info
Back to overview

Baserow AMA Recap: real-time talk with the Baserow co-founders Bram Wiepjes and Olivier Maes on Reddit

Blog placeholder image

We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who joined the Baserow Ask Me Anything session on the 11th of August.

Transparency is at the core of everything we do at Baserow, and by conducting the AMA, we wanted to set up an open discussion where our co-founders openly communicate with our users in real-time. We hoped you enjoyed the event as much as we did.

If you missed the session, no worries, we will definitely organize another one, but for now, you can check what we were chatting about by reading this blog post. This is a recap of the entire session, structured by topics, so you can easily navigate through the article.

At the beginning of the AMA, our co-founders Bram and Olivier, introduced themselves. Read the short intro to know who is who before jumping to the questions:

Hi, this Bram, co-founder and CEO at Baserow. My background is in software engineering and I started Baserow as a side project. It has grown into a venture backed startup with a team of 10 (and growing). I’m responsible for product, development and strategy. I’ll be online for the next three hours to answer all your questions!

Hi, I am Olivier, co-founder and CRO at Baserow. I have experience in opensource (Rancher Labs), low code (Mendix) and mostly cloud infra technology. I teamed up with Bram recently to build the company around Baserow. I’m responsible for business development, sales, marketing, go to market and customer success. I’ll be online for the next three hours to answer all your questions!

About Baserow as a company

Question: How much total funding have you taken on and what kind of pressures, or changes in leadership, does that funding entail?

Olivier Maes: We raised 5M EUR so far. We use the funds to keep developing the product and add new modules, as well as creating a sales and customer success team. I joined forces with Bram on the leadership team to build a company around the opensource project. The pressure is mostly centered around providing the best user experience and features.

Question: Thanks for the answer! I’m not really clued-up on how funding works. I’m assuming they’ll want their 5M EUR back at some point. How much time do you have before you need to return an investment? And what’s used to back back that funding or is all the risk on the investors side?

Olivier Maes: Our funding is from investors. That means we are expected to use this to grow the product and the revenue that will come from that. It is an investment, not a loan, so we do not have to pay this back, but investors hope for a good return in the future. That is how venture capital works.


Question: Who are the developers working on baserow right now, are they full time employees? I’m asking because I’m hoping baserow will see long term support, as a developer thinking of basing my own product on baserow.

Olivier Maes: Our developers are paid employees of Baserow. Our business model is based on offering paid licenses of Baserow (Premium, Advanced and Enterprise) to finance our team. We develop most of our features for the free opensource version.

Alex (team member): Hey :) I am one of the devs on the team, we have a team of 7 developers at the moment who are all working full time, the team is steadily growing so no worries regarding long term support!


Question: If you were to start Baserow again, Would you change anything?

Bram Wiepjes: From a technical point of view, if I start Baserow from scratch again, I would focus on bulk operations from the beginning. Currently, most endpoint are single operations like create one row, update one row and delete one row. We have recently implement bulk operations for that, but it would have been better from an architectural point of view to do that from the start.


Question: What is the one feature you are most proud of?

Bram Wiepjes: It’s difficult to answer that question because I’m proud of Baserow as a whole, so all features combined. If I would have to pick one, it’s the grid view. We have a unique way of offering an spreadsheet like experience, while still being performant with lots of rows.

Question: I have gathered some feedback from my users beforehand - what they like and what not - and this just fit’s here.

While I enjoy the snappy grid-view, my users did switch to the gallery-view for day2day use almost instantly and won’t go back for now - even for data editing.

Fun-fact:After they figured out, that -by deleting the default grid-view- they can switch to a gallery-view as their default, all grid-view’s went out of the window.

Btw. => there is a need for a per-user default view of a table. :-)

Bram Wiepjes: Very interesting!


Question: I did notice a performance improvement on the front-end with 1.11 when updating lots of rows.

Bram Wiepjes: We think performance is very important in a tool like Baserow. We have many ideas on how to make it even faster and are constantly implementing improvements.


Question: How are you approaching the B2B side of marketing ? Almost every company of a certain size out there needs to create mini-apps and baserow is a dream platform for that. Up until now the solutions have sucked. Some companies use sharepoint, which is a nightmare.

Olivier Maes: Great thought ! Yes we believe there is a need for micro apps to support many smaller processes within a company. Currently we only have a database app, the next phase is to build a front end web app module where Baserow users can directly build apps for their process and share them with other users to leverage.


Question: Why is Baserow open source? Why is it important?

Olivier Maes: Being open-source helps us at Baserow to receive features feedback from many free users, discover bugs and security vulnerabilities much faster through our users’ community. That makes the software at least as secure as enterprise software. Developers can also make use of each other’s creativity to create their own plugins for the software. Open source is free, allowing developers to test the software, deploy it in non-production environments first, and validate its value add to their use case Finally, with opensource users can deploy Baserow on their own servers, which is critical for companies with strict data privacy and security policies


Question: How solid is the company and how sustainable is the business going?

Olivier Maes: The company is well funded for our current size as we raised 5M EUR seed funding and are operating in an efficient way. We will continue to grow our developers, marketing, sales and support teams though, which will increase our expenses. We will raise more investment in the future (series A) to finance our growth, in addition to the revenue coming from our Premium, Advanced and Enterprise paid licenses. The trend in user sign ups is very encouraging, with about 1000 sign ups per month. We have not yet really started to proactively approach companies for paid licenses, which we will do as of September when our sales team is complete and our Enterprise version is ready to launch.


Question: How do you prioritize your features?

Olivier Maes: Our users community provide feedback on existing features and requests for new ones. We review these weekly and decide which ones to include in our roadmap. We also know which features are very useful in similar tools and need to be available in Baserow too. Our decisions are based on value of the feature to a lot of other users. If the feature is very specific to a small user base, we would not prioritize it and these users could develop it themselves eventually.


Question Who’s the biggest competitor(s) in this space feature-wise? I hear Airtables mentioned alot, but what about Grist, SeaTable, NocoDB, Memento, etc?

Olivier Maes: We will be issuing a Buyer´s guide in September where we compare 6 competitors with Baserow on various features, business models and support. It will include open source competitors as well as some of the well known tools like Airtable. Stay tuned!


About self-hosting

Question: why there are such restrictions to functionalities on free self hosted option?

Olivier Maes: We’ve chosen for an open core business model, where certain features are available in a premium paid version that works on top of the free open source version. We also will offer direct support for the paid Enterprise and Advanced plans. That revenue will ensure we have a healthy business model and keep attracting talent to further develop the opensource product.


Question: Hi, do you have a recommended strategy regarding self-hosting baserow in HA architecture? Of course the postgres and redis can be set up in HA cluster, but is it possible to connect mutliple baserow instances to the same db/redis cluster?

Bram Wiepjes: Baserow has been built from the ground up to support horizontally scaling of the backend and the web-frontend. We run the hosted version of Baserow in a Kubernetes cluster where we have many backend pods, worker pods and web-frontend pods that can be scaled horizontally. We’re going to add a helm chart in the near future for self hosters. It’s not possible to horizontally scale the all-in-one Docker image, but the https://hub.docker.com/r/baserow/backend and https://hub.docker.com/r/baserow/web-frontend can be scaled horizontally. More information can be found in our k8s docs: https://baserow.io/docs/installation%2Finstall-with-k8s.


Question: Future of self-hosting baserow - since company policy does only allow on-premise solutions.

Olivier Maes: We will always have a self hosting option for Baserow with all the functionalities of the SAAS offering. In addition, we will further evolve the features for self hosted to include user management features as well as direct support to help our self hosting users to deploy Baserow. Does this answer your question ?

Question: Would you commit to the self-hosted offering always being under an OSI-definition Open Source license? Just asking since I’ve seen a trend of funding-backed OpenSource projects switch to non-Open-Source licenses such as the Elastic license or similar.

Olivier Maes: We will always offer the self hosted option under the OSL definition. That means all free features from the SAAS version will be available to self hosting users. Paid premium features will be available to self hosted and SAAS users.


Question: What size virtual machine do I need to host a baserow instance ? (RAM, CPU, etc)

Bram Wiepjes: Baserow has a couple of services that run in the background, like the API server, background workers, etc. We recommend at least 2GB of memory and 2 CPU cores for everything to work performant if you’re using the system with multiple users simultaneously.


About the no-code industry

Question: What do you think of unifying/changing/evolving terms like “no-code” and “visual development”? Is there something that we “should” be using? What makes the most sense?

Olivier Maes: There are indeed a lot of terminologies around no-code. We have made a no-code industry map to help teams categorize the various tools based on what you want to build. You can find the industry map here : The no-code landscape // Baserow . I would suggest to focus on data sets that are less organized in your company and would benefit from a better tool to collaborate around that data. For example, in many companies, CRM data is pretty well structured and organized with off the shelf tools like Salesforce. But many product or marketing teams need help to organize and collaborate around data and structure their collaborative process. That is where no code tools can really help organize a specific business unit process and customize the application to the specific needs.


Question: Where do you see no-code headed in the short- and long-term?

Olivier Maes: Gartner predicts that 70% of applications will leverage no code technology by 2024. That is very short term, which means adoption is already well underway. With the pressure on productivity, profitability, flexibility and rapid time to market, companies have no choice but to adopt more effective ways to build applications faster and cheaper. No-code will be mainstream in a few years, where the developers will focus on the more complex integrations and customizations whilst no code tools handle the bulk of automations.


Question: As regulations evolve and people become more conscious of their digital footprint (we’ve already seen instances of this in our forum), how do you see the importance of privacy and security playing out, particularly in the no-code space?

Olivier Maes: Data protection and security is probably wider than no code. Especially for users of a SaaS service, understanding where your data is stored is increasingly important. There are government led initiatives like GAIA-X that focus on data sovereignty at European level. As a user, I would also ensure the SaaS provider complies with all data protection regulations and provides the contracts needed if you require them. As an alternative, no code SAAS tools offering a self hosted alternative give the most data protection stringent users the ability to leverage these tools.


Question: Why do you think we haven’t seen as much open source in the no-code/visual development space?

Bram Wiepjes: A couple of years ago there weren’t that many open source no-code and low-code tools available, but today there many great tools like Baserow, n8n and Tooljet. We’ve created an industry map containing lots of no-code tools, we highlight the open source ones there. More information can be found here: https://baserow.io/blog/no-code-landscape.


About functionality of Baserow

Question: Is there a functionality planned to add “revision history” to the tables/fields?

Bram Wiepjes: We’re going to add a row level revision history to the open source version of Baserow. Here you will be able to see every change that users have made to that specific row. We’re also going to implement an audit log in the enterprise version of Baserow. Here you will be able to see everything that has changed, from tables, to fields to rows.


Question: Baserow right now (or as of a few days ago, last time I checked) doesn’t yet have much in the way of user-and-user-access management tools. That is, as developer, I want to be able to invite my clients to access my database; but I don’t want THEM to be able to share the database on their own initiative (needs to be central control of that) and it needs to be easy to remove a user (say, if user leaves the company). Implementing any version of that will of course require at least minimal set of different privilege levels as well.

Olivier Maes: We will release user management features like RBAC, SSO and more in our Enterprise version to be released early October 2022.

Question: Looks like the “enterprise plan” is for self-hosted deployments only. But the “Advanced” plan described on your pricing page looks similar (same price per user as advanced) and I see that there’s an hourglass icon (meaning “coming soon”) next to the RPAC line. So do you expect that RPAC will arrive for both Baserow-hosted and self-hosted plans at the same time?

Olivier Maes: Yes that is the plan. Both Advanced and Enterprise plans will be released early October.


Question: How about a “workflow” field type ? In many CRUD apps, records need to pass through states according to a well specified workflow. For example i create a customer, I put him in the “potential lead” phase. Then I move him to “sale” state. There could be buttons to move from one state to another, according to the workflow rules.

Bram Wiepjes: We have plans on implementing a form of workflow automation directly in Baserow. These are all early ideas, so I can’t give you a concrete answer or example based on your use case. I would recommend integrating with a tool like https://n8n.io/. You could use the webhooks to trigger something in n8n and use the API or node to update the data in Baserow. We’ve seen other users doing similar things with both tools.


Question: Is there/will there be a way to filter on a date so it only shows everything including and after the current date without having to go in and manually update it?

Bram Wiepjes: This is unfortunately not yet possible at the moment. We do expect to release these filters in version 1.12 (next release). You can track the progress here: https://gitlab.com/bramw/baserow/-/issues/1093.


Question: Can we get more “excel” like functions? I’d love to be able to conditionally format duplicates,etc.

Bram Wiepjes: Which features would you specifically like to see that Excel has?

Question: The ability to iterate dates in date columns based on + or - a certain number of days. Conditional formatting for duplicate entries by field.

Bram Wiepjes: I’m not sure what you mean with iterate dates, but would the “Formula” field be a solution? We have a date_interval function that allows you to add or remove a certain amount of days. Alternatively, you might want to look at the “is before date” and “numbers of ago” filters.

Conditional formatting for duplicate entries by field.

That’s a great idea! I’ll discuss with team of how we could solve this.


Question: Mobile app for Baserow on the road map?

Bram Wiepjes: A mobile app is currently not on the roadmap for Baserow. We are going to improve the mobile compatibility of our web app, but we don’t have a timeline for that yet.

Question: That’s the one leg up airtable may have over baserow. But I agree mobile app should not be the focus right now. And people with simple schemas can trivially use the baserow db as backend for their mobile apps.


Question: How can I populate Lookup Fields using REST API?

Bram Wiepjes: Lookup fields are read-only fields. When creating a lookup field you can choose a “Link to table” field in the same table and a field in the related table. For every relationship in the “Link to table” field, it shows the corresponding cell value of the related row. You can add or remove relationships via the “Link to table” field and this will automatically update the lookup field cell value. If you want to update the value, you need to find the related row and update the cell related to the chose field in the lookup field.


Question: Can I embed one of baserow’s views as div inside my own view to build my view around that? (ie to create a map view that after element selection shows relevant row in baserow’s standard grid view or form view). I would like to avoid copying baserow’s view code into my plugin (not to worry about maintaing it), I’d rather “import” it straight into my view and embed it as part of my view. How to do that import if my view would live in mounted plugins/my_plugin directory?

Bram Wiepjes: If I understand correctly, you’re building a Baserow plugin and you’re introducing a new view type. In this new view type, you want to use one of the existing view types like grid, gallery, etc. You could look at for example importing the GridView  component and provide the correct parameters to render the data, although it will probably need some additional changes for it to work properly. https://gitlab.com/bramw/baserow/-/blob/develop/web-frontend/modules/database/components/view/grid/GridView.vue.


Question: Is it possible to embed a view in an external website?

Bram Wiepjes: Yes, this is possible! Baserow isn’t very clear about this at the moment. You need to be able to modify the HTML code on the external website. Share a grid view publicly, copy the publicly shared URL and create replace YOUR_URL  in the code snippet below. We’re going to make some changes to Baserow soon, so that it will be easier to get this snippet.

<iframe src="YOUR_URL" frameborder="0" width="100%" height="400"></iframe>


Question: Do you plan to add option to set a DEFAULT value for a selected columns? E.g. in grid view some columns would be already filled with DEFAULT value when adding a new row.

Bram Wiepjes: We currently already have a default value for the “Single line text” field type. Judging by your question, you would like to see a similar option for other field types as well. We don’t have any concrete plans for it at the moment. For which field types would like this to be possible?


Question: Do you plan to add support for mariadb/mysql as a backend db? I tried to set it up myself but unfortunately some models would require modifications (JSON columns in mariadb, there were some warnings regarding keys on text columns- i did not investigate much further).

Bram Wiepjes: We currently only support PostgreSQL as database engine. Baserow is a turn key solution that works well out of the box. PostgreSQL gives us the power to build amazing and high performant features. Supporting other engines would require more engineering resources that we want would rather spend on new features. We don’t have any plans to support other engines at the moment. Would love learn more about why you would want to use MySQL?


Question: Do you have plans do develop Baserow API wrappers in programming languages like Python or Javascript ? Baserow seems to be at just few steps to be used as a headless CMS like Directus or Strapi, but the API looks still foggy with columns IDs and so forth.

Bram Wiepjes: This is something that we would love to add. There are many programming languages that we would need to maintain a library for. I’m curious if you have seen the “auto generated” API docs here: https://baserow.io/api-docs/. Based on your database schema, it will show easy to use API docs without having to worry about column ids. Using these docs it should be much simpler to use as a headless CMS.

Bram Wiepjes: I know there are some unofficial API wrappers for Baserow. Not sure if they’re still maintained but there is https://github.com/stevecomrie/baserow-php  and https://github.com/NiklasRosenstein/python-baserow-client.


Question: Any plans to free up some necessary features? User Management and Export JSON is really needed on Opensource Version , please consider including in opensource , since now there are multiple competitors like nocodb , appflowy , etc .

Bram Wiepjes: We have plans of moving JSON export to the free version as soon as we have bigger premium offering. In the meantime, a workaround would be to export as CSV and use one of the many tools to convert to JSON. One of them can be found here for example: https://www.convertcsv.com/csv-to-json.htm.

There is user management in the free version of Baserow. When you click on the three dots next to the name of your group/workspace, you’ll see the option “Members”. If you click on it, you can invite, add, remove and change permissions of the users that are in your group. This should be enough for most small teams. If you’re in need of advanced user management in a self hosted environment, for example if you’re a large organization and you need to disable someones account, that’s where the premium admin user management comes in.


Question: Allow us to download attachments as image gallery. I want to be able to create an opensource digital library for 3d assets like characters and places.

Bram Wiepjes: Ah, I see what you mean. Currently when you click on a card in the gallery view, it opens the row edit modal. When you publicly share a gallery view, you can’t click on any of the cards. Do I understand correctly, that you would like to have the ability to click on an uploaded file and then show the file preview where you can download the file?


Question: Constantly having to type Field{} to reference fields is awkward, annoying and makes formulas hard to read. Airtable is much better here. Please consider streamlining this.

Bram Wiepjes: You indeed need to type field("NAME") to reference another field in Baserow. With Airtable you need to do {NAME}. We’ve made the choice to use a function to reference another field because it’s more consistent with the rest of the formula language. I can’t make any promises about changing this, but I will discuss it with the dev team.


Question: I want to make the back-end for an application of interdisciplinary health interventions, I have to host dates, consultations, professional profiles and more, can I create it here together with appgyver for the front.end? (original message: quiero hacer el back-end para una aplicacion de intervenciones de salud interdiciplinarias, tengo que alojar fechas, consultas, perfiles de profesionales y mas , podre crearlo aqui junto a appgyver para el front.end?).

Bram Wiepjes: I don’t have any experience with AppGyver, but it seems that they allow HTTP requests in their tool. You should be able to access data stored in Baserow via the API. So, I think it’s possible to do that.


Question: I can’t use Baserow for clients until you’ve implemented better tools for controlling what users can and can’t do. Is this something you’re working on? Time frame for availability?

Olivier Maes: Yes absolutely. We will release features like RBAC, centralized management , SSO, audit logs and other security features early October 2022 with our Enterprise version of Baserow.


Question: Will the automation be more efficient in the next update ? (Sending mails, creating documents etc…)

Bram Wiepjes: We’re going to work on a form of workflow automation in the future. This is not something that will be included in the next update, it will rather be added somewhere later next year. For now, I would recommend integration with tools like n8n or Zapier to do that.


About the future of Baserow

Question: The Database app is the main “app” in baserow. Are you planning to have more “apps” somehow ? Or is the database going to remain the primary interface for Baserow ?

Bram Wiepjes: Our main focus is currently on the database app. We want to become an open source no-code toolchain. This means that you can expect an application builder and workflow automation “app” as well, in the future.


Question: What is the roadmap for the next 2 years?

Bram Wiepjes: Over the next two years, we’re going to focus on building a no-code toolchain. For now the main focus will be on improving the database part, which will always continue to do, but we’re also going to start with our application building and workflow automation modules.


About plugins

Question: Plugins: are you planning a plugin market place, similar to google sheet extensions?

Bram Wiepjes: The architecture of Baserow has been focused around modularity from day one. Everything can be extended by via plugin, you can for example create new field types, visualize data in a different way by introducing view types, etc. We’re going to work on a plugin market place in the future, but at the moment we’re more focused on building out our core feature set. Plugins can already be created and shared via GitHub or GitLab and they can be installed using the docs here: https://baserow.io/docs/plugins%2Finstallation. We would love to see all community created plugins in our community forum here: https://community.baserow.io/.


Question: What are the 10 most prominent plugins/extensions you/the community are working on? Like forms, cal.com, mobirise, stripe

Bram Wiepjes: The most important integrations are with workflow automation tools like n8n, Zapier, Pipedream, Make (Integromat), etc. Those integrations have the highest priority because that allows you to connect with many other tools. We would also love to integrate with tools like Softr and Stacker.


Question: What ideas come up when you think of baserow being a plugin/extension for another platform, like Nextcloud, Mobirise, WordPress, Cal.com, 8x8 meet, …?

Bram Wiepjes: It would be great to integrate with tools where Baserow could be used as a backend, like Softr, Stacker, Webflow, Wordpress, etc. This would allow users to database driven applications directly with other no-code tools, while storing the data in an open source tool.


That’s all! Thank you for your interest in Baserow and for your support, we appreciate it a lot! If you have any questions or want to share your feedback, our community forum is open to everyone. Jump in and let’s stay connected: https://community.baserow.io/.


release
September 7, 2022 by Bram Wiepjes
1.12 release of Baserow

Today we are releasing 1.12: check out the new form survey mode, work with multiple collaborators field type, duplicate fields with data, file field support in the form view — try out all the new features in Baserow!

info
May 21, 2020 by Bram Wiepjes
Best Airtable alternatives
info
July 14, 2022 by Hiram
The no-code landscape