Citizen coding is a hot-button topic, but studies show that the practice has its advantages. Once left to businesses with proprietary infrastructure, this sort of ‘layman’ coding can be done by anyone with a bit of knowledge and the right tools. Google is now getting into the mix with App Maker.
The concept of App Maker is (like citizen coding in general) rooted in visual coding. By dragging and dropping components together, anyone can create simple apps for perfunctory tasks. (In Google’s world, this all links back to tools found in G Suite for enterprise users.)
Like so many others who’ve embraced citizen development, Google is trying to soften the blow to professional developers:
Just about any Google service in G Suite with an accessible API (Maps, Contacts, etc.) can be used with App Maker. In other arenas, Google has tapped several partners to round out the experience:
- Asana for project & process management
- DocuSign for eSignature
- Freshdesk for customer support
- LumApps for corporate & social portal
- Virtru for encryption
- Xero and Zoho Invoice for finance & accounting
Google has kept App Maker in private preview for months, only letting larger G Suite customers take it for a spin. Although it’s still in beta, the platform is now open to a larger audience via an opt-in program and online sign ups.
App Maker’s promise is nothing new. It allows developers to offload simple requests from other departments or customers to a user-friendly interface, but also offers a method for small businesses with limited resources an opportunity to embrace modern services.
Of course, it’s also potentially attractive to those who aren’t yet G Suite customers.
App Maker may also be the simplest, most effective example of a citizen coding environment around. It uses a cloud-based IDE with built-in templates, easy-to-grasp data modeling and a drag-and-drop interface. For low-level development of simple services, App Maker is as good as it gets.