October 5, 2022

Part III: 8base Low Code - Productivity and Extensibility

Adam Bloom
In Part I, we started with an executive summary and covered the underlying economics, development process improvement, and financial outcomes of low-code platforms.
In Part II, we covered the top 10 benefits of low-code platforms and key challenges to achieving results.
In Part III (this article), we will explain 8base’s unique, differentiating low-code value proposition and key capabilities.

How 8base Reduces Low-Code Constraints

Here is how we deliver on software development productivity (and all the benefits above), in a low-code format, with far fewer constraints than the competition. Our application excels at meeting the following elements:

          1. Simplicity

          2. Configurability

          3. Extensibility through custom code

          4. Open Access and Open Standards

          5. Meeting Key Architect and Developer Requirements

1. Simplicity

We define simplicity by facilitating a fast learning curve, single click spin-up/deployment, and a NoOps model.

8base was designed with familiar concepts for a fast learning curve. Even if you have limited experience with modern software development, you will intuitively understand the tools in  our stack. Importantly, you can learn to build a production-grade app in 1-2 hours.
Spinning up a full-stack environment takes 15 seconds. Deployment is one click. All of the underlying PaaS and IaaS complexity is fully automated.
Your software runs in a NoOps model with a serverless architecture. This means developers don’t have to think much about operations. And, you can scale from one user (on day one) to one million users (on day two) without lifting a finger.

2. Configurability

By configuration, we mean that people don’t have to write code but still achieve a result as if they wrote code. They can drag and drop data tiers, make logic choices from drop-downs, and reference existing logic via short codes.

At the data layer, you can build a data model with a drag-and-drop schema builder. Of course, you should understand data modeling to do it well, but a middle school student can easily learn to create tables, fields, and relationships.
As the data layer is constructed, 8base automatically builds and configures the logic tier. When tables and fields are added, all the logic for CRUD operations (Create, Read, Update and Delete) become available along with subscriptions. 8base makes this accessible through a simple but powerful query language called GraphQL, which is more like writing in English than a programming language.
The UI is drag and drop with panels and drop-downs to adjust properties, styles, and events. Within the UI component, very simple logic can be added. Non-developers might compare these to spreadsheet formulas. Developers see our approach as an implementation of Handlebars. For example, typing {{account.name}} into a UI component field would populate the field with an account name.  Event listeners (like On Click) are configured to navigate, run logic, or get data.

3. Customization

In the middle tier, 8base supports writing any JavaScript or TypeScript. Code can be added and customized, extensively if desired.

For external APIs, developers can write custom resolvers to handle new data requests.
Triggers can be written to invoke code when data is added, updated, or deleted.
Tasks can be run to invoke code on a recurring basis.
Webhooks can be developed as RESTful endpoints so other systems can access 8base.
Functions can all be called from events, callbacks, or other functions.
State can be extended with custom entries like app usage, shopping cart items, complex calculations—types include boolean, number, object, string, and array.
Code can be added for virtually anything—managing formatting, arrays, dates, times, and advanced math. In fact, the current product ships with four NPMs—Lodash, Moment, Luxon, and Mathjs
At the UI layer, custom CSS can be written for the entire app, some pages, components, etc.

4. Openness

While we are not an open source project, we are built on open standards with no lock in.

The underlying database is based on MySQL. You can export and take it with you at any time.
The logic tier is based on JavaScript, TypeScript, and GraphQL—all open source. You can also export your logic at any time. Of course, this is limited to the stuff you create versus what 8base creates automatically.
The UI is based on React and Material UI. You can replicate these with open source.

5. Meeting Key Architect and Developer Requirements

Of course, custom-built software systems have a range of architectural and developer requirements. 

For example at the “high-end,” everything needs to be custom, the app is complex, usage is at a significant scale, and the architecture requires extremely high throughput, real-time analytics. This is like designing and building a skyscraper. Examples include Instagram, Pinterest, and Etsy.

At the low end of the spectrum, unsophisticated apps are like buying a pre-designed, pre-built shed at the local home improvement store. We consider this to be “no code” application development. 

Then, there is the “in between.” This includes low-code applications where there are key architect and developer requirements, which are somewhere “in between” the high and low end. 8base shines in this area:

Final Thoughts

The underlying economics for Low Code are here to stay. And, the productivity improvements, for both business and IT, are clear.

The challenge is picking the low-code product that meets all of your current and future requirements without constraints or unhealthy work-arounds. This is where 8base shines—simplicity, configurability, customization, and openness while surpassing a high bar for architect and developer requirement.

8base for Frontend Designers and Developers

At 8base, we have seen and believe that frontend designers or developers who want to push the envelope of their productivity can produce 10X the amount of software with the same effort versus traditional programming methods—hopefully for 10X the results. 

8base for Technical Business Leaders

We have also seen and believe that any technical business person who wants to learn basic programming—can build an enterprise-grade application with a relatively short learning curve. Then, they can invite professional developers to add code when needed.

Learning More

Read Part I: Underlying economics and development process improvement
Read Part II: Financial outcomes, top 10 benefits of low-code platforms, and key challenges which constrain business outcomes
Connect with our solution advisors (sales)
Sign up for 8base App Builder and contact us about our Lighthouse program for early adopters
Visit the homepage
Read the documentation
See what our customers have to say on G2

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