What the fu*k is Parabola?

Every now and again a new no-code tool comes around that hits a sweet spot. Parabola is one of them that came to the forefront of the no-code discussion recently and we've been using it regularly at Makerpad but, what is Parabola?

Put simply it's an easy to learn drag and drop, visual development tool that lets you do valuable things with your data in a way that was previously reserved for ‘those who code’. It’ll make you feel like a superhero.

Parabola makes it really simple for you to take control of and manipulate small, medium or large data sets, work with APIs and automate workflows all without having to write a single line of code.

The great thing about Parabola is that wherever your data is, chances are you’ll be able to pull it into Parabola. Once imported you can do whatever data related task you want and output that data in a way that is usable.

An example may be that you want to import data from your Airtable CMS and your Stripe account then match and merge those together to see who’s up to date with payments and who needs a reminder.

The way Parabola does this is by creating flows comprised of ‘sources’, ‘transforms’ and ‘destinations’.

Sources being where the data is coming from. Transforms perform actions on that data and Destinations are where the data goes after it goes through the Flow.

Some example use cases are:

  • Combining data from multiple different sources
  • Cleaning datasets
  • Syncing data between applications and services
  • Matching customer data
  • Automating manual spreadsheet work
  • Generating reports containing valuable data only

How do flows work in Parabola?

Part of the delight of working with Parabola is the user interface and how it makes previously hideous tasks usually done in Excel or Google Sheets seem enjoyable.

This is all underpinned by Flows.

After you sign up to Parabola you will shortly find yourself creating a new Flow. Now all a Flow is, is a series of steps your data will go through from Source to Destination. Here is what a simple flow looks like.

Now in the flow above pulls in data from Webflow and combines it with the current exchange rate then sends it back to Webflow after some formatting. I won’t go into too much depth in this post but hopefully this gives you an idea of what a Flow looks like.

I mentioned that inside of Parabola there are three main things, Sources, Transformations and Destinations.

Let’s start with Sources.

Where can Parabola get data from?

The short answer is pretty much anywhere. If there is not an official Parabola connector then you can use the API import component which will more often than not do the job for you.

But there are a comprehensive list of prebuilt connectors which are ready to go. Just select and connect the relevant one and boom, you can now transform to your hearts content.

Also note that you can create a flow that has multiple imports. A good example would be importing a customer database from Airtable and also some payment data from Stripe or Square to match them up. Parabola lets you do as many of these as you want at any stage of the flow.

Next let’s look at the transforms.

What can Parabola do with my data?

Once you have all of the data, you can now use all of the tools available to you through Parabola to shape, mould, combine and prune the data into exactly the form you want it. All without code. No code needed at all.

Here is the complete list of transforms that are available to you.

Depending on the state of your data when it arrives to you, you may find yourself using a lot or a little of the components above but chain them together to create extremely powerful data flows.

You’ll notice above that alongside the more standard transforms like Row Filter, Text Merge, Join and Add Rows you also have some more complex components like API Enrichment, Growth Rate and Sentiment Analysis!

Through transforms in Parabola you now have the power of a Data Scientist in your hands. All without code.

Recently Parabola added a recipes section of the website, so if you want to dive in and reverse engineer some existing flows to see how they work then head here.

Finally, now that you have your data in a useful shape, where can we put it?

Where can Parabola output my data?

You may be able to predict the answer to this question but for those who can’t, the answer is pretty much anywhere.

Here is the full list:

Although there is not as many destinations as there are sources I'm sure there are more to come soon. But that said you’ll see in the visual above that there are a good amount of prebuilt destinations combined with native destinations and of course the treasured API Export component.

This means that with some light API documentation reading your data can be put wherever you need it. However if you are not savvy with API endpoints, then the options are there to output a Google Sheet or CSV also.

Through Parabola destinations you now have the ability to take in, format and output data which could have read value.

One thing you may be thinking at this point is how can I make this run? Two options, either manual run it by hitting the ‘Run Now’ button or have it run on a schedule by Creating a schedule rule. Make once, run forever.

Where should I start with Parabola?

Due to the nature of the user interface, Parabola has a pretty shallow learning curve and you can start by simply creating a flow, importing a Google Sheet that has some data in and go from there.

If you are the kind that likes to run through some tutorials or videos before you get started then here are a few good resources that I recommend.

Official Parabola Docs - https://learn.parabola.io/docs

The Parabola 5 Minute Tutorial - https://learn.parabola.io/docs/overview?wvideo=0cg8dvi25m

Makerpad - https://www.makerpad.co/company/parabola

Here is Parabola in one minute:

No matter if you are a no-code maker, marketer, project manager, consultant, business owner etc etc etc you should give Parabola a go. I have no doubt you’ll be able to do some awesome things with data which you never thought would be possible.

Ben Tossell (Makerpad) and Alex Yaseen (Parabola)

Enjoy and give Alex the Founder of Parabola a follow on Twitter.