We've been working for ages on building something that lets non-technical people create software without code. We spent about 2 years building a really powerful and complicated drag-and-drop no-code app builder. It was really awesome, it could create social networks, SaaS, marketplaces – the works. The only problem was: nobody could use it unless they were already a developer! It turned out that even though you weren't technically writing any code… you were still actually programming, still thinking like a developer. Just with a really inefficient set of no-code tools.
We (eventually!) realised that non-devs were already building systems anyway; but instead of code they were using spreadsheets.
Spreadsheets are basically the world's most used database/IDE. They're great for modelling and managing data. But, if you've ever used someone else's sheet you'll know that they're not the best way to interact with the data. Giving someone access to your spreadsheet is pretty much like giving someone access to your SQL database – they won't understand it, they might see more than they should, and they might break the whole thing.
Stacker is basically an app layer on top of spreadsheet. We let you set up a nice UI, add user login, and limit who can see/do what using permissions. We also handle abstracting away the limitations of the APIs of Airtable/Google Sheets so that the whole thing stays performant.
The main two cases where people find Stacker useful are:
1. they want to create internal tools that are easier to use/understand
2. they want to allow customers/partners access to some of the data in their sheet without giving the whole thing
We've been really excited that most of our early users have been non-technical people who hadn't ever thought they could create software for their business. People have been creating marketplaces, CRMs, resources centres, order-tracking portals, ERPs… lots of stuff. We're a monthly SaaS model starting at $39pcm – we handle all the hosting, infrastructure, and even SSL certs etc.
Right now we support Airtable and Google Sheets, but we'd like to expand out to include other data sources like SQL databases, APIs and even MS Excel(!).
Underneath the hood we've got a bunch of technology from our original web app builder – a python backend that creates on-the-fly endpoints depending on the user's data model, and react frontend that can flexibly layout the app. Then on top of that, we've got a service that analyses the schema from your sheet and automatically creates your initial Stacker app.
I'd love to hear what use cases you can think of for this, either internal or external, and what you'd like to see it do in the future! Check it out here: https://stacker.app
p.s. History update – you might remember us from when we did a very early alpha launch as "Toga" a few months back (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22746663). Thanks to everyone who helped us iron out all the bugs from that!