Creating Mobile Apps without Coding

Presented by Neil Perlin

Overview

After a decade of false starts, mobile is taking off in the mass market. Thousands of apps are now available for iPhones, Android phones, and other mobile devices; is there room for more in this seemingly saturated market?

Surprisingly, yes. Many of those thousands of existing apps are simply variations on a few themes and often don't address the needs of internal markets—think Internet vs. intranets. Who’ll create these new apps to address these internal markets? More to the point, can technical communicators create them?

Until recently, the answer was usually no. Creating apps required a programmer. Today, however, new GUI mobile app development tools are emerging. These tools hide most or all of the coding and let the authors focus on the app's content, functionality, and appearance. (Think of creating online help using GUI tools like RoboHelp, Flare, or Doc-to-Help, as opposed to working directly in code and you’ve got the idea.) In this workshop, you’ll try one of these tools.

This workshop will walk you through the development of a simple but functional native app with no coding. You’ll do this using a GUI app development tool called Viziapps, plus Google Docs as your database, with no coding. At the end, you'll have a feel for the overall GUI app development tool market, an overview of app design principles, and an actual working app whose data you can modify without being a programmer. Even if Viziapps proves not to be the tool you need, you’ll have a good sense of what you can create and the solid background needed to be able to select a more appropriate tool. You'll work hands-on, alternating between viewing explanatory slides and actually creating the app.

Prerequisites:

  • A PC or laptop running Windows XP or above.
  • IE 9, Firefox, or Chrome.
  • A broadband connection that can run AdobeConnect without interference by a firewall. (Can be tested ahead of time if necessary.)
  • An iPhone running iOS 5 or an Android phone running Android 2.2 or above.

Session Descriptions

Session 1
TBD
1:00-2:45 PM EDT (GMT-4)

Overview of the market and technology, app definition and design, layout using an app template.

Session 2
TBD
1:00-2:45 PM EDT (GMT-4)

Creating the pages and page elements.

Session 3
TBD
1:00-2:45 PM EDT (GMT-4)

Completing the page and page element creation, and creating the Google Docs spreadsheet to be used as the database.

Session 4
TBD
1:00-2:45 PM EDT (GMT-4)

Connecting the database to the app.

Session 5
TBD
1:00-2:45 PM EDT (GMT-4)

Advanced data management features.

Session 6
TBD
1:00-2:45 PM EDT (GMT-4)

Advanced data management features and some other features.

Presenter Biography

Neil Perlin has 33 years of experience in technical communication, with 27 in training, consulting, and development for various types of online formats and tools including WinHelp, HTML Help, CE Help, JavaHelp, RoboHelp, ForeHelp, Flare, and many now known only in legend. Much of that work involved assisting companies determine their tool and methodology needs and integrate their new tools and methodologies into their culture; that experience provides the basis for this presentation.

Neil is a columnist and frequent speaker for the STC and other professional groups, a member of the STC’s Boston chapter, the creator and manager of the Beyond the Bleeding Edge stem at the STC’s annual conference, and an STC Fellow.

 

Neil is Madcap Certified for Flare and Mimic, Adobe Certified for RoboHelp, and Viziapps Certified for Viziapps. He provides training, consulting, and development for online help and documentation, Flare, RoboHelp, Mimic, Captivate, XML, single sourcing, structured authoring, and mobile through Hyper/Word Services of Tewksbury, MA. He can be reached at nperlin@nperlin.cnc.net, www.hyperword.com.