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Top 7 No-Code Database Tools for Your Business in 2023

July 9, 2023

Building a proper database that will scale with no-code is a common headache for everyone who gets into the no-code development field. It’s hard to believe that it will scale, after all, it’s a database that is managed somewhere else, in a way. Can it be trusted to handle the load?

What is a no-code database?

A no-code database is a type of database that allows you to build and manage it without having to write a single line of code. It’s also cloud-hosted in the vast majority of cases and provides an intuitive interface that makes managing data a walk in the park, even for the technically challenged.

At the heart of a no-code database lies the drag-and-drop interface. 

Need a new table in your database? Easy—just drag it over. Want to add fields? Drop them in. Linking tables, setting up relationships, creating views? Same drill. It's absurdly simple, and that's the whole point.

However.

No-code databases don't allow for the same level of customization that you'd get if you were coding from scratch. They have predefined options that you can choose from, and while they cover most basic needs, they might not cut it for super-complex, specific tasks. Some platforms might be more feature-rich, and some not so much.

Why use no-code databases for your business?

Why indeed!

Cost-efficient

No-code databases are basically good cloud databases that someone was sweating bullets building day in and day out. They enable you to create a working database in a fraction of the time it would take to code one from scratch. 

Why hire an expensive developer or tie up your existing tech team for weeks on end when you can knock it out yourself in a few hours?

User-friendly

By that, we mean lack-of-programmer-knowledge-friendly on top of having interfaces you can interact with. You don't need a degree in computer science to work these things. If you can drag and drop, you're already halfway there.

Customizable

While you won't have the infinite flexibility you get from coding your own solution, most no-code platforms provide a range of options that will fit the bill for a vast majority of cases. Not only can you create a bespoke database but you can also adapt and modify it on the fly. 

No-code databases also have automation built into their very core. If you find yourself doing the same tasks over and over again, just automate them. You can focus on the things that actually matter for your business, like strategy, growth, or, you know, actually having a life with human-compatible working hours.

Scalable

At the end of the day, it all boils down to the database you built can handle the stress of increasing use. No-code database tools often focus on one, maybe two big things. For some, it’s interfaces, for others - it’s databases. The latter have figured out how to keep the latency low, and capacity high. They grow with you without slowing anything down.

Top 7 no-code database tools in 2023

Right, here are the contestants for tonight’s no-code database gauntlet: 

Directual database tool

Directual database

Directual offers a flexible, scalable NoSQL no-code database that you can shape to fit your needs. Like other no-code databases, it provides a user-friendly interface where you can create and manage your database by dragging and dropping elements—like playing with Lego bricks, only these bricks hold your business data.

Directual's database supports different types of data fields, including text, numbers, dates, files, and images. You can also create relationships between different data tables. Directual also offers end-to-end SSL encryption to protect your data in transit, and their servers are backed up regularly to prevent data loss.

All of that rests upon the shoulders of the true Atlas of cloud hosting—Amazon Web Services—one of the leading cloud service providers. That means you get all the benefits of AWS's infrastructure without having to worry about the technicalities. 

It can handle increasing data loads without breaking a sweat. Prices also correspond with your demand, so you pay for what you get.

Oh, and you can build your APIs, integrate OpenAI tools to automate even more things, choose hosting regions, and so much more.

Airtable database tool

Yoinked from airtable.com

Airtable is one of those no-code tools that have been making waves in the tech space for a long time now.

With its user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface, you can build a working database prototype fast. For businesses that want to test out their ideas quickly, this is a godsend.

You can create and modify your database on the fly. They’re quite powerful as well. You can visualize your data in different ways - grids, calendars, kanban boards, galleries, you name it. This is a boon when you're trying to understand and communicate your data.

As much as Airtable is great for prototyping, it doesn't scale all that well. I know, it hurts to hear it, but it's the truth. As your database grows, so does its complexity. And while Airtable is a champ at handling small to medium-sized databases, it starts to struggle when you throw too much data at it. Performance can lag, and things can get messy. 

While Airtable is free for basic use, the costs can rack up pretty quickly as your needs grow. More records, more collaborators, more features – they all come with a price. And for a growing business, these costs can be a significant challenge.

Bubble database tool

Source: Bubble.io

Despite the trend toward everyone and their dog wanting to build an app, Bubble has earned its reputation as a solid platform for designing intuitive app interfaces. Bubble is a heavyweight champion in crafting interfaces but struggles to lift its own weight when things need to get really big.

Drag-and-drop functionality? Check. Customizable elements and workflows? Double-check. From buttons, input fields, pop-ups to more intricate user flow design, Bubble hands you the control to orchestrate how your users interact with your application. Not to mention, you don't need to bother with laborious code deployments or maintenance. 

As glorious as it all sounds, there's a massive elephant in the room: Bubble's performance when it comes to scaling. Bubble can't keep up when your application grows beyond a certain size. Even if you're not building the next Facebook, if your app needs to crunch through big data, you might find Bubble stalling.

The platform is designed to get ideas off the ground fast, to quickly go from concept to creation. When you're working within those confines, it's fantastic. But as you scale and your user base swells…not so much. Which is unfortunate, because goodness, is it a gorgeous thing to use.

Bubble's shared server environment is one of its biggest weaknesses. All apps run on shared servers, which means that as more users interact with your app, your app's performance might degrade.

I’m not even sorry for this terrible Lord of the Rings meme.

There's a lack of control over backend processes. Bubble's strength lies in its simplicity, and it achieves that by handling many of the more complex aspects of app development for you. You can't optimize queries, tweak database schemas, or tune performance like you could with a traditional coded backend or a backend-oriented no-code platform.

In Bubble’s defense: we absolutely adore the platform, and it's more powerful than it looks. For a whole range of applications, its capability is more than enough. Just know that if you’re in a business where a lot of things are happening and tons of users are involved, it will be tricky to keep the speed high.

Zapier database tool

Source: Zapier.com

Zapier, oh Zapier. In many ways, the Internet owes Zapier quite a lot—these guys powered countless numbers of services together. That’s why we enjoy so many good things—there are zaps running between them, in the background.

This platform is an absolute beast at integrating applications. Zapier supports thousands of apps, including the big guns like Google Sheets, Slack, MailChimp, and Salesforce. It allows even the most non-technical person to set up 'Zaps' or workflows, which automates repetitive tasks between different apps. 

If you need to create a Trello card from a starred Gmail message, you got it. Want to add Shopify orders to a Google Sheets spreadsheet? No problem. Zapier's ability to automate tasks across different apps without any coding is nothing short of brilliant. 

But we're here for another reason, aren’t we?

Zapier is built for app-to-app interactions, not for detailed, direct database management. This isn't a big deal until you want to use it as your primary tool for managing your databases. When it comes to querying, updating, or deleting data, Zapier is not great. It's a cumbersome and complex process that doesn't even remotely resemble the smooth experience you get when setting up Zaps between apps.

When you're dealing with your own database, you have certain expectations. You want to be able to run complex queries, filter, and sort data, and manage relationships between different data sets. Unfortunately, Zapier isn't cut out for that level of sophistication. The issue of speed and efficiency creeps up when handling large datasets as well. It may take longer to execute Zaps or worse, some tasks might fail altogether under heavy load.

Webflow database tool

Screenshotted off of webflow.com. For a website that heavy with custom UI elements, it doesn’t lag at all. Incredible. 

Webflow. In a universe filled with web design tools, it's managed to carve out a space where it not only exists but truly excels.

Webflow is an absolute workhorse when it comes to frontend tasks. Its interface is intuitive and user-friendly, offering an array of tools to build responsive websites mind-blowingly fast. You get the power to craft pixel-perfect, responsive designs without having to wrestle with CSS or JavaScript. And, with its real-time preview, you get to see your masterpiece come alive as you design, which is about as close to instant gratification as you can get in the world of web development.

Webflow also shines in the hosting and deployment department. No need to meddle with DNS settings, FTP clients, or server configurations. Webflow hosts your websites on Tier 1 Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), ensuring your creations are served up to the world fast.

However, to put it plainly, Webflow isn't built to handle complex backend processes. Webflow's content management system (CMS) does allow for some database operations, such as creating, reading, updating, and deleting records. But, if you're looking for advanced database management and manipulation capabilities, you're going to be disappointed.

You can set up basic relationships between your content types. Complex relational data structures? Don't even think about it. Same with custom server-side logic. If you want to add unique functionality that requires server-side scripting, you're out of luck. There's no support for PHP, Node.js, or any other server-side languages. 

Ragic database tool

Yoinked from ragic.com.

Ragic, the so-called 'Excel-but-better' platform, pitches itself as a dream tool for non-techies to create their own databases without writing any code. In that niche, it does a commendable job.

Ragic takes the user-friendly interface of a spreadsheet and pairs it with the power of a database. Creating forms, fields, and tables in Ragic is easy. It offers a WYSIWYG editor to customize databases to your heart's content. 

You can set up simple relationships between your databases like one-to-many, many-to-one, and even many-to-many. This lets you construct more complex and interconnected systems to better reflect your real-life data requirements. Ragic goes beyond a simple spreadsheet by offering inbuilt data validation. This ensures your databases are populated with clean, accurate data. 

It's great for what it does, but what it does is a small slice of the no-code pie. Looking to design a fancy user interface or set up complex automation? You won't find those features in Ragic. It's strictly a database tool, so if you're looking to build an entire app from scratch without code, you'll need to supplement Ragic with other tools.

In all fairness, Ragic doesn’t try to confuse you with what it is. As a no-code database tool and that alone, it is indeed great.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets. Shouldn’t have bothered—everyone already knows what it looks like.

Google Sheets, the jack-of-all-trades of the spreadsheet world. When it comes to managing data on a personal or small-scale level, it's about as indispensable. But when you try to stretch it beyond its comfort zone into high-load applications…not so much.

It's an easy-to-use, free tool that’s accessible to anyone with a Google account. For data management, basic computations, planning, scheduling, it truly is like no other, packed with an intuitive interface, a host of functions, and the ability to share and collaborate with others.

The flexibility of Google Sheets allows it to morph into various roles. Need a project management tool? It can do that. Inventory management? No problem. A makeshift CRM for a small team? It's got you covered. Google Sheets’ versatility is its greatest strength, making it the go-to tool for quick, low-cost solutions.

Let's not forget about integrations. 

Google Sheets plays well with other tools, both within and outside the Google ecosystem. Whether you need data from a Google Form or want to automate tasks using tools like Zapier, Google Sheets can handle it all with grace.

But, naturally....

Google Sheets is not cut out for heavy-duty, high-load applications. Sure, it might be great for your personal database tasks, but when it's thrown into the ring with demanding, high-load tasks, it starts to stumble.

There are very real limitations to using Google Sheets for heavy-duty work. The cap on cells in a worksheet (currently at five million) is just one of them. Get too trigger-happy with your data, and you'll quickly find yourself hitting that wall. As the size of your data increases, loading, scrolling, and even basic operations can become painstakingly slow.

Google Sheets' lack of advanced database functionalities also hampers its utility for high-load applications. Complex querying, in-depth data analysis, and data security—all these are either missing or fall short in Google Sheets. It also relies on a constant internet connection and is subject to Google's infamous outages. If you're running a critical operation that requires round-the-clock availability, these reliability issues can be a dealbreaker.

How to choose the right no-code database tool

They're all great, but which one is right for you depends on what you need them to do. Duh!

If you're looking for a tool that does it all, you're going to be as disappointed. A tool like that doesn’t exist. Each one of these no-code tools excels in its own niche, and falls short in others.

Directual is your choice if you're into complex backend tasks and full-stack development. With a straightforward interface, it enables you to handle database management, process automation, and API integration. When it comes to visual interfaces, you might consider pairing it with a frontend tool if you want stunning results.

Bubble, on the other hand, is a maestro when it comes to building interactive web applications, ideal for constructing complex interfaces. But don't ask it to handle heavy backend operations or to scale reliably – it’s simply not built for that.

Google Sheets is an excellent pick if you need something for personal use or small-scale tasks. It’s user-friendly, flexible, and plays well with other Google tools, but not much else.

Ragic, while being a competent no-code database tool, it does one thing, and it does it well – managing databases without code. But if you need broader no-code functionalities, Ragic isn’t going to cut it.

Webflow is a powerhouse for frontend tasks. If your priority is designing beautiful, responsive web designs without the need for coding, it's your tool. But when it comes to backend functionalities, nah.

Airtable is a hybrid beast, combining the best of spreadsheets and databases. It's perfect for organizing, tracking, and managing data, especially for small to medium-sized projects. However, similar to Google Sheets, it starts to lag when handling large-scale database needs.

Zapier, on the other hand, is a master of integrations. It links your favorite apps together, allowing for automated workflows. That’s about it.

Which one to choose? The obvious answer will be…more than one. Pick something that excels at the frontend and at the backend. If you just need to build databases, well, you probably know the answer now.

Afterword

Tough as it may be, there are always solutions to difficult problems. Database management tools come in many shapes and flavors, and Directual is renowned for being good at it. If you’d like to learn more, head to one of our communities (available in the footer below) or shoot us a message at hello@directual.com.

FAQ

Can I create a database without coding?
Can I create a database without coding?

Yes, you absolutely can create a database without coding. No-code database tools, like Airtable, Directual, Ragic, or Google Sheets, allow you to design and manage databases without writing a single line of code. They utilize user-friendly interfaces, often with drag-and-drop features, which let you create, manage, and manipulate databases with ease.

What is the no-code tool for SQL?
What is the no-code tool for SQL?

No-code SQL tools allow you to interact with SQL databases without needing to write SQL queries. Said tools offer a graphical interface to create, read, update, and delete records in an SQL database. These tools can be especially useful for business users or developers who don't have a deep understanding of SQL syntax.

Are no-code database tools secure?
Are no-code database tools secure?

Most reputable platforms, like Airtable, Directual, or Google Sheets, have security measures in place, including data encryption and user access controls. However, like any online tool, they are not immune to all threats.

Can a no-code database tool grow with my business as my data needs expand?
Can a no-code database tool grow with my business as my data needs expand?

Yes, many no-code database tools are scalable and can grow as your business expands. For instance, Google Sheets is ideal for small-scale tasks but struggles with high-load applications. Tools like Directual or Airtable, on the other hand, offer more scalability for larger database needs.

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