Building an app is hard, but Glide aims to fix that by allowing anybody to build an app with no code by combining an easy-to-use builder with Google Sheets. Yes, you read that right. In our Glide app review, we'll cover what this no code app builder can do and discuss some of the limitations you should know about.
What is Glide?
Glide gives you a simple but powerful editor to visually build apps (no code!) and leverages Google Sheets to store the data.
Using Google Sheets as a database means you have full control of your data in a visual interface. You can interact with your database with no code, and as easily as you would with a spreadsheet (because it is one). Traditional databases require you to manipulate data through the command line rather than a visual interface, unless you took the time to code your own visual interface for your data.
Glide gives you a lot of components to work with, such as a map view, calendar view, user list and even advanced things like a chat interface. It really does cover a lot of the basic components you would find in most apps.
Where should I start?
Glide offers a lot of templates to showcase the components you can build with and give you a starting point if you aren't sure where to begin.
In theory, you could even create your own version of Instagram using Glide (with some caveats that we'll mention below).
So what's the catch? What are the limitations?
Why isn't everybody using Glide to build their apps? Since Glide is a no code tool that uses Google Sheets as a database, there are some limitations in what you can build.
Glide can't do absolutely everything and beyond the components you are given, you can't really customize more than the colors, text and layout. For example, if you look at this Instagram template that they have, you can see that there is a "chat" section at the bottom right. However, this chat component is a general chat with everyone that has the app and not a 1:1 private messaging system that Instagram has.
If you wanted to create a 1:1 private messaging system you would have to wait for Glide to come out with a component for it (which I'm sure they will).
There are also a few technical limitations such as the limit of 25,000 rows per Google Sheet (so in theory, you could only store 25,000 posts in your Instagram app). As of writing, they are also limited to refresh rates of up to 3 minutes (meaning it could take up to 3 minutes for your app to show new data), so any real-time features (such as a live chat) would likely not work well using Glide.
I'm sure some of these technical limits are also due to the fact that they are using Google Sheets as the backend and will likely be mitigated once they introduce other backend solutions (such as Airtable or a custom backend they host).
When should I use Glide or other no code solutions?
Although there are some limitations when it comes to components available, I think the best use cases for these type of apps are:
Early MVPs to test concepts with beta users
If Glide supports the features you are looking for, it makes a lot of sense to build out an early MVP due to the ease of iteration. Aside from the obvious cost benefits, the speed at which you can iterate on user feedback is such a powerful thing when it comes to building an MVP.
Internal company tools
Building out internal company tools to help improve workflow/processes is another great use case for these kind of apps. These apps usually don't require very scalable databases or complex features. Some great examples are an internal issue tracking software and an expense reporting tool.
Glide App Review: Does this no code app builder work for you?
In our app review, we discovered that Glide is a very powerful no code app builder and based on what we've seen so far, will only be getting more useful as time goes on.
Although there are some limitations in flexibility of customization beyond pure color/text/layout tweaks and some scaling issues that are inherent when using Google Sheets as a backend, Glide is a great way to build out basic MVPs as well as simple internal tools to improve workflow.
For apps that require complex logic and databases, we don't recommend Glide. Check out our article to read about when to choose a relational vs. non-relational database for your app.
Glide is a huge step forward towards increasing software accessibility, which we really resonate with at Aloa. If you have any questions about Glide or comments on our app review, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org!