated, the Edit layout mode also allows you to reorder and organize your segments so they best fit your needs.
Note that when you create a new segment you will see it appear on the segments’ list but by default it will not be marked as visible. You need to click in the orange box next to it to show the segment, otherwise it will only be seen in the Edit layout mode or in the dropdown menu above.
Note that when you create a new Segment you will see it appear on the Segments’ list but by default it will not be marked as visible. You need to click in the orange box next to it to show the Segment, otherwise it will only be seen in the Edit layout mode or in the dropdown menu above.
Your workflow has now been translated into Forest segments, but what about the associated actions? Sooner or later, you will need to perform actions on your data that are specific to your business. Generating an invoice, resetting a password or banning a user are exactly the kind of important tasks you need to make available in order to manage your day-to-day operations. Learn more about how to implement a Smart action in our developers guide.
If you were implementing the workflows just like in Forest’s Live Demo, you would want to provide actions allowing users to change a company’s status at each stage of its onboarding for example.
However you remain in control of which actions are available to a user. Indeed, when you are in your collection settings (1), you can see a ‘Smart Actions’ menu (2). Clicking on it will reveal all the actions in the collection (3).
You have two options:
Note: customizing the visibility of Smart actions is only possible for Regular segments made using the Forest Admin User Interface. Your developers may have configured what we refer to as ‘Smart segments’ for which it is currently not possible to customize the visibility of Smart actions.
When using Forest with several teams and when you have clear roles defined it becomes relevant to restrict a smart action only to a few collaborators. This option is accessible through the Edit layout mode (1) in the Smart actions’ section (3) of the collection’s options (2), in a dropdown menu (4).
Once all your segments and actions are set, it’s time to act on your data! Triggering an action is very simple, but the behavior can differ according to the type of action.
There a 3 types of actions :
Learn more about it in our developer guide.
Executing a Smart action is not the only way you can actually create or act on your app’s data. With Forest Admin you will be able to easily create or update a record.
Forest Admin allows you to create a record from different places in the app, so it requires the least effort on your side to manipulate your data.
The first and most obvious place from which you can create a record is in the collection Table view. You will notice a ‘+’ button (1) on the top right corner of the app, just next to the Search bar. Clicking on it will open the creation panel for a new record from which you can fill all the necessary fields (2) and then create this record (3).
In some cases, you may need to create a record from another related collection. Let’s take the Forest Live Demo example of a Customer with many Orders. When you are checking a specific Customer you will see an ‘Orders’ tab (1) in the related data section. If you click on this tab you will see all the Orders related to the Customer you are currently reviewing.
You will also notice that if you then click on the ‘+’ button (2) you will be able to ‘Add existing order’ (3) or ‘Create new order’ (4) directly from this screen.
In a few words, you can create an Order directly from a Customer record without switching Collections, just because both of them are related !
Very often your ops team will need to adjust a few details on a record. There are two ways to do it :
When you are reviewing the details of a record in the Details view you can click on the ‘Edit’ button at the top right corner of the screen. This will make all fields editable (1) (except the ones you or your team choose to protect (2)). Click on ‘Apply changes’ (3) at the bottom right corner and the record will be updated.
This way will always work but there is another one which could be a little faster and more enjoyable: through the Summary view.
If you have successfully set up a Summary view the different fields of your record are likely to be better organized than in the simple list of the Details view. On a Summary view, if you click on the ‘Edit’ button you will be able to directly Edit the content of each field shown in the Summary view, using the same (1)(2)(3) logic as you would in the Details view.
In most cases you are likely to prefer this alternative to the Edit through Details approach, despite the fact you might not see all fields on a Summary view. In the end it is all down to what you wish to display!
These two ways help you make sure your data are always up-to-date and accurate and that your operations work like clockwork. It will also allow you to make sure your data is relevant especially in case you are also analyzing the data and reviewing it with charts and analytics.
Forest bring you simple tools to analyze your data and display it for your teams. Reviewing your KPIs at a glance, understanding the activity of a specific customer: these possibilities will boost the productivity of your teams.
Forest Admin provides a straightforward UI to configure the charts you want.
The only information the UI needs to handle such charts is:
The Query mode has been designed to provide you with a flexible, easy to use and accessible interface when hard questions need to be answered. Simply type SQL queries using the online editor and visualize your data graphically.
Here is an example of how it works, coming from the developers’ guide: Creating a chart with SQL.
You should now be able to set up your charts in Forest Admin. Feel free to create charts at a general level or even at a record level thanks to Analytics per account feature.
Having some analytics at a very general level on your project is a good start but in some cases it is also very useful to deep dive into a record. For example, being able to see how much a specific client has paid for the last 12 months, how his transaction volumes are evolving over time, etc…: typically this information is only relevant at a record level.
You are now able to provide your team with valuable information and analytics at different levels. The next step to improve the efficiency of your operations is to define how best to collaborate in Forest Admin.
At Forest, we believe that a back-office solution should be more than just a tool to read and write data. It is very rare for homemade back-office solutions to offer collaboration features. Yet, this is sometimes that makes the difference between a super-efficient actionable back-office and a chaotic mess.
The Team feature allows people to access Forest Admin as members of a cohort with different access rights to the back-office data.
You can easily configure the interface of your teams to:
Teams are created in the settings tab in the left end menu (1). Clicking on the ‘Teams’ tab (2) will allow you to see the existing teams and create a ‘New team’ if needed.
When you create a ‘New team’ (3), you just need to pick a ‘Name’ (4). You can Copy the layout configuration from one team to another (when creating a new team only) (5). It may save you some time especially when you have a lot of different Teams. Do not forget to ‘Save changes’ in the end of the process (6).
Every Team has its own Layout settings. It means that you can hide or show the relevant collections and fields for different Teams.
For example, the ‘Delivery’ Team does not need the same information as the ‘Operations’ Team. When you have several Teams, you can switch from one the other by clicking on your avatar at the bottom left side of the app. A menu will unfold will all the Teams you belong to.
Then when you are on the desired Team you can hide / show collections and fields, setup collections in read-only mode and do all the required setup for this team. This will take a few minutes but will improve the efficiency of your operations.
Adding a new member is easy. Go in your project settings (1), select the desired Team (2) and fill the field ‘Invite people’ (3), select the default role (4) they will have and then click on Invite (5).
User roles determine the access level or permissions of your teammates. Forest Admin allows you to setup three different kinds of user ‘Roles’.
You can define users roles in your project settings. Go to Settings (1) -> Users (2) and assign roles (3) to each of your teammates.
Once your Teams are defined, Forest Admin even allows teammates to message each other about records using the Conversation feature.
The idea of a collaborative back office works as follow in Forest Admin.
When selecting a specific record, you can access the Collaboration module (1). Here, you can access notes already created (2), add a message to the conversation (3) or delete the note through the ‘Actions’ button (4). It is also possible to create a new a note through the ‘Create a note’ button. The Collaboration center (5) allows you to access all notes you have created or the notes on which you were mentioned.
If you later decide that a note is not needed anymore, you just have to click on the ‘Actions’ button to simply archive it.
Notes allow you to add detailed information to any record, for you to remember later and for your Team to better understand the context around the data.
The notes feature is also a way to get help from someone in your team. By simply @mentioning them, you can get the answers you need faster. The person mentioned in the note is indeed notified in real time.
All of your notes — the ones you created or the ones you’re mentioned in — are centralized in the main Collaboration tab in the primary left pane. They are directly linked to the record concerned so you can quickly access the information you are looking for. Better organized. Cleaner.
Such conversations will encourage your team members to engage with your back-office. As a manager, you will also be able to track your Team’s activities through Forest Admin.
Knowing who did what is made possible in Forest Admin through the Activity Log. Symbolized by a lightning bolt, you can find it on the left side menu (1). The Activity Log is not overly detailed because Forest Admin does not have access to your data, so we can only track if there was or wasn’t a change on a specific collection (2). If you’re looking for tools to specifically track users’ behaviors in your application, Forest will not be a good fit. For such cases we recommend using tools such as Segment, Mixpanel or Heap. That being said, we’re working on integrations of these services to bring the data they provide back in your Forest Admin.
Last but not least, Forest Admin offers some customization options for your project which can be both general or specific to a collection.
The Edit mode allows you to personalize all of your UI options, and is not limited to the reordering or hiding of collections or fields.
As you might have seen, as long as your Edit mode is ON (1) you will be able to see a Cog in an orange square background on the right of all your Collection’s names (2). This is where you will find the options menu of the Collection.
A lot of options are easily accessible and most of them are straightforward. However, you should know how some of them work.
You are able to change the name (1), icon (2), sorting field (3) and order (4) of all the records in a collection.
The Reference field in General options is an advanced option: selecting a specific here will mean that wherever a record of this collection will be called, it will appear with the desired ‘Reference field’ which can be different from the name.
In the Forest Live Demo example : when you look at the ‘Transactions’ Table view you can see that ‘Beneficiary’ (3) and ‘Emitter’ (4) are both names of companies. This is possible because in the ‘Companies’ collection settings (1), the Reference field is set on ‘name’ (2).
Below Reference field, a lot of accessibility options are available, some of which might help you run your day to day operations:
Each field of a collection is also customizable (1). This is very useful in some use cases where you want to do a bit more than display the default name which is inherited from your database setup. For each field (2), depending on its type (date, number, words…) you can change the following :
For various reasons the first name chosen by your developers for the project might not remain the same throughout your usage of Forest Admin: you can always change it (1) ! We recommend that you do not change without asking to your developers the second option which is ‘Default environment’ (2).
Working with companies from all over the world has raised a lot of challenges for us. Handling timezones was one of them! In some cases, you may need to set your project timezone to a specific one. Otherwise, Forest will take into consideration the timezone of the user who did the action (record creation for example). This can lead to inconsistencies between records, which is why we leave the time zone option for your project (3).
In the Interface part of the options, you are able to pick a color from your brand identity and add it as ‘primary color’ in Forest Admin (1). This means that important elements in charts or tables for example will be displayed with your own color.
Your logo can also be placed in the top left part of your screen to strengthen the identity of your project. Just fill in the url link (2) of your logo under ‘Project avatar’ then click ‘Save changes’ (3) and the logo will appear (4).
The last option you can change is the ‘Custom domain’. Yet, be sure to talk with your developers to ensure the address you pick is coherent with all the different web addresses already in use. If you change this ‘Custom domain’ it means that you will no longer access your project by going to app.forestadmin.com but will instead type your new custom domain name.
The Enterprise plan provides access to security features such as the 2FA.
To activate it, go to the security part of your project settings (1). Select option “Use Two-factor Authentication” (2) and then choose the environment(s) on which to activate this feature (3). You can also manage the 2FA users’ sessions in the bottom menu panel (4).
If you are interested in this feature, please contact email@example.com.
At some point in your project you may be interested in upgrading to the PRO plan to benefit from its richer features. Changing from FREE to PRO will open a lot of new possibilities that are listed on our website.
To experience the full potential of Forest Admin you will have to go to the Billing section in the Options tab, which in addition to allowing you to upgrade your plan also offers some useful information.
You will be able to check your monthly activities, which is useful in case you need to keep track of your team’s engagement on Forest Admin. Furthermore, if you are a PRO client it will also allow you to monitor the price you pay per month, as the price is based on the number of activities performed (1). We implemented this page in order to be as transparent as possible, so the bill at the end of the month does not come as a surprise to you (2) !
If you have read this guide you should now be ready to onboard your team in Forest Admin and make the most out of its potential yourself. If you have questions or if you want to improve your back-office, remember that the Forest Admin magic works best when there is an efficient communication between you (the marketing, operations or business Teams), your developers (who implemented Forest Admin), and us (we like to keep a running conversation with our Clients around new features that could be of interest).
We are always here to help ! You can send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or if you are a PRO customer you can chat directly with us through your own Slack channel!
Happy hacking 🌲