Table of Contents
How to Use Tulip
Welcome to Tulip! Tulip lets you quickly build and deploy software to improve your operations. You can build anything you want with it. It is powerful and filled with features that allow you to connect to devices, machines, cameras and other systems you may already use. This guide will help get you started by introducing you to the platform and help you navigate your way through your new instance.
Navigating your Instance
When you sign up for a free trial we create an instance of Tulip just for you: your-company.tulip.co. You should receive an email that asks you to set your password and log in for the first time. Once you log in, you are now viewing your instance. This is your hub. Here you can create or download applications, connect to devices and machines, invite colleagues and collaborators, and develop dashboards to share with your team. When you are ready to deploy one of your applications (or a pre-built one from the library) to your operation, your frontline users will be able to access these applications from the app player which you can install from download.tulip.co.
You can navigate to the different parts of your instance using the top bar.
When you first enter your instance, you will be on the apps page looking at your apps. You can access this at any time by clicking on the apps dropdown menu. To the left, you will see a few apps to get you up to speed. Apps can be organized into groups (or folders). You can reorganize these at any time by simply dragging and dropping the applications. You can also create new apps or groups.
We have preloaded apps that cover the key concepts needed to make Tulip Apps. Each of these apps as a Knowledge Base article with video walking you through their operation. We recommend going through these apps in order:
Click on any of the apps, then click the "Edit" button in the top right corner to get to the app editor.
The app editor is where you go to build and edit apps. You can explore this app yourself or you can learn how it was built with a course in Tulip University
On the left-hand side of the app editor, you can toggle between your steps and your records. Steps are the pages (or screens) of your app. You can allow your users to navigate between steps and organize them into groups, as well. In this app, there are two steps and the user has been given a "next" button on the first step and a previous button on the second step to enable them to navigate back and forth.
On the top of the editor, you will see a number of drop-down menus. Each of these drop-down menus allow you to add widgets to the step.
Assets are built-in images and icons
Buttons are completely configurable using triggers
Inputs are entry fields (like text boxes and dropdowns) for gathering information from the user
Text allows you to display information to the user, this information may be static or populated from some other data source
Embed gives you many options including displaying real-time charts (analytics), tables, documents, device statuses, images, videos, and more.
Camera lets you place the feed from your camera directly into your app. You may want to use your cell phone camera to scan a barcode, for example.
On the right side of the screen, you will see your properties and trigger editors. Here you can change the background color, text size, and resolution of the step or entire app (for example you may want to format the app to fit on a mobile screen or tablet instead of the default resolution). When you click on a widget you can change widget-specific properties on this side of the editor.
Triggers are extremely simple and powerful. They make your app do things. Do you want something to happen when a user presses a button or opens an app? A trigger lets you tell Tulip what you want to happen. Maybe you want to store data to a database or Tulip table, turn a light on, send an email, or read a value from a measurement device. There is an ever-growing list of functionality that triggers lets you use in your app. Here is an article describing triggers in more detail.
Some triggers operate on user actions (like button presses) and others operate on events like timers, changes to machines or devices, or transitions to and from steps.
For example, in the “Start Here” application, the “NEXT” button on the “Introduction App” step has a Trigger titled “Next” which brings the user to the next step, as laid out in the steps panel on the left of the editor.
Triggers also let you create simple logic using if/then statements, these are called “conditions”. For example, you can use conditions to validate that a user entered text before you store the data. Look at the trigger on the “Save Data” button to see an example of this.
If you want to learn more about how the “Start Here” app was built - you can follow along with this tutorial for a more in-depth explanation.
Running your application
So far we have explored the basics of using the Tulip App Editor. Let’s talk about using your apps. There are a few options available to you if you would like to test or run your application:
Test the application
Run the player in a browser (your-company.tulip.co/player)
In the top right of the editor, you will see the “Test” and “Run” buttons. Pressing the “Test” button will open up a new tab and let you test the application. This is convenient because it will show you some information that may be helpful when developing your application. None of the data created while testing the application will be stored, however.
If you press the “Run” button, you will be prompted to open up your Tulip player. Many users prefer to build Tulip apps with both the editor and player open at the same time. All of the changes made in the editor can be viewed in real-time from the player.
When you log in to your Tulip instance from the Player, you will be asked to select which station you are using.
Tulip Stations represent the physical device an application will run. Every device that will be running Tulip should have its own station, you can manage these in the “Shop Floor” tab.
On the left-hand side of your screen, you will see all of your stations. By default, you should have one station already called “Sample Station''. You can create new stations by pressing the “Create Station” button in the top right.
When you click on a station, to the left, a preview of what that station is seeing and who is logged into the station will be. You can edit the configuration of the station to set which applications (and versions of applications) it is able to view.
Any user can log in to any station, but the stations themselves are limited to which applications they can run. Here is an article on stations.
When you log into the Tulip player you will be asked to enter in your Badge ID. This is unique for every user. To add new users, click on your image in the top right and click settings, then users.
Here you can add new users. Operator user types do not require an email and can immediately begin using the Tulip player at the station. Administrator user-types will need to log in with their email address and will be able to access the editor. Click here to learn more about user roles.
You should now be familiar with the basics of the app editor and navigating to key areas within the platform... but when you run your app, where does the data go and how can you access it?
Tulip provides a few options for built-in data storage. Tulip tables let you create spreadsheets within the platform for you to store your data. Looking at the “Start Here” application, on the left-hand side of the screen, the “records” tab shows you which table(s) you are using in your application.
Navigating to the tables area (apps>tables) shows a list of preloaded tables that we have created for you. You can create any table you would like to or change and adjust the existing tables. To learn more about tables, click here.
Data is also stored in the “completions” of an application. This is an immutable ledger of the activity within your application. Finally, by using connectors, you can connect to external data sources. Click here to read more about connectors.
How to Use Resources
There are four primary resources available to help you learn how to use Tulip efficiently, and get your first app up and running. These resources are:
Knowledge Base (where you are now)
The Tulip Library is a collection of example applications, app suites, templates and connectors developed by Tulip and partners. The collection contains the commonly used applications and multi-app solutions for solving problems in a wide range of industries. The library is organized by Use Cases and Category (e.g., problem type).
The Tulip University offers instructional videos, with step-by-step tutorials on building your own apps. For example, there is a short course on how to build the “Start Here” app mentioned earlier. There are also more in-depth tutorials on how to build more complex content.
The Knowledge Base is a collection of articles and videos to help you learn how to use Tulip. This introductory article is an example! KB is searchable, so you can look for content related to whatever topic you choose. For example, “An Introduction to Tulip”, or “How to Link a Data Table” will provide relevant content to help you.
Tulip community is an online forum for users to post questions, have discussions and generally help one another use Tulip to solve their problems. Topics include general support and troubleshooting, product suggestions, etc.