30
March
2021

Why You Should be Using Low-Code Apps to Build Internal Tools

0
 minutes

You’ve probably heard the story of the enthusiastic developer who worked night and day for two weeks on a shiny new internal tool, only to find Bob in accounts had built pretty much the same thing in thirty minutes with a no-code app builder or a massive, macro-filled Excel spreadsheet. Bob’s software may not have been as stable, scalable, or pretty, but it was delivered quickly and cheaply.

Situations like these leave developers asking some important questions like, when is the best time to actually build software?

Today you’re going to find out why you should be using low-code apps to build internal tools. By leveraging the speed and cost benefits of the new range of low and no-code tools available, you can use your expertise to deliver applications faster than ever before.

As a developer, low-code apps may seem to take away a lot of the legwork and ownership of your applications. After all, you can’t beat the feeling of building an app from scratch, crafting every feature yourself.

But, the positive side of that is that they can handle the repetitive coding you don’t like, enabling you to focus entirely on refining and delivering your vision as quickly as possible.

Understanding these tools and knowing when to use them will help you to deliver value to your clients and co-workers. It will level up your game.

Today, I’ll tell you what “low-code platforms” are and discuss the pros and cons of using them for internal application development. After reading, I hope you are inspired to try some of them and learn for yourself what they have to offer.

What is a Low-Code Platform (LCP)?

You may have heard the terms low-code and no-code floating around and pictured them as something similar. That’s a mistake. Low-code is not the same as no-code.

No-code apps let you develop applications with no coding whatsoever. That’s great for people with no development skills at all, but it means you’re strictly limited to the features provided for you, usually in the form of a drag and drop interface.

Low-code development still requires code but handles the bulk of the application for you, enabling you to concentrate on implementing the task-specific logic you need. With low-code, you can rely on the platform to deal with common tasks that you don’t need to customize and focus your efforts on the core functionality or differentiated business logic.

What are Internal Applications?

Internal applications are the apps you use within your organization for everyday business. There are all kinds of these. You may have apps for planning your office schedule, tallying marketing costs, or tracking leads and sales.

Studies suggest an average of eight apps are used by a typical enterprise employee every day. In larger organizations, there can be hundreds of internal tools used by various departments.

In the US alone, companies spend around $300 billion per year on internal apps. Building and maintaining those is a lot of work, so anything you can do to make it quicker is a plus.

Reasons to use Low-Code in Internal Applications

There are many advantages to using low-code apps for your internal tools and applications.

Speed

First, it’s typically faster to develop low-code applications than traditional software. With much of the application built quickly using visual tools, and common features added at the touch of a button, it takes much less time to get up and running. Research suggests a 50-90% decrease in development time compared to traditional applications.

Tools like UI Bakery have a whole set of templates you can use to get started, so your app gets some structure from the beginning. You just have to adjust it according to your specific needs.

Cost

Since low-code apps are quicker to develop, they are usually cheaper because the biggest cost of a software project is developer time. While you may pay a monthly fee to the toolmaker, it rarely eclipses the thousands of dollars per month that each developer on your team is paid. This cost argument is especially helpful if your management team needs persuading. Show them the figures and see their faces light up.

An Appsmith screenshot, showing a database query and some code guidance

Maintenance

The built-in features that low-code apps include will be updated along with the platform. That saves you from having to do maintenance. If you need a security fix or need to accommodate an API change, you can just build your app using the latest iteration of the software, and all should be good.

Being able to integrate quickly with other platforms is also a big plus. Many low-code apps let you quickly share data with other software. This could include Zapier, Airtable, Discord, or a whole host of other applications. Integrating with these yourself can take time, so being able to do it with a few clicks can save you a lot of headaches.

Rapid Iteration

Returning to the speed point, if you’re not sure which service to work with, low-code apps can let you make changes so quickly it becomes cost-effective to experiment until you find a service that fits what you are trying to build.

This rapid iteration allows you to take risks and improve your app through trial and error on a scale that would be much more expensive with traditional development.

It also makes low-code solutions ideal for prototyping. You can test out the basic functionality of a new idea, then shift to building a full application if you like it, and want to take full control.

Building things, using them, and improving them is a virtuous circle and participating in it is its own reward. If you like making things, you can do so quicker with low-code applications.

Support

If you do get stuck while building a low-code application, you can take advantage of their support offerings. While these vary depending on which tool you choose, most platforms will at least offer support forums that are more focused and friendlier than Stack Overflow.

The level of guidance can also make low-code perfect for newer developers. If your senior developers are all working on customer-facing products, you might be able to deploy some of your more junior engineers to work on low-code apps meant for internal applications.

Fun

Finally, developing low-code apps quickly is a lot of fun. Most developers look forward to building and crafting their ideas and are less keen on the accompanying drudge work involved in many long-term software projects.

"I'm having a lot of fun playing with @roamhacker's smartblocks

A low-code tool in my second brain 🥳
— Samuel Bars 𐃏 (@samuelbars) December 11, 2020

Low-code applications let you focus on the core experience. If you really want to customize the rest, there’s nothing stopping you from using what you’ve built as a starting point for a full project in another language.

Happy developers can realize their ideas quickly and can learn more in the process. The big picture experience that comes through working on multiple projects can also be acquired faster.

Limitations of Low-Code Platforms

So, how about the drawbacks? There are a few, and you need to be aware of them when picking a technology to use.

Limited Scope

The key limitation with low-code platforms is that they can’t do everything you can with regular code. Having things done for you is great, but if you want to deviate from what’s offered, you might not always be able to.

You’re effectively working in a box. It may be a nice box, but there’s only so much you can do inside it. As low-code tools improve though, the boxes are getting bigger and better.

Generic Feel

Drag and drop components might look great but have a cookie-cutter feel. If you want to make your UI look distinct or offer functionality that is tailored to your needs, not all low-code tools will work.

The same goes for integrations with other tools and platforms. You’ll get a fixed set of available options, which can be added quickly and easily. When you want to move beyond those, you might not have the option, or you might have to build the integration yourself.

Cost

The cost was in the positives too, but you also need to check the cost before making a decision. The goal is to save money, after all.

That can add up quickly if you have a large team and could start to outweigh the cost of building a small app yourself.

Just because low-code is potentially cheaper doesn’t mean you can ignore the business side of things altogether, so weigh your options carefully. Don’t assume it’s cheaper in every situation.

Final Notes

The creativity and problem-solving abilities developers possess can be turbocharged by using low-code apps effectively. If you’re new to this booming area, take a look. You might find yourself hooked. You might also find yourself delivering value to your customers at a rate you didn’t previously think possible.

Appsmith screenshot showing visual controls and colourful animated shapes

A great option if you want to dip your toe in the water is Appsmith. You can sign up in a few seconds, and the tutorial will show you the ropes in a few minutes. After that, you have a drag and drop interface letting you add UI elements quickly, and, of course, you can alter the core behaviour via its code.

Play around with it and see for yourself what these tools can do. The gap between an idea and its realization is getting smaller every day. Take your first steps on the journey. Who knows where it will take you?


Author Bio: James Konik, Uncertain if he's a coder who writes or a writer who codes, James tries to funnel as much of this existential tension as possible into both of his passions but finds it of more benefit to his writing than his software. When occasionally hopping out from behind his keyboard, he can be found jogging and cycling around suburban Japan.

Cover Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

Why You Should be Using Low-Code Apps to Build Internal Tools

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You’ve probably heard the story of the enthusiastic developer who worked night and day for two weeks on a shiny new internal tool, only to find Bob in accounts had built pretty much the same thing in thirty minutes with a no-code app builder or a massive, macro-filled Excel spreadsheet. Bob’s software may not have been as stable, scalable, or pretty, but it was delivered quickly and cheaply.

Situations like these leave developers asking some important questions like, when is the best time to actually build software?

Today you’re going to find out why you should be using low-code apps to build internal tools. By leveraging the speed and cost benefits of the new range of low and no-code tools available, you can use your expertise to deliver applications faster than ever before.

As a developer, low-code apps may seem to take away a lot of the legwork and ownership of your applications. After all, you can’t beat the feeling of building an app from scratch, crafting every feature yourself.

But, the positive side of that is that they can handle the repetitive coding you don’t like, enabling you to focus entirely on refining and delivering your vision as quickly as possible.

Understanding these tools and knowing when to use them will help you to deliver value to your clients and co-workers. It will level up your game.

Today, I’ll tell you what “low-code platforms” are and discuss the pros and cons of using them for internal application development. After reading, I hope you are inspired to try some of them and learn for yourself what they have to offer.

What is a Low-Code Platform (LCP)?

You may have heard the terms low-code and no-code floating around and pictured them as something similar. That’s a mistake. Low-code is not the same as no-code.

No-code apps let you develop applications with no coding whatsoever. That’s great for people with no development skills at all, but it means you’re strictly limited to the features provided for you, usually in the form of a drag and drop interface.

Low-code development still requires code but handles the bulk of the application for you, enabling you to concentrate on implementing the task-specific logic you need. With low-code, you can rely on the platform to deal with common tasks that you don’t need to customize and focus your efforts on the core functionality or differentiated business logic.

What are Internal Applications?

Internal applications are the apps you use within your organization for everyday business. There are all kinds of these. You may have apps for planning your office schedule, tallying marketing costs, or tracking leads and sales.

Studies suggest an average of eight apps are used by a typical enterprise employee every day. In larger organizations, there can be hundreds of internal tools used by various departments.

In the US alone, companies spend around $300 billion per year on internal apps. Building and maintaining those is a lot of work, so anything you can do to make it quicker is a plus.

Reasons to use Low-Code in Internal Applications

There are many advantages to using low-code apps for your internal tools and applications.

Speed

First, it’s typically faster to develop low-code applications than traditional software. With much of the application built quickly using visual tools, and common features added at the touch of a button, it takes much less time to get up and running. Research suggests a 50-90% decrease in development time compared to traditional applications.

Tools like UI Bakery have a whole set of templates you can use to get started, so your app gets some structure from the beginning. You just have to adjust it according to your specific needs.

Cost

Since low-code apps are quicker to develop, they are usually cheaper because the biggest cost of a software project is developer time. While you may pay a monthly fee to the toolmaker, it rarely eclipses the thousands of dollars per month that each developer on your team is paid. This cost argument is especially helpful if your management team needs persuading. Show them the figures and see their faces light up.

An Appsmith screenshot, showing a database query and some code guidance

Maintenance

The built-in features that low-code apps include will be updated along with the platform. That saves you from having to do maintenance. If you need a security fix or need to accommodate an API change, you can just build your app using the latest iteration of the software, and all should be good.

Being able to integrate quickly with other platforms is also a big plus. Many low-code apps let you quickly share data with other software. This could include Zapier, Airtable, Discord, or a whole host of other applications. Integrating with these yourself can take time, so being able to do it with a few clicks can save you a lot of headaches.

Rapid Iteration

Returning to the speed point, if you’re not sure which service to work with, low-code apps can let you make changes so quickly it becomes cost-effective to experiment until you find a service that fits what you are trying to build.

This rapid iteration allows you to take risks and improve your app through trial and error on a scale that would be much more expensive with traditional development.

It also makes low-code solutions ideal for prototyping. You can test out the basic functionality of a new idea, then shift to building a full application if you like it, and want to take full control.

Building things, using them, and improving them is a virtuous circle and participating in it is its own reward. If you like making things, you can do so quicker with low-code applications.

Support

If you do get stuck while building a low-code application, you can take advantage of their support offerings. While these vary depending on which tool you choose, most platforms will at least offer support forums that are more focused and friendlier than Stack Overflow.

The level of guidance can also make low-code perfect for newer developers. If your senior developers are all working on customer-facing products, you might be able to deploy some of your more junior engineers to work on low-code apps meant for internal applications.

Fun

Finally, developing low-code apps quickly is a lot of fun. Most developers look forward to building and crafting their ideas and are less keen on the accompanying drudge work involved in many long-term software projects.

"I'm having a lot of fun playing with @roamhacker's smartblocks

A low-code tool in my second brain 🥳
— Samuel Bars 𐃏 (@samuelbars) December 11, 2020

Low-code applications let you focus on the core experience. If you really want to customize the rest, there’s nothing stopping you from using what you’ve built as a starting point for a full project in another language.

Happy developers can realize their ideas quickly and can learn more in the process. The big picture experience that comes through working on multiple projects can also be acquired faster.

Limitations of Low-Code Platforms

So, how about the drawbacks? There are a few, and you need to be aware of them when picking a technology to use.

Limited Scope

The key limitation with low-code platforms is that they can’t do everything you can with regular code. Having things done for you is great, but if you want to deviate from what’s offered, you might not always be able to.

You’re effectively working in a box. It may be a nice box, but there’s only so much you can do inside it. As low-code tools improve though, the boxes are getting bigger and better.

Generic Feel

Drag and drop components might look great but have a cookie-cutter feel. If you want to make your UI look distinct or offer functionality that is tailored to your needs, not all low-code tools will work.

The same goes for integrations with other tools and platforms. You’ll get a fixed set of available options, which can be added quickly and easily. When you want to move beyond those, you might not have the option, or you might have to build the integration yourself.

Cost

The cost was in the positives too, but you also need to check the cost before making a decision. The goal is to save money, after all.

That can add up quickly if you have a large team and could start to outweigh the cost of building a small app yourself.

Just because low-code is potentially cheaper doesn’t mean you can ignore the business side of things altogether, so weigh your options carefully. Don’t assume it’s cheaper in every situation.

Final Notes

The creativity and problem-solving abilities developers possess can be turbocharged by using low-code apps effectively. If you’re new to this booming area, take a look. You might find yourself hooked. You might also find yourself delivering value to your customers at a rate you didn’t previously think possible.

Appsmith screenshot showing visual controls and colourful animated shapes

A great option if you want to dip your toe in the water is Appsmith. You can sign up in a few seconds, and the tutorial will show you the ropes in a few minutes. After that, you have a drag and drop interface letting you add UI elements quickly, and, of course, you can alter the core behaviour via its code.

Play around with it and see for yourself what these tools can do. The gap between an idea and its realization is getting smaller every day. Take your first steps on the journey. Who knows where it will take you?


Author Bio: James Konik, Uncertain if he's a coder who writes or a writer who codes, James tries to funnel as much of this existential tension as possible into both of his passions but finds it of more benefit to his writing than his software. When occasionally hopping out from behind his keyboard, he can be found jogging and cycling around suburban Japan.

Cover Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

  • xvcmbmvkmnkmbknmbkmlnj
  • A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

  1. A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

ksnopirirfnb [aorewmb[oiewsn b[opebr
  1. then connect a rich text

dfbstjsrykmsry

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Debugging your apps in Appsmith with the Appsmith Debugger, part 2
27
September
2022
Product

Debugging your apps in Appsmith with the Appsmith Debugger, part 2

Debugging your apps in Appsmith with the Appsmith Debugger, part 2
Ayush Pahwa
0
 minutes ↗
#
product
#
errors
#
troubleshooting
#
debugger
Product
Meet the sidekicks, Logs and Inspect Entity

The first part of this teardown helped you see how the Error pane can save you hours in debugging and build better internal apps. In this one, let’s meet two seemingly innocuous features that can give you debugging super-powers when used right.

Logs

The Logs pane shows you everything logged by Appsmith and, like Errors, in lockstep with the sequence of code execution in your build. Borrowing from the experience of showing logs in general—in the browser console, from a shell, or on your favorite IDE—the Logs pane has four views for specific debugging use cases.

Post_5.jpg (1920×1080)

All Logs

This view shows you all logs timestamped by when we saw them in your Appsmith session. Updated a widget’s property? Wrote a new action to your GraphQL datasource? Ran a JS Object to concat two queries? It all gets logged, including the errors you see in the Errors pane, in a separate view called Error Logs. You will see how that can be useful in a GIF, pun intended.

The All Logs view can be a little overwhelming, though, and a bit of work when you have been at your build for a while. For easier tracking of relevant logs, use one of the three options below.

Post_6.gif (1440×810)

Errors Logs

Everything you learned about the Errors pane applies to this view, too, but there’s more to this view. Here's a likely scenario to show that.

State #1

You have a button to reload a table, presumably to refresh the data from your datasource.

Condition #1

You use the Button property, onClick, which runs the query to fetch the latest data into the table.

Scenario #1

Your query fails.

- On just the Error pane

  • You see just the error for the failing query. Although helpful, it doesn’t offer context for the before and after of the error.

- On the Error Logs pane under Logs

  1. You see logs for the Button click and the executed onClick event .
  2. Because the onClick property is binded to queries and JS Objects, you see the ones that are successfully executed and those that fail.
Error_Logs__Appsmith.gif (1440×810)

The triaging in our example above is especially useful when you have nested queries, several dependent bindings, and a more complex workflow overall.

Console Logs

console.log_in_the_Editor__Appsmith.jpg (1920×1080)

Just introduced in the Debugger, console methods in Appsmith help you see statements for just JS Objects and JavaScript bindings so much better than in the browser sub-window.

Set points in your code that you want to log statements at, view tabular data, or see groups for repeated errors.

System Logs

Post_7.jpg (1920×1080)

Automatically tracking all your interactions with Appsmith during build, System Logs show a helpful trail of activity by descending order of timestamp, especially useful when you want to go back in time or pivot from a point of failure to everything that led to it.

They show up for different situations and interactions for the type of entity you are working with.

With widgets, you see a log when you

  • Drag-and-drop a new widget on the canvas.
  • Update the widget’s properties
    Updating a property also updates all its dependent properties which then show up in System Logs.
Dependent_properties_updates_in_system_logs__Appsmith.gif (1280×720)
For example, when you update the tableData property, you also see its dependent properties like selectedRowIndex, filters, triggeredRowIndex, and so on.
  • Trigger events with an end-user action.
Trigger_events_with_an_end-user_action__Appsmith.gif (1280×720)
For example, when you are using an end-user action to store a value with storeValue or when you want a click-action to trigger an operation like an update or delete and are using onClick, you see them show up in System Logs.
  • Delete a widget from the canvas

With actions, you see them when you

  • Create a new datasource or a query
  • Update query properties like queryName, queryBody, queryConfiguration, and queryProperties.
  • Execute a query
Execute_a_query.gif (1440×810)
This can be either from query pane, running a plain REST API query, a JS Object, or via a widget’s bindings.
  • Delete a query

With JS Objects, you’ll see system logs when you

  • Create and update code inside JS Objects
  • Execute JS Objects
Execute_JS_Objects.gif (1440×810)

Just like errors, system logs are native to entities and have four parts to them.

Parts_of_a_system_log_line__Appsmith.jpg (1920×1080)

The timestamp

Logged as your entities are created, updated and deleted, these little breadcrumbs help you track back from when the error occurred to when it was last A-Okay.

Timestamped_logs_in_System_Logs.gif (1440×810)

The message

Useful during build, the message of the log answers two questions— what were you doing with an entity—creating it, updating it, deleting it—and what happened with your action—success or failure.

  • With widgets, outside of CRUD information, you also see event-specific info like onClick and showAlert linked to those widgets.
  • Queries and JS Objects are straightforward with start and end points that indicate if they were updated, ran, and failed.

The source

Like errors, a system log has two parts to its source—the entity’s name.the type of entity, e.g., SELECT1.TABLE1.WIDGET.

Redirect_from_an_Inspect_Entity_sub-window.gif (1440×810)
👌🏽 Appsmith Experience plug

Clicking the source from the logs takes you to the associated entity anywhere in Appsmith, be it a widget, a query, or a JS Object. Noice!

The response

This doesn’t always show, but when it does, it can be useful confirmation of a binding working, a query running successfully, or a JS Object executing completely.

  • For widgets, you see which properties are updated when you are configuring them and how.
    Say you’re updating the text widget’s background property and you don’t see it change on the canvas. Track the log to the response for a quick confirmation of that and troubleshoot the canvas next.
  • For queries, you’ll see two different logs—the start of a query run and the status of its execution.
    The first type of log will show you configuration details of the query—helpful to verify if the config matches the request.        

{
    "timeoutInMillisecond":10000
    "paginationType":"NONE"
    "encodeParamsToggle":true
    "body":"SELECT * FROM public."users" LIMIT 10;"
    "pluginSpecifiedTemplates":[
        0:{
            "value":true
        }
    ]
}

  • The second type will throw an error if the run fails. When the query runs successfully, it shows all the parameters that the query ran with and the time taken for the response.

{
	"response" : [...],
	"request" : {
		"actionId" "6321c1193668£71e£7caala2"
		"requestedAt" : 1663912830.640344
		"requestParams": {...}
}

  • With JS Objects, you see the response from the function as a JSON after an object is successfully run. This shows you how Appsmith handles the function while evaluating and running it and can be useful for spotting conflicts, undefined references, or troublesome variables.

Inspect Entity

Borrowing from a modern browser’s Inspect Element feature, Inspect Entity lets you see incoming and outgoing entities for any widget. These entities can be queries, JS Objects, or even other widgets.

Group_8480.png (1920×1080)
  • Incoming entities are those that fetch data from the datasource into the widget.
    For example, if the data on a table is populated by a Postgres query, you’ll see the query name under the Incoming entities column.
  • Outgoing entities are those that can specify the data that’s to be sent to the datasource in a typical CUD operation and then send it to your datasource.
    Say, a text widget is binded to a table's selectedRow property, you will see the text widget’s name under the Outgoing entities column.

The Inspect Entity pane lets you see dependencies for all your widgets on the canvas, especially useful if you have a medium-complex app with several widgets working off of each other. For example, when you have a parent widget or query that controls bindings on other dependent widgets---call them children widgets---, Inspect Entity can show you all those children when you click the parent and quickly take you to any one of them directly.

In combination with Errors, Logs and Inspect Entity round out the Debugger for several scenarios during build and save you hours in building an app end-users love. Try out the Debugger and let us know how you like it, what it's missing, and what we can improve. Our Discord is the best place for that feedback.

The Appsmith Debugger now supports Console methods
23
September
2022
Announcement

The Appsmith Debugger now supports Console methods

The Appsmith Debugger now supports Console methods
Rishabh Rathod
0
 minutes ↗
#
debugger
#
troubleshooting
#
console-methods
Announcement

For a while now, you have used and loved the Appsmith Debugger, nearly complete with a Error pane, system and error logs, and an entity inspector. We say nearly complete because it was missing one of the most popular debugging tools in a dev’s toolkit—console methods.

We are happy to announce the availability of console methods for both cloud users and self-hosters on v1.8.0.

“But, what is the Appsmith Debugger?”

Image_1.png (1920×1080)

Think of the Appsmith Debugger as a set of Chrome DevTools—like for Appsmith. It lives on the familiar 🐞 everywhere in Appsmith and

  • shows helpful error messages for bindings, queries, and variables
  • lets you inspect entity relationships
  • filters system and user logs

All of this is helpful when debugging unexpected API responses or app viewer experiences. Should you care to learn more, this post breaks down the debugger by each one of its features.

“Okay, and console methods are…”

Just one of the most popular ways of print debugging in modern browsers, console methods, exposed by the console API, are a set of functions that help you log the values of variables at set points in your code, messages, or even tabular data so you can investigate them in your browser’s debugging console.

Before today, you could use all supported browser console methods, but only in the browser’s dev tools sub-window. To any developer with their hands dirty with front-end code, the browser debugging subwindow is a necessary evil—a thousand lines of errors, messages, values, and steps that you would have to sift through. We are not going to say, “Looking for the literal needle in the haystack”, but you know you are thinking it.

“And the Appsmith Debugger has a console now?”

Yes! 🥳

So, instead of something like,

you now see,

Image_3.png (1920×1080)

Sweet? This gets sweeter.

Supported methods

  • log

Almost synonymous with console, the .log() method is one of the most popular ways to log a message or the values of variables defined in your Javascript.

It can also be used to show helpful messages or comments, say, the entry and exit points of functions.

Example


getUUID: () => {
		console.log("entry - getUUID function");
		let prefix;
		
		let d = new Date().getTime();
		console.log("new date created -", d);
		d += (parseInt(Math.random() * 100)).toString();
		console.log(d, "random number generated by getUUID")
		if (undefined === prefix) {
			prefix = 'uid-';
		}
		d = prefix + d;
		console.log("UUID created -", d);
		console.log("exit - getUUID function")
		return d;
	}

Result

Image_4.png (1920×1080)
  • error

the .error() method logs an error message to the Appsmith console, be it a a string like, “This is an error message” or the value of a function.

Say you've written a function and you suspect it’s returning an error., but you don’t know what kind. For unknown unknowns like this, `error` comes handy.

Example


checkTextWidget: () => {
		const element = Text1.text;
		if (element == "") {
			console.error("There is an error. The Text property is empty ");
		}
		return element;
	}

Result

Image_5.png (1920×1080)
  • warn

Jus as .error() aids error investigations, .warn() shows, well, warnings for known knowns. Some situations this can come in handy are,- When the evaluated value of binded data on a widget is not using the same datatype as the expected value- When widgets continue to use deprecated queries or functions- When the timezone used in a datetime functions doesn't match the browser’s

Example


selectDefaultValue: () => {
	 const defaultValue = Select1.selectedOptionValue;
		if (defaultValue == ""){
			console.warn("No values selected on Select1 widget ")
		}
		return defaultValue;
}

Result

Image_6.png (1920×1080)
  • table

table (.) just does what it says—logs a Table widget’s data in key-value pairs for rows as objects. While we support this in Appsmith, we are still working on a browser console-like table, especially as we make the Table feature-richer.

Example


table1DataFunc: () =>{
		const data = Table1.tableData;
		console.table(data)
}

Result

Image_7.png (1920×1080)

That’s it! You now have the power of the console right within in Appsmith. There are other useful views available under Logs and we'll talk about them in a follow-up to the Debugger teardown soon. Bookmark this page. Thank us later.

Debugging your app in Appsmith with the Appsmith Debugger, Part 1
20
September
2022
Product

Debugging your app in Appsmith with the Appsmith Debugger, Part 1

Debugging your app in Appsmith with the Appsmith Debugger, Part 1
Ayush Pahwa
0
 minutes ↗
#
product
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errors
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troubleshooting
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debugger
Product

That title is a tongue twister, innit? Almost.

Here’s a meme that isn’t. It’s just the painful truth.

Debugging_is_like_being_lost_in_a_deser.jpg (749×500)

There is no perfect code, so you know debugging is inevitable, but it’s still a chore and is as crushing often times as the meme claims it is.

But, while debugging is inevitable, making it painful is optional, especially when you have the Appsmith Debugger. We have claimed we champion developer experience as many times as we could before without being brazen about it. We think. So, we thought some more and said, “Let’s prove the claim, too.”

“Wait, wait. What is the Appsmith Debugger?”

In 2021, we shipped the Appsmith Debugger, a set of Chrome DevelTools-like features that have helped you investigate and resolve errors in Appsmith.

We recorded a video for it in a series about the Debugger, talked about it in our docs, and referenced it enough times to make you groan about our obsession with errors. If this is the first you are hearing of it, get on our Discord so we can tell you some more about it.

Why we did this

Browser dev tools are as helpful as a magnet when looking for iron fillings in a pristine haystack. To the untrained eye, they can be downright criminal, too.

Browser_debugger.jpeg (960×506)
Source: Reddit

Sure, sure, they nest groups of errors and there are separate tabs for the console and the debugger, but meh! There’s a sea of error messages, system logs, console logs, and then there’s you swimming in it.

Before we shipped the debugger, you saw,

  • errors inside a widget's Property pane that floated on your canvas which probably already had several widgets
  • the Editor’s Response pane, which clubbed legit responses with errors

The Debugger solved several of those problems.

Post_8.jpg (1920×1080)

What’s the Debugger have

Available on app.appsmith.com and our self-hosted release images, it can be called by toggling the debug icon—the one that looks like a bug—on the bottom-right corner of your Appsmith screen or with CTRL/CMD +D.

Inside the Debugger, live three panes, Errors, Logs, and Inspect Entity, each with their own uses. In the first part of this two part post, we will break the Error pane down for you and see how it can save you hours over browser dev tools in debugging.

If you would much rather just learn about Logs and Inspect Entity, bookmark this post. We will link to Part 2 in five days. :-)

Errors

Borrowing from a browser’s dev tools sub-window but improving on it radically, the Error pane lists all errors that we see when you are building inside Appsmith. Familiar examples include syntax errors from JavaScript bindings, reference errors from queries, and datatype mismatch errors.

Errors in the pane are specific to an Appsmith entity. Translated from Appsmithlish, it means you see helpful error messages about a faulting widget, a rogue query, or a stubborn JS Object.

Untitled.gif (1440×810)
Example of a faulting widget and the error beaconing it
Untitled.gif (1440×810)
A JS Object error

  • These errors get logged to the pane in lockstep with the sequence of code execution in Appsmith.
  • The Error pane is the default view when working with widgets—most noticeable if you have the Debugger sub-window resized as in the pictures in purple—so you know what’s going wrong and where in real-time.
  • The Editor's Error Pane is smarter. It doesn’t automatically switch to the Error pane—Response is the default on this screen—when an error occurs. Instead, the Debug icon lights up in red with a numeric notification that’s like a running ticker for the number of errors the Debugger sees with your queries or JS Objects. Click it to open the Error pane.
  • Every error you see in the pane follows a template with a few helpful pieces of info to help you debug.
image_high.jpeg (1920×1080)
Numbers on this image correspond to bullets below. Images in sub-bullets below show what the sub-bullet talks about.

The timestamp

Logged as your code executes or a value evaluates with your widgets, these little breadcrumbs help you track back from when the error occurred to when last it was A-Okay.

The issue

Depending on the error type, you will see a couple different kinds of issues.

  1. With widgets, you’ll see the faulting widget property’s name. An example of this is the commonplace The value at tableData is invalid, occurring when the property tableData expects an Array<Object> datatype but you have an Array<List> instead.
  2. With queries, you see more specific errors, often specific to the datasource you are running your queries to, often indicated by status codes returned by your failing requests.
  3. With JS Objects, we straight-up level with you about the parseability of your functions. Parseability probably isn’t a word, but you know what we mean.

The source

This has two parts to it—the entity’s name.the type of entity the troublesome one is, e.g., SELECT1.WIDGET. As is obvious and has been to you, SELECT1 is the entity’s name and WIDGET is the entity type.

👌🏾 Appsmith Experience plug: Clicking the source takes you to the faulting entity anywhere in Appsmith, be it a widget, a query, or a JS Object. Noice!

The message

This is the most helpful part of the message, beginning with Error and ending with a helpful bit of text or a number.

  1. Because widgets bind to queries or JS Objects using JavaScript, quite a few errors you see are the same as familiar JavaScript errors like SyntaxError or TypeError. Some other errors show is not defined. This is when a variable, a query, or a JS Object isn’t defined, but you have specified it in the Property pane.
  2. In the Editor, these messages go a step further and call out the line number in the editor that has the faulting code. For example, Line 2: Unrecognized token '$'. This type of message has three parts to it.
Post_9.jpg (1920×1080)

1. The type: Error

2. The string: relation “public.user” does not exit

3. The line number: Position 15

😻 Appsmith Experience plug: Clicking the message will open our in-app docs finder and run a helpful search to show you top docs matching the error.

Response from queries or bindings

This doesn’t always show, but when it does, it can show you helpful responses with query params or evaluated values of data bindings.

Post_10.jpg (1920×1080)
  1. With widgets, you’ll see the evaluated value from the bindings.
  2. With queries, you’ll see the payload from the API you are querying.

“How does all of this help?”

Consider two situations we have painfully drawn for you.

State #1

You have several queries and widgets on your way to a complete build.

Condition #1

You have nested queries inside JS Objects. Meaning, these queries are binded to multiple widgets via JavaScript transformations and have dependent parameters with each other.

Scenario #1

A query fails and returns an error.

Without the Appsmith Debugger

You decide to sift through the browser dev tools sub-window, trying to locate the faulty query in something that looks like ↓.

The_browser_console.png (1920×1080)

When you find the first problem query, you’re hoping against hope this is your patient zero.

  1. If so, congratulations aren’t quite in order yet. You’re still going to have to surgery the query to see what went wrong where.
  2. With browser tools, may you be lucky and find a fix in the first hour.

Most times, though, Murphy’s Law applies.

  1. Meaning, you will need to find the last problem query.
  2. Repeat steps #1 and #2 with all the sub-steps in between

If you have a friend who’s on Appsmith, you hear them say, “Good morning. Do you have a ready app? No? Try the Debugger. 🙄”

With the Appsmith Debugger

You see all the errors from all the failed queries In the Error pane and nothing else to crowd your investigation.

  1. You quickly scan by the type of errors.
  2. Errors are listed in the sequence of query execution.
Post_11.jpg (1920×1080)
So you can simply scroll to the first failed query, and investigate further.

  1. The error message tells you what failed with the params in which line, neatly indented neatly for you.

Don’t remember the query’s name? Pfft! We got it. Click the error message, and go right to the error source.

Trouble troubleshooting? Click the error message and find super-relevant docs in Appsmith’s doc finder.

At the end of it, you save a whole night’s hair-pulls, wake up bright and fresh, sip your coffee, and wonder why some people still use browser dev tools. 🤔 Maybe you should refer them to us.

State #2

You have the data from a REST API and the table for your dashboard, but you have left the chart for the very end. You are sensible like that. Charts are tricky things in general.

Condition #2

You have to bind the chart widget from Fusion Charts or one of our defaults with a query that should output the format Array<{ x: string, y: number Required }> as input to the widget. This will need JavaScript transformations.

Scenario #2

You get a datatype mismatch error.

Without the Appsmith Debugger

You toggle around the floating EXPECTED STRUCTURE, EXPECTED STRUCTURE - EXAMPLE, and EVALUATED VALUE panes to understand the chart widget’s configuration.

You have a JS Object for the transformation, so you now switch back and forth between the canvas and the JS Editor for each possible fix in the JS code.

  1. By now, you have console.loged your way to the browser tools sub-window. Magnet, meet Iron Fillings In A Haystack.
  2. Forgot the change you made to the JS Object five tries ago? Yeah, well, no System Logs, so what can you do, right? Maybe note each change on Sublime or VS Code from this point on.

With the Appsmith Debugger

Post_12.jpg (1920×1080)

Right after you run the transformation, you see the floating-pane-that-we-don’t have-a-name-for-yet show you some red and the Error pane light up with all your errors, timestamped and sequenced by the order of code execution.

  1. You see the type of error and the evaluated value for the faulting entity. Stick to this without worrying about the unnamed floating pane.
  2. Your query has trouble getting a response from your datasource, so you see that error, but hey, you also see the binding failure of that same query with the widget.
  3. No hunting for the query or the widget you want to troubleshoot. One click from the Debugger and you are transported to the associated entity.
Debugger_with_click-actions__JS_Editor.jpg (1920×1080)

You see all the errors from the transformation in one pane with click-actions for each one of them.

Docs_finder_from_Response__Appsmith.gif (1440×810)

Error messages not enough? Click the error and choose, Browse code snippets, and voila! You now now search for the chart + the query right there and see some of our helpful docs.

Made it to here? Your life inside Appsmith is going to change.

Also, this is just part one of this two-part breakdown. What’s next?

https://media.giphy.com/media/3kIGmlW0lvpnmF3bGy/giphy.gif

Better than post-credits. A whole other movie featuring Logs and Inspect Entity. Meanwhile, here’s a few things you can do.

Until the next Debugger post, Appsmiths.

P.S.: We love you.