AWS Startups Blog

The Startup’s Guide to Building Tools without Programming Using Honeycode

Have you had to make a decision between allocating resources to an internal tool over a customer facing experience? Startups exist in a world of challenging tradeoffs where budgets are tight, timelines are short, and there is pressure to deliver. One difficult tradeoff that our startup customers have shared with us is having to choose between investing resources in internal tooling or in their customers’ experiences. The thought process is always that a better internal tool will make the team more efficient and as such, deliver higher quality customer experience later on. Unfortunately, investing precious resources in acquiring or developing an internal tool comes with significant opportunity costs.

Enter Amazon Honeycode, which can help alleviate this difficult tradeoff. With Honeycode, investing in internal tools no longer means diverting precious development resources away from customer-facing apps. Honeycode is a fully managed service that allows you and your teams to quickly build powerful applications that work on a desktop browser, iOS, and Android – with no programming required, so anyone can be an app builder. A Honeycode application helps teams stay in the loop because everyone has access to the same data, updated in real time. The apps can also be personalized to specific users or roles to help them stay focused on the data that’s relevant to them. And Honeycode’s powerful and easy-to-use features make it possible for any business user to automate the most time consuming manual steps, such as asking for updates, approvals, or reminding people when it’s their turn to take action.

How are startups using Honeycode today?

The most common use case for Honeycode is replacing overstretched spreadsheets that get emailed back and forth. This continues to be an all too common reality even for some of our digital native customers where some of their users are so comfortable with spreadsheets that they’ll default to creating one to manage their processes. The shortcomings of this approach are well known: maintaining version control using filename becomes confusing, and making updates to the sheet from a mobile device is challenging and leads to accidentally overwritten data, just to name a few. Honeycode is an ideal solution even for the most advanced spreadsheet power users because the experience of building a Honeycode application is centered around a spreadsheet, which we call ‘Tables.’ Tables look and feel like spreadsheets, but they’re far more powerful because they behave like a database. With Honeycode tables, users can model their data, associate attributes using a unique feature called ‘Rowlinks’ that gives access to an entire row of data from a single cell, and use the same formulas that make their spreadsheets so powerful. Once all of the data is aligned in the tables, Honeycode’s powerful wizards can create the frontend of the application in minutes, or users can use drag and drop tools to build the app. But wait, there’s more, as business users can also configure alerts or reminders, or customize the experience to a specific user or personas, to automate some of the most time-consuming tasks, such as sending emails to ask for updates or approvals.

Startups are using Honeycode’s agility for rapid prototyping. Product teams find that creating a working Honeycode application, which can be used as a prototype is another powerful use case. Plenty of wireframe tools are out there and they work well, but with Honeycode you work out the data model, a basic user flow and a basic interface at the same time with live data and actual forms. Once the basic requirements have been refined in this way, you can build a working prototype that can be shown to customers to gather feedback, or to engineers as they plan their roadmap. Using Honeycode this way ensures that product teams are receiving high quality feedback based on a working prototype, or that an engineering team can see a working wireframe. Honeycode’s agility also allows for rapid iteration as changes can quickly be made in the Honeycode backend, and be available instantly to the end users.

Startups are creating seamless workflows across all of their tools using Honeycode’s API’s and integrations with Zapier, AppFlow. Connecting a Honeycode application to existing tools and data can be done in minutes using Zapier or Amazon AppFlow. This enables business users to build end-to-end app solutions that integrate multiple existing tools and automate complex workflows across different systems. With Zapier, an app builder can move data between Honeycode workbooks and thousands of other services such as Salesforce, Slack, Jira, Trello, and more. The workflows can be scheduled or triggered based on an event in Honeycode or another service. App builders are using the integration with Amazon AppFlow to move their data from AWS services or one of 15 SaaS applications (such as Salesforce, Marketo, Zendesk, etc.) into their Honeycode workbooks. And the more technical builders are making use of Honeycode’s API’s to get data in and out, as well as trigger actions within their applications.

How do I start?

The fastest way to get started is to create a new Honeycode application from one of our free ready-made templates, such as the Applicant Tracker, the Customer Tracker, or the Team Task Tracker. The templates may provide you with the off the shelf solution you have been looking for, or can be a starting point. The templates are easy to customize over time as your team grows and processes evolve. You can also start start from scratch when you try Honeycode for free. The free plan includes 20 members, unlimited workbooks, and up to 2,500 rows per workbook. If you need more data capacity to support larger projects or add additional users, you can upgrade to our Plus or Pro plans, which also include the option for single sign-on and the use of the API’s.

We’ve also built an active community of Honeycode builders who are sharing their best practices on the community forums. Our forums are also a great place to find training videos, short courses to get started, and get questions answered. This includes the Explorer Series, which is a collection of blogs, videos, and other content to help new builders along their Honeycode journey. We also released new training courses for non technical users to use the integration services and API’s with Honeycode. Lastly, we have a dedicated sections for feedback and product feature requests that’ll inform our roadmap.