A Developer´s Journey – 3 Months in, using the OutSystems platform
One of them is that it’s pretty easy to get lost in echo chambers where our beliefs about the topic we´ve mastered are reinforced and amplified by repetition, so it´s always useful to have a fresh perspective on the subject.
What exactly does someone new to the OutSystems ecosystem think about the platform?
Two of our newest Outfit team members came forward and spoke out about their first three months using the OutSystems platform – let´s hear them out.
What´s your technical background / work experience prior to OutSystems?
André F. – I came to Outfit straight out of college (Computer Engineering), so I basically had academic experience with other languages – Java particularly, C, I won´t even mention Assembly… but this is my “professional debut”, so to speak.
Later I decided to get my degree in Computer Engineering, and here I am now – fresh out of college, although I do have previous professional experience with other technologies.
Did you have any previous experience with OutSystems?
André F. – Well, I watched some videos and tutorials about it prior the job interviews here at Outfit – but I really can´t say I had any “real knowledge”. I´ve been acquiring that in my training period here. I can´t say I even really knew exactly what OutSystems was until this “immersion” began…
João S. – It´s pretty much the same case for me. Prior to joining Outfit, I didn´t really know what OutSystems was… I had heard the expression being thrown around in random conversations, but I thought it was a business term or something like that.
When the opportunity to join Outfit came up, I started doing some serious research – completed the OutSystems tutorials and whatnot – only then I realized that it was a Low Code development tool and became more familiarized with it.
Our thanks to André Ferreira (left) and João Sardinha (right), for their collaboration.
What was your first contact with the OutSystems platform like?
André F. – Well, to me it was fantastic. It´s a tool that really complements me because it basically takes away the worries about all the things I don’t ‘like doing. For instance, I had to work with MEAN Stack, and there´s a ton of files and all sorts of very small details – a letter here, a comma there….
And if you don’t´ have all that worked out – it basically cripples your product, nothing works. And I really don’t like to work oriented towards playing “Finding Waldo” with lines of code….
Basically, with OutSystems I can concentrate on what I really like doing – which is working out the logic, and the business processes. OutSystems was a great surprise in this regard and I´m very happy so far.
João S. – The fact that the platform handles a lot of “back office junk”, so to speak – frees up the developer to work out solutions to the real problems the client has, to think about the logic and the processes instead of the small minutiae of the lines of code.
The platform is also very user friendly – there are lots of templates that can help developer reach the best solutions, there´s a lot of accumulated knowledge about how things should be done, and one doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel with every project….
It basically makes our job easier and speeds up development times exponentially.
How do you compare this platform with other technologies and languages you´ve worked with?
André F. – I’m really happy with it. Getting back to that MEAN Stack example – we had some base files, and really didn´t know what they did and how everything worked out – it was all very much a trial and error process, many hours lost just trying to figure out what was going wrong….
In OutSystems – with the graphic environment you have a clear perspective of how things are connected and work together, so building an app in this context is just great!
João S. – What I would highlight is the speed at which you can get results. If you have a clear-cut plan for the app and what it´s going to achieve for the end client, and you´re able to implement it – then OutSystems allows you to shrink development times from months to weeks and from weeks to days, or hours.
Is there anything that you feel is lacking in this technology – or something you´d like to improve?
André F. – I believe our work becomes too much dependent of the OutSystems cloud and servers, sometimes it gets too slow and it is a bit frustrating when you want to publish and then get bogged down because of that. But that´s how the tool works, that´s the way it was designed, and you just have to deal with it…
João S. – One thing I would say is that what makes your job easier and faster (lots of templates, lots of pre-packed solutions, etc.) is sometimes what comes back to bite you. Because you are working in a relatively closed environment – the OutSystems framework – you lose some of the control you might have using a “normal” programming language, where you can do pretty much anything.
Adapting OutSystems base widgets to the end use you need, and finding a solution to a particular challenge, does require some in-depth knowledge of the platform, all the available hacks and work-arounds, and such.
At the end of the day – all technologies are tools, and have their pros and cons. It´s a trade-off, where you´re giving up some “creative freedom” to gain a lot of speed and ease of use.
This segways nicely into the next question: do you think that just anybody can jump in the OutSystems bandwagon and start developing right away?
André F. – I think there are some misconceptions on that topic. Some people – let´s call them purists – think that just because you’re working with a graphic interface, it´s not really developing, anyone can do it, and all that.
That is simply not true – you do need knowledge of architecture, of logic… The platform gives the freedom to work in full stack, you´re not limited to a specific part of the project because you´re not a specialist in the other areas. But you must know what you´re doing.
João S. – It´s all about the mindset. Yes, anyone can use the OutSystems graphic interface to connect elements and “do stuff” – but you need a developer´s mindset to organize all that into a coherent structure that accomplishes the goal you want to reach.
André F. – The platform basically works like a catalyst, or accelerator. If you have the skills and that mindset, you´ll be able to get results much faster and more efficiently – but I wouldn´t go so far as to say just anyone can do it.
How do you guys see the future of this technology?
André F. – I believe these first 10 years were just the ramping up part, and it still hasn’t reached its full potential. The market is just beginning to recognize the results you can get with this technology and adapting to it.
I think it´s here to stay and there´s a lot of growing room.
João S. – I think that OutSystems (or any Low Code platform, for that matter) is the next logical step in programming languages. From a historical perspective this has been the natural evolutionary process – first we had Assembly, which is quite cryptic, then you had C – which is more user perceptible, then you got more user friendly and object oriented languages like Java or C++ , and now we´re heading towards the Low Code approach, such as OutSystems.
André F. – Yes, it´s an evolutionary process geared towards simplifying and expediting programming. First you had massive computers with perforated cards, then Assembly, then all theses other languages… Eventually you might get to a point where there might be very little coding involved in building an application.
Ok – thank you guys – hope you continue to have fun learning the ropes of the OutSystems platform and developing solutions here at Outfit.