Software Review: Outsystems

Hey everybody-

Who knows if I’m allowed to do this, but what the hell, let’s charge ahead anyways.  Last week, I only had one pre-written rant post go up on Monday about the song Call Me Maybe, and three posts to the tune of OH MY GOD SO MUCH TRAINING.  Well, to make up for it, I thought I would review the piece of software that I was sent to be trained in!  Outsystems is an agile development platform for web based services, kind of to the tune of Dreamweaver, only better.  Both systems are responsible for one hell of a lot of code generation, really simplifying the process of creating a website, but Outsystems excels in a couple of ways that I didn’t see in Dreamweaver the last time I used it (Which, admittedly, was sometime in 2006/2007 so… yeah.)  Primarily, the amazing, useful aspects of Outsystems is 1) the sheer agility aspect of it- it’s so goddamned fast to create a page in this system, and 2) the DB management aspect.

Now, let’s look at Outsystems in a bit more detail.  One of the things that Outsystems tends to flaunt for incoming developers is their “Build an app in 5 min” tutorial.  If you’re a web developer, even if you don’t have the $20,000 per year to blow on the enterprise version, I’d highly recommend checking this out, going over the tutorial, because there is a stunted “free” version that I have found to be an incredibly useful tool, if only for my personal use.  Anyways, this tutorial takes you through the process of developing a basic application that primarily focuses on some basic database I/O.  For comparison, I did a similar project in a .net framework (which, while I have some experience in, I am far from an expert.)  It took me just shy of 4 hours to do a complete I/O system in .net, and I did not implement security features or anything of that sort, I just kind of whipped it out.  I then took Outsystems and did its project in under 10 minutes (while reading up on a lot of the things I saw, hence the extra 5 minutes)  Let me tell you how easy it was- you can design your database structure as quickly as it takes for you to type out the names of your different tables and attributes.  You can set up relational databases by dragging and dropping your tables (called Entities in Outsystems) onto a page, and it just builds the relational database for you, that easy.  Then, with your completed tables, you can create a 3-page system (List, Edit, and Show) in no time at all, by dragging and dropping your tables onto a web flow screen.  There’s an overwhelming amount of functionality that’s not just possible, but easy in Outsystems- and the best part is, that while having coding experience is useful, it’s not necessary.  Anyone can program in Outsystems, from a programmer of 20 years to a business management major fresh out of college.  Try that 5 minute tutorial, come back to the comments, tell me how much you liked it- I guarantee that you’ll ike what you see, even if it’s not useful for your web development.

Now that I’ve gushed over what I like about Outsystems, let me touch on the parts that I don’t like quite as much.  While Outsystems provides a wealth of amazing, agile functionality, there’s also a lot of rigidity to the system that doesn’t really make for a developer’s perfect system.  The entire software is constructed around the core idea of developing a database and, more or less, displaying that information to the user.  If your project really breaks away from that paradigm, you may want to look into a different development system.  Additionally, Outsystems is mostly a “black box” kind of deal- while it’s possible to look at and edit the code you generate in Outsystems in either a java or .net framework, if you actually modify anything, I’m pretty sure that you lose a lot of the Outsystems advantages, like being able to visually construct your site- you’re back to straight up code at that point.  There’s a lot of functionality available in terms of customization- you can add javascript, some jquery stuff, google maps, a whole mess of additional functionality that you can download online and install, but ultimately, if it involves inserting raw web code to accomplish, and you can’t find that perfect downloadable add-on, it’s not possible.  In example- if you’re looking to write something using the HTML5 Offline Cache, you are plumb out of luck- trust me, I’ve been probing into that.  My most recent task is to use the Offline Cache and I straight up can’t do it inside of Outsystems.  I should mention that it is possible to write your own SQL code within an “Advanced Query”, and it’s also possible to write Javascript, but a lot of other mediums are barred to you.

In summary, while using Dreamweaver can be useful, the only real advantage of Dreamweaver to Outsystems is that level of code customization.  Outsystems is by far a superior system.  It’s fast, it’s flexible, and it’s easy.  Give it a try, tell me how it goes!

-Zip! out.

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About Zip!

Gamer, Audiophile, Author and more
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2 Responses to Software Review: Outsystems

  1. Plas says:

    Thanks.
    Nicely written!

  2. Jaison Paul says:

    Thanks. Quite useful.

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