Honeycode Review

Published:
Technology
Amazon just released a new platform that confirms their entry into the new and rapidly expanding 'no code' market. It's called Amazon Honeycode.

Honeycode is a nocode platform aimed at businesses who are juggling spreadsheets and emails and need a better way to work.

Major contenders are already in this space, with Microsoft's Power Apps tool, Google's recent acquisition of Appsheet, and Zoho's tool, Creator. Two other enterprise-grade contenders are Appian and Quickbase

Honeycode's goal is to combine the best parts of a spreadsheet, a database, and an app (mobile and web app) to offer businesses a better way to manage their operations.

In this review of Amazon Honeycode, I am going to give a comprehensive, unbiased overview of everything Honeycode can do, highlighting its positive and negative attributes, so that you can know if it is right for you.

In particular, let's see if Honeycode can serve businesses well and meet the needs of most of them. We'll also examine how it stacks up against the other nocode tools on the market.

Overview: What Can Honeycode do for you?


Again, Honeycode is aimed at businesses in need of a smarter way to work. You use it to build apps that help you run different aspects of your business. Examples include making a project tracker, a customer relationships management (CRM tool, sending out and collecting data in surveys, and inventory management.

Upon sign up, you are greeted with a workspace called My Drive. There you can create a workbook and start making your app.

Honeycode can be divided into three parts: tables, builder, and automation.

The tables section looks and acts very similar to a spreadsheet. It should be intuitive to use for most spreadsheet users. The tables section will act as the database part of your app. 

  • Tables: Key Feature -> Like Airtable, Smartsheet, and other spreadsheet substitutes, Honeycode makes it easy for you to create multiple tables and link to and from them to      consolidate and organize information effectively. Similarly filtered views are a good feature here.

The builder section is where you will create an app. Every app is composed of objects. You add objects to screens, and then set what content fills those objects, often by drawing data from a table. You can customize the look of different screens to fit web apps and mobile apps.

  • Builder: Key Feature ->  The far right tab in the builder where you set actions for objects. Creating these actions is how your app comes to life, since it's how you do things with it once it's run.

Finally, the automation section is where you get the app to do things, sparing you needless manual work. Automations are composed of triggers and actions. Automations also allow you to interact with your app when it is opened.

  • Automation: Key Feature -> Automations are really useful for making push notifications and reminders. It's a good place to store actions that you can select in the builder.

Honeycode was built from the ground up for collaboration among team members. Once you have finished making the app, open it, use it, and share it with the team. Remember to download the mobile app and use it from your phone!

To explore Honeycode further, let's go ahead and make something in it.

Exploring the features of Honeycode: Create a project management tool 


We will make a project management tool. The idea: a movie production company needs to keep track of their projects with different film sets, casts and crews, and funding.

You can start from a template or import a cvs file, but in our case, we'll start from scratch. Let's name the first table, A_Movies. (The sheets are ordered alphabetically, hence my choice to add an 'A' at the beginning.) Then we'll add these columns:

Columns in our first table


By clicking format, you can choose 'rowlink' to link to other tables, and you can change how text is displayed (currency, percent, etc.). Let's change the format of our last two columns to 'date'.

Let's create a few more tables: B_Status, C_Funding, D_People. Let's fill out content in each of these. Once we've added some content, we can create a pick list (or dropdown) for our original page by clicking format and then 'rowlink'.

Creating a pick list


Let's go back to status and add a filter in the second column to display how many films are marked with the relevant status. Let's do the same with our table for funding.

Filter to display the number of films for each funding type


Navigate back to our first table and create a rowlink; this time, add more columns to the field, 'display text'.

We have essentially created a database for our app! Now let's build!

We'll build the app from scratch, although note that you can use the app wizard to generate a baseline app for you. Let's create a screen and call it 'Home'.

Add a new object, and browse through the choices here. Let's add a column list. Uncheck some of the options here so that the home page isn't crowded up. Also, make sure to check 'Add a details screen'. Now, with list selected, navigate to the actions tab and under quick actions, select the film details screen.

On the film details screen, add a button and rename it 'Delete this project'. Navigate to the actions tab and create a new automation and select 'delete a row'.

Now let's create two more screens: Status and Funding.

For the status screen, add two content boxes and adjust the width. Add a data cell in each one. Let's draw content from the status table so that we can display an overview of how many films are tagged with each status label.

Status Screen


Let's set up the funding screen the same way, displaying an overview of the funding situation for each film.

Create the last screen for our app: New Project. On this screen, we can drag and drop user input objects so that users can add new films to the app.

New Project screen


Now we have a fully functioning app! Customize the navigation, adjust the mobile appearance, and change the colors and fonts if you want to. Then share the app with someone. Make sure to download the mobile app and sign in to your account to use the app on those devices as well. 

So, what are Honeycode's best features? Does it really stand out from other nocode platforms?


Honeycode is super easy to use. As we have seen, the building process is mostly divided into two stages: making tables and making the app. Honeycode's similarity to a spreadsheet makes the first stage fast and intuitive, and it's wizard feature (along with the available templates) helps you get up and running with an app in no time. Besides, the builder is remarkably intuitive and clean on its own.

So, from my perspective, the fast build time and low-learning curve are the two ways Honeycode stands out from other platforms. For example, nocode app builders such as Bubble are much, much harder to use, and it takes longer to build. Meanwhile, nocode business platforms such as Quickbase have a plethora of advanced features that take a long time to learn.

Honeycode's emphasis on being mobile-friendly also stood out. You can customize the look and feel of every app separately to ensure that it functions perfectly on your phone.

Another feature that stands out is its support for collaboration. Honeycode has a team-first approach. Apps are meant to be deployed to other people so that everyone works together.

What are the cons of HoneyCode?


Honeycode is a very new tool. Of course it won't be perfect right now. With that in mind, let's still look at the features it lacks. 

In general, Honeycode cannot do much. For most businesses, it would be an unnecessary addition to the toolkit. It may be easy to make an app with Honeycode, but the app itself will be unable to help with significant operations.

Here's a few specifics. First, there is minimal customization of the app's appearance. You can change colors and font size, and that's about it. Second, you have to know spreadsheet lingo. Without being familiar with spreadsheet formulas, it will be harder to use. Third, it's not meant for individuals. A tool like Airtable, Bubble, or Adalo can be used by a creative individual or professional to make something for personal or consumer use. In contrast, Honeycode is only for businesses.

Summary


The best things about Honeycode: 

  • Honeycode merges the best parts of a spreadsheet, database, app builder, and automations tool to help businesses perform better operations.
  • Honeycode has a short learning curve.
  • Honeycode is easy to use, and it takes only a day or two to get a simple app up and running.
  • Very mobile-friendly
  • Strong support for collaboration

The cons of Honeycode:

  • Apps made in Honeycode have limited capabilities
  • Minimal customization of appearance
  • Exclusively for businesses

Overall, Honeycode marks Amazon's entry into the rapidly evolving nocode market, and we're bound to see Amazon improve the tool so that it can be a contender in the business-grade space. As it stands, Honeycode is probably not a viable option for most businesses, but it may be useful for you to go ahead and get familiar with it in the case that Amazon adds more features in the future.