Thanks for cracking the egg shell on this topic.
I’ve been using it for a while and I tend to agree; this is a different take on near-no-code app development, but the polarity you suggest is not really the complete picture.
Indeed, Airtable comes off as a “database” in the strictest of definitions until and unless a user can’t do something seemingly simple, and then the argument is the opposite; Airtable is not really a database; how convenient.
But the generally opposite polarity you mention probably matters at least when attempting to assess the key differences.
What Amazon has done is to quietly outflank all the near-codeless platforms by integrating seamlessly with all the types of things that typically trip up users who need more than just Airtable itself to create an ideal solution.
Things such as microservices (Lambda), object storage (S3), and commerce (Merchant Services). These are the things that make good solutions a possibility in an API or automation economy. But the watershed moment in my experience is the event architecture; this is a game-changer because most code-free platforms (thus far) have missed the importance of this underpinning. Lastly, security - I’m not a security-minded expert, but Honeycode will not likely disappoint anyone who has struggled to shape and share information across their teams and partners with near-perfect precision.
But closer to Airtable’s home is the idea that Honeycode starts with the premise that all solutions - regardless of type: mobile or web, and any target audience - depend on and circle the fundamental essence of data. This is their way of saying "your solution is more about data and less about tables and fields, and schemas. They are attempting to elevate the essence of near-codefree apps to a level that allow users to focus on the app and the UI/UX features without getting bogged down in the minutia of how best to create complex fields that perform links and such.
My experience is that they’ve designed this to help you begin from a solution-centric perspective; data is important but a high-level solution design that meets key business requirements comes first. This is a polarity swap that may be difficult for Airtable users to adjust to.
And do not under-estimate the strategery behind Honeycode; Amazon has a precise definition of “data” (which is extremely abstract) that is not identical to “database” (which is extremely limiting). Google also shares this subtle architectural enlightenment.
The only beef I have with this strategy is that AWS (by and large) is not known for making things simple; I dare anyone to try to host a web site in EC2 in less than a weekend with help from five other techie geeks.