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Ask HN: What are your favorite low-coding apps / tools as a developer?
1081 points by sureklix on April 5, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 279 comments
Since low-coding is super trendy these days, I was wondering if there are actually useful apps not only for non-devs but also for lazy-devs?

I tried couple of no-code apps, but found them inflexible –not really giving you the opportunity to dive-in and customize.




Hasura by far, lets you point-and-click build your database and table relationships with a web dashboard and autogenerates a full GraphQL CRUD API with permissions you can configure and JWT/webhook auth baked-in.

https://hasura.io/

I've been able to build in a weekend no-code what would've taken my team weeks or months to build by hand, even with something as productive as Rails. It automates the boring stuff and you just have to write single endpoints for custom business logic, like "send a welcome email on sign-up" or "process a payment".

It has a database viewer, but it's not the core of the product, so I use Forest Admin to autogenerate an Admin Dashboard that non-technical team members can use:

https://www.forestadmin.com/

With these two, you can point-and-click make 80% of a SaaS product in almost no time.

I wrote a tutorial on how to integrate Hasura + Forest Admin, for anyone interested:

http://hasura-forest-admin.surge.sh

For interacting with Hasura from a client, you can autogenerate fully-typed & documented query components in your framework of choice using GraphQL Code Generator:

https://graphql-code-generator.com/

Then I usually throw Metabase in there as a self-hosted Business Intelligence platform for non-technical people to use as well, and PostHog for analytics:

https://www.metabase.com/

https://posthog.com/

All of these all Docker Containers, so you can have them running locally or deployed in minutes.

This stack is absurdly powerful and productive.


This is similar to what we're doing! Hasura + AutoCRUD framework + Metabase is a great stack for putting together a solid business application in no time.

Combine Hasura (automatic GraphQL on top of PostgreSQL) with React Admin (low code CRUD apps similar to Forest) and you can build an entire back office admin suite or form app (API endpoints and admin front end) in a matter of hours.

This adaptor connects react-admin with Hasura: https://github.com/Steams/ra-data-hasura-graphql

Here's a reference application I put together: https://github.com/cpursley/react-admin-low-code

And we're taking a step further and using Elixir to listen to Postgres table changes for an "Event" style architecture: https://medium.com/hackernoon/get-notified-of-user-signups-a...


I've taken your stack one step further, with a completely dockerised solution that uses Firebase as an authentication solution (authentication is missing from the current low-code example). It can be run locally or on a cloud provider that runs containers (e.g. GCP Compute Create-With-Container). See here: https://github.com/dvasdekis/react-admin-hasura-firebase/

Thanks to gavinray also for the help with this!


This is awesome. I haven't had time to expand react-admin-low-code, so glad to see someone take the general idea and run with it. I'll update the Readme to mention your repo when I have a chance.

What we're doing in our production version of this is using Postgres and Hasura for auth following this approach in order to reduce external dependencies: https://github.com/sander-io/hasura-jwt-auth

It's really amazing how far you can get with just Postgres. Writing business logic with code in application middleware always felt hacky to me when we have these powerful and performant relation databases.


Totally agree! Although I'm one of the contributors to that repo as well, the sheer number of possible attack vectors on the JWT scheme means that I was reluctant to use it in a publicly-facing use case. Let me know how it goes!


What are your biggest concerns about the Pg/Hasura JWT approach (which particular attack vectors made you nervous)?


Thanks for this! I will add it to a project.


Hey man, really cool to see you comment here! We've chatted in the Hasura Discord briefly, love your work with the React Admin adapter. RA requires more manual work to set up and the aesthetics are different (Material UI), but it also gives you more flexibility.

For anyone looking for a self-hosted solution that can be more easily whitelabeled, highly recommend cpursley's work.

You should pop by the server chat more often =D


May I ask, why not just use the official provider? https://github.com/hasura/ra-data-hasura



thanks!


Hey, thanks for the adapter. It works great! I'm using it in 2 small projects.


I have this feeling that hasura is still "onboarding". I had this experience with Netlify that offered some amazing deals and waited for everyone to onboard then started hammering them hard. I got up to $150/mo really fast for a static site that receives only about 900req/day. Every single month they were limiting more features and shifting them on to some "premium" offering that was used to lock you in. I'm still waiting on Hasura to do the same. Forest admin is no different. I'm always tempted to try them out for new projects but I always find myself back to Django, it will be here 10 years down the road.


Is there a similar point-and-click tool which can output Django models with all the relationship fields wired up correctly?

Getting as far as you can modelling a new problem domain with just models.py and the Django admin is pretty fun.


There is https://apibakery.com on the basic end of the scale


This and Hasura are excellent. What's on the more sophisticated end of the scale? Is there anything that will generate user/company role systems and bake those into the generated API? Generate client side SDK's from the API?

FWIW I just reproduced an API that took me 3 days to build (while learning Django rest framework) in about 5 minutes.

My time would have been much better spend modeling the domain. As a happy benefit apibakery taught me a bit about DRF permissions I didn't know.

It feels like we're finally getting back to the 90's level RAD tools like NeXT enterprise object framework, and Delphi.


I can't agree more about Hasura, I made the jump to GraphQL for my current application and it's been a dream. Their documentation is excellent, helping me get setup with auth0 jwt auth and apollo client despite being new to both.

Metabase was a game changer in my last company, it was so nice to just be able to drop a 50+ line custom SQL query in there with parameters and let users pull what they want. We'd also setup queries to be loaded via Google Sheets cron jobs. That enabled live dashboards most any spreadsheet user could create (pivot, lookups, transforms, etc.).


Is there something that could plug into this stack which would allow for easy integration of a lucene / solr instance as a data source?


Yeah, these are tools that were each force-multipliers on my productivity, I can't imagine ever going back to be honest.


> Hasura Pro Pricing: Talk to Us

I'm always scared to call when I hear this.


Honestly, if price is an issue to you, you likely don’t need their enterprise offerings (yes I know there are exceptions).

The idea is for most users to be on the free / open tier and then monetize off of enterprise users with specific demands and less cash sensitivity.


Tanmai, their CEO, gave a response in the Discord on this question a few weeks ago:

"The pricing depends on your team/org: what features you’re using Hasura and the uptime/response SLA that you need. If you have something running with Hasura already feel free to setup a chat with the team to get a sense of the pricing. However we will have something launching for self-serve style pricing soon for a managed HA / auto-scalable Hasura with Pro features."

I believe it's priced on a per-feature basis, so they're likely to work with you depending on what your particular needs are.


That’s a double whammy. I and many others are prevented from creating a Discord account.


Tanmai is on email 24/7, you've honestly got a better chance of reaching him there than on Discord:

tanmaig@hasura.io

I just use Discord because it's immediate feedback.


I agree that Discord seems like an odd place to find this information, but I'm curious to know what prevents you from creating a Discord account?


You can’t create a Discord account without doxxing yourself. Signups not from an IP that discloses your location demand a dozen captchas and a telephone number. Using a burner number is not supported, and your carrier number is reversible to name/address/location just as your IP is.

more info: https://sneak.berlin/20200220/discord-is-not-an-acceptable-c...


The main issue with this viewpoint and your (arguably sensationalist) article is that it just finger points & blatantly ignores the reason those protections are in place.

The number of people that consider Discord part of their threat model or an actual privacy risk is incredibly tiny compared to the number of users that get inconvenience by mass bot raids & people bypassing IP bans.

I help manage a medium-sized Discord guild and we were randomly targeted by a bot raid whereby ~100 bots joined in the span of 1 minute and proceeding to spam various channels and the DMs of our users. Enabling Discord's requirement for a verified phone number stopped the raid in its tracks and allowed us to clean up without further issue.

In the same way, Discord's automatic content scanning is designed to protect the large percentage of minors on the platform & proactively deal with potentially exploitative material + guilds (per https://blog.discordapp.com/discord-transparency-report-apri...)

Removing these features & restrictions in order to appease your extreme edge-case privacy views does not help the average Discord user in the slightest.


You're absolutely right when you offer that the majority of people are not directly harmed by practices that are discriminatory. Discrimination is almost always aimed at circumstances that affect a minority of people.

It seems that you believe that you benefit from Discord's gatekeeping. I'm glad it seems to be working out for you. If it wasn't, however, how would you know?


Sorry, but no, you don't get to play a discrimination card here, because if we do, we're almost mocking people who are under real discrimination.

You don't agree with Discord's practices and lack of privacy, something which, by the way, I agree with you, and as such, decide not to use it. They are not discriminating against you, you're the one deciding not to use their service. To me, it sounds the same as if you don't like McDonalds because it's unhealthy, then accuse them of discriminating against you because they won't serve you some lean chicken salad.


The people doing the discrimination are the groups that choose Discord as their communications tool.

They are excluding all users who can’t get Discord accounts, such as those who can’t agree to the Discord TOS, for example. Free software projects and other public benefit groups should not be discriminatory.

They’re also banning political cartoons within their group’s communications, by implicit inclusion of the Discord TOS which bans several common, normal, reasonable types of communication.

I’m a paying member of a local nonprofit organization; they use Discord exclusively to communicate. I am excluded from all of the discussions as a result of my not being able to safely get a Discord account. That’s discrimination whether you like to acknowledge it or not.


But that's the thing: You CAN agree to the TOS, you just choose to not, unless I'm severely misunderstanding your situation and you're in real, physical danger if you create a Discord account. For the sake of a better argument, can you clarify if you're in danger, or physically unable to create an account, or if it's a privacy choice, please?


Let’s set aside my personal circumstances: why must someone be in imminent physical danger for it to not be discrimination? Everyone has a human right to privacy, regardless of whether or not they are a famous person with a stalker who wants to track them down.

The presence or absence of threats against one’s person does not legitimize or delegitimize their insistence upon personal privacy.


I agree that it doesn't delegitimize your insistence upon personal privacy, and in fact, I'm in your camp with that, privacy is vital. My issue with the term is that, when you think in historical terms about discrimination, it's people being forced out of places/positions/society because of who they are.

The difference, in this case is that you're not being forced out of participating in conversations because you're, let's say, black. Instead, you, on your own, are opting out of communication channels because of your own beliefs.


Lots of discrimination happens based on belief. Religious discrimination, for example.

We’re way down in the weeds here. If you’d like to continue this discussion further, please just email me.


It would seem that anonymous VOIP gateways could easily bypass that telephone requirement.


There are API services that let you identify the type of number provided by the user. VoIP lines don't identify the same way as landlines which don't identify the same way as actual SIM-backed mobiles. They blacklist lots of providers and number types.

My first account I was able to get was via a number I rented on dtmf.io. The account was suspended (across all "servers" in Discord) in a few minutes when I linked a few of my IRL friends in a Discord chat to that Discord article on my own website. I've not been able to sign up again since, despite having blown something like 40EUR on numbers from different countries/providers trying to get a new one.

Even when it works, it's at least 10 minutes of solving CAPTCHAs to log in, each and every time, and sometimes the Google CAPTCHA hits some other exit node rate limit and just tells you to fuck off entirely, making login impossible even with a working account.


why don't you get one of your friends who already has a discord account to make one and hand you the credentials?


We've [1] been fans of Hasura for some time -- it's a terrific piece of work.

When we were looking to extend our spreadsheet functions that read/write to/from databases, we considered integrating Hasura as a backend.

Commendable work by the Hasura team, I think really worth checking out what they've done.

-

[1] Caveat: founder of MintData (https://mintdata.com) here, where we read/write from databases both directly via our flow editor and via spreadsheet functions which wrap things like Hasura.


Are you guys Postgres-centric, out of curiosity? Really interesting product, sort of in the same ballpark of Spinoff and other Sheets-based low-code SaaS but an approach more unique than I've seen before.


I'm a big user of graphile - they've also got a pretty good starter boilerplate with auth, etc baked in: https://github.com/graphile/starter

Have you tried it / do you have comparison points? I only poked around in Hasura a bit before deciding it wasn't worth the switching cost atm, but the out of the box upserts are compelling to me.


Has anyone ever hooked graphile up to a point and click schema editor, for iterating without writing code?


What about Strapi https://strapi.io/? I see strapi has everything hasura has but with more user friendly UI. Am I missing something?


I am using strapi ,it is good!


Awesome, never heard of it!

Graphile (https://www.graphile.org/) seems to be very similar, although I discovered it just a week ago (also on HN), and haven't had a chance to explore it yet.


What are you using to create a customer facing UI/frontend? It sounds like Hasura is just for backend


Whatever you like. Depending on the nature of your work, you may be a startup or working for an organization that has mockups and design assets for what your frontend needs to look like.

In that case, you'd just build the front-end as usual, but use Hasura to bang out your whole backend and then autogenerate the type-safe query components with graphql-code-generator.

When I do products myself, I typically pick a pre-made template/UI kit (Vue is my preference) and then just modify it from there to suit my needs.

TailwindUI also looks really nice and I've seen several people build beautiful looking UI's with it for smaller SaaS products in a few days (though given that they're familiar with TailwindCSS and have a knack for this type of thing already):

https://tailwindui.com/

https://tailwindcss.com/

Hasura also has a lot of community examples for different front-ends. Ranging from web apps in React/Vue/Angular/Elm to mobile clients in Flutter or Android/iOS:

https://hasura.io/learn/

They have several dozen example apps built in all sorts of tech here:

https://github.com/hasura/graphql-engine/blob/master/communi...


Check out https://internal.io/. We're big fans of Hasura and work really well with it. Full disclosure, I'm one of the founders.


So hasura just exposes a Postgres database through GraphQL?

That sounds kinda nifty, but does it then allow you to write custom code to add business logic? Glancing through the documentation, that part wasn't clear to me.


That's one of the most common misconceptions about Hasura.

While it CAN expose an existing Postgres database, where it really shines (in my opinion) is when you're starting a brand new product. Because you can create your whole database and all the relationships, foreign-keys, triggers, permissions, etc through the web console UI incredibly rapidly.

And yeah, it takes care of all CRUD and provides an aggregation/statistics API (sum, median, standard deviation, count, mean, variance, etc), and it leaves the pieces of custom business logic up to you to write. It's entirely agnostic to what you use to write these, so long as they expose an HTTP endpoint.


I really want to like Hasura, but very quickly you'll run into limitations of its permission system. Especially when dealing with logic across relationships.

If only Hasura supported some king of Prolog / Datalog instead of their ad-hoc JSON language, then you'd be able to write nearly any possible use cases. Until then, I'll stick to building and maintaining my own backends... manually :(


Might I ask what limitations/issues you ran into?

One of the biggest pain points I found was modeling Organization/Team/Multi-Tenant based permissions.

Generally, the advice is to use a session variable like X-Hasura-Organization-Id to filter in permissions, but recently through a Discord conversation a means to do this without a session variable was found out and I took some time to publish it as a Gist:

https://gist.github.com/GavinRay97/d7b8805078a47e00001e58eb8...

I would be interested in hearing what problems you had and seeing if there isn't some way around it, just for my own curiosity.


Right, those are the kind of permissions I had trouble with. That gist works for reads based on membership (even if a little unintuitive), but I couldn't figure out how do writes that validate using roles & permissions.


If you’re looking for more flexibility than Hasura, I’d recommend you try out Warthog (disclaimer: I’m the author). It’s a Node Library that uses TypeORM, TypeGraphQL and some extra magic under the hood to let you spin up APIs very quickly (auto-generated schema), but you also have access to the bare metal code. You can set up CRUD essentially free, but it provides you a slew of ways to handle more complex scenarios.


Warthog is super cool too.


Are you aware of http://www.hyperfiddle.net/?


Been on the invite list for like, two years and haven't heard a peep. It sounds perfect. But there's no there there.


Sorry, I'm a bit new to GraphQL. Can you explain why this is more existing than starting a brand new product using plain PostgreSQL?

Can you also explain how locked in you are, if you decide you want to migrate away from Hasura, or in general want more flexibility that the use-case of Hasura + ForestryAdmin?


With plain PostgreSQL you have to write your own backend logic to access the database. The whole point of Hasura is exposing your DB via a GraphQL API with some bells and whistles (like authorization).

About lock-in... it's open source software, so you're as locked in as you'd be with, say, Rails or Django. It doesn't do anything special to PostgreSQL so you can always rewrite the API later from scratch, or build something else on top of its GraphQL API.


With some frameworks (i.e. ASP.NET core) you already have authentication and authorization middleware if you need them and you can use an ORM to map data objects to tables and query the DB with ease.

What benefits would be using the DB over a GraphQL API?


Well, not having to implement and maintain anything is a huge plus, especially when you have a large number of tables :)

Also, Hasura has some bells and whistles that would be a bit of a PITA to implement using traditional MVC frameworks, like per-column authorization, and, of course, the GraphQL to SQL translator.

> What benefits would be using the DB over a GraphQL API?

And I'd say that the biggest advantage of GraphQL is allowing customized payloads.

Say you need a list of users ids + emails in one page, and a list with ids + names + emails in other. In REST you either need to waste some bytes, have two endpoints, or use some conditional to show/hide the field.

With GraphQL you just have to ask for the fields you want.

The same applies to joins: you either add extra endpoints, extra logic, or the user has to make multiple requests. With GraphQL you can have custom joins.

Btw, if you still don't think that GraphQL is an advantage to you, I recommend checking its cousin-project PostgREST :)


So it's similar to http://postgrest.org/en/latest/ but for GraphQL, and commercial?


GraphQL yes. But it's open source under the Apache License, code is in Github:

https://github.com/hasura/graphql-engine/


> does it then allow you to write custom code to add business logic

Yes! Like gavinray said, you can create HTTP services in any language of your choice. Hasura can then be configured to call HTTP endpoints when something changes in the DB. And your services can call Hasura anytime of course.

Remember that Hasura handles all the authorization for you, so there's no need to "proxy" requests made to it.

You end up writing very little compared to traditional frameworks.


What are you using for your authentication adapter? I've been looking at picking up hasura but don't like the idea of using something like Auth0. So I've been hunting on the best tool for auth.


I've set up a working example with Firebase Authentication (which is admittedly 'something like Auth0') here: https://github.com/dvasdekis/react-admin-hasura-firebase/

Firebase does provide unlimited password logins for free, which mitigated my personal concerns about Auth0. The advantages of a SaaS auth provider compared to a roll-your-own have been documented elsewhere, and I personally found them compelling.

What are the reasons you 'don't like' something like Auth0?


I really need a self hosted solution. Ideally it would have an LDAP adapter so it could get login info from our internal active directory. If I were building public facing apps Auth0 would be perfect.

I don't think I'd be allowed to entrust users passwords to an external entity, despite the fact that they would probably do a much better job than I would at securing them. Also despite the fact that we trust every other external provider to store passwords...

I've been looking into keycloak.


Fully understand - I would want something self-hosted in this case as well.

Firebase does allow you to integrate with other OAuth providers (e.g. Google/Facebook/Linkedin etc.), so you could perform some kind of validation on the google account, ensuring it comes from your company's mail domain? Just a thought.

Set up of these security schemes is not easy (took me a shamefully long time to get Firebase working with React-Admin and Hasura). I'd personally try and get a SaaS provider to work within your company's constraints before trying to roll your own.


I have an example of JWT Auth using Bcrypt as Node.js functions in my starter kit, you can extrapolate from there:

https://github.com/GavinRay97/hasura-ultimate-starter/tree/m...

The sign-up Action bcrypt hashes the password and saves it by sending a mutation to Hasura, and the login Action queries for the user by their email and tries to bcrypt compare their password against the stored one and then return a spec-compliant token if they match.

It's fairly simple to implement your own Auth in Hasura, you just need to return a signed JWT that matches the spec:

https://hasura.io/docs/1.0/graphql/manual/auth/authenticatio...


Would be interested to know if you can do all this by using their open-source conmmunity edition, or would you need to use their paid / Pro version. Since the pricing for the paid version is not given, not sure but assuming it would be fairly expensive to use / deploy? My preference is for an open source tool so we are not locked in to a propreitary platform for the long term.


Forest Admin looks really nice, but I wish you could host the admin UI yourself. Not a fantastic impression for clients if Forest (for whatever reason) suddenly stops offering it's service and your admin panel vanishes into thin air :(


Are you hosting your own Postgres, or using a db-as-a-service? If so, which one?


For Dev and Staging, I use a Postgres Docker container, in Production I use a managed Postgres service.

I have a starter kit that includes a ton of stuff including pre-made JWT auth configured as Hasura Actions, a standard monolith-style Node REST API skeleton, and OpenFaaS serverless handler examples in every major language (Node, Python, Ruby, Java, Go, C#, PHP) you can find here:

https://github.com/GavinRay97/hasura-ultimate-starter

And really comprehensive docs about setup and architecture + how everything works here:

http://hasura-ultimate-starter.surge.sh/#/


Cherre.com uses this stack. Hasura + postgres in particular. We love it.


The tutorial looks great. Thank you for a great work!


Appreciate the kind words! I just wanted to share these tools because I feel they're undervalued and underused, and I reach for them for every new project I start.


Does hasura supports database replication? When I looked last time, it wasn't. Also I feel these tools are not enterprise ready, IMHO.


(I'm from Hasura)

Hasura connects to a read replicas and manages connection pooling across the database cluster.

Hasura itself is stateless so it doesn't do the database replication.


Thanks for the reply. Also, when I run in an microservice architecture, how does hasura handles say for example websocket across the services? Do we need to depend on any other library?

Can you share some samples for these things if available. I will be glad to look at it.


That works automatically!

1. During the lifetime of a websocket connection, bytes should be routed to the same Hasura instance. This most service routers / load balancers should take care of automatically.

2. Subsequent connections from different clients to Hasura need not go to the same instance! This makes horizontal scaling painless.

(Is this what you meant?)


Hey Gavin, I’m really interested in this setup. Would you happen to have an example of this somewhere? Specifically the docket setup?


Just tried to figure out why Hasura has lambda on it's logo, and hey, it's written in Haskell!


Retool (https://retool.com) might be what you're looking for on the front-end. It's built for engineers, so it abstracts away a lot of the boiler-plate stuff (e.g. fetching data from an API, showing errors if it fails, showing a loading indicator on the button when the REST API is in progress, etc.). But you still write code for the custom bits (e.g. if you want to hide a component for certain users).

Here's a 3 minute demo video: https://cdn.tryretool.com/videos/4_minute_demo_4827ae.mp4

It's something we started working on a few years ago before low-code was a thing, haha. It's funny to see what you work on become a buzzword, haha. If any of you have any thoughts / feedback, please let me know! (HN, honestly, has been the main source of feedback for us as we've been working on it.)


Is Retool related to Airtable at all? - or do they just follow a similat style guide?


Low code has always been a thing :-). They used to call it something like ... "Use a library".

Java is lo-code compared to say C++ which was the main option for enterprise software before Java came out. You had VBA in Excel for decades.


I'm gonna say Godot engine. Yeah, I'm seriously, the "game" engine. https://godotengine.org/

I was playing with it last month and whipped up a simple "toy" (calling it a "game" is too much) that lets me fly a little space ship around a little asteroid field. It took about a day to get it working enough to be fun. (I polished it up a little after that, and maybe one day I'll add some actual game play, mine an asteroid, whatever.)

https://git.sr.ht/~sforman/SpaceGame

While I used GDScript there's a node & pipe dataflow visual UI that non-programmers can use to construct "code", so I think it counts as low-code. You can modify your objects to "export" member vars to the UI so you can tweak them with widgets.

If I had to e.g. design and deploy a 3D world for VR users I would seriously consider Godot as a front-end IDE.

(BTW, I also made a fun knock-down-the-tower toy I call Yengapult: https://git.sr.ht/~sforman/Yengapult )


For 2D games (and some simple 3D) GameMaker Studio[0] is amazing too. It has a “Drag and Drop” mode which allows you to build entire games ready to publish. You can even switch to the code mode if you want to, as each piece of the drag and drop interface directly correlates to a chunk of code.

I’ve made a complete platformer game with my kid with the drag and drop mode in a weekend (5 levels, high score system, power ups, custom animations, the works) then exported it as a proper Windows installable game.

[0] https://www.yoyogames.com/


Yeah i'd also go with unity as a 'low-code'-tool -- not just for the visual-scripting part, but also for the ability to easily add custom editor-tools for every workflow there is and therefore adding just more "low-code"-Tools to the game. We have about 100 custom tools in our studio -- often not more than a few lines of code, but our level-designers can script their own behaviors on top of that. I'm still waiting for an open source tool (not even focused on games) that incorporates code, data and ui this beautifully^^.

(Godot has the same basic principles but w/o the indefinite power of c# as modern and widely used programming language)


I think most modern game engines have visual coding now. Unreal has Blueprints out of the box, and Unity has Playmaker as de-facto standard.


Side note: a very simple 2D game building system with Lua:

https://love2d.org/ - LÖVE is an awesome framework for building 2d games (and it's cross platform!).


I've found that Azure's Logic App Service has been shockingly useful to me! The hard prerequisite is that you are within the Azure ecosystem, but using Logic Apps instead of defaulting to writing PowerShell for Function Apps significantly decreased development time, has increased the ease with which I can debug workflows, and when you're on the free tier (with both aforementioned flavors), then Logic Apps still reign supreme as they don't have any cold start issues that users of Function Apps (that don't get hammered all the time) do.

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/logic-apps/

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/understanding-serverl...


This is exactly what I came to post. It's just a really well thought out service with gobs of connectors and a rich enough model to allow for basic boolean, looping, and scripting.

I used it plus a Google sheet as the first version of a UI for the last company I worked at. Instead of waiting for our front-end folks to finish up the UI, I just pointed a logic app at it, ran some basic logic on it, and brought it into the system whenever it was changed, and imported the data into the main data stores.


This. LogicApps it's a great low-coding tool that I enjoy as a developer.


We are in the middle of a year-long project to 'rewrite' all of our ESB glue/pipelines from MuleSoft to the Azure platform. We've been using Azure for a while now for almost all hosting. But our ESB had still been in Mule, because as sort of the vital arteries of our entire enterprise, it's hard to seriously consider completely reimplementing them -- especially since we're only about 3 years out from implementing Mule in the first place.

But Mule's skyrocketing costs are forcing our hand. If we don't finish this transfer project within the year, we'll be charged $100,000 for another year of Mule -- an absolutely unfeasible cost for our small/medium sized nonprofit. Our preliminary cost analysis for Azure showed it would be a fairly tiny fraction of that. So off we go.

I bring this up because we have settled on mostly Logic Apps with a few Azure Functions here and there as necessary, to fill in for missing connectors. So we are in a pretty good position to directly compare the two platforms against each other.

So far, my personal judgment is that Mule offers a lot more whizbang, but we weren't using nearly enough of it to justify the bananas cost, and LAs are turning out to be just fine. Mule development work happens within something called Anypoint Studio, which is (I believe) built on Eclipse. Most of the work you do tends to be done in the visual editor, just like in LAs, but you can drop down into the XML as necessary. It provides a fairly good debugger, and has one benefit of being able to be tested locally. I could fire up a flow in debug mode, pop over to an ActiveMQ admin panel on my machine, fire off a message, and watch it hit breakpoints. Mule's also able to provide a more consistent ability to validate JSON against schemas; LAs appear to only really be able to do this at the trigger point. That's relatively minor, though.

Mule's visual editor has no problem with large (sometimes too large) flows, with multiple branching paths, and then sub-branching on top of that. The visual elements themselves have a certain polish to them as well, and don't take up too much space -- they're represented as square instead of wide rectangles.

In comparison, the Logic Apps design view feels rather clunky. It's clearly been designed to encourage small concise flows rather than large ones. We've reimplemented complex flows that felt fairly manageable in Mule, but feel rather unwieldy in LAs despite being essentially 1-to-1 translations.

But LAs do have some honest advantages besides price. A big one is being able to easily drop in a custom Azure Function as a processor. This provides some easy reusability for more complex tasks; we had to write a Function to create JWTs, but now can reuse that in every LA where we need it. Additionally, having everything there in the Azure portal is valuable. There is essentially no gap between working on a flow, and releasing it. Azure provides the run history for your app right in the panel, which essentially acts as a set of visual logs for past runs.

We are kind of struggling with figuring out how to integrate LAs with our source control, but my guess is we'll figure that out with enough experience. All said, I think MuleSoft offers a ton of advantages that very large enterprises would find highly valuable; there's the whole Anypoint Platform that I haven't even discussed here - API managers, access control, etc. But everything that our smallish organization has needed, we've found alternatives in LAs or in the wider Azure ecosystem.


Hey Gene, share a link to this post with your MuleSoft Customer Success Manager. Salesforce's acquisition made some changes to how we work with Not for Profit customers. If you're in my region, I look forward to seeing if we can help. Overhauling Enterprise integration for cost alone sucks, especially since it seems like you're happy with product.


In regards to integrating Logic Apps with source control here is some reading material that I found useful on the topic:

- https://platform.deloitte.com.au/articles/preparing-azure-lo...

- https://www.feval.ca/posts/logicapp-ci/

- https://blog.thenetw.org/2019/08/20/logic-app-in-a-multi-ten...

- https://www.bruttin.com/2017/06/13/deploy-logic-app-with-arm...

It was a real hassle to get everything somewhat nicely through CI/CD (and it's still not at the level where I'd like it), but getting them in source control and having them deployed through an Azure DevOps' release pipeline has been immensely valuable.

Let me know if you have any more questions about that as I'm happy to help you get going!


We are building a product similar to Mule targeting small & medium enterprises. We are in beta and seeking for early feedback from enterprise customers. If you are interested, please drop an email to murukesh @ codeflow.co, we can work out a great licensing plan for you.


> how to integrate LAs with our source control

Can't you use ARM templates or Azure CLI for deploying them?


I'm writing my own low code framework[0], so I'm really interested in this space. Over the past five weeks, I've been compiling a list of the most interesting software in this space.

Here's an early draft:

"The Low-Code Ecosystem" https://blog.remaketheweb.com/low-code-frameworks-for-buildi...

I think there's _a ton_ of amazing tools being developed in this area right now. I'm looking forward to seeing how things develop!

[0] Remake (https://remaketheweb.com/) — Build web apps with only HTML.


Terrific list. Thanks for putting it together. You might update the AppMaker link. Unsurprisingly, Google has abandoned it, and it will shut down in Jan 2021. https://developers.google.com/appmaker

You might also add Quickbase and Knack to that same section. They are pretty popular.


Thanks tyingq! I removed AppMaker and added Knack (which looks awesome btw). I decided against Quickbase because I want to focus on non-enterprisey tools and focus on products that are more friendly to small businesses and solopreneurs.


Ahh...I wasn't aware Quickbase repositioned themselves. They used to have a per-user price that was fine for small teams. I see now that the minimum plan is pretty big.


Pretty comprehensive list. Thanks for sharing!


since I am kinda sold on strapi, I am surprised to not see it in the list. I will check out if frameworks you found are better, see if it is worthy (I have no affiliation in strapi)

edit: one more - quasar, that is vue with lot of wiring already done.


Thank you! I added Strapi and Quasar to the post now. They both look good!


Really a great list. Thanks.


Google Sheets can be surprisingly handy as a UI for editing data. For example, I have a job on AWS that scrapes a handful of URLs and snapshots them. Instead of creating a database and hosting it somewhere, or hard-coding them, I put them in a spreadsheet that the AWS job reads at the beginning of every run.


I just made an example for how to do this using Refinery (most of the pieces were off the shelf using "saved blocks").

https://app.refinery.io/import?q=9lvohdvqd50g

This project will:

- Run every hour (via timer)

- Grab URLs from a Google Sheet

- Go screenshot all of the URLs

- Write each screenshot to an S3 bucket

- Email you at the end after the jobs finish

There is more I could do with this (like trigger an email if something fails, etc). But at least does what you describe above in a (hopefully) succinct fashion!

Also, shill alert as I'm an author for this service (but this was a fun project to build over a few minutes, so thank you).


I continually find myself amazed with what people can do with Excel.


haha yeah and I always wonder why especially engineers are so creative in using Excel as a graphics/painting tool :) Looks good, but a nightmare to read in a programmatic way ^^


Aren't you forced to use Google Apps Script to interact with Sheets? I remember being forced to use it for interacting with Google Forms API.


> Aren't you forced to use Google Apps Script to interact with Sheets?

No, it has a REST API; you need Apps Script if you want automation within Sheets, but you can interact with Sheets without it.


That's the best part, I don't even use an API! I just go File -> Publish to the web, then select "Comma-separated values" instead of "Web page" from the dropdown. Then I use Pandas to read the CSV in Python.


How do you get around the number of fetch limitations?


I'm hitting at a rate of 2/hour, it hasn't been an issue.


how are you accomplishing that? Does Google sheets have a scheduler built into it? Long running timer?


Google Apps Script has a scheduler built in: https://developers.google.com/apps-script/reference/script/c...

I use this to automate a lot of tasks. E.g. automatically clip supermarket coupons every week, check for tax loss harvesting opportunities in my portfolio, etc.

It's really powerful


The scheduled job runs on AWS, it just fetches the sheet when it runs.


This just launched the other day but I thought it was pretty up there: https://fibery.io

We use https://retool.com

Honorable mention to my own startup https://flatfile.io if you're trying to skip past the data import problem.


> https://fibery.io

I've clicked through all of their product overviews and I still don't have a clear understanding of what it is.

If it just launched -- have you actually used it enough to get value out of it? The whole point seems to be that it evolves (??) as a company grows but like I said I don't fully get it still.


It looks like a programmable version of Notion (https://www.notion.so/). Like, if you were frustrated by Notion's limitations, you could use this to build your own. As well as consume external APIs with it.


Well, real value is that you can build internal tools quickly and connect them. As an example, you can have software development and product management apps in Fibery to track these processes and connect Features from product management to Tasks in software development.


I've started playing with it but definitely haven't gotten far - behaves very much like Airtable with more focus on the less "tabular" layouts. Like if Airtable Blocks were first-class citizens.


I have built a lot of internal apps on Daptin over the last 8-10 months. It's a headless CMS I started writing about 2 years ago.

https://github.com/daptin/daptin

My overall goal in Daptin (the name comes from adaptable) is to build something reliable which can run for years without needing any maintenance.

As for the features, I will try to list some here:

- YAML/JSON based data declaration

- CRUD API implementing https://jsonapi.org/

- GraphQL API

- Definable actions, for custom APIs

- Integration to any 3rd party API based on Swagger/OpenAPI spec

- Runs on mysql/postgres/sqlite

For more advance features:

- SMTP server, IMAP server

- Self generated certificates/ Acme TLS generation support

- Encrypted columns

- Asset columns (file/image/binary store)

- Asset columns backed by cloud storage (like ftp/disk/gdrive/s3/bb and many)

- Native OAuth/3rd party login support

- Exposing cloud store folders as static websites


It's quite niche, but I've been really enjoying Pico8 [0], a 'fantasy console' retro game creation system. It's got quite a few limitations, but I've found it quite fun to explore game dev concepts without being tempted by perfection.

It's got simplified editors for tiles, sprites, maps, music, sound and code, runs on desktops + raspberry pis, and can export to web. The code you write is lua, with builtins for all the editable resources, and paves over most, if not all, the technical rabbit holes you can get yourself into with game development.

[0] https://www.lexaloffle.com/pico-8.php


I love Keyboard Maestro for macOS. Made over 1,000 macros with it so far and automated pretty much all frictions I have with using my mac.

https://wiki.nikitavoloboev.xyz/macos/macos-apps/keyboard-ma...


For web development such as landing pages I like https://webflow.com. They've been able to create a nice UI that abstracts-away nested styling. It also provides decent animation features, form processing, and CDN asset delivery. Its biggest drawback is a lack of i18n without resorting to 3rd party iffy JS solutions.


To the missing features...

Add syntax highlighting and GTM

Also real deployment previews and sharing between sites

Switched to Netlify, much happier


Being a part of the Dark beta (https://darklang.com) has been incredible. It makes setting up a simple backend with persistent storage a breeze.


Sure darklang improves productivity. But the cost of that productivity is absolute vendor lock-in...

Darklang is a proprietary framework where the ENTIRE stack... even the IDE! is controlled by a specific company. Just be weary of this, when depending on it.


That's very true, but for me that's an acceptable tradeoff for not having to write much code or spin up a database, docker container, load balancer, or worry about security. Dark is great for getting a project off the ground and getting to the "proof of concept" stage: for me, there is tremendous value in getting there sooner rather than wasting a bunch of time doing things that are tangential to creating the product.


True, it's great for prototypes, but remember that their incentive is for you to remain on the platform as your project gets bigger.

Therefore you're likely to have extreme difficulty in moving off the platform as your system grows. Which means either a complete rebuild off the platform, or the easier option... Stay on the platform.

So the ultimate options are; either choose open-source flexible solutions, or remain shackled to the proprietary platforms...


That's an interesting point-of-view. I was also worried and had to search in their Slack channel. This is what they have to say:

"so specifically to lock-in: right now, no one concerned about lock-in is going to have a good experience on dark. We don’t have the resources to address that need, but at some point we will be in a company position to deal with the lock-in question. Our plan is to give you tools and resources to move off Dark if you want to"


in b4 all of HN crying posts about dead propriatory software and blogs of how to hack and partially import stuff to "new replacement startup" that is also locked in. When will people finally learn that locked in languages are a very costly mistake.


+1 for Dark — I've been helping a friend with a side project whose backend is built on Dark, and it's very impressive. The request replay feature (being able to replay a previous HTTP request to an endpoint) and seeing step-by-step execution results is amazing.


I've been a Dark beta user since last year and have built several small side projects on it. I think it's fantastic. But I'd describe it as "just code" and not "low code".

To make it work, you have to write all the code! However, you _don't_ have to worry about provisioning databases, deploying, etc, etc, etc.

Makes it really satisfying as a learning to build something and have it be live without getting stuck in heroku / mongodb / etc hell.


Really interested in what the cost is going to be out of beta.


They said the price will be by cpu/db usage and will have a free tier.


Agreed! Dark has been great to build on and powers all of my side projects.


Dialog-based development could be a compelling future. Projects like Storyscript (see demo here https://twitter.com/storyscripthq - it gets crazier) and Iris (for data science) are conversations with computers; changing the interface interaction to more "human" than anything else out there. Think Alexa, but for business QA, RPA and workflow/automation development. Image taking data from any source, asking complex questions over it (like Microsoft's Power BI) then creating repeatable processes with it.

Storyscript: https://storyscript.com (private beta) Iris: https://youtu.be/3VZZbKoXDVM (mostly research, OSS on GH) MS Power BI: https://powerbi.microsoft.com (enterprise)


yes! i spoke to a storyscript guy and damn this looks awesome


Have you tried Retool? More than many apps, its design is more clear than most about what it automates and what it doesn’t, so confusion is reduced. Low code needs to be less flexible somewhere or else it’s just a GUI re-implementation of programming languages.


I'm building something for lazy React devs: https://divjoy.com

On the no-code side I really like http://carrd.co


Here's some feedback, from a backend dev + entrepreneur who hasn't grokked React yet:

a) thank you for carrd.co, it's something I've been looking for

b) I don't exactly understand what is the use-case for divjoy. It looks like it helps me ship a landing page really quickly? Why do you need React integrated with this?

Perhaps there's a use case for React devs that I am missing?

I can tell you that what I want is carrd.co, but without vendor lock-in. I want carrd right now to launch a beautiful email-collection landing page and do market validation. However, if the market test is successful and I want to transform the homepage into a "sign up now", I don't feel like I can do that with carrd and I would need to hire someone to re-create a landing page with a similar look and feel. So I'd like a "carrd" without the vendor lockin.

[edit: More on carrd, according to their TOS they get unlimited rights to all your content?!?!]


I appreciate the feedback! The current Divjoy is basically landing page + auth flow + a little extra boilerplate and structure that helps as you start building your web app. Even super common things, like routing, aren't included out of the box with React, so there's a surprising amount of things a tool like Divjoy can setup for you. I need to do a better job of highlighting those things.

That said, this is a very early version. I'm launching database integration next week (data fetching logic/caching, full REST API, etc) and then Stripe integration shortly after that. So in not too long, you'll be able to export a fully functioning SaaS app.

So I'd like a "carrd" without the vendor lockin

Long-term this is exactly what I'm going for. Build something simple inside the Divjoy editor, host it with me, export your codebase at any time for full flexibility. You never need to worry about lockin.


div joy seems an amazing sweet spot in between webflow/carrds and a template to mod by ide. Keep up with that layer !!


Thanks Lucas! The editor has been a fun project. Hoping to push it more in the carrd direction in the future so you can customize super quickly before moving to code.


It depends on what you're trying to accomplish.

For building websites, Webflow is powerful (and allows for fine-tuning).

Among utilities, Parabola (a kind of no-code extract, transform, load tool) is very neat.

For getting data/creating APIs without having to code I've built Simplescraper - https://simplescraper.io.

Currently working on an integration for Airtable that allows you to create a dynamic CMS using any data source, without code. Hopefully useful to non-dev and lazy-dev alike.


I have to say that it is really impressive. The design is simple and beautiful. The overall product is a huge time-saver.


I'd love to know about when your Airtable integration will launch. Is there a place I can sign up for that?


Hey, the best place to keep updated is https://twitter.com/simplescraper

If you're not on Twitter, we hope to submit the integration by the end of this month so check us out then.


I use Node-Red for all of my home automations. And Tasker for phone automation. I would consider both to fall in the low code genre but still allow a dev to do really cool things (both allow for you to write whatever you want in JS).


Seconded as well with Nodered.

It is low code AND capable of full serverside JS for handling interesting cases. And it has hundreds of plugins for handling APIs of all sorts.


quite easy to develop plugins for as well


Flash was really cool! I haven’t really seen anything that lives up to what I was able to accomplish way back in the day with Macromedia Flash.

Then again, that’s not really low code.


Yeah, it's sort of the opposite of low-code — give people a super powerful art tool that gets even more powerful if you learn some basic coding, and tons of people will learn to code just to make cool things with it.

It's how I started coding, as a teenage visual artist, and now I'm a fullstack dev with a fondness for FP and SmallTalk. The gateway drug effect is real.


A modern alternative would be Tumult Hype: it off and lets you write your own JS for advanced scripting. Exports to HTML, GIF and MP4 and has a one-time fee, no monthly subscription BS.

https://tumult.com/hype/


I recently used Zapier to integrate with a few APIs and the ability to plug in your own code (https://zapier.com/help/create/code-webhooks/use-javascript-... ) was useful. And it was certainly less brain-demanding to deploy than something on a server I manage.


Mathworks Simulink. You can model your components, simulate fairly complex systems, auto-generate C implementations, and use a bunch of other fantastic tools (like Simulink Design Optimization to discover and tune critical parameters) that integrate into the workflow.


Odoo https://www.odoo.com for list/form CRUD apps. Includes many ERP plugins but is a nice platform for your own apps. Fast client with powerful search tool. Just Python and XML declarative UI gets you working sites. FOS for local hosting and they do SAAS as their main ERP business.


Can you 'click together' CRUD apps with them though? Or you need to write XML? I did not check them for quite a while because everything that could've been 'no/lowcode drag & drop' was quite painful before.


I haven't tried their graphical builders, so I would definitely classify Odoo as "low code" not "no code". The Python and XML needed to produce a basic list/form type CRUD app is, IMHO, minimal when you consider the features that you get in the app (paging, filtering, sorting, grouping, spreadsheet import/export, comment thread, notification, etc.). And that's w/o considering the many plugins available that can be used together with your custom modules.

BTW, egow here. Spot of trouble with my password on that login name.


I like Integromat (https://www.integromat.com), it's Zapier on steroids, hitting the sweet spot for developers. The minor downside is that it can take time to get used to the whole layout and the concept of connecting apps in their editor.


Came here to +1 Integromat. It's definitely my go to for stock-standard automation. I once had a pipeline that would take Trello tickets with movie names, search them using (I think) TMDB and apply a synopsis + posters to the Trello ticket upon ticket creation!


Zapier user here. what are the specific advantages of integromat over zapier other than less expansive?


I can only enumerate some specific use-cases I found really helpful:

- highly customizable response to a webhook request

- it has great support for loops and iteration over arrays of data

- every single input field can be enhanced with custom code. e.g. an email integration will want me to fill out an input field for the email subject. I want to capitalize the first letter of every word in the subject, so I can easily split the subject line, map over every word and capitalize it.

- I know you have mentioned this in the comment, but it's MUCH cheaper. You also get all features out of the box, unlike Zapier.


Yea, Integromat makes so much more sense to me compared to Zapier and it's also less expensive.


Been really happy with Adalo - it lets you create apps that can be delayed in the iOS Apple store and Google Play store too, as well as have a Web App and PWA app.

https://www.adalo.com


I've heard good things about it on Reddit as well. What kind of applications have you used it for?


Surprised nobody mentioned bubble.io yet.

Perhaps it steps out of low code into zero code. But you do end up needing to a developer to get far in bubble.io

Source of insight: building a few webapps for people in it.


I work at YC-backed https://draftbit.com

-- we're in private beta but I can prioritize invites for anyone asking themselves this same question. It's pretty much what we're here to solve.


I would love to get in as I am definitely asking myself this question. This seems great!


interested folks can reply to the email they get on-signup and mention the HN thread and wanting to jump the line


+1 - It's look great tool! #16261


If you’re working in React, I’m working on https://ResponseVault.com/demo

It’s a drag and drop form builder that saves as JSON schema. You can export and use in your own app, or submit to our backend and send Webhooks to an automation service like zapier.

I use it in my client projects since I frequently need to customize form fields, then I can reuse them across clients.


StackOverflow. Have a problem? Google it, then cut and paste the solution from StackOverflow. No need to understand programming or computers, and half the software you encounter uses it.


Have only seen colleagues use them but MS powerapps is pretty powerful. It lets just about anyone with basic computer usage knowledge to connect different data sources and applications to make mobile apps. I've seen people who don't know a single programming language make crazy-good apps with it.


The data grids in PowerApps are woefully inadequate though... and people have been asking Microsoft to improve them on their forums for a while to no avail.


I'm biased [1], but MintData (https://mintdata.com) is my personal favorite.

It doesn't use Google Sheets, and instead has its own spreadsheet + Sketch-like surface, giving you tight control over design and behavior that I haven't seen in other tools.

It would honestly warm my heart to see something that has more power & simplicity in the same tool, because I've been a die-hard fan of app-dev tooling for the past 19 years.

Would be curious to get people's thoughts here on MintData -- do you guys agree with my assessment above?

--

[1] Founder here. We built MintData into the tool I've always wanted and thought was missing. Our inspiration was Visual Basic 6, PowerBuilder, and all the RAD (rapid app-dev) tooling from the 1990s.

[2] https://mintdata.com


In a previous company we wanted to give more independence to our support and marketing teams. They idea is that instead of they asking us to do some trivial tasks like fetching some data from the DB or sending a request to an API, they could do that by them selves, parting from what we (the developers) build for them.

The idea started from there and now includes more flexibility in terms of integrations, customization of data displays, and the ability to compose actions.

I've been working for a few months now in this project and I'm hoping to publish the first beta version here soon. If this sounds interesting or useful to you or someone else, I'll be happy to hear about it, so feel free to DM me here or contact me at hello.oneadm@gmail.com


you thinking something like nocodeapi.com


Although typically thought of as primarily a GIS/location data tool, ArcGIS is powerful for data management & app-building in general. The John Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard [1] you've almost certainly seen by now is built with ArcGIS feature services & Operations Dashboard.

All that follows is my personal opinion; I do work for Esri but I'm not speaking for them here.

A lot of the modern ArcGIS stack is based on feature services hosted on ArcGIS Online (Esri's cloud service). Feature Services combine a SQL database with a REST API and spatial analysis. They're particularly useful if you want to store spatial data and put it on a map, but it works with non-spatial data, including relational data, as well.

Once data is in a feature service, you can visualize it in 2D or 3D maps, add data to it with off-the-shelf apps (we have Survey123 for surveys, Collector for field data collection, and QuickCapture for rapid data entry). You can build stories around the data with StoryMaps, data-driven websites with Hub, and dashboards with Operations Dashboard.

If the field apps aren't enough, you can create custom web apps with web app builder, custom native apps (Qt) with AppStudio, or totally custom apps with the developer APIs.

We even have open source apps [2] that demonstrate how to use the platform for common scenarios, like indoor routing, data collection, and taking data offline.

Sorry if this comes off salesy, I just really like sharing this stuff since I think ArcGIS tends to go under-utilized outside of GIS circles. The developers site [3] has a lot of info about the platform and a link to sign up - there's a generous free tier if you want to try it.

[1] https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

[2] https://developers.arcgis.com/example-apps/

[3] https://developers.arcgis.com/


I love GameMaker Studio for making quick prototypes of games.

It's surprising powerful and the built in sprite editor can do some pretty neat stuff.


I don't know if this counts but I really enjoy Notion [0]. We use it at work for developer guides but I also have a personal workspace where I keep notes and bookmarks, track my progress on goals and projects, and upload files for quick access across devices. Notion isn't perfect - I'd love recurring calendar events and overall performance could be improved - but for me it's so useful. I can open it from any device and start writing (think Simplenote) or build "micro apps" that perform some basic software function.

[0] https://www.notion.so


Love it! It's so powerful. Just recently built and entire agency website there: http://optemization.com/home


I'd probably fall more under designer than developer, but I love Webflow: https://webflow.com/

Our marketing website cycles have gotten so much shorter with Webflow. Even though it's just replacing HTML/CSS/JS for marketing sites, the direct design and publish access in a way that's intuitive and reliable saves us time directly on the marketing site (0 dev time now) and frees up dev to focus on more interesting things. We've gone from design -> develop -> commit/publish, to design + publish in one nice tool.


If you haven't checked out Autocode [0], I recommend you give it a whirl! It's an IDE with some UI components similar to Zapier that auto-generates actual code for you. Just launched a month or so ago so it's pretty new, but we've been working on it for a while! Was on Front Page HN when we launched. [1]

Disclaimer: am founder. :)

[0] https://autocode.com/

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22306996


> Since low-coding is super trendy these days

Is it? I'm pretty certain I am not the only programmer who has never heard the term before. What is this super trendy thing?


I also had to look it up. It appears to sort of be a new word for the (often tried earlier) concept of visual/gui/config based programming, without requiring traditional programming languages.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-code_development_platfor...


Not sure if this counts but https://www.home-assistant.io/ for stitching together all my home technology and create automations. Have to get comfortable with yaml but their support forum is pretty good. End result is I get an LG TV, Dyson Fan, Hive Heating, Google Home, Sonos and Ring Camera all talking to each other if I want.


IFTTT. It supports both sending and receiving web hooks.

The main use for it so far is as a way to send push notifications to my phone with a call to a simple POST endpoint.


I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Parse here. I wonder if things have come full circle and Parse-alikes are becoming fashionable again.


For low-code dev friendly in our React/ node environment I've been impressed with https://hygen.io for generating boilerplate entities, models, controllers etc. Extremely light weight and flexible so it only needs to do what you want it to and can be changed per project to suit.


It appears to be down now -- death by HN?


Sorry try https://www.hygen.io Didn't like the missing www


I've created a tool to flatten and turn any JSON api endpoint into time series chart without any configuration ( it just works ) - I was looking for something similar in the market but never found anything that allowed for 0 config

https://temporals.herokuapp.com/


What a great thread! To add to the list of tools other already mentioned, we are building https://wasp-lang.dev/ - it is a language that aims to be dev-friendly and compiles to React/Node. We are still pre-Alpha but would love to get your feedback.


On the "low-code" side, you might be interested in Refinery.

https://refinery.io

It lets you build and deploy applications super, super quickly on top of AWS Lambda. You build applications by composing high-level building blocks, which are small business logic units and are chained together on a visual graph of your application.

The cool this is that you can re-use "code blocks" across projects and they follow the same input/output rules (plain JSON) so you can mix + match languages in a single project. If you want to make an API endpoint, you just add an API Endpoint block, wire that to a code block, then wire that to a response. Easy. Same with Cron jobs -- you just link a timer to a code block and you're good.

Logs are handled in the UI for you so you don't have to muck with AWS at all (the deployment to AWS is effectively an implementation detail that you don't have to know about). Pricing is the same as AWS (usage based) -- we just add a surcharge as a flat percentage.

It started out as a side project to solve a similar frustration to the ones you're describing, and it's snowballed from there (I'm a co-author of Refinery). :P

It's still fairly early (and we're adding big features still). Feedback is welcome!

Some examples:

- List of demo apps https://refinery.io/discover

- Map/reduce using fan-out transitions https://docs.refinery.io/tutorials/fan-out-fan-in/

- Docs on the different Block types https://docs.refinery.io/blocks/


Though not in the visual coding platform space...

The Serverless Framework have been an amazing low code experience for me.

Building REST APIs is crazy simple... 90% of it is writing config files. Another plus is that you really don't need to use web frameworks - you can just write your business logic.

anyway thats my $0.02


Have you tried Internal? https://internal.io/

It's great for engineering teams that want to add custom HTTP services, hook into GraphQL mutations, and/or add custom SQL - but want to empower non devs, lazy devs or simply devs that want to focus on their core product. We started working on Internal after realizing that most companies can't dedicate valuable engineering time to build and constantly maintain/upgrade their internal tools.

I've led engineering teams from seed to series C companies (10 - 50+ people) for several years. Maintenance and permissioning are always the biggest problems when it comes to building these tools yourself, so we've built Internal with these things in mind by focusing on how startups actually go from zero to one and then scale beyond that.

When you use Internal, we offer a CRUD tool with fine grained permissions, auditability and controls to get you started. In my experience, most startups use open source software for this or build it themselves. Both of these approaches reach their limits very quickly in terms of quality and maintainability and lead to tons of issues when trying to pass audits down the line.

With respect to flexibility, it's there when you need it. We offer a feature called Spaces for when you need to customize the UI and build tools quickly, but we do this in a way that keeps you from shooting yourself in the foot. You can build Spaces without SQL or javascript knowledge and you can quickly create useful tools without needing to know how to code. If you need additional customization after that, we allow you to hook into existing business logic via http services or graphql endpoints and expose that to the end-user as "functions" which can be consumed when configuring a Space. We also offer several out-of-the-box integrations including Salesforce and Stripe so you can quickly integrate with existing services with little to no effort.

Let me know if you would like to talk or want a demo. You can also just sign up and try it out yourself.


Would be useful if there was a public pricing page somewhere?


We're working on that. In the meantime, happy to do a call to discuss.


As a Python developer moving into web development, I've really enjoyed using Plotly's Dash.


DevScore is a lowcode platform for many use-cases. It gives distributed, event-based nodejs runtime, database, webhooks, cronjobs, and nice integrated library of helper functions to practically do anything you want without worrying about boring stuff. Try it out and let me know if you have any question.

https://devscore.com https://github.com/devscoreInc https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClgE-uFdQIJ2GWhaNjz6WRw/vid...


I've been using https://panakit.com for my blog. It creates fast static pages, allows me to customise my blog without coding and I don't have to worry about servers/databases.


I like https://www.appsmith.com/ which provides front end as a service for publishing internal tools.

The good thing about appsmith is it comes with self-hosted version. For data-conscious companies, it's the perfect solution.

Developers can collaboratively build internal tools and publish them.

The vast library of UI components on appsmith gives you enough flexibility to build the apps the way you want them with simple drag and drops.

You can build your internal apps by connecting APIs as well as databases. I personally like the API support as it gives me control over input validations and flexibility to add business logic as well.


Microsoft Access anyone?


Emacs. Not too much work to customize it these days. Just:

  M-x list-packages


Do packages really count? You could go on for a long time listing applications that have packages or plugins, but I think it misses the point of the question.


Actually, Emacs is a low coding editing environment, because the strength of emacs is that once you can program it it's extremely easy to write extensions for it, even for one off tasks, because it's so quick and easy.

Compared to this writing extensions for vscode, for example, is much more convoluted. You wouldn't create a new vscode extension for a 1 hour task, while with emacs it's trivial to write some small code which can help you with your current task. I often do.


Hmmm really? Can you point at some information so I can learn quickly how to add a non-trivial extension? Genuinely would love to, but not sure where to start!


The way I see it, in Emacs it's less an "extension" and more of "I have this problem, how do I solve it now using elisp?".

So basically, your develop the solution bottom up. You can pretty much write an elisp function anywhere in emacs (in the very file you are editing, in the already open scratch buffer, in an elisp popup shell) and test the function incrementally. Also, the extensive in-built help system lets you very quickly lookup functions that you need.

Once you have something that solves your current problem, you can save it, if you want. Over time your custom collection of functions improves and then you decide if something there needs to be generalized or made into a package.

Obviously this needs some basic elisp knowledge and then just practice over time.


I would like to add Nhost to the list (https://nhost.io). You get GraphQL API (hasura), PostgreSQL, authentication, and storage. Everything managed for you.

We started just a few months ago, but are already getting very good feedback from our customers.

BTW, we just released a CLI to make local development easier, check out the companion blog post here https://nhost.io/blog/announcing-nhosts-cli.


I've been working on something that might be interesting to you [1]. It gives you the full flexibility of a programming language while removing all the boilerplate surrounding your business logic through static analysis.

Have a look at the Encore Playground [2] to see a real-world example.

[1] https://encore.dev

[2] https://play.encore.dev/vHZHuXf2zca3dg


We were sick of writing spreadsheet importers for most apps we have ever built. We just wanted to write the endpoint to ingest the data into our system. So we have been writing a CSV importer as a service. You can use it to import spreadsheet data into your app or other apps similar to Zapier. We do integrate with Zapier too.

If you try it out let me know what you think: https://www.easycsv.io/


When I'm researching apps like yours, the thing I'm most curious about is the experience for my users. If you added a walkthrough showing the user experience for the top 3 most common problems people run into when importing data and how you address them in a usable way, you'd go a long way towards convincing me.

1) What happens if someone tries to upload a non-CSV file? What do you do?

2) What happens if the data is malformed or not in the right format or there are no headers at the top of the file?

3) How many steps does it take for someone to get from the uploading step to the final step? How do you make this easier?


Pentaho Data Integration is an ETL tool that I have been using it for the last 11 years or so. The main use is for loading a data warehouse. I also use it for exception reporting and dumping some analytic data to excel.

https://community.hitachivantara.com/s/article/data-integrat...


Great question! It really depends on what you need: Webflow, Zapier, Retool and Human Lambdas (disclaimer: what I'm working on) are my favorites.


What is human lambdas? Like goluminal.com?


We build highly customisable software for human in the loop operations. Our focus is on the software. We are completely agnostic to the human layer of the operation.


I am building a Covid19 dashboard and looking for some UI that can pull data from my django backend. Tried working with HTML templates but designing is not my ball game.

So basically there are APIs that provide various data points related to countries and other stats. I need a front-end that could consume the APIs and render data in form of tables, charts and cards.

What are my options here that can set me up and running quickly?


Have you tried Outsystems?

https://www.outsystems.com/

I find everything else just incomplete.


https://beeceptor.com for seeing HTTP traffic / mock a simple server.


AutoIT... I do not like to use it this way at all but you can manage many things using the AU3 macro system. Can be useful for beginners...


Not really low code but of similar concept, www.WayScript.com is great tool for those who need the low code "training wheels." But if you know how to code, they'll let you take the training wheels off and let you write full code in their editor. I'd argue there isn't a more robust solution out there than WayScript's.


We are building the LITIC platform [0] for self-service decision analytics apps. There is a visual drag-n-drop language for formulas and optimization models, charts & tables with interactive features, and a visual WYSIWG app designer.

[0] https://litic.com/showcase.html


I've tried Pipedream https://pipedream.com and it works great. I have two or three Twitter bots posting kanjis and random stuff per day. It's very easy to build a kind of flow with inputs/outputs and connect to the most popular APIs


Just wanted to throw in https://apify.com/. I'm using it to monitor changes on different websites and automatically send an email to me with screenshots of the updated content. But you can do all sorts of other useful things with it!


I haven't used it personally yet, but I want to try out Saasify [1] for my next project.

> Saasify handles all of the SaaS boilerplate, including user accounts, subscription billing, developer docs, and a polished marketing site.

[1] https://saasify.sh/


We built https://versoly.com/, it is an easy way to build landing pages and marketing sites.

Start off with a one pager with an email form and analytics.

In one click add an SEO optimised blog.

Also don't need to worry about hosting, upgrades etc we handle all that for you.



Acryl, WYSIWYG Editor for SwiftUI. It’s my favorite because I’m building it but I hope you’ll enjoy it as well ;-)

https://apps.apple.com/pl/app/acryl/id1501954098


I know that Oracle is not liked on HN, but Oracle XE with Oracle Apex is a great low code solution to create web apps for internal and external users. Over the course of a decade, I have built hundreds of web applications in corporate enviroments using Oracle XE and Oracle APEX.


My favorite right now is Snapboard. simple, clean UI, and integrations that airtable is sorely missing.


Shameless plug: https://github.com/rmpr/atbswp, is a mouse and keyboard macro recording and playback tool, think about it as some kind of frontend for pyautogui.


Any plans to support MacOS?


While it's not tested yet (mainly because I don't have a Mac), atbswp should work on MacOS, feel free to fill an issue https://github.com/RMPR/atbswp/issues if you have any problem, additionally we also have a Telegram channel were we make our announcements https://t.me/atbswp and you can reach me on Twitter https://twitter.com/Mairo_P_Rufus, where I occasionally post important announcements about atbswp.


I'm going to take this opportunity to promote my current principal project, Datasette.

https://datasette.readthedocs.io/en/stable/

Datasette aims to reduce the gap between "I have some data" and "I have a useful JSON API for it" as much as possible. I think it does this really well.

A timely example: the first version of this API for interacting with data about the COVID-19 pandemic took me just a few minutes to build AND deploy: https://covid-19.datasettes.com/ - it uses data pulled hourly from https://github.com/CSSEGISandData/COVID-19 and https://github.com/nytimes/covid-19-data

Here's JSON for the number of reported cases and deaths in California (served with a CORS header so you can call it from other pages): https://covid-19.datasettes.com/covid/ny_times_us_states.jso...

And here's data showing the number of NEW cases per day reported in Italy, using a SQL window function. First as a graph visualization: https://covid-19.datasettes.com/covid?sql=with+italy+as+%28%...

And here's that raw data as JSON:

https://covid-19.datasettes.com/covid.json?sql=with+italy+as...

And as CSV: https://covid-19.datasettes.com/covid.csv?sql=with+italy+as+...


That is a powerful and concise outline of Datasette. I am working on an 8 week hackathon to build privacy first data solutions for the pandemic response. I am totally going to bring these examples to my session tonight for inspiration. Very cool stuff! Thanks for sharing.

https://covidathon.devpost.com/

(Also love the Commodore reference)


Awesome! I'm definitely excited about hackathons as an opportunity to take advantage of Datasette.


If you want to try it out the fastest way is on Glitch: https://glitch.com/~datasette-csvs

Click "remix" on that page, drag-and-drop in a CSV file and you get an instant API for it.

You can try it out without even signing up for a Glitch account!


I didn't even see this comment when I wrote my earlier message. Glitch integration makes it even easier for us to work with in a hackathon environment. Awesome that you are thinking about accessibility in your promotion of Datasette.

You've definitely got some over-caffeinated hackathon people coming your way in the coming days as we begin the 8 week Covidathon with the Decentralized AI Alliance. I'll let you know what we come up with.


Please do - I'm https://twitter.com/simonw on Twitter or you can reach me using swillison at Google's email service.


Looks good - is there any way to get world stats?


The Johns Hopkins data includes reports from countries other than the USA: https://covid-19.datasettes.com/covid/johns_hopkins_csse_dai...


Mapbox enables interactive storytelling using low-code template to help tell map-based stories

https://www.mapbox.com/solutions/interactive-storytelling


Zoho Creator is pretty nice if you don't mind closed source/proprietary. You drag and drop fields onto forms and it creates a database behind the scenes. Can be customised using their scripting language which is similar to javascript.


We built a no code API integrator for Google Sheets. It supports GET and POST requests for JSON and CSV APIs in Google Sheets. Works with most APIs. https://apipheny.io


Take a look at https://www.getfastcode.com. I am the founder and would love to get your feedback. Please sign-up for our beta if you like it.


I saw myself rewriting things often. So I started to develop https://saltar.co about 2 years ago.

Served me well for creating basic website, blogging and form :)


https://metaset.io is a macOS app to quickly visualize CSV, Postgres, or SQLite data with charts.


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