We started building Directual in 2014, when there was no such terms as low-coding, no-coding or zero-coding. But there was an idea—to let people create complex digital products as easily as possible. The path of Directual development went through building enterprise-grade apps for large telco firms, real estate developers, and oil & gas companies. Having strong internal consulting department, we developed end-products for our clients by ourselves. In such circumstances our engineering team was focused on rolling out powerful and complex features. Directual platform became the basic technology for solving such tasks as logistics optimisation, HR-management and asset distribution planning.
By 2019 Directual had proved that the platform was a reliable and flexible technology. Applying Directual, a citizen developer (not a professional software engineer) could manage to build the whole back-end of a business-critical IT-system. But that was not our final goal. Directual is the mission-driven company. We are going to let people create! And the next step seemed obvious for us—we started preparing Directual cloud platform for the mass market.
Nowadays low-code solutions quickly transform the way digital products are built. We adore Webflow, Zapier and Airtable! Those products are the marvellous tools for creating some IT-systems without any coding. The barrier to building something digital is getting lower. That doesn’t mean that coding skills will lose its value. It means that we are going to see thousands of new products which could not have been developed without low-code solutions. The definition of a “product builder” changes. The new “maker” focuses on the business value, not on the specific technology.
The low-code ecosystem includes amazing platforms. Most of the solutions let user build apps by dragging and dropping the elements of an interface. We have mentioned Webflow which we applied for developing our current web-site. Other platforms help to connect different services. Zapier and IFTTT really do integrating easier. One could ask “what are the limits of low-code?”. The regular answer was: “If you need sophisticated back-end for your app, be ready to hire traditional developers and code a lot!”. We are going to change that. On the one hand, Directual has the most important low-code features in its DNA: simplicity and intuitive visual approach. On the other hand there are no limits on back-end building. Moreover, Directual is focused on back-end development. It means, that the empty niche in the low-code ecosystem will be filled.
Alongside with updating the platform we refreshed the brand and the website. Probably you have heard the story of the first technical task to the platform, which was drawn on a piece of the paper in 2014. We decided to come back to this idea. New hand-drawn, bright style confirms our endeavour to make development easy and fun.
Let’s move on to the new features overview.
We had gathered lots of feedback from Directual users (thanks to our consulting department and 200+ beta-test participants), and then dramatically updated each and every platform page. There are unified UX-patterns in the interface now. The action panel with the buttons is on the top of the screen; pages for editing entities and for designing scenarios are full-screens with context tips. The whole UI is light and clear.
Directual has always been a perfect choice if you had a team of front-end developers. You could easily create any API-methods and work with them on front-end. We created an open-source boilerplate for React JS. Using that framework, teams could quickly combine their React-app and Directual. But a lot of less experienced users got stuck connecting Directual and an interface of their apps. That is why we are introducing a new platform feature—web-pages builder.
There are two use cases:
Directual now is open for registration. Any person can sign up and start turning his or her ideas into apps. We believe the platform be free forever without trial periods. Take your time for learning and experimenting! As soon as the app goes to the prod and begins to consume resources, you will have to choose the paid plan. There are two pricing plans: $30 monthly for small apps (startups at their beginning) and $300 for large ones. The difference is in the limits of resources that the app consumes, and in the price of additional resources if the limits are exceeded.
One of our beta-testers once said: “Directual platform is full of features which are treasures! But you, guys, have hidden them thoroughly!” Indeed, while building sophisticated IT-solutions on Directual for our enterprise customers, we developed tons of fantastic platform features. But they might not be obvious for the new users. To cover that issue, we are launching Directual Academy. This is the place where you can find lessons and tips both for the basics and advanced techniques. New lessons are appearing regularly.
Low-code tools such as Directual are becoming powerful enough to replace custom code. The community of users plays the essential role in this process. Directual community is rather small yet, but it is going to grow rapidly. To support that growth we have launched Community forum. Our audience is multinational. Historically, its significant part is Russian-speaking. Thus, forum welcomes posts both in English and in Russian. In case of Russian, the community moderators provide the English translation in comments.
This release is just the beginning. We believe in our mission and do our best to create a superb platform for the millions of makers!
Have questions? Visit our facebook group.