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February 24, 2021
Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: James Haliburton

We are fortunate to have a vibrant community of hundreds of members from all different places across the globe. We come together to talk about tools, tech, no-code and new ways to make creating & building even more productive than before. 

At Makerpad we love sharing our member’s journey through learning no-code, using new skills in their workplaces, building projects and even launching businesses. 

Each week we’ll be highlighting a member from our community and sharing their story, background and previous projects through our Member Spotlight blog post series.

This week we are chatting to James Haliburton from Sweden.

James is the CEO of Noodl.

 

Hey James, great to have you be part of the Member's Spotlight. Can you give us some background on how you got into no-code? How long have you been using no-code tools and what got you first interested?

If you can believe it, I've been using no-code tools for over 20 years! I initially picked up platforms like Max MSP which is software to create electronic music, combining pre-designed building blocks into live music performances. I also used Pure Data to create custom VJ software and to orchestrate complex new media art installations. It helped you to mix video, graphics, and light to accompany music, like a visual DJ. 

At the time that I started getting into this, I was in an art school in Toronto, and it was a no-brainer to use these platforms. When you have a vision, but aren't in the midst of a software engineering degree, you want to find the shortest line between your ideas and the expression of them. 

The beauty of those platforms was that there were no limits to what you could do. Every once in a while you would need to create your own components, but essentially the flexibility of the platform trumped being locked down.

Unfortunately, these early platforms, while they made creativity more accessible they weren't particularly well structured and using the documentation didn’t support all of the great things that the platform could do. It was like just getting ten pieces out of a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle and you really had to figure things out for yourself. 

One great thing about the no-code community is that you can master modern no-code platforms so much more easily through learning from others and the creation of more accessible tutorials and documentation. So can you take us through some of the no-code projects have you built in the past?

A complete list would take a long time to capture as there have been so many! 

Over the past few years me and my old team at Topp Design & Innovation have created countless MVPs, prototypes and apps. This was all predominately built on top of an incubation version of Noodl. Noodl is a visual programming language and environment that allows you to create custom apps faster and without limits. 

It's pretty remarkable what we were able to do! We created everything from MVPs for new GlaxoSmithKline digital businesses, piloted new IKEA experiences and built Toyota dealership apps. We also helped lots of startups land their funding rounds by rapidly creating Noodl apps and MVPs for them. 

Our most intense project was working with one of the world's largest retail brands to create the proof of concept for their new mobile shopping experience. The deadline was just a couple of weeks away and we were able to fully integrate into their product database, shipping APIs and much more. It really was a totally awesome achievement. 

These successes were a massive motivator for spinning Noodl itself as a product out of the Topp design agency so we could put the platform in the hands of many more people.


Building so many commercial apps and MVPs must have given you a great foundation to test the Noodl platform out to its full potential before releasing it for wider use. So let's bring things up to the current day, what are you currently working on and what stage is it at?

Currently I'm heads-down with growing our platform, Noodl, of course! We think it's the best way to build full-stack apps without limits and to just create amazing software. 

Noodl has a focus on design driven development. You can rapidly iterate on your user experience and continually deploy your changes to live versions at the same time. 

Really Noodl was built for aspiring coders and creatives. It empowers designers to build production code and it turns junior devs into full stack engineers. Everyone works in the same environment so there’s no more wasting time on handovers.

Noodl’s visual data flow shows how connectivity and data is floating in a project. This makes troubleshooting and debugging so much easier which is a really critical part of building and iterating on your own apps. You need to be able to fix issues yourself. 

Noodl is currently free to download. We just pushed a new version out so we’d love for people to give it a try! This new version is really taking off, and we're seeing our engagement jump by over 20% in just a few weeks. This is a great signal for us. 


It’s a really exciting time to see a platform you have created be put in the hands of people who will start to use it in new and creative ways. I’m sure you’ll be amazed at some of the things that will come out of Noodl! Thinking more of the future, what are you looking forward to seeing happen in the no-code space in the years to come? 

Empowerment. At Noodl, we're fortunate to be at the forefront of providing real power to no-coders. I believe people need to be able to execute the vision they plan for - and never feel limited by a template.  This means getting users off guide-rails, and providing a more generalised approach that is easy to learn and extend upon when you hit upon a boundary. 

In order to get these benefits, platforms will have to ask a bit more of the user, but the payoff is huge.

With learning to code there’s a really long time investment needed before you reach proficiency but the capability you get once you get there is limitless. However so many people fall by the wayside before they ever reach the skill level needed to create something. 

No-code tools improve upon this by having a much more immediate impact where you can start to create without much of a learning curve but you can soon hit the ceiling in terms of capability. 

Noodl sits in between those two options, it has a slightly longer learning curve than some simpler no-code tools. However it offers such a wide range of capabilities that normally would need a much longer time investment and require surviving a much steeper learning curve to achieve. 

We hope that Noodl offers a balance of accessibility combined with great capabilities. 

 

 


It’s great to see low code tools find their place in the ecosystem. The wider the range of platforms and tools that we have, the more people can find something that suits them. Do you have a favourite no-code tool? And what's the next no-code tool you're thinking of trying out?

Noodl is naturally my favourite. A 2-week Javascript bootcamp may get you started on a long road to coding, but spending 2 weeks with Noodl will get you building your app exactly as you want it.

The next tools I’d like to try out are some of the headless e-commerce platforms, like Fabric.

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us James. We look forward to hearing more about your journey soon! 

Keep an eye open for our next Member Spotlight blog post coming soon!


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