Intuit, better known for its accounting software, is one of the latest entrants in the PaaS, ecosystem. It recently launched its Quickbase developer program, currently running in closed beta. What’s particularly interesting about it, is that it is based in Adobe Flex, as we shall see.
Of course, looking to assess the various PaaS offerings out there, I requested an account and got to playing as soon as I got my invite. Here are some initial findings:
First thing, as expected was to setup an application, data scheme and enter some data.
Compared with force.com, Quickbase is offering a somewhat better environment for working on your application setup, although lacking some of the force.com features enabled through its apex scripting language. You can also setup simple applications by directly importing data from scratch.
Then it was time to build a web application that makes use of the data scheme. At this point it becomes obvious that Intuit is betting heavily on the Flex technology for its UI development. Although documentation is offered for its http API, there seems to be little support for it. On the contrary Flex is supported through a Flex Builder 3 eclipse plug-in (Flex as an eclipse plug-in is not supported), extending FB functionality to automate the project setup and classes generation (DTO’s based on the app tables). If that was not enough, Intuit have gone far enough to offer a flex framework based on Cairngorm and very appropriately called Kingussie (Kingussie is a settlement in the Cairngorm mountains of the Eastern Scottish Highlands). How about that for integration between Flex and Quickbase?
This is all too promising and although Quickbase as a PaaS offering may be currently lacking the maturity and features of competitive services, don’t forget the huge audience of current QuickBooks users, you might be reaching with your Flex powered Quickbase applications some months down the line. There is much to experiment with here, so expect more reports.