Overcoming Documentation Challenges with no-code Techniques
Unly embraced no-code in 2019, utilizing tools like Stacker and Airtable to launch new products. However, maintaining up-to-date documentation became a challenge as scripts scattered across various platforms required manual tracking. With the absence of a centralized repository, identifying dependencies in a growing ecosystem of dozens of databases and around 20 apps proved difficult.
To overcome those challenges, Unly started using ncScale to write and maintain their stack documentation.
The Need for Centralization
Over four years, a single developer built a complex infrastructure with thousands of database fields, users, and a mix of no-code, low-code, and “with-code” tools. Moving fast with no-code was essential, but controlling the growing complexity was equally crucial. The in-house solution provided insights into the interconnected web of tools, ensuring a clear understanding of how changes affected the entire ecosystem.
“Having reliable documentation is crucial for producing high-quality no-code applications. ncScale automatically provides us with an overview of our entire ecosystem.”Ambroise Dhenain, Co-founder & CTO at Unly
Lessons from Traditional Development
Coming from a professional developer background, the lack of mature collaboration tools in the no-code space became apparent. While Git and GitHub streamline collaboration in traditional development, most no-code tools, such as Stacker and Noloco, lack the necessary maturity. Airtable stands out for its reliability in simultaneous collaboration, but none of these tools addresses the challenge of “balancing technical debt.”
The Pitfalls of Incomplete Documentation
Airtable allows extensive documentation of databases but falls short in providing a comprehensive overview. Utilizing tools like Zapier and Make without a holistic understanding often leads to unexpected issues. For instance, a simple database field renaming for aesthetics in CSV export can disrupt the workflow, a consideration often overlooked by many startups.
Consolidating low-code items in one place
Before ncScale, manual saving of elements on Github was a necessity, consuming around 30% of development time. This involved the tedious task of copying and pasting scripts and scattered no-code elements across various tools. The decision to adopt ncScale became clear with the support for Airtable script integration. Now, the list of elements synchronizes, eliminating the need to copy scripts to Github and ensuring centralized code access.
Ensuring reliable documentation
Having reliable documentation is crucial for producing high-quality no-code applications. ncScale provides automatic and dependable visibility of all no-code elements. This allows Unly to continue moving forward and always keep innovating. No more slowing down, and without fear of overlooking important aspects.
“The time saved is evident: instead of spending hours digging to locate a specific element, the simple full-text search instantly finds these elements.”Ambroise Dhenain, Co-founder & CTO at Unly
Achieving a Comprehensive View of the Infrastructure:
ncScale allows for control and verification before making any changes, determining whether something will break or not. This makes the infrastructure much more robust than before. The time saved is evident: instead of spending hours digging to locate a specific element, the simple full-text search instantly finds these elements.
It is, in my humble opinion, a good-enough reason to use ncScale. This is, by far, the most important feature ncScale has to offer at this time. And it’s something very few companies own at this time, not just anybody has the ability to build such a similar in-house system.
ncScale makes it a breeze, link your tools and that’s it. You don’t have to think hard and long about it.
Evolving with ncScale
Recognizing the need for a comprehensive approach to documentation-at-scale, Unly actively engaged with ncScale to shape their product and vision. A year of collaboration and continuous feedback solidified ncScale as a valuable ally in managing the intricate connections within Unly’s no-code tech stack.
Transitioning to Efficiency
While Unly’s in-house documentation system was robust, the manual process proved time-consuming and prone to errors. Keeping track of changes and updates became a challenge. However, when ncScale introduced the powerful “Full-Text search,” surpassing Unly’s capabilities, the decision to switch tools became evident.
The transition not only freed up valuable time but also enhanced reliability. Despite acknowledging that ncScale doesn’t fully meet Unly’s high-quality standards yet, the commitment remains to support its evolution. Unly anticipates ncScale becoming the go-to tool for “Managing No-Code Technical Debt at Scale” revolutionizing how companies innovate with no-code solutions in the coming years.
Unly is a social impact EdTech company founded in 2018, which aims to simplify student financing and make education more accessible.