Getting started is the hardest bit. It wasn’t hard for Nikita Smirnov, who’s a recent addition to the no-code community, and yet making strides happened to be much easier than it seems. This is a story of a single person that turned the career vector from one direction to another without breaking a sweat—a feat few people can do…if they’re not looking to become no-code developers.
I’m Nikita Smirnov, a no-code developer with a rich background in performance marketing. I have several projects going on at this very moment. Everything started about a year and a half ago—I became acquainted with no-code platforms and began learning how Integromat works, which was very helpful in my work.
For my primary employment, currently, I am the head of performance media marketing in an agency—we make ads of all sorts, really. I was interested in optimizing some aspects of my work and found out that you can create various bots without any coding. Why not do things faster and automate them where possible, eh?
So, to start with, I created a reminder system so that our specialists would monitor the campaigns easier. That involved alerts with indicators of where and what is being fulfilled, along with other important details.
That's how I got to know Integromat—I learned to connect a simple tool like Google Docs and linked it to a Telegram bot. There were other low-code/no-code platforms out there that I was checking out. I knew about the Zerocoder courses, and that’s when the match made in heaven was made.
My experience as a programmer is….well, negligible. No-coding, however, seemed interesting to me. I didn't want to study programming—it's a long and complicated process. Building apps code-free is a simple solution for my tasks which are always mounting in numbers.
The visual interface is clear and cohesive. Everything else is logic-related, and I keep on learning step-by-step how to turn sandcastles into Pyramids.
The Zerocoder courses. I was looking to learn about no-code and low-code, hounding for information on YouTube as well. My goal was to find a platform I can use for all of my needs—frontend, backend, and integration-wise. So, one of the courses had Directual covered.
My first thoughts before were “It’s probably too complicated, but it looks powerful”. Well, it is powerful, and it does have a learning curve—but not as bad as I anticipated. I tried the course and the platform. The rest is history.
Backend - Directual
Frontend - React
Frontend (previously) - Creatium
A whole host of things.
At my work, we had an internal competition for company-made department products, with many teams participating to create something that helps the workflow. This company initiative was supported by experts from one of the startup accelerators, too—everyone can be a dev.
There was a product I made—a chatbot assistant that helps clients look at the KPIs of their campaigns, along with other data. We didn't finish the project completely but we won a prize for our efforts. After that, we moved on to bigger projects.
The first project—a system that allows the displaying of ad creatives for any brand over a certain period. Our superiors wanted to connect this system to Telegram, basically enabling an ad creative search engine in the messenger. It took half a year to implement, the backend of the platform needed to make a lot of additional requests to make it work, and now it's working!
This is how it works: you enter the brand name, a list of buttons appears, you choose a brand and after some time it sends a link to the creatives that it finds, which I was able to implement in Directual. Parallel to this, I am also working on an investment platform.
This is basically a crowdfunding platform—there are investors and projects. Investors can invest in campaigns that are posted there.
As a freelancer, I also take on various smaller projects, one of them being a confectionery business. They have several branches in different cities, dealing chocolate cakes, pastries and other sweet tooth things.
The problem is, the courier service was not automated at all. There are 40 couriers who previously printed an Excel sheet every day with their orders and drove to the addresses on the list. New orders could come in and they had to reprint it, communicate the changes to the management, and it was all inconvenient.
We made a Telegram bot that could pull order data from the CRM and into the Telegram bot. We were able to set status reports for successful deliveries and so on. At the end of each day, a report is needed is required. Now it can be sent automatically to the accountant. There are plans to introduce inventory management as well for each confectionery product—the existing software on the market doesn't suit this task very well. Building this bot only took only a week, and another half a week to test and debug.
The projects I work on grow in complexity as time passes, and Directual fits the bill for everything backend-related. I’ve had a look at other no-code platforms, but I’m certain they won’t be enough for large-scale projects.
Of course, when it comes to creating awe-strucking things in Directual (and other platforms too), you would benefit from knowing JS language. Creating huge scenarios is difficult, but with JS, it's easier to design them. That’s why React is the go-to language for frontend tasks where Directual is not enough, at least not yet.
There is an issue with somewhat of a performance loss when the number of scenarios is large sometimes. Naturally, the number of bugs also increases, but it's probably just my case.
The fact that the JS SDK is only available on the business plan is a bit sad (UPD.: JS SDK is now available for everybody on the Marketplace). We can't do much without it but it would be better if it was available starting with the Pro plan. I would pay extra for it if it was available separately from the pricing plans.
There are also some UX issues, the frontend customization could be better. You can make anything, of course, but I'm not sure it will solve all the issues I have. It would also be nice to have more options (and restrictions) for fields—for instance, to have only a set number of characters available in a field, e.g for a certain ID number. I can build workarounds, of course, but maybe it would be nice to have it from the start.
Scenario logs are also overwritten quite quickly. Sometimes I can't analyze the scenario logs that were overwritten half an hour ago (due to high load) and it's harder to fix bugs as a result.
But, overall, I like everything in Directual.
I’ll finish my existing projects and continue to study what I can do with the platform. I’ll also study frontend frameworks some more, and commit to make a proper developer out of myself. What I’m working on now will be a fantastic addition to my portfolio, and grounds for a prosperous future as a dev.
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