Amazon Honeycode, welcome to the quickly advancing world of no-code and low code application development. Though Honeycode is only in beta we started looking around to see what Amazon has to offer with their new product. We have plenty of thoughts about Honeycode and are excited to see where it ends up as it comes out of beta testing and continues to become more feature-rich.
Low code and no code are platforms that are meant for the citizen developer. These are people who are not necessarily tech wizards or developers by trade, but they are people who see business problems and take it into their own hands to solve them. These platforms and solutions allow citizen developers to come in and create applications to help automate jobs and workflows without needing a computer science degree. Low code and no-code take the barrier of entry out of the equation and allow anyone who identifies a problem to create a solution without the need to code or have minimal help.
Honeycode stores all data in a series of spreadsheets, which will be a very familiar and powerful way to manipulate data for most users. You can set up simple formulas to help manipulate data and set up simple notification workflows based on that data. You can start from a blank spreadsheet or import a CSV if you already have data for your new Honeycode app to use.
There are a few workflows that you can run with buttons in Honeycode, however, there are very limited use cases, with most revolving around updating sheet data. There is the obvious CRUD (create, read, update and delete), navigating to a different page in the app, and sending notifications. These operations are enough for some basic applications where a user would prefer to walk around and use a mobile phone to update data instead of updating spreadsheets manually. It lacks features and support for complicated or custom workflows, and we anticipate that when Honeycode is out of beta it will be more feature-rich.
Amazon hit the nail on the head on making something very easy to use with a low barrier of entry. Whether you’re a technical user or not, you should find yourself with a good grasp of how to add content to a page and how to manipulate data in no time.
Amazon also created a few application templates you can start with to cover some primary use-cases. These templates make the development fast and easy since the main setup will already be done. Some examples of these templates are to-do and task lists, inventory management tracking, and purchase order approvals. These are great use cases for Honeycode because the workflow around them is normally logging data, checking off data, and notifying users to review data.
Though we need to remind ourselves to look at Honeycode through the eyes of a product that is in beta testing, it is difficult to not see a lot of shortcomings.
The inability to implement more complicated workflows or specific business logic is certainly lacking for anyone who is trying to encapsulate a piece of their business. This is where we see tools like Microsoft’s PowerAutomate shine in contrast.
Honeycode also forces all users to create accounts to be able to use the apps that you are creating for your business, which unfortunately gives you one more thing to manage. We would love to see Honeycode support multiple authentication providers such as Google and Microsoft so they can directly integrate with the accounts end users are already used to using.
Another unfortunate shortcoming of Honeycode is the fact that you cannot integrate it with different data sources aside from a spreadsheet, like a database. This makes it difficult to integrate these apps fully with other functions or applications that your business runs daily.