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Who Says You Have to be Technical to Build an App?

You probably haven’t heard of Dominic Spitz, marketing guru, non-developer extraordinaire, and 10-minute MarkLogic application builder. Now, gain some perspective from his technical Obi-wan Kenobi, MarkLogic Director of Sales Engineering Paul Preuveneers.

Dominic Spitz is a very talented Marketing chap, and so unskilled at (tedious) programming tasks. With absolutely zero experience using MarkLogic, Dom was able to load data, index it, and then create an application that applied full-text search Semantics and analytical dashboards to the entire content set. No programming needed. First, we needed to install MarkLogic on Dom’s laptop (the fact that he didn’t have it installed is a travesty that has since been corrected). Then, we found some fun data at Squirrel’s Recipe Archive – a large set of recipes laid out nicely. I’d never seen it before, but it looked good!

Luckily, MarkLogic is an incredibly easy piece of software to start using: loading, searching, and analysing data is only a few clicks away. In fact, you don’t even have to see the data before you search it. So, we used MarkLogic’s awesome get-started-quickly features of Information Studio to load the data. The recipes loaded so quickly,  the progress bar went straight to green rather than progressively loading.

Application builder then came next. Seven clicks of the mouse later, we had a working application giving us Google-like search across all the uploaded recipes. Want all recipes with “Beef” in them? No problem! Snippeting and full-text search showed us all of the content; anywhere our search keywords appeared, MarkLogic showed us those recipes.

Dom’s recipe app was built faster than you could cook a hamburger.

Despite our progress, this wasn’t enough for Dom. No, we needed search analytics too. Dom wanted to be able to filter by all content that mentioned meat! So, we opened one of the recipes in a simple text viewer. (Note that this is first time we’d actually looked at any data since we went straight to searching it from upload! The best place for data is MarkLogic, by far.) We noticed that there was some information in a category element that seemed to categorise the recipe – i.e. Meat, or Sauce, or Main Meal. Dom wanted to use filters to easily find vegetarian vs. carnivorous meals. Let’s get technical for a second: MarkLogic has something called Range Indexes that we were able to use for this purpose. Using Information Studio, MarkLogic helped us add these in. One automatic reindex later (it only took half a second, which meant no pausing), we were able to rebuild the same application…except…New! And! Improved!

We chose some charts to display the new analytics – category in a pie chart, and items in a bar chart. Three clicks later, we were looking at some very pretty colours. But in MarkLogic, you don’t just get pretty colours; you get interactive, clickable analytics too. We could immediately filter by clicking on the graph for Main Meals, and then Beef. All the recipes for beef entrees popped up. We didn’t even have to search for them! Just one click.

So what did I discover about Dominic during this exercise? He’s very intuitive. With MarkLogic Application Builder making it so simple to understand what to do next, I’m not even sure he needed my help.


Dominic states that “Paul wants everyone to be able to build simple applications which leverage search/discovery of data and analytics over that data.” To read about his take on how easy it is to build apps with MarkLogic, read “As Easy as 1, 2, (Beef) Pie.

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