The backend of low-code and no-code projects is often built on tools that slightly resemble MySQL or PostgreSQL databases. Their main advantage is certainly the low entry threshold. Most of them allow you to “click” new records, and in combination with an efficient API they are surprisingly powerful and versatile. We talk to the creators of one such tool – SeaTable.
TP: Maybe I’ll start with something strong – why is SeaTable better than Airtable? What can you give customers that they don’t have?
Christoph Dyllick Brenzinger: When it comes to the actual range of features, SeaTable and Airtable are certainly very similar.
However, I am convinced that SeaTable has two big advantages over Airtable. One is our German ancestry, including German data protection and server location, and the other is the ability to license SeaTable as software and run it on your own hardware or in your own data center.
For many companies located in Europe, these are very important issues when introducing new software solutions.
Individuals and companies who choose our cloud solution benefit from the server location in Germany and all European regulations. For those who don’t want to give up their data, only SeaTable offers self-service and full server control.
It is this last point that is becoming increasingly important for companies wishing to retain full data sovereignty. We have noticed that more and more Airtable customers are turning to SeaTable because they recognize and want to take advantage of the added value our solution offers.
Can apps like SeaTable compete with the database technologies we’ve used so far?
It depends on how you look at it. After all, SeaTable is a database if you like. The biggest difference is that SeaTable dramatically lowers the barrier to entry. You no longer need to be a database expert to use SeaTable to create a database structure for your own project or application.
Of course, SeaTable will never be as fast as a highly optimized MySQL or PostgreSQL database. However, in most cases performance is not as critical as it seems. It is much more important to be able to quickly implement your own ideas without hiring an expert for each database application.
How do you ensure the security of data stored in SeaTable?
We are aware of our responsibility towards SeaTable Cloud. All data is stored on the German servers of the Swiss provider Exoscale. Their data centers meet all the requirements for supplying Swiss banks. Also, of course, we back up all data to other servers in a different location several times a day.
I would also add that we are so confident in our framework and our software that we will soon be creating a bug bounty program that will reward you for finding and reporting vulnerabilities.
If all of that isn’t enough for you, we offer the option of a fully self-service SeaTable server. If necessary, the server can be operated entirely locally and does not need to be connected to the Internet. This allows SeaTable to store any type of private data.
What products can I create based on your application? What are your customers for?
The great thing about SeaTable is that in minutes I can build my own process as if it were Lego. This has the obvious advantage that, on the one hand, it frees up the company’s IT department and, on the other hand, it reduces the costs of special solutions. With SeaTable, previously manual and time-consuming processes can be created conveniently, quickly, flexibly, efficiently and without programming knowledge.
In SeaTable almost any kind of information can be structured and understandable. To this end, we provide our users with more than 20 different column types, as well as additional plugins, such as gallery, kanban, timeline, map or calendar. Moreover, the user has the possibility to create his own views using the filtering, sorting and grouping functions. In SeaTable you can also find functions that support statistical analysis and the ability to create forms.
This results in very different usage scenarios. We have companies planning editorial processes for the SeaTable marketing team. Another company uses SeaTable to map the entire application process. Yet another has developed its own CRM system with SeaTable.
SeaTable can also be used very effectively by individual users. It will be perfect for planning your shopping list, building your own shoe, book or movie collection, as well as an address book, meeting planner or nutrition script. And that’s not all, as users can also use SeaTable to plan their own wedding, travel, fitness/workout, events or even study. After all, SeaTable might just be your regular home to-do list.
When they see all of these examples, you can quickly see that the possibilities are actually endless. It is also important for us in the daily development of our software. We want to create and develop a product that can be used in any field and in any business and that makes everyday work easier so that you can focus on the important things.
The low-code approach is becoming increasingly popular and increasingly used by businesses. Do you think this means that the demand for programmers will decrease?
I believe that the good programmers of today and tomorrow will never be laid off. Of course, a lot has happened in recent years. I’m sure the low-code approach will become more and more popular in the coming years. The advantages of low-code are just too tempting for companies: less development time, less work, and all of this is done by technical laymen rather than highly paid programmers.
For example, Gartner anticipates tremendous growth in the low-code space and expects more than 65% of all applications to be built on low-code/no-code platforms by 2024.
I think those numbers are pretty realistic, but I suspect it will take a bit longer than 2024. However, today’s programmers won’t find themselves unemployed, but they will still have something to do. The demand for development work that cannot be done with low-code/no-code is too high.
At the same time, I suspect that the performance gains associated with low code are enough to compensate for what we currently have in the form of too few developers.
I noticed that many developers are quite skeptical about no-code and low-code technologies. Where can this reluctance come from?
I suspect most reservations are due to reliance on a specific platform operator. When you choose a platform, you enter into a dependency that you really want to avoid. This argument is also difficult to refute. So far, there are no established standards and few manufacturers – unlike SeaTable – offer extensive import and export functionality.
Also, many people doubt the real benefits of low code. Even if you no longer need a skilled developer, you still need motivated employees who are ready and able to take on new opportunities. Only then can you truly build performance-enhancing applications with low code.
Your product seems very extensive and mature. What does the roadmap look like for the coming year? In which direction are you going to develop it?
Thank you so much. Of course, I’m happy about that. We will continue the rapid development of SeaTable. If we take into account that we only started operating in July 2020, we can be proud of what we have achieved so far. On the other hand, we know of course that there is still a lot of room for improvement.
In 2022, the main topic will certainly be the automation of processes and the improvement of information collection. We want our customers’ daily work to be even easier.
But of course we still have lots of ideas for new plugins and other features. Our main goal is to become a global market leader in low-code / no-code self-hosted solutions and we will do everything to achieve it.
Christoph Dyllick Brenzinger
Christoph Dyllick-Brenzinger is one of the founders and product manager of SeaTable. After several years of working as a management consultant in the SAP environment for the largest European companies, in 2014 he founded a datamate joint venture with his brother. He studied economics at the University of Mannheim in Germany and had a passion for software development from an early age.