When to choose Coda over Monday.com or similar?

Hello everyone,

I’ve been using Coda for several years for businesses I have worked with and continue to do so. I have a tech background so I can build my own documents and it makes sense. However I do business consulting and I’ve come across several of my smaller clients who have expressed the need to migrate from their initial systems to more scalable ones. They usually reference tools like Monday.com or Clickup.

For me there is no comparison in these tools to Coda, but thats because I can write basic code. For a small business owner who has no one technical on their team, what would you look for as the inflection point needed to adopt something like Coda instead of something like Monday.com which now has a document editor, more views, more flexibility and proper integrations that they did not seem to have last time I checked (such as email automation)?

Small businesses don’t want to pay money for a system they don’t understand and need a developer to constantly update (potentially Coda). I’m trying to provide good advice based on the stage of the business.

Thanks for your thoughts!

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ah. this is a brain-bug that eats away at my neocortex a lot these days.

my clients gravitate towards notion, monday.com, salesforce, excel and sheets. they see the wonder that is the magic of coda but fear the wizardry needed for the mysterious incantations called formulas, knowing that if they get a word wong, the magic goes bad and hurts their processes.

as you say, being ‘techie’ makes the difference. that seems to be the pivot point.

so spreadsheet super-users who wrangle formulas in excel or sheets, will LOVE Coda and off they go: automating the ass off everything in sight!

those who don’t feel comfortable inside multi-line, deeply-nested, multi-dotted formulaic expressions? well, they faff-about for a bit, have bad experiences, get frustrated, and then prefer something in the shallow-end of the no-code shark-tank.

that’s when notion, monday.com, salesforce, asana, trello, and such-like unprogrammable tools will be irresistible to them.

that’s when i steer them to notion with a sad and heavy heart. it’s the nursing-home for the bewildered where they can build their tables but do themselves no harm. the poor creatures.

then i leave them to their fate and scurry back to the real battle-field of heros: Coda

and no. i do NOT want coda to dumb-down their product to pander to the formula-challenged masses.

Coda must embrace it heritage and stand up for what it is and not be watered-down in pursuit of muggles.

wizards forever!

max

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I just read the @Xyzor_Max contribution, wonderful. In addition and with some overlap my perspective.

Coda is wonderful for ‘us’ the makers who love to solve code related problems of all sorts. The tragedy is however that our SMB clients feel uncomfortable with Coda: too difficult to work with. The multiple options that appeal to us fear them most.

More than once I advocated to focus on:

  • permissions
  • print & pdf
  • performance

as critical conditions for SMB adaptation. However even with these major improvement in place (and I am sure Coda understands their relevance), any SMB without an inhouse ‘maker’ won’t benefit from Coda. The main issue is not about Coda features, it is about the focus and the capability of the software. Today the focus is on (talented) makers helping them to improve many, many things (capabiltiy). Most SMB owners have other skills that make them successful in their line of work.

I am building a complete solution and offer on top the encoding of the variables for them (for a lower price than the standard making costs) and they only have to work via forms or on pages where they can do no harm. They need to see the total solution at once, I cannot show a prototype and ask what do you think, if so they respond it does not what it should do. So I end up in having multiple professions as once: Coda Maker and I am their peer when it comes to their internal processes and issues I end up understanding better than they do because I Coda them.

The solutions I create are time intensive and a bit of a guess, but like with most guesses hard work and persistance helps to force a beneficial outcome.

Cheers, Christiaan

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@Christiaan_Huizer, you hit the nail on the thumb, or whatever the saying is !

small businesses have a huge amount to gain from coda but have the least tollerance for its complexities.

so we, the makers, must build solutions for them. but coda is missing some of the things we need to make those solutions ‘safe’ and foolproof. you listed the key ones.

another is the ability to ‘lock-down’ the UI so users don’t accidentally delete rows, add rows at random, add columns or get lost in the many menus that can pop up when your mouse clicks go astray.

all the stuff that makes coda so powerful in the hands of a super-user, becomes a liability when a user just wants to use a prescribed workflow.

i find myself locking EVERY page and providing buttons for every operation and using dialog modals for all data entry etc. and STILL my users manage to wander off the safe path and mess-up the carefully orchistrated ballet of tables and formulas.

so here is the thing…

i want to use coda to build APPLICATIONS for business

but coda built a tool to allows users to create and manipulate anything and everything at will.

so we the builders want coda to develop things that go against the vision and roadmap that coda sees for itself (at least that is how it looks to me).

this may explain why our requests for (what to us are) fundamental capabilities for app building go unanswered for so long.

i feel like i am using LEGO to build amazing things for my clients but having to glue blocks together, saw blocks into odd shapes, drill holes in them and add nuts and bolts … while the lego engineers ignore my plea for special blocks and instead design amazing kits for other purposes.

coda releases updates at an AMAZING rate. yet our crys for permissions, pdf, in-browser packs, higher row-counts and greater scaling, are not part of those improvements.

could it be that what coda wants to be, and what we want it to do, are on diverging paths ?

oh i hope not !

max

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Hi Max,

I hope that the paths are not diverging, but that it is simply a case of the demands of the makers evolving and scaling faster than what Coda (the software) does.

I have two document ideas that I am working on, one that I am busy with, and the second that is a bit on the backburner now. But both them are huge in scope. And I foresee problems with complete roll-outs for both.

I hope to soon convince my client to start using the doc I am currently working on. When they do that, I’ll get them to pay for a Teams package, and try out the Locking functionality. Hopefully that provides sufficient control over the doc. But this is still in a single corporate environment.

For the other doc I hope to have large numbers of users, that do not see and overwrite each other’s information, while I can still roll out improvements. Whcih Currently I see nno way of doing.

Rambling Pete

EDIT: Maybe a second generation gui will evolve on top of CODA over time?

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Hi Courtney,

Back to your topic… :wink:

I am not familiar with Monday.com, but did do some work on Basecamp a year or so ago. I do not know whether Monday is more involved, but Basecamp was a glorified list manager in my mind.

And I saw the problem at my previous client, I was singing Coda in three part harmony, they were listening enthusiastically, but since I left the doc has not been opened once…

The discussion here has re-inforced to me that I need to keep things simple, and let the doc develop at the same speed as the users.

In conclusion, it is a question that needs to be well thought throuh for each particular client, but I would err on the side of Coda, keep the doc simple. One can do an awesome lot of functionality with a few tables, a lookup or two between the tables and maybe email integration.

P

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Coda can be as wonderful as monday.com depending on the doc design. We were using monday.com 2 years ago (when work OS just came out) but there were something missing. In the end we moved to Airtable and been them for the past 2 years due to

  • Calculation complexities
  • Performance

Coda enable calculation complexities in a no-code way and is far superior than any tools out there. HOWEVER, performance is not (I’m talking only 10k rows with 40 columns). So we still stick with Airtable for the time being.

But with the packs released and Coda aspiration to become a HUB (team hub, data analysis, project, etc), I hope they can do something about their performance.

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We only use coda for smaller projects where we can be active managers. For other types of projects, the benefits of mature targeted products are hard to resist, even if Coda can address editing/locking/permissions deficits.

  • many people already know how to use the interfaces (Trello, Jira, Confluence, Clickup, Monday, Asana, etc)
  • since Coda is more of a general purpose tool, its interface isn’t as refined for the tasks that are crafted within it
  • extensive external QA, documentation and maintenance benefits
  • mindshare effects
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