Today we're sharing a peek at Plato's most powerful and novel and downright fun feature: macros.
If you're an Excel jockey, you may be familiar with the concept of macros. They let you automate your work by recording actions you take in the app, then later replaying them. We've taken this idea and upgraded it for a modern, no-code platform. We believe macros can grow into a complete programming system, becoming the easiest way to build and automate apps.
Whether through code or no-code techniques like flowcharts, automations today typically involve writing down the steps that need to be performed. Macros rest on a simple insight: Why should you have to write down what needs to be done? Why not just...do it?
Check out this macro that marks invoices as paid:
Until today, Plato has been known first and foremost as a database admin. Once you connect your database, Plato provides Airtable-like tables for querying and updating your data. Startups such as Kargo, DealCart, and Stylo have been using Plato for simple operations, such as extending free trials or onboarding customers, but our sights are set on growing into the best way for engineers and business users alike to build powerful internal apps. Today marks a big step in that direction.
Apps have to be automated, and the no-code answer to automations is typically flowcharts. In fact, lots of folks equate "no-code" with the now very familiar flowchart model of programming.
Flowcharts are made up of nodes. Each node represents an action, and when you click on a node, you configure that action with a mini UI (e.g. a form).
Flowcharts are a fair compromise when your automation platform doesn't let you directly interact with your data, but in Plato where you can directly query tables, update records, make API requests, etc., why not leverage the same UI for automations?
With macros, the interface for automation and interaction is one and the same. The essential complexity of programming isn't going anywhere, so macros must provide more advanced controls such as conditionals (follow us for more demos!), but there's no need to learn an entirely new programming system. Best of all is that everything you can do on the platform is now a candidate for automation. You can even automate the creation of apps themselves!
We're launching macros today into closed beta. If you'd like to give it a spin, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.