Google’s App Maker is the Latest Low-Code Programming Tool

Many developers have too much to do, and too little time to do it in. In big organizations, that to-do list is often daunting, which is why there’s often substantial corporate interest in platforms and tools that allow “regular” employees to take over at least some of the coding work for an app or website.

For example, Citi recently announced that it wants its financial analysts to add Python to their list of skills. The reasoning behind this is obvious: analysts who can build, maintain, and customize their own programs don’t need to wait for an overworked development team. In turn, this allows internal developers to focus on high-priority projects.

But there’s just one little problem: it takes time to teach people to program, as well as build effective apps or websites, and not everyone is a coding “natural.” Hence the need for tools that can produce a finished app with as little coding as possible. Google’s new platform, App Maker, might satisfy that demand.

“Too few businesses have the means, let alone the resources, to invest time and effort in building custom apps,” read Google’s blog posting on the matter. “Why? Because their IT budget centers on big enterprise apps like CRM, ERP and SCM and beyond those priorities, IT executives’ attention focuses on security and governance.”

App Maker features templates, samples, and a drag-and-drop UX design. Workers can import their own database into the app, and integrate Google services such as Google Cloud Platform. The ultimate goal: facilitating the creation of apps that perform very specific functions, such as purchase orders.

Of course, App Maker isn’t the only no-code (or low-code) option out there, especially when it comes to mobile apps. There’s Salesforce Lightning (aimed at automating sales and business processes, primarily), Microsoft PowerApps, Appian, and others. Many of these still require a good bit of training, but could nonetheless ease the workloads on professional developers who are often asked to create and maintain highly customized, company-specific apps. That can lead to better workplace balance for tech pros, and leave them time to work on big, complicated projects that demand a lot of coding and problem-solving.

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