What's the simplest way to create a web-based CRUD application?
November 4, 2014 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Are there any software frameworks that allow non-programmers to create simple CRUD applications?

I'm a developer who has been lost in backend work for many years, and am still catching up again on the state of frontend tools. I can find lots of tools intended to help developers create CRUD apps, but given that people have been creating CRUD webapps for 15+ years at this point, I'm wondering if anyone has created a tool to let non-engineers share the drudgery. Commercial and open source tools are both fine. For context, a project that I'm tangentially associated with is about to pour substantial resources into defining requirements and then implementing an utterly boring and trivial CRUD app, which will experience roughly 100 record mutation actions per month.

For context, I'd like to explain to some of the non-engineers involved that this really doesn't need to be written from scratch, and be able to have some hard evidence on my side. Also, although I'm not familiar with it myself, I have the sense that Sharepoint can be used for this sort of thing- for the purposes of this question, please consider Sharepoint an abomination. Also, cloud-based tools are a no-go- this would have to be hosted locally.
posted by gsteff to Technology (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
FileMaker Pro (and the Server component) does this, integrating a web publishing engine with its database. It provides graphical tools to design, add, edit, delete and query records and relationships.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:40 PM on November 4, 2014

A local server with Wordpress and some plugins can be incredibly powerful and easy to use.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:56 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

The term to search for is "scaffold", at least in the web app universe. Pick your programming language and DB backend, and you can likely google for an option that meets your needs.
posted by misterbrandt at 1:09 PM on November 4, 2014

As for the plugins, check out Pods or Toolset.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:10 PM on November 4, 2014

You might want to look at Django.
posted by mneekadon at 1:13 PM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Defining new content types and views in Drupal would often handle this use case.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:20 PM on November 4, 2014

Ten years ago, Cold Fusion would have been a choice. It took about a week to learn, providing you already had a clue about HTML, JavaScript, etc. I don't know if it's still easy or useful.

Google has web tools that are pretty easy if you can program Java, but I don't know if you can point them at your own server.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:31 PM on November 4, 2014

Just a side note on the question, but SharePoint is great for getting non-technical users away from using e-mail and file shares as their only productivity tools, but it's really heavy from an installation and maintenance perspective.

Also, Filemaker runs poorly on Windows both from a performance and reliability standpoint. I'd stay away from it unless you're running it on OS X (and maybe not even then).
posted by cnc at 2:21 PM on November 4, 2014

Ragic (offers an on-premise option)

"Ragic is designed for people who are not programmers, but who would like to get something similar to a spreadsheet on the Internet as an online application."
posted by rada at 2:39 PM on November 4, 2014

Nthing taking a look at content management systems such as Drupal, Joomla, Rails, or Django. All of those have large install bases and active user communities to help you. I love Wordpress for blogging and delivery of time sensitive content, but it may not be fully featured and flexible enough for what you want to do. Of the CMSes listed above, I know that Drupal has form building modules that theoretically can be used by non-programmers. I assume that the others have similar add ons.

It is strongly recommended that the person who is tasked with the install and/or administration of the CMS have a basic understanding of the underlying programming language. This is needed for configuration and troubleshooting. What you need to know can be easily picked up with a Code Academy class (or similar). And of course, my experience with the user communities has always been very positive when it comes to answering questions.
posted by jazzbaby at 3:04 PM on November 4, 2014

Drupal looks perfect. I was able to get an instance up and running in minutes, and the web UI will let non-administrators define new data types easily based on a simple schema. I'm already installing third-party modules to add new functionality. Thanks!
posted by gsteff at 3:55 PM on November 4, 2014

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