Feb 19, 2020

Skip the Scaffolding with Project:DABL

By Eric Saraniecki
. Feb 19, 2020

Skip the Scaffolding with Project:DABL

 

So you’re an entrepreneur who’s dreamed up the Next Killer Idea?

As thousands of startups before you have discovered, a product vision is just a nice story unless you can find the market for it. Your most important tasks on the way to market should be refining your early ideas into killer features and finding your first customers.

Sadly, the majority of your efforts instead will likely go into building baseline functionality that those customers will never see: infrastructure, APIs, user management, authorization, roles and access controls, not losing your first users’ data … The list goes on. 

Why put up with it? All this effort is just a tax on your idea — something that prevents you from getting to market. You really want to test your product’s fit in the market and win your first users — not prove that you know how to bootstrap a software stack. Even if you can finance it, it’s a resource-intensive grind that overwhelms from the excitement of your idea with the difficulties of getting something shipped.

We are working hard to build DAML and project:DABL to end this scourge of innovation. DAML is open source under Apache 2.0, and DABL is free to use until your product gets enough traction that early adopters are using it regularly. We made these decisions to enable permissionless innovation — like you can find in public blockchain networks — but with all the features you know and expect from modern developer platforms. 

How would it change the startup landscape if architects had a tool that could spin up production apps quickly and inexpensively? 

Enter project:DABL — now free for anyone to try — which lets developers deploy and host their DAML applications end-to-end, from the back-end code to the front-end UI.

“Think of DABL as the next evolution of Heroku,” says Product Architect Dimitri Liakakos. “We are making the experience so you never have to provision infrastructure, write code for APIs and authentication, think about how to scale across services, and much more.”

It’s easy for Digital Asset to say that DAML and project:DABL speed time to production — and another to put it to the test with real-world examples anyone can use. 

Check out a couple of DABL-deployed applications born in Digital Asset’s own offices. 

 

OpenWork can-do

DAML Product Lead Bernhard Elsner had a problem familiar to many new parents: With a small baby at home, he couldn’t travel from Zurich to his company’s offsite meeting in the US. 

Bernhard decided to use the time he would have spent traveling to spin up a DAML version of the workforce collaboration app Trello.

“If we want to build a completely new experience for developers, it’s important we have that experience ourselves,” Bernhard says. “Building new apps using our technology allows us to iterate and fine-tune the developer experience continuously.”

In just four days, Bernhard wrote the back end in DAML, adapted an open source React-Kanban UI, and pushed his new creation live. Many new languages offer tutorials that show you how to build a personal task tracker, but few (if any) let you push that code into prod for anyone to use with the same amount of effort. 

Bernhard’s creation, dubbed OpenWork Board, is free for anyone to use and open source on GitHub for users who have installed the DAML SDK

 

Using DABL for a better breed of chat 

Across the Atlantic, at Digital Asset’s New York offices, Product Architect Dimitri Liakakos wanted to showcase how developers could deploy distributed applications with DAML in a matter of minutes. However, Dimitri knew that merely talking about the benefits of DAML wouldn’t get his point across.

“Developers are highly opinionated people who are passionate about the tools they use,” Dimitri says. “They’re not going to respond well to someone who just shows up and tells them there’s a better way of doing things.”

Dimitri decided the best way to explain DAML was to show rather than tell. Starting from a basic UI layout he borrowed from Pusher, he built a DAML version of the popular workforce messaging app Slack that he dubbed DABL Chat in less than two weeks. 

DABL Chat highlights some of the features that differentiate a DAML-based messaging application from the pack. Private and bilateral conversations in DABL Chat are not visible to the application operator. DABL ensures that the DAML privacy model is enforced – even against the developer of the application – on a live system. Soon, users of DABL Chat will be able to log into DABL and see all the data that is held in the application and who has access to each piece of data.

“Our long-term goal is to ensure application users have increased transparency and control over the data being held in SaaS applications. As a first step, we allow all users to audit their data via the DABL workspace in real time,” says Eric Saraniecki, co-founder of Digital Asset. 

 

Go and try it yourself!

A free instance of DABL Chat is ready for you to deploy by logging into project:DABL, building a new project, and launching from the workspace. Anyone can do it – developers and non-developers alike – just follow these simple instructions.

If you would prefer to build and deploy a version yourself, the source code is available as a free download from GitHub. It requires installation of the DAML SDK.

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