When we hear no-code, low-code, and these sorts of buzzwords, we most often associate them with products or services designed for business folks, who, because of lacking programming technical skills, can benefit greatly from tools that "abstract" the technicalities of software development in visual environments, effectively enabling them to become software developers. The term Citizen Developer was coined for referencing these personas.
While the above statement is true, it is - in my opinion - as well incomplete. Indeed, boiling down technical capabilities in graphical or intuitive frameworks is marvellous for people without such technical knowledge. But what about the ones that do have this knowledge? Are we left out from the equation?
I deeply enjoy programming. I've been doing it for almost 20 years, and that passion never stopped, nor faded. I've spent countless hours solving technical challenges, both professionally - helping customers envision the art of the possible with technology - and personally. My passion is one of the core reasons I embarked in this journey, and built Aftersignals.
What I do not love is managing dependencies or conflicting versions. Nor repetition. I honestly dislike having to do the exact same thing over and over again, specially when it is a tedious, error-prone, or otherwise boring process. And from my experience, that is an important part of software development too.
Put the efforts where the value is
Undoubtedly, technology brings value to businesses. From the oldest-styled industry to the most cutting-edge tech-native company, their adoption of technology can help improve countless parts of businesses, in ways that weren't imaginable before.
The value brought by technology is clearly observable from its results. Once its adoption is successful and assets are productive, almost anyone could appreciate its benefits. Before feature rollout, however, there's a whole development process to be undertaken. The amount of heavy-lifting such processes entail may diminish the value of its results. This is where the true economy of technology adoption lies. And where low-code platforms shine.
This heavy-lifting is not smaller for those that know how to tackle it. Despite that being familiar with software development helps us be able to draw the path and needs for our product, such path must still be followed through in order to actually gain the business value of its results. Wouldn't it be great to be able to leverage similar tools or platforms, that reduce the required efforts for developing solutions to a bare minimum?
Aftersignals for technologists
When I was building Aftersignals, I had a constant focus in removing as much as possible the heavy-lifting related for designing Applications and business processes involving technology orchestration. The thought process was simple: try to abstract all low-value activities for users, improving their focus on high-value endeavours.
While I did want to remove from the development processes any repetitive activity, I avoided reinventing the wheel for such sake. There's certainly an amount of technology knowledge required for building software products, and the removal of such knowledge is rather a substitution for a different sort of knowledge, usually platform-specific. And I also wanted to minimise that. The whole thing was about reducing the steepness of the learning curve, to empower customers to become efficient quicker.
Zero-code Application Development
In essence, Aftersignals Platform is a visual environment where you can design your solutions, by dragging and dropping components instead of having to code them. Customers fully own the appearance and behaviour of Apps, defining a tailored user experience that fulfils a business goal.
Achieving Application Development without coding brings several benefits to technical stakeholders:
No need for App Development knowledge: In my experience, the value brought by user interfaces to businesses is huge, and quite easily observed by most stakeholders. App-development, however, requires for specific technical knowledge, oftentimes unrelated to that required for the delivery of backend features - that are usually the ones that bring value to the business. With Aftersignals, all your development is done from an intuitive drag & drop interface, so you don't need to know how your App, its components, or their logic work under the hood.
Seamless maintenance operations: UI technologies are evergreen, in continuous evolution or replacement. This leads to your product's code to swift obsolescence, requiring its owners to have a continuous focus on keeping software up to date. Again, these maintenance operations usually differ from those entailed to backend systems, and do require you to dedicate explicit efforts to it. When you develop your Apps with Aftersignals we take care of all the evolution of our codebase, so you don't need to dedicate time or efforts to updating it yourself.
Most companies nowadays rely on a number of services, for effectively managing their business operations. As the number of services grow, the needs for duplicated activities or complex orchestrations usually does with it.
The majority of modern services offer programmatic interfaces, or APIs. These APIs help developers design orchestrated processes involving several services to fulfil one business goal. Services built-in by companies may also wrap their operations around APIs, to standardise and simplify service-to-service communications for streamlined process execution.
These integration activities, while far from rocket science, require developers to dedicate specific efforts for achieving secure connectivity and orchestration. Often, such efforts are unrelated with direct value-bringing processes.
Aftersignals is built from the ground up to reduce these integration and orchestration tasks to a minimum, so you can focus on tailoring your Apps to your needs and your customers'. These are the integration features available:
Securely connect any REST API and use its operations: With Aftersignals you can create API connections to any endpoint you use or plan to, and manage credential storage and rotation securely. You can then use any API operation within your Apps, resulting from an event or customer interaction. This helps you seamlessly create Apps that interact with external services, without any coding nor heavy-lifting.
React to events and trigger custom logic: Most businesses' repetitive activities are executed on certain circumstances - a payment being processed, an error occurring, a time of day/week, and so on. Events can be submitted to Aftersignals, and used to react with any automated logic you setup for them.
Authenticate your users with your own Identity Provider: When delivering Apps to a private set of users, they'd need for some authentication and authorization means to maintain system's security. With Aftersignals you can configure your OAuth2 Identity Provider, enabling your end-users to authenticate using the exact same means they're used to.
Store data and media: Almost all software products out there are - in a nutshell - data management interfaces. Most Apps are meaningless without accessing data in some fashion - whether files, or media, structured objects or key/value pairs. With Aftersignals you can manage your own scalable data stores, save and access media at your discretion.
Zero-maintenance and operations
We've been reflecting around the challenges of application development, and the amount of efforts that don't go towards bringing direct value to your business. by using Aftersignals for your App development projects, you can bypass the majority of these transversal activities, in favor of leveraging no-code tools.
Once the solution is live, it's due to a whole new landscape of challenges.
Maintaining Apps is time-consuming, and requires for continuous dedication by technical teams. Your business and technology evolves, bringing needs for keeping your solution updated.
Delivering scalable solutions is challenging. An App that works like a charm in the small-scale, can become hard to manage when sized to serve a large number of customers. Specific scale-related activities are forceful for high-throughput systems, whose efforts are hardly related with value delivery.
With Aftersignals most these processes are taken care for you. While you may want to update your solutions as your business evolves, you'd benefit from the same effort reduction you've got during development. The platform automatically handles your scaling needs, so your app can always serve your customers, regardless of how many they are. Most of your maintenance operations would be focused on continuing to improve your solutions, and deliver new and better value to your customers.
Reuse. Don't duplicate.
Unless you will develop just one - small - App and call it a day, you're surely going to face scenarios where you'd require a feature to be present in multiple Apps, or domains of an App. Unless you start modularising your solution for reusability - providing layers of transversal functionality - you may need to duplicate some features.
Feature duplication effectively increases the complexity of maintaining your App's integrity. Each time you modify, evolve, or fix a feature that's duplicated, you'd need to navigate your code, fixing all its instances. And that's tedious.
With Aftersignals the components, views and logic you add to your Apps are standalone, meaning that you can configure them to do what you want them to do. Should you need that same feature somewhere else, you can just drag it and use it, without any additional configuration or duplication. Modifications in the item would be available to all its instances, reducing the needed operations for reused components.
Our goal with Aftersignals is bringing speed and simplicity to Application Development, regardless of your existing technical knowledge, or how much you enjoy development. We designed it to reduce the amount and complexity of heavy-lifting, enabling you to spend your time when it truly matters: bringing value to your business.
If you are not a technical person, Aftersignals will help you abstract yourself from technical topics, and drive your product's development, delivery and maintenance from a fully visual environment. If you are a technical person, Aftersignals will accelerate your product's journey by removing the need of tedious, transversal, value-unrelated operations, allowing you to focus on your solution and its business needs.
In the following weeks I'll start publishing a set of assets that demonstrate the capabilities of Aftersignals from different technical standpoints - e.g. infrastructure management, technical process automation, etcetera. Please stay tuned!
I hope you found this content useful. I'm really looking forward to see how you use Aftersignals for designing your products, and to hear how it improves your efficiency and time-to-market. If there's any question that remains unsolved, or you have a challenge ahead that you want to share with us, reach out to us using the website's contact form. Thanks for reading!