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Launch HN: Outerbase (YC W23) – A new UI and editor for your database

Hi HN – we are Brandon and Brayden (confusing we know), and we are building Outerbase (https://www.outerbase.com) a better interface for your databases. Think Google Sheets or Airtable, but on your relational database. We provide a collaborative UI on top of Postgres, MySQL and other databases, enabling teams to view, edit and visualize their data. Here’s our short demo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38RslBYdZnk

Accessing data is a challenge to team members who aren’t data analysts or engineers. Databases are usually locked down to a few team members, and everybody else has to rely on them to get access. Most non-engineers can’t (and don't want to) use developer tools, and developers don't want to write SQL for teammates all day. Technical employees end up being bottlenecks for access to data. In some cases this can be extreme—we’ve seen publicly traded companies with only 2 data scientists for the whole org!

Our goal is to make data accessible to everyone who needs it. We have an intuitive spreadsheet-like editor that sits on top of your databases, as well as the capability to save and share queries. You can take those queries to create charts and dashboards for your team. You can also query your data using EZQL, our natural-language-to-SQL conversion. We use OpenAI to power the natural language process, and we pass the relational schema on top so we can easily know the relationships between your tables.

Prior to starting Outerbase, I (Brandon) was a product designer at DigitalOcean and noticed that while DO did a good job making it simple to create databases, there wasn't a modern solution to manage them afterwards. Often users had to use PHPMyAdmin, psql, or $insertDBGUIHere, and to be honest most of them do not provide the best user experience. They’re for a very technical audience, and fall short of making data accessible for everyone. We saw a need to do for data what DigitalOcean did with the droplet.

Brayden led an engineering team at Walmart and dealt with data at a completely different scale. He led the iOS, Android, and web teams for their amends experience and a lot of time was spent pulling, querying, and generating reports on that data. So when we talked about building this he was immediately in.

How it works: We have a React-based frontend that uses a combination of Sequelize and some native libraries to normalize the underlying SQL, which allows us to query and connect to different relational databases. Currently we support Postgres, MySQL, Snowflake, BigQuery, and Redshift. We don't store any of your end data—everything else is encrypted and all credentials are stored in KMS.

Tools like Outerbase make it possible for people to do their jobs more directly. One of our larger customers uses us as a way to moderate what gets posted to their app. Users submit data and our customer will actually go in and mark a column approved if the content is ok for their audience.

Outerbase is available to use today. You can try it for free with 1 user and then if you want to collaborate or use additional features you can upgrade to our pro tier or the obligatory “call us” enterprise tier.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the product, you can sign up today for free, use the sandbox database or connect your own! We know the space isn’t exactly uncrowded, but we hope our approach to building something that is intuitive and collaborative will make it easier for everyone to access their data. We know some HN users are not our target audience because they’re technical and already have tools they’re comfortable with—but even then you might want a tool so your team doesn’t have to bug you as much with data requests! We let you simply give them read access to their db and enable them to do their own queries.

We’d love to hear your views, opinions, experiences about this. What would you want to see from a database/data visualization tool? Looking forward to discussion in the comments!

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