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Rows.com – Spreadsheet that supports external API integration and collaboration (rows.com)
202 points by pcr910303 71 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 75 comments



The real power of this product is as a replacement of BI/Visualization tools. Imagine being able to connect Rows to a database and create "governed" sheets that look/work like dashboards with charts, tables, filters, etc.

It would be a killer product because most users are familiar with spreadsheets already. Many users end-up copying data from dashboards into spreadsheets (gsheet, excel, etc) so why not skipping the intermediaries and go straight to delivering a hybrid of dashboards and spreadsheets.

Lots of potential.


Its done already

http://nocodb.com/

This is fully open source


Thank you for shoutout. (Disclaimer : Founder here)

Yes, NocoDB[1] allows to transform your own databases into Airtable like smart-spreadsheets. It is easy to get started - please try it out.

[1] : https://github.com/nocodb/nocodb


Thanks for the pointer, this seems really neat! Although from what I can tell it primarily provides a data interface geared towards relational databases (or other record-oriented data sources).

I played around a little and am missing actual spreadsheet functionality - like the ability to do calculations, or other manipulations that you could do on tabular data in Excel/Google Sheets (and presumably Rows). Am I missing something?


Yes, its geared towards part-spreadsheet part-database space. We're similar to Airtable mostly.

You can do calculations by creating a column with formula field.


Any idea when they will have a decent implementation of forms (and maybe even subforms) with customized layouts? Last I checked it was ~on the road map.


Hey, Form views were made available with 0.11.42 (5 weeks ago). It can be customised with fields you need.


An error occurred on client - that's all I see. Either it's adblock or my outdated browser, but, in any case, it's a no go.


Founder here - what browser & OS is it ?


Hi, it's Ubuntu & FF50.1. Front page works now, but sign-up is empty for me. Anyway, I understand that supporting older browsers is not an easy task... probably. So, don't mind me.


Interesting... it doesn't seem to allow putting charts next to the spreadsheet though


That's coming literally today/monday :)


charts are live now


What prevents anyone from doing this in Excel/Google sheets? I've been doing Excel-based BI dashboards for 15 years, connecting to all kinds of backends. Excels have tables/charts/filters/buttons/pivots


Yes, Sheets is amazing already. It is missing integrations out of the box though which is where Rows is trying to win. I notice this problem a while back and built Wax (https://www.wax.run/). Wax adds the features you'd want from Rows to Sheets. We handle integrations and scheduling. Also, considering a lot of internal tools leverage SQL and Python, we make using those them from Sheets simple.


This is just my opinion, but it looks to me like you're competing with airtable/notion/retool rather than Excel.


As I see a couple of mentions on GRID (https://grid.is/) on this thread, I thought it might be interesting to share a little bit about how we see this space.

First of all, Rows is a fantastic tool. They are really onto something, especially in how to work get structured data out of other systems into a spreadsheet and then work with that kind of data in the "spreadsheet way" that we've all been trained in. This is a pain point of current spreadsheets and one that Rows is addressing in a really nice way.

If you think about all the things that spreadsheets are used for - which is a lot - it still generally falls into one of three categories (https://medium.grid.is/the-3-types-of-spreadsheets-3d021356c...): 1. Numbers and calculations 2. Small databases 3. Business processes

What Rows does falls mostly into the realm of small databases and business processes. And while each has their own approach, I'd say that most other "next-gen spreadsheets" are also focusing on these (big and important) use-cases. Airtable (https://airtable.com/), Spreadsheet.com (https://spreadsheet.com/) and Smartsheet (https://smartsheet.com/) all play mainly in this area.

GRID is focusing on the numbers and calculations use-case, allowing people that have already built a model or pulled together numerical data in a spreadsheet to better explore, explain and converse about them.


FileMaker is one product that does these things. It kind of languished while it was owned by Apple, and made some poor decisions. It does seem to have made a change for a better direction and I could see it making a comeback, but entry-level pricing is needed.


Note that FileMaker has (as far as I can tell) always been owned by Apple. Claris inc, and now FileMaker are whole owned subsidiaries of Apple.

I am not disagreeing with the languishing bit, only the hint that it had something to do with ownership.


>The real power of this product is as a replacement of BI/Visualization tools. Imagine being able to connect Rows to a database and create "governed" sheets that look/work like dashboards with charts, tables, filters, etc.

With respect, if your BI tools look like excel, you need a better BI tool


You mean like https://grid.is/ ?


Haven't heard from them before


Check out https://grid.is


I wish people would just show their product in their webpage instead of selling/telling what is can supposedly do


Scroll down to the “See what GRID can do” section.


Thanks, I gave those another try. They links didn't look inviting, expected just more of the same (text + images). But's actually an interactive demo from end-user perspective. that was easy to get: https://grid.is/@grid_templates/template-interactive-user-fu...


grid.is looks more like a shiny app on steroids while Rows feel more like a hardcore spreadsheet. That being said, I haven't tried any of these.


thank you! Yes, our goals is really to make a better spreadsheet - but simpler to use, integrated with the tools people use everyday, and 10x better to share.


Blockpad (https://blockpad.net) does this but with an engineering orientation.


Quite nice but I wonder why the scene for this kind of tools is stuck in the Spreadsheets and pipes interface. Definitely powerful, Excel itself is an amazing tool, having an "Excel" that can fetch data is 10X more powerful as we see with Google Docs or other products too.

However, using these still feels wrong for me. It seems to be simplifying some stuff but can get very complex quickly and hard to debug when you want to do something more involved. At that point, writing code gets much easier than managing ever expanding complexity of the No-Code solutions.

IMHO someone some day will crack it and programming for data processing will become a visual endeavour.


Compliments to see this thrive since 2016 with that large of a team! I had to laugh at the Berlin (ex) Rocket company logos; this age old Excel style data formatting which looks nice and custom at first glance brings back memories of inevitably ending up in swamps of versions, custom tweaks and data inaccuracies. Arguably, most of these problems can be well mitigated by a cloud hosted solution like yours!

But the audience being non-tech people, the look is pretty fantastic.

From a technical perspective: Care to share how you do data integration (batch/ stream/ mix? All hosted hyperscaler or something like Airbyte)? How do you address what I would think are dynamic load peaks during business days?


Wow, thanks for pointing out the founding date. I'd heard of Rows only recently and thought they launched this year.


Used to be called dashdash.


I don't have much of an opinion on the product, it seems fine, but I greatly enjoyed the cute little spreadsheet styling on the pricing table[1], it actually made me laugh. Good design, nice work.

[1]: https://rows.com/pricing


That page renders quite well on mobile, too. Not difficult, just a really nice transition.


eheh thanks! Glad you liked the spreadsheet touch.


I’m surprised at the top tier $249 per month plan, you still only allow 1GB max file size. Is this a technical limitation?


for now yes. 1GB of cells with numbers, text and json still gives you a lot of room for millions of cells. We'll upgrade this throughout 2022 though.


Sorry but online tools like this are still Fail.

Not everyone has online access 24x7: I don't have it where I live; I travel enough for work to not have it on travel about 50% of the time; I work with customers to whom we sell product, who Air-Gap their central operations for security reasons. Etc. Etc. I don't know what market was imagined but there are broad swaths that will never be accessible to you with the first design mistake of "it's convenient for US"!


Looks great, and I like that there is a lot of overlap with Grist: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25257521, https://www.getgrist.com (of which I am a founder). The differences are interesting: rows.com seems more focused on external integrations; Grist has API but is more focused on powerful formulas and layouts for working within the data.

I imagine the overlap will only increase. I take it as confirmation that these are good ideas to pursue.


This is the tech that may be the future of computing. All of your company's data stored, and handled, in Rows.

Or not. The chief concern is that modern data protection laws would make all columns of these tables unreadable without specific sanction. You're not free to address any cell in any table, just a pre-cleared strict subset, which no longer allows you to take advantage of easy aggregation and filtering of data.


curious how much startup funding went into the domain acquisition? Or was it already owned? (Also curious for you.com which is on the HN top page)


the domain was ~$100k

we wrote the story, project, prices of the rebrand in our blog if you're curious

https://blog.rows.com/p/why-how-rebrand


I am not that familiar with theses new sheet like apps. Although I like them because I hate sheets/excel. But can anyone point out the main focus difference between this and Airtable?


as someone responsible for a small nonprofit that runs on google sheets, this product is super exciting.

a suggestion: key to us adopting this would be the migration story. I’d love if that was clearly presented on the website.


thank you for the feedback, 100%! we're shipping import export csv/xls and other ways to migrate data. Then we can tell a better story around it.


How is this different from Airtable? Also I always wanted something that could connect directly to python in the background instead of super clunky pipeline building importing xls etc.


Try this project I work on, https://perspective.finos.org/ . It comes with a Python library (that runs the exact same engine/code as in the wasm version), and even a JupyterLab plugin. You can run the engine fully in-python, in-Javascript (via wasm), or replicated between the two.

Standalone Python virtual server example https://github.com/finos/perspective/tree/master/examples/to...

JupyterLab demo on Binder https://mybinder.org/v2/gh/finos/perspective/master?urlpath=...


Ha, that's $ome domain name.

Also comparing product to Yahoo Pipes in the original post, how many prospective customers are gonna know what that is other than a handful of us around here? haha


Thought that was funny too. The company has been around since 2016 (originally called "dashdash") and Pipes shut down in 2015, so it'd make sense as the original pitch in 2016.


Is this like Fieldbook? I always thought Fieldbook was such a cool product but I think the company didn't go anywhere.


I've used Rows before & can't recommend it enough, their support is also top tier.


thank you <3


Love the idea of multiple tables in one view, rather than having to switch between tabs.


Rows looks cool, but nowhere does it answer: how many rows can a sheet cope with?



right now it is 20k rows and 104 cols (so ~2M cells). But that's changing soon to 5-10M.


20k rows to 10M rows or 2M cells to 10M cells?


in the next quarter or so, to 5-10M cells


So airtable is google and this is yahoo?


I dont think Airtable was ever bought by google, but i do remember google launched a competitor. Neither Rows is by Yahoo.


Technical debt, yes please


If you haven't looked into it yet - Google Apps Script [0] is an incredibly powerful system when combined with Google Sheets. You can integrate lots of business processes and external systems (rest,soap,databases etc) together and integrate with classic spreadsheet functionality, we use it a lot in our business!

[0] https://developers.google.com/apps-script


Yeah, I had a similar idea to Rows, but decided it'd be better to add what's missing to Sheets vs. build an entirely separate app. Wax (https://www.wax.run/) helps you build internal tools on top of Google Sheets. It's built using Apps Script and handles a ton of the boilerplate you'd want for any internal tool. Scheduling and integrations are hard to do in Apps Script, so we handle that and considering a lot of internal tools leverage SQL and Python we make using those them from Sheets simple.


Which scheduling options did you find difficult on Sheets?

AFAIK it’s a simple dropdown and you choose the frequency to run the script.


App Scripts is great and together with Sheets it almost feel like a tiny functions + db serverless engine.

Having used it significantly, I found two main qualms that prevented me from investing more in the platform:

1. It is just JS syntax but the runtime and the “standard library” are completely different than node.js. For example there’s a weird UrlFetch class instead of xhr/fetch. It’s a never ending learning curve so much it feels like another language. Any async support is also non existent, that means no setTimeout, no Promise, no async/await (unless they added it recently with the move to ES6)

2. Due to 1, the library ecosystem is very limited. A library in GAS is just another GAS script that you import by referencing its ID (the long one in the URL).

Scripts can be public so you can import other people’s code. However no npm, no lodash and friends.

You can dev locally using clasp, so you can use git/npm/.., and package your code with webpack or something so it runs on GAS. However this only works for npm libs that do not depend on the usual JS environment and APIs. Lodash will work, anything network related won’t for example.

All in all Google App Script is more of a hassle than it’s worth so I only use it in specific cases, but I wish for a similarly accessible sheet+code environment that can also serve HTML, just with a better JS runtime.

Oh and don’t get me started on the development/deployment lifecycle.


I've been working with this for a while and I find it frustrating slow and unreliable. Especially working with an HTTP listener. Does anyone have better experience/advice?


Yes, don’t use GAS if you have the possibility to avoid it.

Otherwise, do the heavy lifting somewhere else and use GAS as a very basic wrapper for your sheet.

One pattern that worked well for us in the past is to use Firebase functions (or Google Cloud Run) and leave the scripts to act as a dumb API to interact with the sheet.


I hit processing time limits when I tried to use it with no easy way to get around them.


Is there a solution to version control/deterministically see/deploy active scripts? How do you manage all the scripts? I've used it to compile/summarize spreadsheets and serve as a simple endpoint (testing webhooks), but not much more.


You should look at clasp by Google https://github.com/google/clasp

Have used it in past to do exactly what you asked for.


Woah seems like Google should promote this instead of the Apps Script API on their Apps Script docs. Deploy, CVS, and TS capability to boot. Thanks!


Yeah I made a UPS zip-weight lookup with GS/GAS before was pretty cool. Alternative is to use Google Drive apparently/more legit with user auth.


Another Airtable/Notion wannabe. Yawwwn.


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