Table of Contents
I remember the day I deployed my first website using Wordpress. Although it didn't take off exactly how I imagined, I was pretty happy at how easy it was to create one. Wordpress allowed you to set-up anything from a landing page, or a blog, or even an entire e-commerce shopping website to sell your products. No wonder it's the world's most popular content management system, used by 41.4% of the top 10 million websites as of 2021.
Wordpress is one of the first category of tools that today collectively are known as “no-code”. A decade ago, creating applications for the cloud was restricted to only software engineers or people with some pre-requisite knowledge. Today, no-code tools have evolved to be vastly more versatile and much more feature-rich than the early days of simple CMS tools.
A no-code tool allows users to create create software by manipulating program elements graphically, rather than by specifying them textually (which requires knowledge of computer programming). Entire websites, applications, and enterprise software with sophisticated workflows can be built and automated without writing a single line of code manually. This allows users to build and automate business logic for their platform faster, without any prerequisite technical knowledge.
Workflows are a major feature in most no-code software tools, and they are highly sought-after especially in enterprise software. Broadly speaking, a workflow is a sequence or a series of steps connected together to carry-out a specific task. For instance, an e-commerce website might have a workflow that saves a user’s credit card details to the database upon filling a form and submitting it.
These workflows, can in-turn be chained with other workflows to perform even more complicated tasks. For example, the workflow that saved a user’s credit card details could form a part of a larger “shopping” workflow, to enable a user to shop and purchase products from the website.
In programming terminology, a workflow can be thought of a function that accepts a set of inputs or data, and performs some programmatic action using that data. The function always does the same thing that it is designed for - only the values of the data change.
Depending on the specific software, workflows may go by different names. For example, Zapier - a no-code tool that allows you to create workflows between multiple software tools, calls them “Zaps”.
Decision Management software are a special type of computer software that allows users to build, manage, and automate decision-making within an organization, and its interactions with employees, customers and suppliers. Since most enterprise software are cloud-based, popular no-code tools that help with decision management also support several major cloud service providers. Here are a few of them:
- InRule: Provides End-to-End solution for the enterprise Decision Management Lifecycle, including business rule management, analytics, and process management. It also has support for AWS, Azure and IBM Cloud.
- Pega: Includes features like Robotic Process Automation, Business rules and their own AI to optimize workflows and centralize business logic.
- Appian: This is a low-code tool similar to Inrule and Pega that also lets you build business workflows and automate them, with support for AWS and Azure.
At Egen, we used a no-code tool called Decisions. Here are some of its features:
- Easy to-use visual designer that helps you design and automate workflows with a drag-and-drop interface.
- Allows you to create components that can be reused at multiple points of your workflow and application.
- Workflows and components can be unit tested and integrated with 3rd party APIs too.
- Has an in-built instance of SQL server, but also allows integration with external cloud-based tools like Docker, AWS and Azure.
We used Decisions to set-up and automate business logic for one of our clients, a leader in online car dealerships and vehicle insurance space. Here are some of the more powerful features of Decisions that we leveraged.
Decisions form designer comes with a host of elements and UI components to choose from for creating forms.
Here’s an example of form that allows you to collect employee details from a user and save them to a database:
Decisions comes with a visual data structure designer that lets you design the format and structure of your database entities, metadata types and legal values and the relationships between them.
Here’s how you can define a data structure to store Student-related information:
You can add conditionals, loops, switch statements that trigger specific actions, using the visual rule engine. This allows you to build units of your business logic without writing a single line of code.
Here’s an example of how a rule flow might look like for a subscription renewal logic:
Rules can be combined together to form an entire sequence of programming logic or “flow”. Workflows can be configured to pull information from the database, apply data transformations as required, and pipe it to different control flows within your business logic.
The visual workflow designer makes it easy to create and view workflows:
You can also easily debug your workflows without affecting your actual application logic or data, using the visual workflow debugger:
This is a powerful feature that allows you to unit test your workflows reliably before shipping it to production. The visual unit testing tool allows you to add unit tests using dummy data values for a variety of scenarios and edge cases and informs you when any one of them fail:
No-code is unquestionably changing the way companies create software. Decision Management software can help organizations rapidly prototype, test and debug business and logic logic for your organization.
I personally recommend making use of tools that have the above features. A system to define data types and store information, collect user input, design workflows, and safely debug business logic are essential for creating enterprise software.
At Egen, we use our deep domain expertise and years of experience building enterprise grade software, to choose and leverage the best tools to help you solve complex challenges. Say hi at firstname.lastname@example.org.