How Business People can Create Mobile Apps without Programmers
Today over 90% of Americans own a Smartphone, and close to half own a Tablet. These mobile devices have become the de facto standard devices used in virtually all aspects of our lives today displacing our dependence on Laptop and Desktop Computers. There is, however, a major dilemma taking place in this transition which we have witnessed before. When the IBM PC came out in 1981 there was very little software available for it. This stimulated tremendous innovation in the software industry particularly as it relates to applications. Without the creation of business oriented software applications, the IBM PC was basically a useless box of metal.
That same phenomenon is happening today with the continued proliferation of Tablets and Smartphones in companies of all sizes. Just about everyone has a Smartphone, but Tablets are becoming the device of choice as workers are increasingly going mobile while conducting their business. The challenge once again is that the device’s usefulness is limited by the lack of business productivity Apps. A quick review of both Google’s and Apple’s app stores will prove this point. While there are lots of games, the number of business Apps is lacking in both variety and functionality.
So what’s a business person to do? They know going mobile present’s significant opportunity to streamline business processes generating real savings. They also know it presents a real opportunity to further engage with their customers and in doing so drive the top line. But IT departments have been slow to react either by choice or lack of relevant resources. There are simply not enough mobile app developers to go around. This generates a backlog of App requests and unless you do something the bottleneck will not go away any time soon. Furthermore, if you are a small business without an IT department your only hope is to look for a generic App in an App Store which you may or may not find.
Alternatively, you can try the route of custom App development. Unfortunately, finding and hiring mobile developers to build your business App is both timeconsuming and expensive. The best mobile App developers are in high demand and working for hot companies like Google, Apple, or Facebook. If you find one, don’t be surprised to find a price tag of at least $10,000 for US-based developers, and that’s just for the initial creation and deployment of the App. Outsourcing offshore is another alternative but that is fraught with risk, difficult to manage, and results in loss of control at a minimum.
Non-programmers can Create Apps too
So now what? Well, as they say in the industry, “there’s an App for that” or rather a solution that can enable business people to design, create and deploy powerful business Apps without writing any code.
Over the last several years a number of cloud-based visual Mobile App Platforms have emerged with the promise of enabling non-programmers to visually create mobile Apps. We have reviewed over 20 such platforms. The good news is since there are so many of these companies, there are a number of alternatives you can pursue if you are a non-programmer, to create simple Apps such as marketing brochures. Many such visual App building platforms offer many templates where you can just choose one, fill in your data and a mobile App is generated. Of course this approach is very limiting since all Apps essentially look alike and more importantly lack the flexibility and functionality you need. It is a one size fits all simple approach which only works for simple Apps.
The problem is companies are demanding sophisticated mobile Apps that automate or mobilize existing business processes. That means any Platform you evaluate must meet a very high standard and be offered at a reasonable cost in order to justify a purchase.
The not so good news is that there are very few visual app development platforms available today that have all the necessary features required to build truly robust business-grade mobile Apps. I am talking about the kinds of Apps that, until now, could only be built by mobile developers.
Now imagine being able to build any type of App yourself visually without writing a single line of code and still meet the high standards you have set for features, functionality, and ease of use you require.
There are only a few visual development platforms that offer the powerful feature set required along with the simplicity of implementation you need to be successful.
10 Must-Have Visual App Development Platform Features
Here is a list of 10 must-have features to consider when choosing a visual App development Platform for your business App.
- 1. The Platform must give you total control over the user interface (UI) to create any desired user experience. Like an artist you should be able to select a canvas of any size and “paint your masterpiece” on it. You must be able to layout screen elements in the way it makes sense to you and your users.
- 2. The Platform must support equally well both Tablets and Smartphones. Simply scaling a Smartphone display to a Tablet-size screen is not enough. The Platform should enable users to take advantage of the entire screen of a Tablet.
- 3. The Platform must enable the creation of Apps that can effectively collect data, store it in a database, and/or send it anywhere in any format. E.g. PDF and Excel
files saved on the device to a local database, saved on a network drive, emailed to anyone, or uploaded to corporate systems using web services. Take photos in the field and make annotations as desired to capture all necessary information.
- 4. The Platform must support any and all calculations to be performed on the data. Apps that automate any business process will require calculations.
- 5. Apps must be able to connect to and work with data anywhere, any time. With the database on a user’s device, a cloud database, corporate backend systems and databases or cloud-based web services. Apps without access to data are useless.
- 6. Apps must be able to share the data universally and share data among other mobile Apps. Print forms, email forms, save-to-network drives or share it on social channels. Information must flow in any direction that users require.
- 7. The Platform must enable creation of native Apps for Android and iOS devices. Native Apps offer better performance, are more robust, look native to devices being used and for the most part are far more secure than webbased HTML5 Apps.
- 8. The Platform must support push notifications. Push notifications are used on mobile devices to communicate important information to a particular user or a group of users and bring users to a specific place in an App.
- 9. The Platform must offer users a rich set of built-in functionality to avoid the need for coding. Some examples of features should include: gallery, maps, integration with social networks, list management, ready to use web services, ODBC connectors, on-device and cloudbased database services, and mCommerce just to name a few.
- 10.The Platform must enable apps to take advantage of all the sensors available in mobile devices and must facilitate rich data collection. Specifically, use of the camera to capture photos, scan bar codes and QR codes, scan pages of text, capture and play back video and audio, capture current locations and offer directions.
Business people can, in fact, build many powerful businesses Apps without writing any code. There is no need to wait for IT or to outsource App development offshore. The Snappii visual development platform has been built over the last 3 years and offers many features listed in this white paper. Thousands of robust business-grade Apps have been built on the Snappii Mobility Platform by business people like you.
Try it yourself…
We invite you to try the Snappii Platform yourself. Simply visit us at www.snappii.com , click the login button in the upper right hand corner and create your own account. You will have access to the platform for 45 days to see for yourself.