Why we started Draftsman.io

About Draftsman Mar 11, 2021

In January 2020 I read an estimate from Gartner that in 2025 more than 60% of development efforts will take place within low-code or no-code platforms. My experience with these kinds of platforms is limited to a low-code integration platform. But I have seen some demo's and they all focus on simple use cases. Think, client-facing crud applications with maybe a bit of business process automation.

Somebody with a curious mind like me will wonder "could you build a business app with complex domain logic in a no-code platform?"
In my experience, it can become quite complicated once you get past the use cases your loco/noco vendor had imagined.
So why do noco/loco giants stay away from these complex cases during their demos? Is it impossible or is it just commercially unattractive? The well-known 80/20 rule.
Maybe it is just a niche.

But commercial unattractiveness never stopped me before, so let's find out.

When I hear "no-code" I envision a tool for "visual-programming" as a layer of abstraction to build complex business applications without resorting to code.

Irronacly, in my opinion, a key feature in a powerful no-code platform is full code transparency. Debugging error messages can be a pain in the ass when the relationship between your "model" and "runtime code" is unclear. This detachment is common when code is overgeneralized to accommodate flexibility and results in major cognitive complexity.


Hypothetically, if we would build a platform, what would different customers expect from no-code?

Criteria as a small business owner as an enterprise business owner
Developer experience I expect zero friction, the engineers can focus on solving business problems I expect zero friction, the engineers can focus on solving business problems
Elasticity I expect stable user experience I expect stable user experience during low and heavy load
Capacity Management I don't want to think about it I want to be able to reseve capacity
Run Cost I expect a fair fee correlated to ussage I expect fee reductions in case of capacity reservation
Identity and Access management I expect basic IAM I expect IAM and the option to integrate with our company SSO solution
Data I expect my data to be secure and available I expect my data to be secure and available. optional: globally replicated and point in time restorable.

As a two-person team, we don't want responsibility for the last five criteria. Our core business objective is to deliver zero friction. We need a high level of automation and strong visual concepts to support complex business domain modeling.

We believe in full code transparency.
Choosing an abstraction like no-code does not mean you don't care about code, it just means you don't want to write it. We believe that you always should be able to read and reason about your code, you don't have to, but you should be able to.

And last but not least, we believe in full run cost transparency, this means your application should run on your environment, not ours.

Can it be done?

We at draftsman think it is possible, let's build an MVP and find out!
In the next post, we will discuss our scope for this endeavor.


Bo Hanssen

I've been a technology-agnostic developer since 2015.

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