7 minutes read

Xano revie: The Ultimate Tool for No-Code Backend Development

Xano review: No-code backend development platform

When you mention no-code development platforms, the first thing people usually have in mind is a front-end WYSIWYG builder or “full-stack” platform such as Bubble that combines both front-end and back-end. However more often than not, it might be a better fit for the development project to use separated back-end and front-end. That’s why we want to introduce our go-to no-code back-end platform for development of web and mobile applications.

We have been working with Xano since the beginning of our no-code journey, and it has enabled us to build complex applications that we thought were impossible with a no-code tech stack. We’ve already built several applications using Xano as a backend and we can fully recommend it. Take a look at some of our work in the Case Studies section.

What is Xano?

Let’s start with a basic overview of the functionalities that Xano provides:

  • Authentication – Comes out of the box with JWE tokens and pre-built OAuth authentication solutions.
  • No-code API builder – Allows you to build complex business logic and workflows (CRUDs can be generated automatically).
  • Flexible database – Managed PostgreSQL database with the ability to manage DB triggers, indexes, data validations, etc.
  • Recurrent tasks – easy setup of recurrent workflows, which are basically equivalent to CRON jobs

We will definitely dig deeper into individual functionalities, but as you can see, Xano provides all that you need to build a custom back-end for your SaaS, Marketplace, Booking system, Internal portal, mobile application or enterprise grade application.

Core features overview

The purpose of this review is not to provide a extra-detailed overview of each feature within the platform but rather to give you a high-level overview of what and how you can build in Xano.

Database management

Xano review

One thing that Xano makes really easy is database management. Here are some cool features you can easily utilize:

  • Database triggers – Set up workflows or custom actions every time a DB record is added, changed, or deleted.
  • Database indexes – This is something we really appreciate in a no-code tool as it allows you to optimize the performance of your database queries. DB indexes can improve querying a database with millions of records and decrease response time by more than 90%. Additionally, you can define so-called “search” indexes which can be used for fuzzy search in your text data.
  • Excel-like database GUI – The great thing about the Xano database is that in some cases, you don’t even need to build an admin interface.

Setting up a database is matter of just a few clicks and you can also automatically create CRUD API endpoints for each new table.

No-code API builder and functions

This is one of the most powerful pillars of Xano – you can easily create business logic, perform data operations, integrate with external APIs, and much more with just a few clicks. If by any chance you prefer to write some code, Xano allows you to execute custom JavaScript functions.

All of your API endpoints are managed in one place and you can categorize those into different API groups.

Here are some functionalities we would like to highlight:

  • Input validation – setup validation rules for your API parameters to ensure proper data processing
  • Custom functions – it often happens that you need to re-use some of the logic on different places of your app and with custom functions, you don’t have to re-create this business logic every time
  • Data upload – easily upload files on public or private storage to keep all of your data secure
  • GraphQL-like data querying – you can easily create and re-use addons to extend your data within multiple database tables without any database queries

Authentication & Security

Many times we hear concerns about the security of apps hosted by no-code platforms. Let’s start by mentioning that Xano is GDPR, SOC2, and HIPAA compliant and it has ISO 27001, 27701, and 9001 certifications which provide a level of security that takes a lot of effort if you were to build your own backend from scratch.

What we often say to our clients is that a platform that hosts thousands of apps, many of them with sensitive and personal data, has the security aspect covered much better than a team of developers could cover within a reasonable amount of time and resources.

Another aspect of keeping your app secured is the built-in authentication mechanism. You can easily set up signup and login flows, and take advantage of pre-built authentication solutions using Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Apple, or GitHub.

For each API endpoint, you can enable or disable authentication with just a few clicks to ensure your API endpoints are secured. In addition, you can set up authentication for different user tables (e.g., to have different authentication for customers, internal users, or system users).

Middleware

Recently, Bubble introduced a very powerful functionality, that allows yo to easily apply business logic on selected API endpoints, entire groups or entire workspace. The reason why we see this functionality as very powerful is that it enables you to consistently apply the same business logic across parts of your back-end.

In Xano you can apply two types middleware:

Pre-Middleware – executes before any input validation takes place.

Post-Middleware – executes after the function stack ends, but before the API delivers a response. The output of the middleware can be merged into the response your API generates, or replace it entirely.

Illustration of pre and post-middleware

Some use-cases for middleware:

  • Sensitive data protection – Protect parts of your sensitive data, e.g., according to the user’s role.
  • Logging – Log certain API requests and keep that information in the database.
  • Advanced input validation – Although Xano provides a basic built-in mechanism for validation of your API inputs, middleware allows you to take validation rules to the next level by applying any additional validation rules.
  • API response enrichment – Suppose you have a large number of CRUD endpoints and you want to extend the response with metadata stored in Xano; you can set up API response enrichment by creating post-middleware and apply that middleware to all of your data endpoints.

Scalability

Can Xano backend scale to thousands of users? What about millions? The answer is the same as if you were to build your backend custom with a traditional approach – Yes, if you do it right!

What does it mean?
The platform provides several built-in functionalities to make your app fast even with a huge user base such as database indexing or built-in Redis API and function caching. If you utilize these, you can significantly improve the performance of your APIs even when handling a large number of users.

And then it’s about the quality of your “code,” which means how optimal you work with data querying, aggregations, and transformations, how you design your DB (normalized vs. denormalized), or how you use recurrent workflows (e.g., running unnecessary data operations on top of thousands of records every 5 minutes).

Version control & branching

With increasing complexity of applications that you are building, you need a proper mechanism to manage data environments and development branches. Let’s summarize what Xano offers.

Data environments

Depending on your paid plan, Xano provides two or more data environments (one on free plan) that you can host. Each data environment is separated and you can use it e.g. for staging and production version of your app.

Branches

Similar to traditional git-like branching, branches represent version of your back-end functionalities. You can easily setup new branches by copying existing ones and merge them after you finish your modifications. Before merge takes place, you can visually compare source and target branch and review the changes that you’ve made.

Version control

During the development, each change that you make to your API or function is recorded and you can easily restore to previous versions of your API and you can compare the difference between these versions

Pricing

Xano provides 4 different packages: Build (free), Launch, Scale (1x-8x) and Enterprise. Each of the plan provides additional performance, storage and functionality.

Build plan is great when you are not sure if the platform is the right fit for your project, as it allows to test most of its functionalities without paying anything.
Launch plan is optimal for almost all early stage projects, MVPs or small applications where you don’t require heavy performance but you already need production-ready backend. We usually start most of our projects with this one as it provides almost all necessary functionalities.
Scale plan is suitable for complex applications with heavy workloads and it offers additional layer of security, functionality and collaboration options.
Enterprise plan is the highest level of what you can get – self-hosting, SLA, custom logging and other features that are often required by enterprise clients.

What we miss in Xano?

Although we think that Xano is currently the most powerful no-code platform to build your backend, there are some functionalities that are currently either not supported or only partially.

  • Real-time database (already on roadmap) – just to get this right, all data operations are done in real-time, what we mean hear is ability to use bi-directional communication between the browser and server(back-end)
  • More advanced collaboration – it already provides comprehensive version control and branching functionalities, but on complex projects it would be great to additional functionalities to support dev-review process
  • Auto-completions – you can already utilize pre-defined object structures e.g. when working with inputs, but we would love to see auto-complete for variables/object properties

Summary

Whether you need backend for a simple CRUD application or you want to build complex enterprise-grade applications, Xano is something that you should definitely consider.
It comes with wide range of pre-built functionalities that simplify entire development process and significantly speed up development / cut dev costs.

It comes with reasonable pricing suitable for different project size and needs while keeping your backend secure and scalable.

And have in mind that if you register with this link, you have 10% discount for next 12 months of payments.

See other

Are you interested?

Let's build something great together

Our clients

Contact us

Let's talk
business

Our office:
The Spot, Bottova2a, Bratislava
How can we help you?