Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Coding for Non-Coders: Codeless Development Explained!


Is it possible for someone without any coding knowledge to build applications? If yes, how well can they do and should we trust such applications to work well and contribute meaningfully to business?

Well, this post kicks off the series, Coding for Non-Coders. It's a series of posts we will be publishing here with the aim of empowering non-technicals to be able to easily and quickly build enterprise applications, no matter their level of programming chops.

#Flashback: Back in time, those who wished to develop apps but lacked technical expertise had to rely on traditional developers and IT to meet their development needs. For them, coding and development were herculean tasks they didn't want to get into. So they took to the option of outsourcing all their development work to software experts and the costs weren't so low.



Our earnest vision at Joget has always been to champion a world where anyone can seamlessly create their dream enterprise application at any time regardless of whether or not they can code, a work environment where even the least technical person can churn out a working app that can contribute to business.

The beautiful thing is that things have changed dramatically from how applications were developed in the past. Non-coders who have an idea but not the technical know-how are taking it upon themselves to create their own apps; they can now implement a no-programming approach towards building applications.

This is called Codeless Development.

Codeless development makes use of a drag-and-drop interface to build enterprise applications without the need to write code. It requires no programming knowledge to work with as the “developer” doesn't need to interact with any code or any technically difficult-to-use tool to build their applications. This method of development relies on models and templates as opposed to strict coding.
Although the term “codeless development” along with related terms like “no-code development” and “low-code development” have existed for just a few years now, the technique is not entirely new.

And here's another thought: Even though it's called “codeless development” the technique isn't devoid of code. The truth is, there is some code somewhere. But the code is pre-developed and packaged (read: hidden) in an environment that will only require the user to visually develop applications.

Thinking no-code development is limited? The apps developed can be deployed in private or public clouds, on-premise or to mobile devices, and can be extended and integrated with mainframes and other external systems, mostly via plugins. This means you can do more with apps built through this methodology.


Now, there's a common fallacious thinking that codeless development threatens the job security of the developer; but the fact is that no-code/low-code platforms are designed to accelerate software delivery and heighten the dev’s productivity level while streamlining and quickening the development process.

It also expands app development beyond just developers as it is geared more toward business users.

Why business users? Because businesses are frustrated with having to go through long, tedious development process; they want to handle their own development in an effortless manner. They see codeless development as being more agile and less baroque. More importantly, organizations want to lower cost and save time, and codeless development helps them achieve exactly this. For instance, the Joget platform lets users dramatically cut down the costs and time it takes to build new apps. Instead of writing code, you basically build your app by easily dragging and dropping elements.

If you have yet to adopt codeless development, it's time you signed up for your free Joget account here. In our next post in this series, we will talk about why you need to develop your own apps and also look at the potential benefits you stand to gain by using the codeless development approach.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Joget Advantage: Things You Probably Didn't Know About Joget Workflow

A few years ago, we published a post about the advantages of Joget Workflow and why everyone needed to pay attention to the platform. Back then, Joget Workflow was in its third edition and in the post, we talked about the key benefits offered by the v3.

But years have come and gone and Joget Workflow has gone through a handful of upgrades and revisions, and new features have been added, too. More importantly, the platform has evolved from being just a workflow and business process management (BPM) engine to a full-fledged suite of tools for building business applications that matter.

This simply means there are more things you can do with Joget Workflow now than we covered in the v3 post back in 2011.

So we’re putting this together to help you have a more comprehensive knowledge of what you can accomplish with Joget Workflow, plus some major advantages associated with the platform. But before we get to that, let's quickly get a handle on what the platform is about, for those who don’t know.

What is Joget Workflow?


Joget Workflow is an open source web-based workflow software to easily build enterprise web apps.

But Joget Workflow wasn't always like this. Initially, when Joget Workflow was first rolled out in 2009, the platform was crafted as an open source workflow management system for automating business processes and people-driven workflows. However, we wanted something more than that. So in 2012, we advanced from being a workflow system to a full-blown web application development platform.

Today, we've reached hundreds of thousands of downloads, with an army of incredibly happy users.

So what’s the thing with Joget Workflow? What makes the platform loved by people the world over? What are the benefits that are pulling together this troop of die-hard users? Let's have a look:

What Makes Joget Workflow Unique?

See, organizations are continuously looking for easier, quicker, and cheaper ways to build and deploy business processes and enterprise apps.

Traditionally, these two are handled manually. Manual business process management comes with lots of problems including high costs, human errors, inefficiency, unnecessary paperwork, and lots more. On the other hand, traditional software development is slow, requires high costs to maintain code, is designed only for software experts, among other downsides.

Occasionally, software providers have tried to resolve these issues through the development of workflow automation/BPM products and rapid application development (RAD) tools respectively.

But the problem is this: Most of these BPM and RAD products are typically constrained and limited in their capacity to deliver desirable results in a timely fashion. They’re essentially process-centric, which means no versatility.

This is where Joget Workflow comes in handy.


The Joget platform fills the gap by combining the best of both BPM and RAD, to allow both business users and IT professionals easily and quickly develop usable end-to-end enterprise web applications that support cloud and mobile, in a cost-effective way.

Digging Deeper Into Joget

To get a clearer picture of the awesomeness of Joget Workflow, it necessary to drill down a bit further into it. Here are the tools you'd come across in Joget:

1. Process Builder

Process Builder is a tool for building and modeling business processes. You can use it directly in the web browser and so does not need to be installed.


With a drag-and-drop interface, you can easily add, edit and execute processes, monitor ongoing and completed processes, and integrate with external systems using plugins.

2. Datalist Builder

The Joget Datalist Builder lets users build, design, and organize their data in tabular data lists which can be sorted, paged, and filtered.


Its drag-and-drop interface makes building data lists even easier as you can easily add new columns, for instance. Users can use configurable data binders to load data from different sources, extend those data binders using plugins, and easily preview their tabular data listings.

3. Form Builder
Form Builder is a useful tool with a drag-and-drop feature for easily designing web-based forms.


It offers flexible form layout and configuration, wizard-style property dialogs, and the ability to extend form element types using plugins.

4. Userview Builder

Userview Builder is a web-based solution for seamlessly designing front-end user interface (UI) for applications. You can add forms or data listings, configure and select what you want to be displayed, and enable mobile view for mobile devices, or even preview your web app UI.


Just as the above-mentioned tools, it requires no client-installation but supports a drag-and-drop environment.

Userview Builder makes use of forms and datalists to support CRUD (create, read, update, delete) for data management. It comes with configurable userview design themes and can extend userview functionality using menu type plugins.

5. App Generator

The Joget App Generator tool helps to accelerate web app development. Users can generate apps from forms and as well auto-generate lists, processes, and UI. It also makes it easy to create prototypes in minutes.


There are also ready-made process templates available for those who don't feel like generating processes from scratch.

What More Can You Do With Joget Workflow?

User Management: Joget Workflow also lets you manage users, groups, and organizational charts with its user management tool. And through plugins, you can do things like integrating users to external directory systems like LDAP or Active Directory.

Integration: Using plugins built on JavaScript and JSON APIs, you can integrate with external web-based technologies like PHP and .NET, portals like Microsoft SharePoint, CMS platforms like WordPress and Joomla, and vertical solutions built by SI or ISV.

Plugin-Oriented Architecture: Joget Workflow has a good deal of plugins developed and managed by a group of remarkably talented software engineers. With this dynamic plugin architecture, users can enhance and extend functionalities, bring data into data lists, and integrate with external systems like JSON, SOAP, and SQL/JDBC as there are pluggable elements in forms, processes, and UI.

Front-end Edit: This feature is designed to improve web app maintainability. It eases development as lists, forms, and pages can be edited without sweat. Perhaps, the most beautiful part is that you get immediate results even while still making the tweaks.

Joget Marketplace: One remarkable thing with Joget is that it doesn't leave you needing to design and build your apps from scratch. In the Joget Marketplace, you can find apps to use as templates, easily import and export apps, and seamlessly download ready-made apps and plugins.


The Joget Advantage

Joget Workflow is designed with the end-user in mind. Thus, it is built to deliver the following benefits.

1. Simplicity
From design to usability, Joget Workflow is simplicity-typified. Unlike what's out there, you don't need to go through complex steps to build apps or create processes. With just a web browser, you can turn your ideas into apps and maintain them properly, without the need to go through the long process of installation.

And if you don't feel like lifting a finger but want your processes to start running already, there’s the Joget Marketplace with a fistful of ready-made out of the box apps and plugins you can use right off the bat. There's also the hosted Joget Workflow On-Demand service for quickly building custom apps and automating processes without worrying about any infrastructure issues.


2. Cost-saving

One of the major challenges faced by organizations in the area of BPM and application development is high costs in terms of money and time. Some tools on the market today, cost a pretty penny but actually deliver low value.

Joget Workflow saves costs of time and money. Rather than investing separately in a BPM tool and RAD product, organizations can get better returns on their investment at a lower cost. You also won't have to waste time switching back and forth between a BPM platform and a RAD tool.

To top it off, Joget Workflow’s focus on simplicity reduces the time it takes to build apps from months to weeks or days, or even just minutes for working prototypes. This goes to save you money and eliminates unnecessary headaches.

3. Zero/low level of programming knowledge requirements

So you need programming knowledge to be able to develop apps, huh? Well, not with Joget.

Here, anybody can easily build operable apps without writing a line of code. Why? Joget Workflow supports both codeless and low-code development.

For pro developers, Joget helps to reduce the time and effort it takes to build apps, while accelerating process and increasing productivity.

For non-technical users, you can be sure to create apps you love even without ever knowing what code means. It's the 21st century, remember.

4. Flexibility and versatility

Imagine using a system that doesn't allow you the freedom to customize your work to what you want, or that only lets you fribble around one ironbound developmental activity illiberally. I bet you wouldn't want to work with that kind of tool.

Unlike many BPM and RAD products on the market, Joget Workflow offers great flexibility and versatility.

We believe these two are very vital for software, especially for areas like business process management and application development.

To start with, our platform is open source. It can be used to create versatile enterprise web apps to execute various business functions. And web apps created with Joget Workflow can be used on any device without being OS-dependent or platform-centric.

Plugins and APIs are available to integrate and extend to external systems as you like.

5. Accountability and security

If you've ever used software that caters to a business need, you'd know the importance of accountability and security in software.

The good thing is, at Joget, we pay great attention to these concerns. We understand that unsatisfactory security can lead to serious issues for users, so we work to ensure that our users get the most authentic security possible, coupled with openness and accountability.

THE FUTURE OF JOGET

We've made tremendous progress in our efforts to bring our next major edition on board.

While Joget Workflow v6 will carry on the good attributes found in v5, it's an even better edition. It'll come with great stuff but our focus for v6 stays around User Experience (UX), Maintainability, and Performance.

Feel free to leave your questions and thoughts below and we'll be happy to help.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

How to Get the Most Out of Business Process Automation


Business process automation (BPA) is considered a powerful means for streamlining business processes and approval steps, cutting costs, eliminating human errors and redundancies, and generally improving operational efficiency.

Joget Workflow lets you build workflow and business process management (BPM) applications that convey these benefits and more.

Now the question is this:

After creating your workflow/BPM applications, what are the most effective strategies that can help your team get the most out of such tools?

In this post, we gather seven best practices for doing just that.

Why does this matter?

Business process automation is a phenomenal tool that can completely change the way teams work. However, to experience this positive change to the hilt, you need to learn how to best implement the system and not just execute it lethargically.

In most cases, all that's required to achieve this is the right information coupled with germane actions. Read on to see our recommendations.

1. Get your team on board


BPM is not a one-man show. In automating your organization's workflows and processes, you need everyone’s support, from employees to upper management. You also need to get buy-ins and contributions from those who will be participating in the new system. Regardless of your position, going it alone could mean you're setting up yourself for failure.

Everyone needs to be on the same page regarding the tasks needing automation. So involve your team in the project (yes, BPA *implementation* is a project and should be treated as such) from the beginning. This may include process owners/managers, workflow participants, the IT team, and other relevant stakeholders.

Brainstorm and plan together. Ask about their expectations. Let them contribute their ideas. And be sure to treat each idea with respect, even if you may not get to use it eventually.

Why? Because it's only these people (especially prospective users) that can tell you their pain points and the best areas to automate, without which it'll be difficult to get the most out of automation.

Also, get them to commit up front to using the app so you won't have to struggle through deployment.

2. Keep your business objectives in mind


While successful automation could be one of your organizational goals (inter se), you need to set up BPA in such a way that it supports your broadscale business objectives, complements your team’s effort, and aligns with your vision.

Start with thoughtful planning, even before kick-starting the app development process. Decide on what you want — in line with your business objectives — and how you’re going to use the tool you create to achieve it. Doing this will make BPA more beneficial to your organization.

3. Choose a project manager


Just above, I mentioned that the implementation of business process automation is and should be treated as a project — seriously.

Now, one of the best things you can do to make your BPM strategy more effective and eventually get the most out of it is delegating the supervisory responsibility of the project to someone. Assigning a manager to administrate all the behind-the-scenes aspects of the project will only ever increase your chances of getting better results in a timely manner and within budget.

This person will be responsible for managing the entire project, from the app development stage to deployment and to the implementation phase; he should also be responsible for getting feedback and providing analytical reports for making improvements.

Here are some more things he will be responsible for:
  • In terms of communication, he'll be the main contact point for matters relating to the workflow application. 
  • He’ll work with the software provider. 
  • He should ensure everything runs smoothly and that every automation advantage is being harnessed to its maximum. 
  • He should keep an eye on the system and suggest ways to optimize the same for better performance. 
  • He'll receive feedback, suggestions, and complaints from users and ensure that appropriate support is provided. 
Apart from getting the most out of automation, one other benefit of choosing a project manager is that since it's the same intelligence overseeing the whole project, proper organization and effective monitoring will be easily achieved for excellent delivery.

4. Operate with knowledge


Operating from a position of knowledge, as opposed to running blindly, is indispensable for a successful business process automation.

There are two stages to doing this:
  1. Getting the history 
  2. Testing, tracking, and measuring the new system 
What's getting the history about?

Before bringing the new BPM system into operation, try getting an idea of what’s been going on with the current system. Get and evaluate information on how the process or workflow was managed in the past to find out how to best implement the new system.

On the other hand, after you've actually implemented the new automated system, you should perform regular testing and optimization. For this to be possible, you will need to track and measure your BPA metrics to see what processes are working well and which can be improved upon.

The information you discover will guide you to make data-driven decisions and take more appropriate action in optimizing processes, all of which are necessary for making your BPM project an unforgettable one.

5. Go with simplicity


You don't want to end up with a tool that's way too complicated to deploy, manage, or work with. Complexity makes your tools less desirable by potential users. Employees want applications that are simple, user-friendly, and responsive.

Here are some ways to achieve this:
  • Don't over automate. The trouble with some businesses is that they try to automate everything. But it isn't every process that needs to be automated. Do your homework by researching to find out the “automatable” processes in your organization. 
  • Keep the features and data to minimum. Employees do not want to be bombarded with features and information they don't need to see. Moreover, unnecessary data and components in an app or business process can distract workers and contribute to redundancy and inefficiency. 
  • Unclutter your app’s user interface (UI): The better looking an app is, the more it'll attract users, and by extension, the more enjoyable and simpler it'll feel to use. 
6. Standardize the fundamental operations
One of automation’s major benefits is its ability to simplify complex processes.

To get the most out of it, you need to standardize the basic operations that most support this simplification. Standardization makes it easy to work more quickly and within regulations; this contributes to business process optimization.

7. Be prepared for change

Business process management is designed to help organizations identify areas where changes are necessary, so that they're able to get to the next level of operational efficiency more quickly.

With this in mind, you need to prepare your work environment to support this sort of change. If opposed, the benefits that comes with automation may never be realized.

Moreover, you need to be ready to make changes as no process is written in stone. What you initially thought was running smoothly might turn out to be a candidate for tweaking.

Change must be anticipated, recognized, articulated, approved, implemented, managed, measured, and rewarded.

It's time to get started

You wouldn't get the most out of something you aren't working at, would you?

Business process automation offers a plethora of benefits (which we will cover in another post). To enjoy these benefits, you need to first get a go at it.

Joget Workflow is an open source web-based workflow solution that helps organizations build workflow and business process management applications, which can bring together the people, processes, and information needed for effective performance. With it, you can automate business processes using Joget's Process Builder, create enterprise web apps that deliver results, and do a lot more.

Sign up today for free to start using the platform, even if you know nothing about coding.