Founder and CEO at Directual.
In recent years Low-code/No-code has become a hot topic. According to that approach an IT-system is developed visually. Conventional wisdom says that building an MVP on low-code is OK, but if something sophisticated and scalable is needed, you have to code it traditionally. These visual tools seem to be very limited. Let me reveal the other side of low-code world, which has no such limits.
For the last 5 years my team and I have been working on the low-code platform Directual, specially designed for tech savvy product makers.
Firstly, let me use terms ‘Low-code’ and ‘No-code’ as synonyms. I do realise the difference, but the basic ideas seem to be the same—providing users with customisable building blocks for their apps. Using those blocks one can develop an app more quickly, having written less (or even zero) code.
A trend of using low-code tools is happening right now (I like the way it was explained in that post on Medium). Today we have to keep up with accelerating world, rolling out new products and updating existing ones as quickly as possible. That is feasible if only we rise an abstraction level of our building blocks. Each of successful low-code companies focuses on one or a few of such high-level blocks. Here are several examples:
All these tool makers face a dilemma. On the one one hand there is a flexibility, and on the other—the simplicity. There is no right choice, I suppose. Developers and experienced product makers prefer sophisticated and flexible tools. Simple ‘one-button’ platforms can be great for MVPs, also they are mostly used by rookies.
There are still plenty of niches to fill on this market. Product teams keep on developing almost identical pieces of functionality from scratch. Further in this post I would love to ponder about applying low-code approach to backend development. Firstly, let me provide you with a short history of my startup.
To cut a long story short, in 2015 my mate Nikita and I were developing enterprise IT-systems. The process often got stuck due to the backend part. It took too long to support infrastructure, create new logic and update an API-layer. The pace could have been much faster if only we had found a way to remove that bottle neck.
We started creating Directual—a platform for visual backend development. First and foremost it had to be scalable and flexible. Then, 4 years of work followed. By 2019, our platform had become the basis for products launched by such companies as Schlumberger, PIK group and MTS. In 2020 we have gone public. Today everyone can create an account, explore the tutorials, build and run an app. Going forward, there are some features for building front-end visually, but the most efficient combination turns out to be Directual plus React.
Considering the ‘high-level building blocks’ paradigm, described above, I can enlist these main features of Directual:
Here is the diagram with the parts of a typical app:
These can be developed on the platform:
These can’t be developed on the platform:
The current platform is flexible enough to build almost any backend on it. But it appears to be quite complex for learning. That is why I’ve entitled this post “Low-code for Hackers”. We are doing our best to enhance the on-boarding process. Directual Academy presenting video-tutorials has been launched recently. In the nearest weeks we are going to roll out the React boilerplate-code and the Templates for you to start quickly.
Hope that Directual can be useful for turning your ideas into apps. It’s free for use until the app doesn’t produce the significant load. You are welcome to contact me, I’ll be happy to discuss any low-code related topic.