How the Indie Hackers community build web apps?


Joe from Budibase here.

I'm obsessed with how the Indie Hackers community build web apps.

I've had many conversations around this topic and a lot of you seem interested in knowing how other Indie Hackers are building their web apps. So I've two questions to kickstart the discussion:

How are you building your current web app?


How will you build your next web app?

Use the following categories to answer the questions:

  1. No code - Bubble
  2. Low code - Budibase
  3. Full code - Node.js

Your answers are appreciated and serve as a great discussion point.



  1. 4

    I'm building and have previously developed web apps with Ruby, Node. So full-code.

    I tried no-code (got frustrated) and signed up to a low code platform.

    It comes down to time, resource and tooling. I like using visual studio.

    1. 3

      Thank you for your feedback.

      I 100% agree with this sentiment. This is the reason we created Budibase.

      Each option has their place. I think we need a flow diagram to understand if we should go no-code, low-code, full-code before commencing a project. Hmmm, to the drawing board I go!

  2. 3

    Nuxt + FeathersJS for backend.

    I'm pretty happy with Feathers, in beginning I felt kinda lost while learning It, but It was worth as I can have a really good productivy level with it without sacrificing power.

    1. 1

      I looked into feather.js last week and it looks great. I'm glad your are happy with it. What is it you are building?

  3. 3

    Full code - Elixir/Phoenix, hosted on Heroku.

    I love these tools, they save me a lot of time and headache. I was able to build the first prototype of https://plausible.io in a month or so.

    I don't think Plausible could be built with no-code solutions as it's a pretty complex application. Something to consider for future projects, though.

    1. 1

      Plausible looks great and well done for getting it shipped in a month. We're trying to build Budibase so it can handle complex applications - to a degree. We're trying to hit that sweet spot between no-code and full code.

      Good luck with Plausible - it looks like a winner, analytics is a great industry.

  4. 3

    Full code - React/Redux, Golang all hosted on AWS (EC2, RDS, S3)

    Currently building https://versoly.com, a SaaS focused landing page builder.

    Would be impossible to build with no code solution. It's a SPA.

    However I plan to use no code in for future projects if they meet the requirements.

    Also looking into GraphQL and Gatsby, should be in between no code and full code.

    1. 1

      Thanks for responding. Greatly appreciated.

      I love Go!

      Different projects require different workflows.

      Low-code could output a SPA.

      I've used Gatsby and it's awesome. I used Gatsby 1.0 so its probably moved on a lot since then.

      Also, Versoly looks awesome.

      1. 2

        Every SPA I've seen has involved more code than a typical back-end MVC app.

        In my experience it's multiple times faster using Phoenix (my choice in recent years), Rails, Laravel, etc with turbo links and minimal JS than it is to build a SPA.

        1. 1

          I've not used Phoenix. Will look into it.

          Re the old debate around SPA vs MVC. It comes down to what you are comfortable with in re to development techniques.

          SPA imo require greater security knowledge too.

          1. 3

            Re the old debate around SPA vs MVC. It comes down to what you are comfortable with in re to development techniques.

            I completely disagree. I'd been writing SPAs full-time at my day job for 3.5 years before really digging into Rails over a couple of weeks. I discovered at that point that I was already more productive with it than the Node + SPA kinds of development I'd been doing for years! I was still more familiar and comfortable with making SPAs, but Rails was more productive.

            Fast forward a couple of years, after having written a complex text + video chat social learning app in Rails and rewriting it in Phoenix, now the gap is even larger. Both back-end and front-end dev has gotten easier in the past few years, but I'd definitely stick with a back-end MVC for a startup or project where speed of development were at a premium.

            If you truly need a SPA, and it's a small or solo team, then the fastest way is probably to use something like Gatsby or VuePress.

            1. 1

              Thanks for sharing your experience. There are developers who prefer to write in JS. If that is the case, and JS is what they know, I'd recommend creating a SPA. Gatsby, gridsome, viepress, nuxt are all awesome.

      2. 1

        Yeah I agree a low code backend solution would be able to handle most SPA frontends.

        Thanks, still got some work to do on it before the launch.

        Are you working full time on Budibase?

  5. 2

    Full code – React, Node, Express, Mongo

    But let me tell you something...

    You are addressing an audience of indie hackers aka coders (at least most of us) We are the most comfortable (and we also like it) to build stuff ourselves. Most of the projects featured here started as side projects, from the passion of these developers of building digital stuff, trying new frameworks, languages, tools etc.

    Scanning through the replies, it confirms my assumption.

    So.. the answer (in my experience) is not what tool would help us kickstart a project faster, it is: what tool would let us focus on the coding part that each of us loves the most. Some examples:

    Do you like writing React but you hate setting up databases, authentication and so on? Use firebase.
    Don't like CSS? Default Bootstrap is good enough.
    Want a do-it-all tool? Rails is here for you (in terms of performance Phoenix is better now, anyway let's save this debate for another time)

    The point is... every developer has parts that he enjoys writing and parts that he NEEDS to write in order to deliver a working product. The latter usually takes the most time... Take that off his shoulders and you'll make a lot of side projects see the light faster

    1. 1

      I love this comment. I'm going to send it to the Budi team.

      Budibase will make life easier for a lot of developers, but it's certainly not for everyone.

      We're somewhere between Bubble and Firebase. We hated the repetition involved with setting up the backend in a full code setup, and when we tried no code, we ran into customisation barriers and it got frustrating pretty quickly. This is why we're building Budibase.

      Great comment and very much appreciated.

  6. 2

    Full code node.js, using Gravity as a starting point (https://usegravity.app)
    After making 10-12 different full stack projects, Gravity has been a massive time saver for me
    Next will definitely be with Gravity as well.

  7. 2

    I have all three under my belt:

    • no code with carrt and mailchimp
    • low code with airtable and netlify
    • full code with rails, PG, stimulus, riotjs and couple of over small js libs
    1. 1

      Awesome. Huge fan of Netlify. Would Airtable not be no-code?

      1. 1

        Airtable is an easy to update database for us. There is bunch of code to glue data from airtable with a static website on netlify.

        1. 1

          Ahhh I get you. I noticed an airtable plugin on the Gatsby website - looked great.

  8. 1

    Building now with 2 part time devs, using Rails/React. Not sure I could really build my app using a lowcode/no code basis.

    1. 1

      Awesome. What is it you're building?

      With Budibase, we're try to make the platform as flexible as possible to deal with different kinds of applications and technical requirements. It's one of the primary reasons we're making it open source.

      Cheers for your comment, appreciated!

      1. 1

        A scheduling & time/task tracking app.

  9. 1

    I'm a developer so my view on this will be slightly biased and may not suit everyone. I believe that every reasonable web app has to have at least a bit of programming involved. All of the products that I've worked on (mostly hobby/side projects) are done in what would be considered full code (not specifically node.js though).

    1. 1

      Sam, we 100% agree.

      With no-code, we found ourselves getting frustrated very quickly.

      Node.js was used as an example. Ruby etc are all great full code options. Budibase is trying to hit that sweet spot between Firebase and Bubble - where flexibility and customisation are not sacrificed for ease of use.

      Cheers for the comment.

  10. 1

    Full code - Python + Flask or Asyncio-http. Hosted - GCP (less $ than AWS)

    1. 1

      AWS is very expensive. I prefer Azure. I think we're venturing towards Google due to it's investment in Kubernetes.

  11. 1

    Full code - I use Vue and Node/Firebase.

    For my next project, I am going the same route, as I enjoy my workflow.

    1. 1

      Awesome workflow.

      Budibase is similar to Firebase with a few inclusions. Once it's up and running my first port of action is to design a web app with Vue. I dabbled with VuePress, Gridsome and really liked it.

  12. 1

    Full code: Depending on the project, it's either Rails or Node with Typescript (NestJS / Angular)

    1. 1

      Awesome. Node vs Rails is a popular crossroad.

  13. 1

    Front end made on landen.co and then exported, and run on a Nodejs server with pm2 on Digital Ocean.

    1. 1

      Awesome. Will look into this.

      You should check out Budibase. It's built on top of node.js, and framework agnostic... and will be open source.

  14. 1

    Full code! Currently building https://songrender.com with Node, React and hosting on DigitalOcean.

    That said, I would love to use a no code or low code solution to build my admin interface. I tried Retool but couldn't get it to authenticate with my API. I'll give Budibase a shot!

    1. 1

      Songgender sounds awesome. Speak soon Budi!

  15. 1

    Vue + node/firebase. Recently I read an advice saying that going with a Baas (backend as a service, such as firebase) is the best/fastest option when launching new products, Sincé youre just starting yo validate the idea and can save a Lot of time

    1. 1

      There are lots of BaaS options out there. Parse was good before Facebook bought it.

  16. 1

    Full code:

    • Vue/ASP.NET Core/Postgres
    • Azure DevOps for CI/CD, source control, project tracking
    • currently working on https://www.clipd.io, a Bookmarks Manager and Web Clipper
    1. 1

      Nice. Clipd.io looks awesome.

      I've only dabbled with Vue and I am keen to dive deeper when Budibase is ready. Mike, cofounder at Budibase enjoys Azure Devops.

      Thanks for responding. Awesome workflow.

  17. 1

    100% Full Code.

    I am building my newest web app, https://yuum.io/, a solo freelancer tool with React, Redux, Node, Express, Socket.io and Mongo (thinking about moving to Postgresql before beta though). The app and the website are both hosted on Digital Ocean. I have made web apps with Python/Flask and PHP/MYSQL too. I prefer the MERN (Mongo, Express, React, Node) stack now days.

    If I build another app, I might go severless or full blown no code next time.

    1. 2

      First of all, Yuum looks awesome. I was a freelancer for a few years and I was extremely disorganised which didn't help when chasing payments - which always happened!

      I came across a MERN Starter a year ago and was planning to use it until it was deprecated. I think I moved to Next... and now I'm going my own way with Budibase :-)

      1. 1

        Thank you! Indeed you will not have to chase down payments anymore with Yuum. Yuum has reminder emails, recurring invoicing and more. You can create an invoice in minutes with it. Myself and my future wife are going to be using Yuum for freelancing.

        Next is excellent. I use often but I am not using on Yuum though.

        Did you create a custom starter for Budibase? Nice product by the way :). If I build another web app, I might be a customer of yours :D

  18. 1

    Full code - Elixir + Phoenix, hosted on Digital Ocean, task management and CI/CD via Gitlab.

    The next app will be the same, and I'll probably be using Tailwind CSS, too.

  19. 1

    Full code:

    1. Create React App, Redux front end
    2. Django backend
    3. Hosted on Platform.sh
    1. 1

      If I was to start over, I'd probably spend a couple of weeks looking into something serverless, e.g. serverless.com.

      1. 0

        Serverless is awesome but has its drawbacks. Like everything.

        Depends on your setup really.

        With Budibase we're considering Kubernetes so we can isolate apps/customers.

        Signup to Budibase if your interested. I honestly feel we could improve your stack.

  20. 1

    Full code Node.js using a template (https://usegravity.app)

    I'm just not convinced about no/low code beyond prototyping, it seems like there is a lot of potential to create a huge amount of technical debt down the line.

    1. 1

      Gravity looks cool. Does it come with a frontend JS library like React?

      1. 2

        Thank you! At the moment, it uses jQuery as that seemed like the lowest barrier to entry for most people. I'm exploring Vue or React as a replacement but the challenge is in making it as easy for users to adopt as possible without the overhead of having to learn a specific lib.

        1. 1

          Ah. Understandable, hopefully as the project matures you can have both.

          I wanted to build something similar for Django. I know one guy who has built it in Flask and there is Spark for Laravel.

    2. 0

      Gravity looks awesome Kyle.

      I hear you. No/low code platforms get fast prototypes, but a rewrite is inevitable in order to give you full control over your applications.

      Thats the situation at the moment anyway.

      This is something we want to solve.

      A few ways we are looking to go about this.

      • ui customisations. Modify/replace/rewrite all or parts of your front end in whatever ui stack youre used to
      • backend customisations. Anything that cant be done in budibase, you can write elsewhere and integrate
      • open source. If you prefer, host budibase yourself.. avoid lockin to a company
      • developer first. Write budibase apps using a familiar workflow, e.g. vs code, git

      We are really aiming for a sweet spot between speed/ease and control.

      I see you are from Northern Ireland. So are we! If you are ever about Belfast, it would be great to have coffee and a quick chat.

      1. 1

        Have sent you an email :-)

  21. 1

    This comment was deleted 3 years ago.

  22. 1

    This comment was deleted 2 years ago.

    1. 1

      Awesome. Budibase, the builder is built on node.js, its framework agnostic, and our hosting platform will use kubernetes.

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