AWS Honeycode Insights from an industry insider 👨🏾‍💻

AWS Honeycode Insights from an industry insider 👨🏾‍💻

Over the weekend, I was asked to help a large management consulting firm understand AWS Honeycode so that they can determine if Amzon’s new product would be the way to go for users who need a general low-code / non technical development solution. As the founder of a no-code platform (Sandbox Commerce) I jumped at the opportunity as it gave me an excuse to dig into a new entrant into the space founded by an up and coming start-up called Amazon. 🤦🏾‍♂️

However, prior to accepting the commission, I asked if they would allow me to post my findings on my personal website. In the interest of helping to level the playing field, I’m sharing an abridged version of my findings here!

Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions, reference this paper or use to determine if AWS or another no-code solution is right for you (and please link back)!

Amazon Web Services Questionnaire

Tip: These surveys help us understand:

  • AWS Honeycode and AppFlow better to determine if those components would be the way to go for users who need a low-code and non-technical development.
  • How easy it is for a developer to flip into a more familiar programming environment if the app or solution can’t be built declaratively in Honeycode.
  • The most compelling features of both and where the biggest challenges might popup.

Amazon Honeycode

  1. How does the security model work in terms of having field-level security and permissions?
    1. In Honeycode you can share a workbook or an application; out of the box you do not restrict data access at the field level. You can however build personalization by using filters and hiding fields to obscure data from certain people.
  2. Do they provide test environments to promote objects from test to production?
    1. The way to achieve a “test” environment is to have two copies of the same workbook. You can create a copy of “Task Manager” workbook, for example, to “Task Manager Copy”. You try a major change there and if successful you implement it in the original/production or you make the copy the production and the deprecate the original.
  3. If I want to build an app and want to have unauthenticated users, how does the licensing work for that?
    1. At this time all the users have to be authenticated and part of your Team in order to access the Workbooks and apps in that Team. A Team is the container for Workbooks, and Workbooks are containers for tables, apps, automations.
  4. Can I create a virtual object or entity in my app that queries another system upon request? For example, if I build a customer appointment app and want to show them their last few invoices from another system, could I call that data, display it during the session, and then release the data without tying up storage in my Honeycode environment? That way I don’t have to store all the invoice history in Honeycode.
    1. Right, connecting to external systems, APIs, or database is an often requested feature, so we are working hard to understand how to provide this kind of feature. There is no way at this time to poll an API from within Honeycode but you can write a separate Lambda, for example, to call the API and add/store small pieces of data and then remove it. There’s likely more on this to come – stay tuned!
  5. What are the reporting and analytics options? Is there something built-in or can I use one of the other AWS analytics tools?
    1. At this time the reporting and analytics capabilities out of the box are limited to screens you can build in the app; and you can build quite complex reports that people can see in real time. For example pivot tables, adding colors to alert or notifications if certain conditions are met. You can also use the API to pull data out, store it in a table and build reports and analytics based on that data.
  6. Can I create mobile apps in the same interface that I build the web app and have it package it up so I can publish it on iOS or Android?
    1. Currently, Honeycode does not support “native” or “standalone” applications on mobile devices. Applications have to be used through the Honeycode “player” app that you download from the app stores.
  7. How many transactions can the APIs handle per second?
    1. APIs are throttled at 25 reads per second and 5 writes per second per AWS account. There are a couple things to keep in mind as you think about load on APIs.
      1. The maximum number of transactions an API can handle will depend on the construction and particulars of your workbook. If there are many calculations, especially filter cells that are not written optimally, your workbook can be particularly slow. As a rule of thumb, a well constructed Honeycode workbook can handle about 5-10 requests across read and write actions.
      2. The maximum requests your workbook can serve is shared between your users, using either sheets, app builder or apps, and API calls. For instance, if your workbook supports 10 requests per second and you generate 5 requests per second with APIs, your users can only generate about 5 requests a second before performance begins to degrade.
  8. Can I do bulk adding/overwriting/deleting rows?
    1. No, but you can set your app up so that it can add/overwrite/delete a fixed set of rows at once. For example, in the example screen we built in this “Add a row” subsection in the “Configuring your app” section , the create app could have had four data pills instead of two (=$[Task1], =$[Status1] , =$[Task2], =$[Status2]) . With this set up, the automation could have had two add row blocks which could have written these four local variables into two rows. With this set up, you can create up to two rows at a time.
  9. Can I trigger code elsewhere based on an event in Honeycode, such as loading the Honeycode app or on a button click on the Honeycode app?
    1. This functionality is not currently available. In the interim you can set up columns in your tables to capture timestamps when they change and read periodically for rows that have timestamps from after your last API read.
  10. Can I use system variables like SYS_USER, conditional visibility, or personalization in screens I intend to use with Honeycode APIs?
    1. No. These concepts are meant to control the app experience for users. However, since there is no concept of logged-in user when interacting with apps programmatically, they will not be expressed when screens are read from the APIs.
  11. Can I get a history of Honeycode API calls made on my account for security analysis and operational troubleshooting purposes?
    1. Yes. To receive a history of Honeycode API calls made on your account, simply turn on CloudTrail in the AWS Management Console. The AWS API call history produced by CloudTrail enables security analysis, resource change tracking, and compliance auditing.
  12. Why use Honeycode?
    1. Many people use spreadsheets to manage projects and track items. This can be cumbersome and error-prone since spreadsheets aren’t designed for collaborative teamwork. What if you had a purpose-built app, made just for your project? Unfortunately, building one usually requires programming ability or IT resources. Honeycode eliminates the need for both, so you can build your own. Honeycode provides all the necessities, from front-end components and app client to back-end data storage. All of this, wrapped into an easy-to-use visual interface.
  13. What is the benefits of Honeycode?
    1. Build web & mobile apps that work on a desktop browser, iOS, and Android. No programming is needed, so anyone can be an app builder.
    2. Honeycode apps helps teams stay in the loop. That’s because all teammates have access to the same data, updated in real-time.
    3. Teams stay focused because Honeycode apps can be personalized to show data that’s relevant to each team member.
    4. With Honeycode, you can automate manual steps. Notify the team about updates or remind people when it’s their turn to take action.
  14. What is a row?
    1. A range of data that runs horizontally across a table. In Honeycode, tables hold the data that power apps.
  15. What is a workbook?
    1. Workbooks hold your table data, apps, and automations. A workbook is similar to a project folder. Sharing a workbook gives team members access to table data as well as apps.
  16. What is a team?
    1. Teams are comprised of admins and members. Teammates can create and share workbooks, and build and share apps with other team members.
  17. What happends if I exceed the row limit in my plan?
    1. You will not be able to add more rows to any workbook that exceeds the row limit of the plan. Workbook row limits are set at the team level.
  18. How do I get additional row capacity in my workbooks?
    1. You can upgrade to a plan which has more table rows allowed per workbook.
  19. How many apps can I create in each plan?
    1. There is no limit to the number of apps you can create in your team.
  20. How do I pay for a Plus or Pro plan?
    1. You can pay with a credit card. To do so, you must create (unless you already have) an AWS account and then link it to your Honeycode team. You will enter your credit card information when you sign up for the AWS account.
  21. Does the Pro or Plus plan require a commitment?
    1. You can cancel your Pro or Plus plan at any time. When you cancel your plan, you will only be billed for the prorated amount of that month’s bill.
  22. What happens if I switch from a Pro or Plus plan to a Plus or Basic plan?
    1. You can downgrade to the Basic plan if the number of members in your team is within the limits of the Basic plan. If you switch from a plan which has higher row capacity, then any workbooks that exceed the new plan’s row limit will become read-only.
  23. Does Honeycode support single sign-on (SSO)?
    1. Yes, Honeycode currently supports single sign-on (SSO) using Active Directory.

Also published on Medium.

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