Friday, March 24, 2017

Coding for Non-Coders: How to Easily Build Enterprise Apps Without Coding in 8 Simple Steps



A few years ago, it wasn't entirely practicable for non-coders to build applications due to the difficulties and technicalities of coding. In fact, coding wasn't something to discuss in the average workplace except by IT.

However, technology has changed a lot of things on the app development front and it's now not just practical but also easy for non-developers to create working apps through codeless development, as we've discussed in parts one and two of this series.

Today, we will show you, in eight simple steps, exactly how to create enterprise web applications for your organization, using the Joget platform as our primary tool.

For the fact that this post targets non-technicals, we'll try to keep it free from technical jargons as much as we can while still delivering value. And where we use a technical term, we'll explain it. Let's go straight up into the steps:



STEP #1: IDEATE WHAT APP TO CREATE



Ideation is the starting point into every new project, right? Sure! So the first thing you'll need to do in creating your enterprise application is to develop an idea of what app to build.




This is where you have to define the purpose and mission of your app, its core appeal, and where it fits into the organization's overall strategy.

When it comes to ideation, you have to be very strategic, otherwise, you may end up struggling with the adoption of the app by users. Put differently, it's not just any idea that works.

For your app to carry a lot of weight with users, it should aim at solving a real-world problem for your organization. It could be efficiency problem, process problem, or just any effective organizational problem that needs solving.

Usually, these sort of problems are always almost everywhere in an organization; so you might not need to look too far. Whatever idea you arrive at, it should generally do at least one of the following:


  • Simplify complex business processes
  • Reduce costs
  • Save time
  • Make employees’ jobs easier
  • Enhance effective collaboration
  • Allow secure access to information
  • Resolve efficiency issues
  • Make it possible for employees to continue working outside of the traditional office
  • Streamline and improve workflow and approval processes
  • Amplify opportunities for the organization
  • And more.




To develop even a more feasible idea, consider involving potential users (employees). Ask questions and get them to contribute ideas. Talking to prospective participants helps you validate your idea, which is important for an app to be successful.


STEP #2: DETERMINE AND DETAIL FUNCTIONALITIES AND FEATURES OF THE APP



After you've identified a need within the organization and aligned your app idea accordingly to resolve it, it's time to solidify things by properly detailing what should go into the app.




At this stage, you might want to make a list of all the major features and also research the functionalities you'd love in the app. You can brainstorm with your team and ask them what to expect.

By detailing things down, you will be able to:


  • Give your idea a structure
  • Ensure each use case makes sense in reality
  • Pre-design the user experience for better delivery
  • Arrange features beforehand and map out the priority of your app’s content
  • Connect the dots from one element to another.

If your app is looking to resolve a problem, it's vital you find out the pain points of the prospective users so as to be able to resolve them spot on.


STEP #3: CHOOSE YOUR TOOL AND SIGN UP



By now, you have your app’s use cases outlined and a mental picture of its structure. The next step is to choose an app builder platform to create your app.

Of course, we’re discussing codeless development here so the tool you choose should definitely be a no-code/low-code platform with which you can easily build apps with little or zero coding knowledge.


In our bias, we recommend Joget Workflow as your go-to development platform. It can save you tens of thousands of dollars.


STEP #4: CREATE YOUR APP



With your app idea birthed, the feature set mapped out, and the functionalities defined, it’s time to further establish your project by connecting and fusing these individual pieces together.

From step #1 up to step #3, you've been preparing for the main job. Now, it's time to actually create your app. This step is probably the most technical part of this whole process, so you need to pay special attention to it.

And don't worry about the intricacies involved with development; codeless development is simple. It basically involves dragging and dropping visual elements to create what you want. Moreso, we will be using Joget Workflow, a really easy-to-use platform that makes development even enjoyable.




The first thing you would want to do in actually developing your enterprise application is to create a prototype of the app. The general idea of prototyping is to represent as close to the final product as possible, for testing.

You can use Joget Workflow to create a working and fully functioning prototype, where users can actually use the system. This way, you get the users to participate directly and they can see what they are getting from the onset.

To prototype with Joget Workflow, use the App Generator. With it, you’d be able to generate a fully functioning prototype from a form. Here’s a helpful tutorial on how to use the App Generator.




Understand that not all enterprise web applications require prototyping, especially simple and small apps. But for big apps, it's smart to create and test prototypes.

After you've created and tested a prototype of your app, and are satisfied with it, it's time to create the full application.

Creating a Joget Workflow app typically involves five simple steps as shown below:


i. DESIGNING A NEW APP



This is the step which starts the build process.

Here, you're required to enter the details of your new app, including App ID (without spaces) and App Name.




For step-by-step instructions on designing a new app, see this tutorial.






ii. DESIGNING A FORM



In this step, you're to design a new form for your app using Joget's Form Builder. You will be required to enter a Form ID, Form Name, and Form Table.


Add caption


Follow the instructions in this tutorial for a detailed guide on designing a form.







iii. DESIGNING A LIST



The third step involves designing a list using Datalist Builder.




This is where you get to create a list of cumulative field values from all workflow process instances associated with the form.

You'll need to select the source of the data, edit columns, plus a couple other functions.

Go here for details on designing a list.




iv. DESIGNING A USERVIEW



Step four is where you get to design the front-end interface of your app using Userview Builder.




You can develop a theme from scratch but there's also a list of preloaded themes you can choose from for quicker development.

Here's a quick tutorial on designing a userview with Joget Workflow.






v. DESIGNING A PROCESS



The final step in creating a Joget Workflow app centers on process design. You can complete this step using Process Builder.




For help, check out this step-by-step process of designing a process.





STEP #5: TEST IT… AGAIN



After you've created the full app, it's important you test it again. You will want to test the use cases, user interface, navigation, and individual screens to see if the experience is good enough.




All the components of your app should properly work at this point, and your app should be visually appealing as well.


STEP #6: INTEGRATE AND EXTEND YOUR APP



You may find it necessary to extend the functionalities of your app. For instance, you might want to extend an account payable workflow automation app to allow vendors to submit invoices directly to the AP department.

This can be done using plugins. Joget Workflow has a robust plugin architecture you can take advantage of to enhance and extend the functionalities of your app and integrate it with external technologies such as JSON, SOAP, and SQL/JDBC.


STEP #7: DEPLOY YOUR APP AND GET TARGET  USERS TO ADOPT IT



So you now have a well-built app created and tested. Well, it's time to launch it.

App development does not end at just creating the app. It involves making sure the app gets adopted and used by the people. You wouldn't say you created a successful app if nobody is using it, would you?




We recommend you always get buy-in from potential users and other stakeholders even before creating the app. It's also intelligent to have adoption strategy.


STEP #8: GET FEEDBACK AND MAKE IMPROVEMENTS



Now that your app is in it’s fully functioning form, and with more users taking it for a spin, you may find that you need to make a couple of tweaks to bring it out fully.

Development is a process; it continues. Don't stop working on your app. Continually update and improve it based on user feedback and on new technologies.




Keep an eye on engagement. Why? Because user behavior and interaction with your app will go a long way to giving you insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your app,  giving you ideas on how to improve and enhance your app.

Also, be open to constructive criticism and listen to complaints. Work with the support team of your software provider to fix technically complex problems.

Building an app can be very easy, especially with the right tools and information in hand. You don't need to be a professional coder to do so, as codeless development has totally changed the game.

We hope you try out Joget Workflow, but you ought also to try out the steps given above to build something employees will be happy to use.

This is the part three of the series, Coding for Non-Coders. Feel free to check out parts one and two if you have yet to do so.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Joget Workflow v6 Beta Released

After months of intensive development, we're proud to announce that the beta for Joget Workflow v6 is now available for download!


What's New in Joget Workflow v6?

v6 has a dual pronged focus: User Experience (UX), and App Maintainability and Performance.

USER EXPERIENCE AND MOBILITY


User Experience (UX) and mobility are the Achilles' heel for enterprise apps. To address this, new features in v6 include a Material-design inspired user experience, mobile device responsiveness, dashboard capabilities and many many more.

With touch support for designing apps (imagine using an iPad to build and maintain apps!), building beautiful and user friendly apps will be easier than ever.


APP MAINTAINABILITY AND PERFORMANCE



The major challenge in app development is not building it the first time, but rather maintaining and evolving it over time. A big focus in v6 is improving app maintainability, with additional tools to manage dependencies and to automatically merge concurrent team changes.

Performance is also another key focus area with tools to help app designers optimize their apps more easily through easy-to-use caching, and to prevent common app performance bottlenecks such as detection of database connection leaks.


Get Started

Check out all the details in What's New in Joget Workflow v6, and Get Started in the Joget Workflow v6 Knowledge Base.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Coding for Non-Coders: Why Should You Build Your Own Apps?

In our first post in the series, Coding for Non-Coders, we mentioned that our aim with this series is to empower non-developers to effortlessly build enterprise applications. In the post, we found that it's actually possible for a person with little or even zero coding knowledge to build applications, using a Codeless Development approach.

In part three of this series (which is the next post), we will take you through the step-by-step process of building an enterprise web application without any programming skills. But before then — and on a deep-thinking, heart-searching level — why should YOU build your own enterprise apps? Apparently, there are umpteen professional software experts out there; is it a brilliant business move to build your apps in-house in place of paying an experienced dev to do it?

Here's what we've discovered in our interactions with organizations around the world:
We've found that a good number of organizations want to create their own business-to-employee (B2E) apps. While that’s definitely a good thing, there is a problem:

The team members of these organizations, in most cases, do not know how to code. Yet, these enterprises do not necessarily want to outsource the development task; they want the apps built in-house.

Why? Because they've realized the numerous boons associated with internal development and are looking to avoid the interferential disbenefits that come with the traditional method of outsourcing app development.


The points below should help you have a clearer picture of the importance and benefits of building your own business applications internally.
  • Quicker turnaround time: One of the biggest challenges faced by organizations regarding building enterprise apps the traditional way is lengthy time requirement. On average, it takes about seven months to a year to write a single app, traditionally. Considering this extensive time input, it's worth developing your apps in-house since codeless tools can dramatically speed up the development process while saving an ample amount of time. 
  • Reduced costs: Another major reason you should build your own enterprise apps is the cost of development and maintenance. The price tag of outsourcing development is surprisingly high. On average, it costs north of $250,000 for an app to be developed. Not everyone can afford that high an amount, hence the need for internal development. With just a small fee, your team’s dream of building any app they want at any time can become a reality. 
  • Practical empowerment: In-house development empowers a broader base of your workforce — departmental people, product managers, process owners, and so on — not just IT. These non-technical team members usually have valuable domain expertise and inventive ideas, and with an opportunity to create their own apps using visual, drag-and-drop tools, they'll be able to develop their skills, make meaningful contributions, and extend their expertise to benefit the organization some more. 
  • Smart solutions to problems: Fostering a world in which everyone can build apps would not only address the traditional app backlog faced by many organizations but would also enable organizations to find new and innovative ways to *quickly* solve internal organizational problems. Think of a situation where you need to readily manage internal bookings within your organization. Can you easily and quickly create an app to handle that? Oh well, yes! But with a no-code/low-code tool like Joget Workflow
  • Trendiness: You know, the world is fast changing and work has gone from the way it used to be to a smarter approach. It's the same with development and how we use devices these days. In fact, Gartner says that before 2020, when people go online, they'll use their tablet or smartphone first instead of traditional computers. This means the demands for enterprise applications by employees is proliferating at a time when developer resources are in short supply. With this in mind, it's only intelligent you find a way to build apps internally. Gartner even mentions that by 2018, more than 50 percent of all enterprise apps will be created by business users, using codeless development tools. 
  • Increased productivity: Imagine being able to effortlessly and quickly build, at any given time, enterprise applications that can immediately enhance your team's operational efficiency and increase workers’ productivity, without the need to contact any pro developer. Now, that's the sort of benefit you get when you equip your team to build applications internally. 
  • Complete creative control: In traditional app development, there's the problem of control, customization, and versioning. Businesses that wish they could customize their app to something more custom-tailored usually have zero or very little chances of doing so given that the application wasn't written by them, and customization will most likely require coding. If they finally get to do it, such customization, versioning, and maintenance most times come with extra costs. Using no-code/low-code platforms to build your apps cuts off these unnecessary headaches and expenses while giving you complete creative control of your apps. 
The points discussed above prove it's worthwhile for organizations to build their own B2E apps. With these benefits, coupled with the simplicity of codeless development tools, creating your own apps should be something you definitely do, even as a non-coder.

You can start with Joget Workflow, one of the world's leading open source platforms for building enterprise web applications that employees love.

This is the second post in the Coding for Non-Coders series. If you haven't had any chance to read the first post, you can do so here. In part three, we'll show you exactly how to build applications with no coding requirements whatsoever.