Updated: Mar 13
I am regularly asked about which No (or Low) Code platform to use for a particular customer requirement so I thought it would be interesting to write a post going through a couple of recent case studies and look at the choice of platform in each case.
1. Catering at Festivals
The initial requirement was to build a system for a business which organises the catering at events such as festivals. This includes assigning concessions to subcontractors who need a portal through which to submit and maintaining their information including uploading several documents, receiving and accepting offers and signing contracts. There would be dozens of sub contractors but each would use the system very infrequently. The system also needed to send out offers and, when accepted, contracts for the subcontractor to sign.
For me there was one of key point here which led to the correct platform choice, namely the need for a portal for external users. Most platforms charge customers based on the number of users and this would be unaffordable. Often, they are also not that strong in terms of building a user interface specifically tailored for each type of user.
In this case, for me, there was only one choice which was to use Knack because it is particularly good at building systems for different types of user - and doing it quickly! They also have a pricing model which is more usage based (number of records, storage, etc). This was combined with Make (formerly Integromat) for integration and some business logic, and Cognito Forms for the signable contracts.
2. A Medical Service at Marathons (and similar)
This requirement was from a long time customer of mine who needed some specific features in a new app to log in (and out) people needing medical attention at a marathon event. Specifics of the requirement were that it must be fast (lots of people in a small space of time) and be able to log them in by reading their barcode (on their bibs) - so the system needed to hold the details of all confirmed runners (many thousands) and be able to look up their details quickly. Once people were checked in, the app needed to keep track of their progress, assign them to cubicles in the 'hospital' etc.
The final point was that there is always a chance with a temporary service like this that the internet connection could fail at any time - so some degree of offline operation was important.
So this was a very different use case to the first - and the two points I have highlighted led to the platform choice. Offline use really implies that the system has some kind of local app which can operate on a tablet, phone or computer (a browser based app couldn't operate with no network) and that this has the capability to sync with the online database when re-connected.
As far as I am aware, Ninox is the only online database platform which includes an offline mode with local apps (in their case for Android, iOS and Mac - but NOT PC). Luckily, Ninox is also very quick to process and its built in Language made it possible to create quite an intelligent UI for people operating under pressure. We were able to keep the user input required to an absolute minimum.
Once it was clear that the patient side was going to be very efficient, the scope was expanded to include clocking staff onto and off shifts, assigning radios and other equipment to them, monitoring their breaks etc.
Regular visitors here will probably be aware that over the past few years I have written a lot about Knack (especially combined with Make/Integromat) but I am also a Ninox partner and have built a number of Ninox apps which I sell through my business website (see my apps) and have undertaken a few client projects with it as well. These are my two favourite platforms at the moment and have very different strengths and weaknesses - but by having both available to me I can cover most situations!
Built in Language makes complex business logic straightforward.
Ability to easily build specific features for different types of user
Off line use possible with iOS, Android and Mac apps
Pricing model makes client / employee / supplier portals financially viable
Integration with cameras on mobile devices useful for reading barcodes etc
Can embed Knack apps (or specific elements of them) on your own website easily.
Strong printing and reporting, charts, Kanban views etc. Basic style of apps relatively fixed but attractive.
No code approach makes for very quick builds - but sometimes at the expense of flexibility (in which case I use Make)
Good performance and on the fly updating of data on other users screens
If you would like more information about the platforms mentioned in this post just click the following links:
It would be interesting to hear of your own platform choices and reasoning in the chat!