The Week That Changed My Mind About Quickbase

Written By: Harrison Hersch
March 15, 2019
5 min read

The Cruise That Started it All

In one way or another, I’ve been living and breathing Quickbase for about nine years. As a customer and a Quickbase Solution Provider, I’ve seen first-hand the power of Quickbase applications. Now, as a product manager at Quickbase, I’m thrilled to be able to influence the long-term vision of our product.

But my first experience with the platform wasn’t great.

My background is in software architecture, though I am far from a developer. Years ago I was hired into a role that required me to oversee software, including Quickbase. My new boss had tried to explain Quickbase to me during the interview process, saying I could modify applications they had created on the platform. I was adamant that I wasn’t a software engineer, and he was adamant I didn’t need to be.

When my new boss went on a cruise the week after I started, I was called on to support a big Quickbase app that was critical to the business. I was completely baffled, and unsure how I was going to do this. I even told my wife I didn’t know how this new job was going to work out, since it felt like expectations weren’t aligned on my skillset.

As the week went on, I started to realize he was right. I was able to build and maintain software on my own, whereas a week earlier I was only capable of writing technical specs. Being thrown to the wolves while my boss went on vacation made me realize that there was something pretty magical about Quickbase.

Over the next few years, I got to lead some awesome initiatives at that company using Quickbase. To this day, it remains one of the most sophisticated technology ecosystems I’ve seen. It was a true ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, supporting a mid-sized retail organization manage operations and a 200,000 square foot warehouse. With 60+ tables, 5,000+ fields and countless enhancements in JavaScript and PHP, I learned a lot about how Quickbase scales. This ecosystem would have cost millions of dollars and taken years to implement without Quickbase.

Quickbase as a Developer Tool

Fast forward a few years, and we are now facing a supply and demand challenge in software development. There are simply not enough software engineers to meet the demands of the business. For IT leaders, there are only three plausible solutions to this problem:

  • Businesses lower their expectations
  • The supply of software engineers somehow catches up with demand
  • Current software engineers get even more productive

Agile and DevOps arose to help technology keep pace with the business, but new practices and methodologies are not enough. Developers need to augment their toolsets to keep pace.

App development platforms catering to software engineers (typically called “low-code” platforms) have become extremely popular. Platforms in our space such as Mendix and OutSystems are focused on making technical workers more efficient by increasing the speed with which they can develop applications and reduce time-to-value. Many of these platforms focus on concepts such as refactoring and deployment. These make a developer feel right at home, and there is no question that these tools remove some minutia from a developer’s daily life.

But what if a platform could take it a step further? What if we could completely rethink and abstract away the notion of “refactoring” and even remove the need to “deploy” an app? How much more powerful could a software engineer be? That’s where Quickbase comes in.

One promise of Quickbase is that it empowers people who aren’t software engineers to build software. That is immensely powerful. But it’s also true that people who are software engineers should build software with Quickbase. The native functionality alone, including a powerful in-memory database, allows developers to build highly creative applications. Quickbase also includes a great API — in fact over half of our traffic comes from it. It is very common for builders to extend their applications with integrations or custom user-interfaces, helping them stay nimble with their coding skills while building on Quickbase.

Here are some examples of how software engineers or developers might use Quickbase:

  • To learn database fundamentals. With our easy-to-digest relationship wizard and visual builder, Quickbase can help you understand different relationship structures and the flow of information without Crow’s Feet.
  • To deliver fast in your earlycareer. As a new professional, you’ll often have to compete with more experienced resources and earn your spot at the table. There are also going to be times where you may be hesitant to deliver a complex solution in something like .NET. Regardless of your position, Quickbase gives you the ability to deliver real value in a fraction of the time and prove how valuable you are to an organization.
  • To add a newskill. With the range of platforms, frameworks, and technologies out there, the opportunity to deliver enterprise-grade software is everywhere. Quickbase builders have a proven track record of advancing their careers — in fact 18% of our builders say they’ve been promoted as a direct result of solving problems with Quickbase. Using Quickbase could literally be a career mover for you.
  • Leading with results. Running a technology department or team is tough business. The name of the game is maximizing profit while reducing cost, overhead, and risk. Empowering your teams to deliver real value and adapt quickly to ever-changing business — at a fraction of the cost of traditional development — is a perfect way to deliver results.

Once you try it and hit that “ah-ha!” moment, I know you will agree that there is something special here. We encourage you to engage in the Quickbase Community and read how others are using Quickbase to transform their organization.

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