ZenQuery: From Idea To Product In 2 Weeks

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Earlier this week I’ve launched a new product called ZenQuery.

In a nutshell, ZenQuery is an application that creates an instant REST API (with JSON, XML and CSV formats) for SQL queries. This allows you to easily access any kind of data from your database without having to deal with technical details such as database drivers, connections, ORM or caching.

A typical use case is an enterprise company which for example wants to create a new mobile application. The data needed for such apps is often kept in data silos. Accessing this data requires cumbersome boilerplate code. More often than not a new bespoke internal application has to be created for the single purpose of providing data for a shiny new mobile app. This process – not to mention the overhead for managing such a software project – takes a lot of time and money.

ZenQuery tries to solve this problem by generating a REST API for your SQL queries. This API allows convenient access to your data without any programming required.

ZenQuery is a Java EE application that’s securely hosted on the customer’s servers meaning that no data ever leaves the customer’s premises.

I had the idea for this product roughly 3 weeks ago when I personally experienced this problem at an enterprise customer’s project: Marketing or sales departments have new ideas for useful apps or marketing campaigns but can’t quickly act upon those ideas because the data needed for these apps isn’t readily available.

At the same time there were a few comments on Hacker News that suggested that others might find something like Heroku Dataclips for internal, non-cloud databases useful as well.

After verifying that there actually was a market for such a product by researching if there are any competitors I set about the realization.

After having come up with the name ZenQuery, which I hope suggests an SQL tool that focusses on simplicity and clarity, I quickly created a prototype using Spring MVC as the backend and AngularJS for the user interface.

The reasoning behind choosing these technologies is rather pragmatic: The obvious target customers for this product are enterprise companies, which typically use Java EE technologies for deploying internal applications.

Using AngularJS for the user interface on the other hand was a no-brainer for creating a modern web application (there are certainly other frameworks that fulfill similar purposes just as adequately, no flamewar intended here …).

I then published a demo instance on Heroku and created an accompanying marketing website using the static site generator Divshot.

For further information please check out ZenQuery and try the demo.

The launch has been quite successful so far. I’ve got a bunch of newsletter subscribers and a few potential customers interested in the product.

In the spirit of Lean Startup I’ll now try and see how this product fares with actual customers and I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

If you’re interested please subscribe to the newsletter, like ZenQuery on Facebook or follow ZenQuery on Twitter.

One comment
  1. Pingback: ZenQuery 1.0 is available today! | Björn Wilmsmann

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