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Low-code platforms: Five.co

Five.co is a low-code platform designed for the rapid development and deployment of bespoke business software. It enables users to create modern web applications quickly, utilizing data sources, custom code in JavaScript, TypeScript, or SQL, and deploy these applications to the cloud with a single click. The platform can be used by dowloading their development tool.The company’s headquarter is in Australia and they have branch offices in Malaysia and Hong Kong. Uniqueness What sets Five.co apart is its ability to build robust business software of any complexity fast and its uniqueness lies in its flexibility and rapid development capabilities. It supports almost any data source integrating them and adding custom code in JavaScript, TypeScript, or SQL. It allows a rapid development with pre-built front-end layouts, making it highly adaptable for various business needs without requiring extensive front-end development skills. Ease of Use The platform emphasizes simplicity in application development, offering powerful building blocks, visual tools, and pre-built components. This approach accelerates the development process, enabling the creation of multi-user applications with authentication, forms, charts, dashboards, reports, and notifications easily and securely. Target User Base Five.co caters to technical users, including data scientists, software developers, and IT professionals, providing them with the tools needed to rapidly build and deploy cloud-native web applications. Its flexibility supports a wide range of programming skills, from no-code and low-code to full code, offering full flexibility in software design. Integration Capabilities The platform excels in integration capabilities, supporting almost any external database or service with a REST API. This enables users to bring their own data or create a new database from scratch, ensuring seamless integration with existing business systems. API and Webhooks Availability While specific details on APIs and webhooks are not explicitly mentioned, the platform’s support for custom code and external data sources implies robust capabilities for integration and customization, likely including API and webhook functionalities. Pricing Five.co is free to use for development and testing, with subscriptions required for production-worthy applications. This model allows users to build and test applications without upfront costs, paying only when they deploy applications to production environments. Documentation and Educational Resources Up to now they don’t provide a lot of resorces to learn the platform. You can search into the five.org community or scrolling their blog. There are neither courses or certifications provided. This seems like their area for improvement. Deployment Model Applications can be deployed to the cloud with a single click, offering auto-generated custom URLs for each application along with separate development, testing, and production environments. This streamlined deployment model simplifies the process of bringing applications to live environments. Community Support Community support seems to be an integral part of Five.co, with a dedicated community site for users to share knowledge, ask questions, and get support from fellow developers. What we like The development tool is available also for macosx There is a free plan to test and the starter plan is affordable to deliver a starter app You can integrate your own data sources What we dislike There is no documentation. The learning path winds between the forum and the blog.

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So much for privacy and copyright issues, Smalengo kills ChatGPT!

My perplexities The #smalengo hides in everyday life, at work, in the press and in politics. Knowing how to identify it is essential to be able to have a good analysis skill. This is how he came out on top with chatGPT. It has been a few months, indeed I would say since early November, that chatGPT has puzzled me. The answers provided always make sense and seem longer than usual, but they have no content. They are full of lists full of details, but they sound like answers from a politician being interviewed on an embarrassing topic. A few days ago I asked, with a post on LinkedIN, for the opinions of others, but I only received verbal confirmations from a couple of friends. The evidence Today I decided to see how far the condescension that chatGPT has toward the (paying) user goes. Here’s what I asked it: You: What is the difference between the Venetian smalengo used by the maritime republic and the older smalengo used in the rest of northern Italy? While there are mentions and references in manuscripts and books of the use of smalengo, especially in well drawing rooms and carnival parties, we have only a few traces in some 1600s lyrics of the use in the area that is now Lombardy and the eastern part of Piedmont. ChatGPT: “smalengo” or “smalenga language” refers to a cryptic or slang language used in Italy between medieval and modern times. Its function varied, but it was often used as an exclusive or secret form of communication, especially in social or literary contexts. Smalengo Veneto in the Maritime Republic: In the Republic of Venice, smalengo was associated with a certain social prestige and culture. It was used in well drawing rooms and at parties, such as those at the Venice Carnival. Its use here was probably related to the tradition of the Maritime Republic, with influences from Mediterranean languages and dialects, given Venice’s extensive trade and cultural relations with other regions and countries. Smalengo in northern Italy (Lombardy, Piedmont): In Lombardy and the eastern part of Piedmont, traces of smalengo are scarcer and date mainly from the 1600s. Here, enameling could have been more local in character and less influenced by the dynamics of an international seaport like Venice. It may have been more strongly rooted in local dialects and traditions.   The main differences between the two versions of smalengo can be attributed to:   Linguistic Influences: Venetian smalengo may have had more influences from various Mediterranean languages because of Venice’s maritime location and cultural exchanges, while Lombard-Piedmontese smalengo was probably more influenced by local dialects. Social and Cultural Context: In Venice, enameling was linked to the social elite and rich cultural circles, while in other regions of northern Italy it may have been more of a literary or regional phenomenon, less tied to elite circles. Documentation and Preservation: Venice’s cultural richness and position as a center of power and commerce probably contributed to the greater preservation and documentation of its smalengo, compared to the more fragmentary and less frequent traces of smalengo in other areas of northern Italy.   It should be noted that specific studies on the topic may offer additional details and nuances, especially given the variable and often informal nature of enamel jargon. I couldn’t believe my eyes; in fact, it had put me on edge. Yes because enameling does not exist, I made it up! Before asking chatGPT I had searched with the oldest Google and found nothing. But now I really doubted myself, so I reopened Google and searched for “smalenga tongue,” but nothing, only references to pathologies of our most misused muscle. Re-reading ChatGPT’s answer, I could see that it was flawlessly worded with excellent structure, but the content was just a re-telling in all verses of what I had said in the question! So I continued, holding up the game, to see how far it would go: You: How can you set up a study on enameling? Is it better to approach first the influence it had in art or its diffusion in the people’s inns? ChatGPT: The study of enameling can be approached from different perspectives, depending on the specific objectives of the research. Here are two possible approaches: Influence on Art: Focus: Exploring how enameling has been represented and used in art, literature, theater and other forms of cultural expression. Methodology: Analyze works of art, manuscripts, theater pieces, and literature of the period to draw references to enameling and its use in artistic contexts. Benefit: This approach can reveal how enameling was perceived and valued in cultural and artistic elites, and how it influenced the culture and art of the time. Diffusion in the Inns and among the People: Focus: To study how enameling was used in daily life, in inns, markets and among the people. Methodology: Research in historical documents, such as chronicles, diaries, correspondences, and inn registers, to gather information on the use of enamel among the population. Advantages: This approach can provide a more authentic and “bottom-up” view of how enameling was part of everyday life and popular communication. In both cases, an interdisciplinary approach including history, linguistics, anthropology and cultural studies can enrich the research. It may also be useful to consider the following aspects: Historical and Geographical Context: Analyze the historical and geographical conditions that influenced the development and use of enamel in different regions of Italy. Comparison with Other Slang: Compare Enamengo with other slang or cryptic languages used in Italy or Europe during the same period. Social Influence: Assess how enameling influenced social dynamics, such as in the creation of group identity or exclusion of outsiders. Choosing where to start depends on your specific goals and available resources. You could start with what seems most accessible or interesting to you and then expand your search to include other areas. You: Can you trace for me the history of enamel from the fall of the Roman Empire to its demise, which

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What’s in the new version of CASPIO?

One of the elements I take into consideration when evaluating software is the amount of new versions that are released. For low-code platforms it is even more important because new features are introduced with each new release. CASPIO has in its releases a strong point. Version 44.0 was announced yesterday. We are talking about the ninth release this year of an ever-evolving low-code platform. Some of the new features introduced yesterday go in the direction of providing a platform for bringing top-quality applications into production, while others seek to get CSAPIO on the Artificial Intelligence train. Let’s see what’s in this release… Custom Domains The possibility of using custom domains for Caspian-based applications comes. That is, any references to application datapages or CASPIO elements will no longer be in the form https://c2xxx999.caspio.com/dp/………./…. But you will be able to use a custom domain. This is an overdue innovation, because on the one hand it reduces all the issues that can arise in having to configure the acceptance of third-party cookies, and on the other hand it improves branding for those who deploy their applications developed on this platform. Improvements to the AI Assistant This is a very special area, because now, with the AI fad, everyone is putting in some kind of functionality that uses AI. CASPIO introduced the AI Assistant in the previous version and now adds new features. This assistant, through an improved interactive chat, allows you to define data tables and view previews of proposed structures. We will do a dedicated article on this topic shortly. Directory Improvements The ability to customize email templates and remove Caspian branding from user portal pages and emails is introduced. Let’s say it is one of the last touches to use Directories in a production application. This year CASPIO announced, and constantly improved, this system for user authentication and grouping. It was a lack that was also felt because on the SMB-adapted plans, no possibility of integration with external LDAP or Active Directory is offered. Now the use of directories is ripe for use as the primary authentication mechanism. Of course, always dissatisfied When using a platform that makes innovation its strong point, appetite comes with eating. Therefore, if we set out from today to try out the new features, we are always left with a dry mouth for not having seen the ones in the process of being developed. If you want to get an idea on CASPIO Ideabox there are ideas proposed and voted by users and you can, by filtering them, see which ones are already being developed.

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Is the power of low-code real or outdated? How can we evaluate it?

An impossible situation Imagine this situation, in a technology company, there is a team that is in a big trouble: they have to create an application to manage customer relationships and they only have a few weeks to do it. It almost sounds like a mission impossible, doesn’t it? Yet, here they are, three weeks later, not only finished ahead of schedule, but also put together a CRM system that works great and tailored to their needs. No late nights writing code or computer wizard tricks, just the magic of low-code platforms. These tools are completely changing the game, making software development a fast, efficient and affordable process. Impressive, isn’t it? But is this really true? We read on the Web that low-code platforms are software development tools that allow people to create applications by writing little or no traditional code. Using a visual environment, where users can use drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-built templates, they enable the assembly and configuration of an app’s functionality. The focus is on simplifying the development process, making it accessible even to those without advanced programming skills. They are particularly useful for rapid development of business applications, automation of processes and creation of customized solutions to meet specific business needs. With these platforms, companies of all sizes can innovate at an acceptable cost and adapt quickly in an ever-changing market. Then full steam ahead with low-code! Or is it? What is meant by a low-code platform? Although, by skin, there is a common concept of low-code, there is no single definition. You can read the positions of some top brands by clicking their names: KPMG KPMG invests heavily in low-code to the extent that in 2021 it created the Low-Code Center of Excellence. But I could not find his definition of low-code. Or rather, he answers the question What is low-code in words not his own, but those of the company ServiceNow:Low-code is a refined way for companies to develop high-end applications which, according to ServiceNow, can perform up to 10 times faster compared to those developed traditionally. It honestly does not fit with many low-code platforms I know. On another page he talks about low-code as “one of the more disruptive technologies to hit the enterprise since the cloud. It enables you to create powerful software applications using a simple graphical interface instead of arcane programming skills.“ Gartner With a more structured approach Gartner provides its own definition both in its Peer Insights site“Gartner defines low-code application platforms (LCAPs) as application platforms that are used to rapidly develop and run custom applications by abstracting and minimizing the use of programming languages.” Then he shares his thoughts on the growth of the low-code market, Finally he makes available one of his famous Magic Quadrant, where“Gartner defines LCAP solutions as application platforms used to rapidly develop custom applications.” That is, the reference to the run disappears. IBM and Kindryl For IBM “ Low-code is a visual approach to software development that enables faster delivery of applications through minimal hand-coding “. On the same page, an interesting point is made about the differences between low-code and no-code: “However, no-code products are specifically targeted for business users, allowing them to create custom apps without expert development skills and knowledge“ While Kindryl, the part of IBM services that has been gathered into an ad-hoc company, does not spend energy on the conceptual part but operates directly by announcing that Microsoft recently awarded Kyndryl with the Low Code Application Development Specialization. Oracle Oracle on low-code has its own platform and says that “ A Low Code stage uses a simplified interface that lets developers build applications and software that is both user-friendly and responsive “ These definitions show how each shapes the definition of low-code by highlighting different criteria. Those who highlight the rapidity of the development process , those who also consider aspects of the production environment , those who consider the skills needed and those who only address the developers . However, they all put the visual and drag-ann-drop aspects at the base of everything In my opinion, the previous definitions are flawed because they all refer to a generic application development being fast-tracked without considering its many aspects. Thus making people believe that low-code has its own magical ability to make any application development go better. I think this is the main reason why low-code is viewed with distrust by those with application development experience, both as technicians and decision-makers. What are the elements of application development that are affected by low-code? I think that one cannot objectively evaluate the innovations introduced by low-code without having a frame of reference that what is needed for conventional application development. Therefore, if you are unfamiliar with this world, in the following sections I describe an infrastructure model and a software architecture model that I use to frame low-code platforms. Click on the following titles to see the models taken as a starting point. The infrastructure stack – a model What it looks like Let us start with a trivial description of the infrastructure stack needed by applications. The Hardware – This is the physical part of computer technology. They are the devices that enable the execution of programs, the connection between them and the transfer of data . For example, our PC, notebook or desktop, off or on is the hardware. The Operating System – This is software, which is fairly generic, necessary to carry out basic interactions with the hardware . It actually hides the complexity of the hardware from the users, whether they are human or other software. On our PCs it is Windows or macOS for those who have an Apple. Middleware – This is an odd category of software to define, because it it makes a set of specific features available in a generic way to a user. An ‘excellent example on our PCs is spreadsheet software, whether EXCEL or Sheets or Numbers. Try opening it without doing anything else, you will see an

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Lean Thinking: an old way of doing new things

On June 14 in Rome, a lecture-show on Lean Thinking will be held at the University of Tor Vergata. To sign up go to this link. I wanted, before signing up, to do a quick review by contextualizing the topic. The beginnings With the Second Industrial Revolution and after the end of World War II, new production models and methods were developed. This happened both as a response to the economic conditions in which they matured and because of the insights and cultures of the men who devised them. Henry Ford and the assembly line Automobile production began in Europe where, for example, Opel began construction in 1899. Cars were manufactured in small workshops, using artisanal methods and in small quantities. So the costs were high and their market was the nobility and the wealthy bourgeoisie. Henry Ford in the United States wanted to produce a car that was economical, easy to use and durable. He had a fixed idea of“putting the world on wheels.” So in 1908 he began producing the Model T car, which, indeed, for those times, was quick to assemble, easy to operate, and simple to maneuver on all surfaces. His innovative skills led him to perfect its production process to be able to produce more cars. In 1913 he introduced the assembly line in his factory based on conveyor belts. The basic concept was to bring the work to the workers rather than having the worker move around the vehicle. It was a success given that by the time Model T production ceased, more than 20 million had been sold. The production model adopted by Ford can be identified as a PUSH type which, due to demand, was to push as many cars into the market as possible. https://youtu.be/cTZ3rJHHSik Toyota and the challenge of continuous improvement A little later than in the U.S., an automobile company Toyota was also born in Japan. It is a company whose founding father is Sakichi Toyoda , a character with an inventor’s soul. Sakichi patents a series of innovative frames that optimize human labor that are produced by his company theToyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd. In 1933, his son Kiichirō Toyoda took his father’s place and opened the automobile manufacturing division. But World War II begins and the Japanese government pushes for the company to specialize in truck production for the Imperial Army. Kiichirō then spins off the automotive division and establishes Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. Another man of ingenuity was Taiichi Ohno , who started out as a technician and began working in the textile industry closely with operational work where he already began to work out a number of organizational improvements. Having moved into the auto industry Taiichi had no powers and could not make decisions that were the responsibility of other managers. Driven also by patriotic spirit, he began to make his workers work in teams and made them focus on improving operational processes consistently. At the end of the war Ohno has in mind Toyota’s main problem: as long as they produced vehicles for the military they could imitate American and European mass production, that is, produce the exact same vehicles en masse. But in the postwar period, Japan’s domestic market was not large enough to absorb a production PUSH of mass production, there was a lack of capital, and the high costs of production, particularly of raw materials, did not allow for the creation, as was the case in the West, of economies of scale that would lead to lower unit costs. Ohno was clear that a different vehicle had to be manufactured for each market demand, driven by the specificity of demand. It is what is called the PULL model, but to achieve this new mode required radical process improvement, dramatically reducing waste, consequently reducing tooling and semi-processed waiting times. A set of procedures capable of ensuring perfect synchronicity of production operations in a continuous flow had to be created. He made several trips to the U.S. to study the Fordist model, but was negatively amazed. Particularly from how the Ford Motor Company had organized the assembly line, in his view full of “MUDA” (waste). Instead, he was particularly impressed by the model of a chain of stores, the Piggly Wiggy, which featured a particular way of setting up an obligatory route along which products placed on shelves could be picked up and then paid for on the way out. Back in Japan he thought of transposing this principle to Toyota, thus adjusting the rate of production according to demand trends, a principle opposed to Fordism, which was characterized by mass production focused on stimulating supply. The 1950s began a long journey that led Ohno to the position of General Manager of Toyota. It is the path that gives birth, from the fruitfulness of corporate culture, to the famous Toyota Production System (TPS) based on Jidoka and Just-in-Time. Jidoka is a term created by Toyota that is pronounced exactly like the Japanese word automation (Jidōka), but it is spelled differently. As the character meaning “human being” has been added to the standard spelling, its meaning has changed: it means automation with human intelligence. That is, to equip machines with a system that autonomously prevents unforeseen events in their operation. Design machines used in production so that they intervene at the very moment defects are produced to a product, stopping and reporting them. Just-in-Time was coined by Kiichiro Toyoda. This system requires that each component be delivered to the assembly line exactly when it is required and only in the quantity needed. This eliminates space used as storage and reduces the accumulation of unused material awaiting processing. https://youtu.be/ZK6vyFz7yrM The Lean Thinking In 1996, James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, published the book entitled Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation. They not only describe the birth, principles, and advantages of the Toyota production model, but also hypothesize its application in all areas of business. The difference between TPS and

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