At Appian World in Washington this week, CEO Matt Calkins unveiled a new capability in the Appian Platform: Appian Quick Apps. The proposition: build a simple forms-and-data application in 15 minutes or less. The thing that makes it interesting: being able to enrich and extend these applications where required using the full-blown tools.
Quick Apps, launched as part of the 16.2 Appian release, is a new wizard-based design interface for the Appian Platform that gets you a working, business application in a very short time indeed – within significant constraints of course. What you get from using the (very streamlined) Quick Apps wizard is a simple data management application, based around one Record type that you define and manage in a self-contained data ‘sandbox’, that gives you forms for creating new Records, editing and deleting Records. You also get pre-canned reports, and the ability to deliver the user interface across Appian’s Tempo, Sites and Mobile UI containers. You specify a set of collaborators who will use the application, and then generate and deploy the application immediately to your sandbox. In a running application, ad hoc task creation, assignment and management is available everywhere, as is the ability to upload documents.
Crucially, behind the scenes Appian Quick Apps is generating standard Appian application assets (forms, reports, records, simple processes) that more technical people may then augment and extend using Appian’s standard Designer capabilities. So what starts out as a very simple collaborative data management application can be extended to drive more structured work co-ordination, encode business rules and policies, enact reviews and signoffs, and so on.
The target for Quick Apps is those information management and co-ordination scenarios and problems today that are probably addressed by teams sharing spreadsheets over email. Interestingly, I overheard some (more technical) attendees at Appian World talking about how they’d never encourage people in their organisations to use this: the undercurrent was that giving more ‘casual’ developers the opportunity to build things was a path to chaos.
The point these people may have been missing is that people in organisations are already using tools to create their own systems to support their work… but these systems are black boxes (and maybe even sometimes completely invisible boxes). For an Appian customer, this creates interesting opportunities to open up the fulfilment of ‘long tail’ process requirements, and then manage all the results within an overall portfolio.
Among vendors with a BPM heritage Appian’s not alone in this endeavour to catch ‘long tail’ application demand, of course: Pegasystems has Pega Express; IBM can talk to this too (principally through its partner Glintt and its product Generix, which has its roots in a transformation programme conducted at NOVO BANCO); and Software AG has its AgileApps Platform, for example. Every vendor has a different approach when you look at the complete picture of functionality, packaging and licensing, though – and Appian Quick Apps is something that every Appian customer should be investigating ASAP.
This is just a quick first-impressions review of Appian Quick Apps. I’ll be publishing a more in-depth update on Appian soon (subscribers only).