Feature: A new formula engine — and a note from our co-founder

After two years, our new formula engine is finally ready. It powers more than 100 new functions, operators and properties, making more types of apps possible than ever before.

Our new formula engine adds new features that allow us to support more than 100 new functions and enables us to make the existing functions more flexible. The revamped IF function accepts multiple conditions without any extra parentheses and the new SWITCH function enables concise conditions to be expressed. Learn more »

Arrays enable a large number of new functions, like popular conditional functions like SUMIF and SUMIFS. These two functions make it easy to return a sum consisting of only numbers that match one or more conditions. Other conditional functions return averages, products and counts. Learn more »

We also have support for the full set of new “dynamic array” functions introduced with Microsoft Excel 2021, including FILTER, SORT, SORTBY and SEQUENCE. The jewel in the crown is XLOOKUP (along with MATCH and INDEX), which enables true look-ups. As data still needs to be part of formulas, we have written an app — in Calcapp — that does the conversion for you. Learn more »

There are a lot of other great new additions to the function library (whose documentation has been dramatically expanded). There are many new math, financial and statistical functions — most enabled by the engine’s array support — convenient new text functions like ISEMAIL and TEXTSPLIT, and advanced new functions like MAP and REDUCE, which borrow from the playbook of traditional programming. Read the entire list »

There are also new properties which would not have been possible without the new engine. NextScreen may be used to determine what screen the user is brought to using a formula. You can make apps dramatically smaller — and therefore easier to maintain — by having multiple screens and list screen navigators bring the user to the same screen. Learn more »

It is now finally possible to determine what fields are included in a report using a formula. There are also countless new report features, including much-improved support for exporting data to comma-separated values. Learn more »

Speaking of reports, you can now determine the entire body of an email solely using formulas, complete with separate paragraphs. You can also add text before or after field values — or omit them altogether. Learn more »

This list just scratches the surface of this release. Be sure to read the complete release notes to learn more!

A note from our co-founder

I never thought it would take two years, but it did. Completing a new formula engine for Calcapp has been the largest, most ambitious undertaking we have attempted in the history of the project.

The new engine brings tangible benefits to Calcapp today. You get more than 100 new functions and useful new properties greatly expanding what you can do with the platform — as well as much-improved documentation — which we discuss above.

From a cost-benefit perspective, though, spending two years on a new formula engine may seem like a strange choice. In the short term, we could probably have gotten more bang for our buck by focusing on other worthy areas.

After all, there is no shortage of features we could work on. Native apps. More customizable user interfaces. Data tables – obviating the need to shoe-horn data into formulas. App store support. If you were mostly fine with our previous formula support, it is understandable if you are puzzled by this decision to prioritize the formula engine above so many other useful additions.

The short answer is that we chose to work on the formula engine because we felt that it was in the best long-term interests of the project. We have a vision of where we want to take Calcapp in the future, and many of these features depend on the new abilities of the formula engine. Without it, our vision could not be fully realized.

Also, I’m convinced that an app builder such as Calcapp must have a robust formula language at its core in order to be useful. There are few other vendors in this space who share this conviction or who are prepared to make the same kind of investment that we are. I believe that this focus sets us apart from the competition and that it will pay dividends well into the future.

That future isn’t far-off. Soon, we will leverage the new engine to bring you action formulas. When a button is pressed, you will be able to write a formula that determines what actions to take, using brand-new action functions. This feature will make your apps far more dynamic and better able to react to the data entered by your users, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the new formula engine.

On another note, it has almost been six years since we released the first Calcapp beta and two and a half years since we ended the beta and introduced paid plans.

Calcapp did not find its audience immediately. It took several years’ worth of effort for us to deliver a compelling product, one that people were willing to stick around for.

Once we had that product, and once we took the plunge and commercialized Calcapp, we were rewarded with customers who stick around for the long term. It is thanks to that financial stability that we can devote several years of effort to working on an ambitious project such as the formula engine.

If you’re a customer, thank you. Your support enables us to keep working on realizing that vision I formulated years ago, when my father (and co-founder) needed a life-saving app for his hospital department and there were no real options for him in the market.

He was fortunate to have a programmer for a son who could realize his vision. Not everyone is so lucky, but now that Calcapp and the larger no-code ecosystem exist, you don’t need to be.

David Polberger
Co-founder, Calcapp

« Feature: 100+ new functions Release: Our November, 2021 update is here »