Is Appian removing CDTs?

Custom Data Types (CDT) has always been a crucial part of any Appian application as they act as a medium of transportation for data between various Appian objects and databases. If any application has to interact with the database for CRUD operations, then CDTs are a must. But in the recent releases by Appian, they have been hinting that maybe their plan is to deprecate the CDTs. So if they are so important, why is Appian discouraging them? And what is the alternative to it?

Records have been similar to CDTs for querying the data but have always been more powerful as they combine the power of interfaces, expression rules, and process models with the data source. Appian has been making huge investments in their Record Types from the past couple of releases. These investments started when they introduced Record Type as Datatype in interfaces and expression rules, Record Sync – a feature that allows caching the data on Appian’s server for faster transaction time. Then later added functions like a!queryRecordType() for querying the cached record data and adding the most powerful feature – Record Relationships.

In the latest 22.3 release, Appian allowed the creation of Process Variables with Record Types and Datatypes and added smart services to directly write or delete from the record source, making it 100% compatible with the CRUD operations on the source. So the answer to CDT’s alternative is Record Types. Now when records are so powerful and easy to configure, then who needs a CDT 🤷🏼‍♂️

Here we can see Appian following Apple’s all-time favorite strategy i.e. Solve and Justify. In this strategy, a brand provides a solution to problems caused by their next step, well in advance e.g. Adding face ID and removing the home button, introducing Airpods, removing the headphone jack, etc. Similarly, we can see Appian adding more and more features to Record Types so eventually, they can discourage CDTs.
Appian has also been pushing its practitioner to use records more than CDT by adding options like auto-generating views and record actions, adding record types rule inputs in the auto-generated views, etc.

What can you do about it?

We as practitioners will have to stay up-to-date with the new Record enhancements so that we do not get impacted when the CDTs are deprecated and can bring value to our customers/clients/partners in their new and existing implementations. For this, you can take Appian’s release showcase trainings that can be found here – Release showcase trainings.

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