What is Airplane?

Airplane is a platform for engineers to quickly build internal tools that power recurring workflows within their organization.

Operations where engineers would typically run scripts or SQL queries on behalf of others can be turned into self-serve tools for support, ops, and other teams through Airplane.

A few examples:

  • Approving new customers into an invite-only beta
  • GDPR and other data deletion requests
  • Multi-step customer onboarding flows that touch the prod DB, third-party tools, and require manual inputs from the customer onboarding specialist
  • User account deletion
  • User email address changes
  • Restarting a microservice
  • Import data from a customer's CRM and other systems
  • Issue a refund for a customer's most recent payment

Key components

The Airplane platform has a few main components:

Tasks: A task takes in Parameters, executes logic, and displays Output. A task represents a single business operation (e.g. "delete a user's account" or "restart a microservice").

Runbooks: A runbook is a multi-step workflow that can be composed out of multiple tasks (e.g. "customer onboarding workflow").

Triggers: Airplane tasks and runbooks can be triggered manually through the Airplane UI, via a Slack command, on a regular cron-like schedule, and more.

Resources: Resources in Airplane allow you to easily configure connections to external systems like databases and APIs and use them in your tasks and runbooks. Currently, Airplane supports PostgreSQL, MySQL, Snowflake, MongoDB, REST APIs, and mail providers (SendGrid, Mailgun, and SMTP).

Platform: Airplane tasks are executed through a gateway that ensures safety, accessibility, and flexibility. Airplane provides authentication, role-based access controls, approval flows, audit logs, input validation, resource limits, and more.

This model may be familiar to people who have used Zapier, IFTTT, or similar services. However, Airplane is a developer platform built to handle a business's most bespoke workflows rather than just third-party tools. As a result, tasks in Airplane are created in code and live in your git repository.

We provide SDKs and developer tools to make the process of creating Airplane tasks incredibly simple. To get started with Airplane, see our quickstart guide.

Why we built Airplane

Every business has internal workflows that their support, operations, engineering, customer success, sales, and other teams need to do on a recurring basis. Off-the-shelf software can cover some of these, but there are always tons of bespoke tasks that require engineers to build internal tools.

Internal tools are hard to build—just as hard to build as any other type of software—and often the needs of the business far outpace the development of internal tools. As a result, support, ops, and other teams are reliant on asking engineers to intervene constantly on a one-off basis (e.g. "Can you run this script or SQL query for me?").

Airplane solves this dilemma by letting engineers rapidly build internal tools by writing simple scripts. Engineers using Airplane can focus on the back-end business logic, and Airplane takes care of all the boilerplate.