Don’t reinvent the wheel in low code: Easy-to-use Smart Bricks for common requirements

Don’t reinvent the wheel in low code: Easy-to-use Smart Bricks for common requirements
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Smart Bricks: Don't Reinvent the Wheel in Low Code

The rise of low code platforms made it easier for noncoders to create amazing apps by using intuitive visual tools and with just a few hours of basic training. This is leading to low code being indispensable in almost all industries. Involving noncoders speeds up development time and creates a decisive edge on the market. And there is still a huge potential lying dormant. Improvements in usability and functionality can push this technology even further into the hands of citizen developers. To do so, development platforms offer a variety of modular functions for saving even more time and effort.

 

A smooth ride with Smart Bricks

To lower the entry barrier for team members without any prior coding experience, low code platforms are designed to be easy to operate and navigate. Just about anyone is able to set up some basic functionalities with simple components like buttons and tables and have a running application in no time. However, citizen developers lose a lot of time coming up with more sophisticated functions that are already commonly used. If we choose to see a low code application as a LEGO project, most developing platforms leave you with the tedious task of building your model Porsche 911 completely out of tiny single bricks. And when it actually does hit the road, it most likely will not run very smoothly.

On the VisionX platform, however, you can start building with the most basic frameworks already in place, where you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every single time. You can now have access to ready-made modules, where most of the configuration has already been taken care of. These modular functions only need a few tweaks to fit into the final application. Alongside with the basic components, the VisionX platform provides what we call Smart Bricks.

 

Four things that Smart Bricks do better than anybody else

For faster development time, there are many functions out there that go beyond the basic functions like buttons or tables. We introduced a wide set of Smart Bricks so you have pre-made modules at your disposal, which are closely linked to a defined functionality. Let’s take a look at the most important ones:

 

The editor panel

The editor panel is a Smart Brick with predefined layout and configuration, but which can be fully customized to give it your personal touch and functionality. Let’s say you’re building a project management app. You need a list of projects, and when you pick one an editing form opens. In common low code platforms you have a huge library of tiny pieces you have to pull together to design the screen: a table with labels and data fields, an “add project” button, a search bar, a scrollbar or “next results” button, etc.

You also need to define an action for each element. This is a lot of work and therefore also prone to errors. The editing panel makes all of this easy. Drag in the editing panel and select your data. Typical elements like search and an insert button can be added just by dragging them in. You can set the editing form to appear in a new window, in a pop-up or in split screen view. It’s your choice. Drag in data fields you already picked, drag in “save”, “delete” and “cancel” buttons. With this simple modular drag and drop user interface, most citizen developers can be brought up to speed and get started on designing an app.

 

Role management

Having a precise hierarchy of which user can access a file or change a configuration is key in dealing with data. You want some users to be able to read a datasheet, but they shouldn’t dare to edit it. To come up with different user categories and to administer them can be quite tedious and also error-prone in common low code platforms, as not all of them give you even a predefined user management module. And if they do, most of the time it is just a simple version where you can’t define roles and permissions, or not to the granularity you intended.

With VisionX, we make it easy. Our Smart Brick ‘user & role management’ is built automatically into every app, where you are able to seamlessly add, edit, deactivate or remove users, define password policies and force password resets. You can also define roles for your app and assign permissions for roles at a very granular level, not only allowing access to specific workscreens but also showing or hiding certain fields or buttons. And even the user management screen can be customized. You can add or remove fields to meet your specific user management needs.

 

Audit log

We know that hearing the word ‘audit’ can send shivers down your spine. If you haven’t been a good boy in terms of keeping track of all your data and processes, it’s like going to the dentist. But it doesn’t have to be like that. If you have prepared regularly and kept your things in order, there is nothing to fear. The regular audit, be it financial, data privacy, compliance of any type is an inescapable fact of life in many industries, from electronics to pharma to IT. Periodic audits ensure the integrity and security not just of data, but of all business processes. And when something goes wrong, forensic audits help you make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The foundation of audit preparedness is a strong audit log, which includes all changes to all fields in a defined record at a defined time and the changes in content. Now imagine you’re building a business app that deals with sensitive data. To build a proper audit log to track and revert changes is really difficult. Unfortunately, many low code platforms would have you build audit logging from scratch, which is not an easy task for a citizen developer. That’s why VisionX offers the audit logging Smart Brick. Just turn it on and logs are generated to track all changes.

 

Connect to existing database

When designing your app, there are mostly existing databases involved that need to be integrated beforehand. How to connect them depends on the low code platform, as many don’t even support common SQL databases like Oracle, MySQL or SAP HANA, so you’re stuck with manual import/export. But even if they do, setup can be a real pain. When connecting, most platforms will just see the database’s set of linked tables, and it’s up to you to manually rebuild each link.

VisionX makes all of this easier, thanks to our Smart Brick for database connection. Let’s go back to the project management app. When you have a table with projects referenced by a table with to-dos, the Smart Brick notices and suggests a link so you can see to-do lists in projects. When you have a table with project types that references projects, a dropdown to select the type is automatically created. You can create a data input mask with just a few clicks. Our intuitive data modeling is easy for business users and efficient for software developers. It automatically generates ID columns and keys, recognizes data types and domains, and maps 1:N relations as dropdowns and M:N relations as master/details.

Low code is now easier than ever

The original idea behind low code was to give citizen developers an opening to design an app all by themselves. But without offering them modular bricks for certain common functions, they are let down yet again. As shown above, the need for some bigger modular functions is an absolute necessity. Some of these ready-to-go Smart Bricks are already included in VisionX, others can easily be downloaded as add-ons from our Ready-Made Solutions Store. We will continue adding Smart Bricks to the VisionX platform to keep up with your requirements in this fast-paced world of software development. So when you feel that low code platforms left you stranded on the side of the road with just single basic functions, we are here to pick you up and give you a lift with our ever-growing library of pre-made functions.

 

Would you like to see just how easy it is to build your own professional grade business apps? Get a personal demo today!

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Photo by Pete

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