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App Dev in a Day with Zoho Creator

Runners Need Apps Too | Cloudbakers

Looking for a way to take your CRM to the next level? Zoho Creator offers a way to quickly create a custom, cloud-based application that suits your company’s needs. As one of the newest members of the Cloudbakers staff, I’ve spent much of my time these first few months here learning the ropes in Zoho Creator. 

Any runners out there? You'll appreciate my initial work with the platform!

First assignment with Creator

To get acquainted with the Creator environment, one of my first tasks at Cloudbakers was making a “Running Shoe” app. The app would let you enter information on the various running shoes you own (brand, model, date purchased, etc), then would allow you to enter information about the runs you go on--the day, the length of the runs, the addresses or points of interest you ran to and from, and any notes about the run you want to add in. The app would then calculate the distance you ran, and add those miles to the pair of shoes that you ran in. This would create an efficient way to track the mileage on each shoe.  

As a runner, I often have multiple pairs of shoes that I use for different types of runs, so an app like this would allow me to keep a record of how many miles each pair of shoes currently has on them. This could make the new shoe buying process for injury-prone runners like myself much less painful (pun intended). Instead of saying, “My shin has been killing all week long--must be time for new shoes!” now I could say “I just hit 400 miles on these shoes--I better order some new ones.”

The programming

Going into the app creation felt like a daunting task initially--I have some programming experience (mostly Java)--but this was my first crack at Zoho Creator. The fact that I was able to create the app in just two days shows how quickly Zoho Creator can be used to put a custom app together--even by somebody who has never used it before, like myself. Much of the Zoho Creator interface I found to be very intuitive, with drag and drop functionality for check boxes, radio buttons, etc., similar to what you would find in something like Visual Basic. I was able to put my app’s two forms together in a matter of minutes. If you have recurring nightmares about creating a UI in other programming languages, you will certainly appreciate this aspect of Creator.

Even better than the drag and drop interface is the fact that Creator automatically creates database tables to match the fields in your UI. And as you may expect, Zoho Creator can interact with other APIs (my app used the Google Maps API to calculate the distance traveled on your run), or data your company has stored in Zoho CRM. This makes the options in Creator almost limitless.

Larger creations

Since my time making that app a few months ago, I’ve seen the efficiency of Zoho Creator in more practical business settings. Whether it’s creating web forms that automatically add customer data to a CRM and send out email notifications, a portal for company employees to see job details currently assigned to them, a page where employees can request time off, or a page for professors to upload important student documents--sent straight to the student’s record in the CRM, of course--these projects just start to scratch the surface of Creator projects that can be made in a matter of hours.

So how can you take your CRM to the next level? Where are you wasting time entering (or worse, re-entering) data? If your website includes a form for customers to fill out, where does the information go afterwards? Most companies can benefit in some way from a custom web application in some way, and a day of Creator development could equal countless hours saved in the future.

Interested in the Running App Script? Get a copy below!

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Originally published on January 04, 2016

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