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6 Automation Apps You Can Build Today

Your time is valuable. That’s why Google Cloud’s AppSheet is combining the power of artificial intelligence (AI) with the simplicity and democratizing power of no-code development to give all employees (including non-technical people) the ability to quickly automate existing processes without coding. We call it AppSheet Automation, and it lets you remove the barriers of legacy systems, manual processes, and resource constraints so your organization can accelerate its digital transformation. With Google Cloud’s AppSheet, data security is easily governable and enforceable, which means IT can ensure proper oversight and data protection while still encouraging “citizen development” among line-of-business workers. Here are six automation sample apps you can easily copy, customize, and use at your workplace, for free. So go ahead — take a look under the hood, experiment and play, and start envisioning what you can do with the power of AppSheet Automation! Procurement and Expensing Automation App Expensing and procurement are the bread and butter of any business. But manually generating and processing stacks of purchase orders takes time and effort, and mistakes can lead to missed payments, insufficient inventory, and a lack of budgeting clarity. That’s why our Procurement and Expensing Automation Sample App manages the whole expense and procurement process for you. It lets you easily create purchase orders and expense reports, and automatically triggers your tailored approvals workflow, so the right people can provide the appropriate approvals in a quick and timely manner. Start exploring the Procurement and Expensing Automation Sample App: Anomaly Detection App Data anomalies are important inflection points for businesses. They happen when a data point deviates from that dataset’s normal behavior, and they can indicate many things — including red flags. Perhaps a critical event like a technical glitch or a failure has occurred, or consumer behavior has suddenly changed, creating a time-sensitive business shift or opportunity. With our Anomaly Detection Sample App, your team can automatically receive notifications when anomalous data is detected — giving you the power to quickly act and respond. The app uses three different methods to detect and report anomalies: Static Bounds. Users can manually set acceptable limits for user data, automatically marking anything beyond these bounds as anomalous. Dynamic Bounds. If a data entry achieves standard deviation from the norm, the app automatically triggers a custom workflow you can establish. This method adjusts over time as data changes, allowing the threshold for standard deviation to drift as your data does. Machine Learning. Designed to be predictive, this method uses machine learning to analyze historical data and flag anomalies, setting future boundaries based on its learnings. Start exploring the Anomaly Detection Sample App: Sequential Tasks App Many business processes must occur in a specific order, one after the other. For example, when an anomaly is detected, it must first be investigated by a data analyst. If the anomaly was caused by a failure, IT must begin the process of fixing the problem or repairing the hardware; if the anomaly was caused by a shift in consumer behavior, line-of-business leads must determine and make the proper operations, marketing, and sales adjustments. Our Sequential Tasks Sample App provides sequencing capabilities, letting you design custom automated logic that expedites your workflows and helps eliminate time wasted waiting for tasks to be advanced along your organization. Start exploring the Sequential Tasks Sample App: Hierarchical Approvals App Much like Sequential Tasks, many business processes must receive approval from multiple stakeholders as they move up the chain of command. A decision a marketing manager makes, for example, must then be approved by their director, then a VP, and then perhaps the CMO. Fortunately, our Hierarchical Approvals Sample App lets you quickly and easily define a series of required approvals for specific tasks. It then automatically executes them, notifying the appropriate users when their approval is needed. Start exploring the Hierarchical Approvals Sample App: Event Management App For field personnel, easy event management can make all the difference between a huge success and a huge headache. From scheduling to registration to building contact directories and more, event management is a complex task. But not with our Event Management Sample App! Quickly schedule events, create custom maps and directions, and even build in reporting workflows so the chain of command at your home office always stays in the loop and can act on opportunities and respond to challenges right away. This is easily customizable copy-and-paste event management made a reality! Start exploring the Event Management Sample App: Automated Messaging App Make it easy for users to register in-app to receive automated updates and notifications from your organization. Let them opt in to receive product news, promotional offers, policy changes, and more — unlocking powerful self-service experiences automated by the app. Now your one-to-many communications are fast, simple, and fully customizable! Start exploring the Automated Messaging Sample App: With Google Cloud’s AppSheet, anyone can build custom applications and automated processes for the business with zero coding skills. And with the customizable sample apps above, there’s no reason to delay your digital transformation. Start creating your business’s next automation application today by copying and customizing the sample apps in this post. Or start AppSheet for free by connection your own data:  

Med Student Uses Google Cloud’s AppSheet to Create Singular Flashcard Study App

Sean Lim’s AppSheet-powered app organizes related medical conditions and concepts on flashcards, putting the right information at students’ fingertips Sean Lim is a third-year medical student at Touro University California, College of Osteopathic Medicine in Vallejo, California. Like so many of his peers, Sean had trouble processing the vast amounts of information piled on him in lectures and by the intensive medical school curriculum. “Medicine is classically taught via lectures and PowerPoint presentations,” Sean explains. “But that's simply too much information for the human brain to process. Our brains are not built to soak in four hours of all this stuff that's being thrown at us. And the information that will be taught to med students will continue to increase, and there's no control to [that] information.”   Ask anyone who’s attended med school, and they’ll likely tell you: It is a grind — both in classrooms and clinical studies. Sean believes students can empower themselves to more  actively shape how they learn the volumes of information required to graduate medical school. He’s also an advocate for achieving a more balanced and healthy lifestyle. Sean wondered: Could technology provide a solution to make medical school studies more manageable? The challenge: Too much information, not enough study time  Sean had been using digital flashcards as a study tool — the electronic version of an old-school method to help students memorize bite-sized pieces of information and quiz themselves, via two-sided cards. But off-the-shelf apps didn’t give Sean the control he wanted to organize related pieces of information among flashcards. And sharing flashcards with his fellow med students didn’t get Sean any closer to a solution. “Unfortunately, a lot of the flashcards that exist out there are kind of random,” Sean asserts. “Sometimes one person has a deck for a certain class, and then another person has another deck for the same class. But the two decks aren't really similar, and you don’t really know if another student’s deck has the information you need until you go through the whole deck.” Sean was up for the challenge of diagnosing and treating the problem himself. He was exposed to computer science and datasets as an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California, where he majored in biophysics and minored in cinematic arts. “I was bouncing between both arts and sciences,” Sean recalls. “I actually took classes in video game design.” He worked with microbial bioinformatics as part of his post-college research work — which combines biology and computer science for the acquisition, storage, analysis, and dissemination of biological data. So he was comfortable working with databases and large datasets. He also developed coding skills through MathWorks’ MATLAB platform.  Sean began searching for a way to develop an app himself that would organize interrelational information into flashcards — giving students faster access to exactly what they need to learn for their courses and maximize precious study time. Choosing Appsheet: Connecting related medical conditions and concepts Sean had tried other flashcard storage and organization apps on the market. But they didn’t offer the relational tables featured in Google Cloud’s AppSheet — essential for Sean to build the med school flashcard study app he envisioned. “Only through AppSheet can you really connect flashcards that are similar,” he says. Sean liked that no-code development with AppSheet felt like a familiar environment. “You can just use its existing framework to create and customize your interface without having to put in a line of code,” he offers. Sean built his flashcards with key information from lectures and medical textbooks. He used Google Apps Script to batch the flashcards and automatically enter their information into AppSheet’s tables. He then used AppSheet to create parent and child tables in order to organize relational databases of flashcard information. “So if you're learning about diabetes, you want to learn all about diabetes before you move on to heart conditions,” he says. “AppSheet let me organize my flashcards and string them together in a way that told a story. It wasn't just isolated flashcards that were just all over the place. One flashcard could be related to another cluster of flashcards. None of the other apps can do that.”  Sean set up relational databases across several categories in his AppSheet-powered app. “Many diseases have the same symptoms,” he offers, as an example. “So I can look at all the diseases that have this symptom all at once, and then develop those kinds of mental frameworks. My app has around thirty of those kinds of relationships. And because of that, I'm able to parse my data very quickly, instead of looking it up without knowing where I'm going.” The results: Balancing med school studies with leisure time Sean is a true citizen developer. His goal? “Empower students to reach medical knowledge goals with data and technology.” By developing his AppSheet-powered app, his medical flashcards can now be used over and over again, rather than being “siloed for a single exam.”  Sean envisions integrating the med school’s entire curriculum into his relational flashcard app — helping his fellow med students maximize their study time and achieve more balance between work and life.   “[An app] like this would be a great gift,” to other students, Sean said in a Touro Triumphs article. Sean presented his learning app to Touro University California faculty and then rolled it out at the Innovations in Medical Education Conference at the Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles in February 2020. On his website website, Sean writes: “My app employs learning theory such as spaced repetition and schematic thinking where every flashcard is placed in a knowledge network, allowing students to see how medical facts are interrelated and keep track of their day-to-day progress on the competencies they need to be successful in the clinic.”  It all fits with Sean’s goal to make med school studies more manageable and to help future doctors take a more holistic approach to school, medicine, and a balanced lifestyle. An advocate for “democratizing urban farming,”  Sean has also developed a nonprofit management app for a community garden outreach team. “My goal as a student is to have a nice kind of lifestyle, not just studying all the time,” Sean muses. He likes that his AppSheet-powered app can run offline, so he can study wherever he wants. “That has allowed me to exercise every day,” he says. “Because the app can run offline, I can go outside of the grid and then still use the app to review stuff. So I don't have to be sitting in front of the computer to study. I could just be walking outside having a good time.” Do you have an awesome idea to help you study, work, or relax better? AppSheet is always free to start:

Productivity just got easier with Google Workspace and AppSheet!

Today, Google unveiled Google Workspace, an integrated platform that seamlessly brings together Google’s communication and collaboration tools with messaging, meetings, docs, and tasks all in one place. Google Workspace makes it even easier for teams to use the tools they love and work better together. That’s why starting today, Workspace users will be able to create AppSheet apps directly from Google Sheets. Plus, Workspace customers using AppSheet will be given access to our Free plan, and Workspace Enterprise+ can now have full access to AppSheet Pro. Interested in trying it out? Open up a Google Sheet with data you’d like to turn into an app. Go to Tools > Open in AppSheet and create an AppSheet account if you haven’t yet. Then AppSheet will immediately analyze the data structure and automatically create a prototype app. Note: We’ve just begun rolling out this feature and it's possible that you may not see this option in your Tools menu. If so, the feature should appear within a few weeks. In the meantime, you can always connect to your Sheets data via the My Apps page. Google Workspace and AppSheet empower customers to build custom solutions to help solve their most pressing challenges. For example, you could improve workplace safety with a custom-built safety app linked to Google Docs, or you could boost a repair team’s productivity by building a work order app that integrates with Google Meet. To help customers take full advantage of the two platforms’ integrations, we’ve put together a library of Workspace + AppSheet templates that you can access here. This is just the start. As we continue our mission of improving productivity and collaboration for everyone, we will be making it even easier for you to leverage Workspace and AppSheet together. Happy app building!

Solar energy project manager in India tracks data from the field with Google Cloud’s AppSheet

From his office in Mumbai, Munjal Savla keeps tabs on work bringing solar water pumps to remote farms with AppSheet  Mechanical engineer Munjal Savla started his career in the fast lane. Literally. He won victories as a racing driver for Volkswagen Motorsport. He also worked as an automotive industry writer and sales data analyst, and a senior performance driving instructor for Jaguar Land Rover India. After a few years, he shifted to pursue a new calling — solar energy. Since 2019, Munjal has been a project manager for Ravindra Energy Limited, which brings  accessible, sustainable solar energy systems to remote areas that need electricity. He reflects on one of his more challenging projects bringing solar power to remote small farms. “Getting electricity to small farms far away from the city of Mumbai is very difficult, because you have to pull the electricity lines really far,” Munjal explains. “There is no electricity connection to [power] the water source inside the farms. Many of these farmers are poor. So the government created a program to subsidize the installation of solar-powered irrigation pumps for smaller farms in remote areas. We are one of the agencies implementing this project.” With engineers and technicians spread out across the state of Maharashtra, Munjal struggled to find a mobile solution to keep the multi-faceted project on track. The challenge: Dispatches from the field Munjal was charged with managing field activities and keeping the energy company’s client — the electrical company — well informed. “Mobile networks are pretty well established in and around the areas where we operate,” Munjal recalls. But the networks were only as good as the mobile solutions available to help manage such a complex, large-scale project. “We faced challenges because our guys were all over the state,” he says. Munjal coordinated with regional managers, who in turn worked with contractors to install solar-powered water pumps in remote farm locations. Activities needed to be logged. Equipment needed to be tracked. Bills needed to be submitted and payments collected. Munjal received information from field workers sporadically via instant messaging — a method that wasn’t consistent or reliable, and didn’t scale. “It would all get jumbled up,” he says. “It was a big problem [for me] sitting in Mumbai, trying to manage this project, and understand exactly what is going on in the field.” He began to brainstorm more efficient ways to collect and record information from a mobile workforce operating in remote locations. “We needed something mobile,” Munjal shares. “We couldn’t use computers or Excel because these guys are traveling [and] it's difficult for them. They can just pick up a phone. That is where we [realized], ‘OK, we need an app." Choosing Appsheet: Tracking data off the grid Munjal took to the Internet to find a solution that wouldn’t require a complete system overhaul. “I searched on ‘easy app development,’” he recalls. “I thought, OK, I need an app that could directly edit our database Excel files on Microsoft OneDrive. That's where I came across Google Cloud’s AppSheet, because that is one of its use cases.” The ease of use of AppSheet’s no-code platform intrigued Munjal. Though he learned some Python coding skills while in graduate school, he admits, “I’m not the IT guy on the team. In fact, we don’t have an IT person on this project.” AppSheet’s no-code platform was a fast and flexible solution to Munjal’s data management challenges for his remote field project. He reflects on what became an easy decision to choose AppSheet. “Creating an app [with code] was out of the question,” he remembers. “I did not have the time to create a front end or UI and understand the tools or a new [programming] language.” And hiring a developer to customize off-the-shelf apps, he says, “just becomes slow and expensive.”  He chose AppSheet for its simplicity and power to enable developers to push no-code apps into service quickly. “AppSheet works really well because I did not have to [create] a front end, which was done by AppSheet itself. For the kind of data we want to show, it works really well.” His AppSheet-powered app integrated easily with the energy company’s data management system. “We are running off Excel rather than having a SQL database, which would be ideal,” Munjal says. “These kinds of challenges are very common across developing phases of a project or system. In that sense, AppSheet works very well because it directly integrates into the tools we use, rather than our having to migrate our database [to a different platform]. That is the key.”. Munjal also liked that AppSheet can function offline — a huge plus for field workers in remote areas where connectivity can be spotty. This offline capability is made possible because Information needed to run the app is stored locally on the mobile device. Field workers can use the app to log the specific water pump installed at each farm location, and update the database when connectivity becomes available. And he can manage the remote field work at farms throughout the state from his office in Mumbai.  The results: Connecting people and data Munjal rolled out his AppSheet-powered app for Ravindra Energy’s field workers in February 2020. “The guys in the field input data coming into an Excel file on OneDrive, which then integrates with our other systems,” he explains. “That data directly shows up in my database,” providing the real-time information he needs to keep the solar water pumps project flowing. “The data is always crystal clear. There is no confusion about what is done or what is not done.” His AppSheet-powered app was easy for people in the field to use. He says, “Once they understood the [app’s] benefits, I don't think they could function without it now.” When new issues crop up in the field or the home office, Munjal can quickly adapt his AppSheet-powered app to handle any changes. “That's where AppSheet works out really well, because I can iterate [a new solution] very quickly,” he says. “I can think of something and within a half an hour, I can iterate it. That is a very powerful tool to have.”  He also likes that AppSheet works across devices, giving workers the flexibility to work wherever they need to. “They not only use our AppSheet app on their phones when they’re traveling, they use the web interface as well, whenever they are on their laptops.” Going forward, Munjal sees many opportunities for the energy and construction industries to take greater advantage of no-code apps built with Google Cloud’s AppSheet. “The whole of our industry has not moved to digital, like our clients,” Munjal says. Yet, there’s a world of opportunity for citizen developers like him to use AppSheet’s no-code platform to improve how their businesses operate.    “Creating apps is not my main job,” Munjal asserts, “so AppSheet was very useful.” Are you ready to kickstart your next data-driven citizen development project? AppSheet is always free to start:

Jewelry store owner brings family business into digital era with Google Cloud's AppSheet

Lohith Dhaksha is a fifth-generation owner and operator of his family business, P S Jewellery. Founded in 1896 and based in Tiruttani, Tamil Nadu, India, the company sells jewelry and watches for men, women, and children. The shop has thrived for more than a century by providing quality, fashionable accessories made from gold, silver, and other precious metals. They also sell diamonds and gemstones. A qualified chartered accountant  with an interest in computer programming, Lohith was tapped to step in and run the business, taking the torch from his father. “We wanted to expand our business to all over India,” Lohith says. “But my father was initially reluctant to invest in and embrace technology.” After rounds of discussion with Lohith, his father was ready to embrace digital transformation. Now, Lohith is about to launch his e-commerce website in October, 2020, to attract customers beyond their loyal, local base. “We’ve built our family business on loyalty and trust,” he says. “We may be a little pricey, but we guarantee quality. But I realized, even though we’re a very old business, we didn’t have a way to keep track of our customers — including those families who purchased jewelry from us for generations. I figured we were losing business to other shops because we didn’t track our visitors.” To remain competitive in the 21st century, P S Jewellery needed to establish an online presence, kick e-commerce into full gear, and modernize its customer communications, data tracking, and marketing. Says Lohith, “The biggest problem I faced was logistics.” The challenge: Kickstarting a digital transformation Lohith acknowledges his family business was slow to adopt technology. “We should have done some of these changes in the early 2000s,” he laments. “Now, I am running to catch the bus.” But they didn’t survive 125 years only to be left behind. Lohith knew he had to get the business online and create mobile-friendly tools for company communications and other essential operations. It was now or never. They started gathering customer information the old-fashioned way — using a sign-up book in the shop. Employees entered the sign-up data into Google Contacts. This synced with Lohith and his father’s company Gmail account, which the business owners accessed from their mobile phones. It also provided a central means for father or son to respond to customer inquiries. “But the problem was, since mobile numbers are very sensitive [one digit off and it’s wrong], they are prone to error while typing,” Lohith recalls. Trying to decipher customers’ handwriting wasn’t working. “What I needed was an app, so employees could enter customers’ information before they leave our showroom.” Lohith began searching for apps, but soon realized “I was not in a position to invest a lot” in off-the-shelf software. “I was searching, searching, searching,” he says. “I found some other companies that offered no-code app development. But what struck me about Google Cloud’s AppSheet was it worked with Google Sheets.” Choosing AppSheet: Finding gold in no-code apps Lohith had some experience with survey creation tool Google Forms, and he and his father already shared a company Gmail account. So he was comfortable working with GSuite tools and made an easy leap to AppSheet. “I wanted to build a database in Google Sheets,” he explains. “I was struck that AppSheet could [connect with] Sheets or any other database. It even provided me with a neat interface for the staff to use.” Lohith’s first AppSheet-powered app works with SMS by Zapier Integrations and MSG91 communications API. “AppSheet captures the raw data, which goes into Google Sheets,” he explains. “I can make Google Sheets [data input] as a trigger. So whenever a new record is created or updated, it will automatically go and create a contact in Google Contacts. And at the same time, it will trigger a personalized SMS. Whenever the customer purchases something, and before leaving the showroom, they'll receive a thank-you SMS message.” He then created a second app with AppSheet for inventory management. P S Jewellery sells a wide range of bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings, and anklets in different styles, both elegant and casual. “With jewelry, you have very minute differences in the various designs,” Lohith says. “When we give orders to our suppliers, we have to specify all the specifications and variations in designs,” including, for example, the weight and measurement of anklets. Lohith’s father had traditionally written down these specs on a piece of paper. Like the sign-up book in the store, this left room for interpretation — and errors. “There was too much lack of clarity in communication between us and the supplier,” Lohith says. “[This results in] too much discrepancy in the design. So I created an AppSheet app to track inventory and create a supply order, which specifies anklet weight, length, design — all those things.” This ensured suppliers got the right orders, and the store got the anklets customers desired. The results:  Bringing a family business into the future The next AppSheet-powered app on Lohith’s list to develop? Customized text message marketing for customers at different stages along the sales funnel. “We want to customize our SMS messages for a new visitor, a returning customer, and a retained customer,” Lohith says. “We’re exploring ways to create an app with AppSheet to provide different content for our customers.” No-code development gave Lohith the opportunity to flex his technology skills and become a true citizen developer — while modernizing his family’s business operations and paving the way for the future. “My childhood dream was to become a software engineer, but that never landed me a job,” Lohith recalls. “I chose finance as my profession. But I always had a passion for technology. Even still, I have a dream to learn a programming language.” By building no-code apps with AppSheet, Lohith can continue to expand his technology skills while finding fast-and-easy solutions to his family’s business challenges. His father is now the best QA expert and tester Lohith could ask for. “He now understands the benefits [of no-code apps] and how efficient we can run things,” Lohith says. “He started to adapt to the changes. And he started to give me suggestions. ‘Can you try this?’ For him, he just needs a base. I learned all the complexities of the business and different situations through him. He always tells me one thing: ‘When you see through your eyes, you won't get that error. When you see that through someone [else’s] eyes, they will easily find that error.’ He’s the perfect tester.” The family will continue to explore how no-code apps and other technology tools can help keep their jewelry business sparkling for generations to come. Adds Lohith, “I am sure no-code will be the future.”

We Love App Creators

Millions of people use no-code development platforms like Google Cloud's AppSheet to build custom business applications that help improve processes in the workplace. To get a better understanding of no-code app creators, their goals, and their motivations, we recently partnered with TechValidate to collect more than a thousand responses from AppSheet app creators. What we discovered is a diverse set of app creators, with even more diverse goals and motivations, who have all embraced no-code app development as a way to optimize business workflows. Now, let’s take a look at the data. Let's start with technical ability. While 35% report having beginner’s knowledge of traditional coding skills like Java, Python, or C#, 39% reported having no traditional coding knowledge at all. This means that roughly 74% have little to no traditional coding skills when they start using AppSheet. This statistic helps provide insight into the results of next question. We asked app creators why they chose a no-code platform over a low-code platform. For context, no-code and low-code platforms represent different approaches aimed at different users. Low-code platforms involve coding and are intended for traditional developers to provide them with a faster development environment. No-code platforms require no coding (hence the name) and expand the definition of who can be a developer. No-code empowers anyone — even those without technical ability — to build apps. It’s no surprise then that our app creators, most of whom have little or no coding skills, chose no-code app development over low-code app development. Respondents said that no-code development is easier (57%) and more flexible (36%) than low-code development, affording problem-solving technology skills to anyone in an organization regardless of coding knowledge or ability.  And where do people use their no-code apps? The vast majority of people we surveyed use no-code app development on the job, either to build apps for their teams (47%), for other people or businesses (43%), or for their own business (38%), though a smaller number (24%) do use AppSheet as a hobby or at school (5%). Our survey found that 80% reported that they started using no-code development for “general business needs,” and a smaller percentage (14%) began to fill an educational or non-profit need. Regardless of where people use no-code application development, they’ve chosen to do so for a variety of reasons. Speed is the most common response, as 32% of respondents report the quick time to develop an app as the “best thing about no-code app development.” Other reasons people use no-code app development are flexibility (17%), the low barrier to get started (17%), ease of use (15%), low cost (7%), and the creativity afforded by the platform (8%). Saving time and money are top benefits for app creators: 82% say that no-code development saves them time, and 60% say that no-code development saves their organization money.  “The future is no-code app development,” says one app creator who works as a project manager at an independent retail business. “Creating an app from a simple spreadsheet opens up endless possibilities in making business processes seamless.”  We love app creators for their ingenuity, resourcefulness, and creativity. That's why this September and October, we'll be running spotlights of AppSheet app creators on our blog to showcase the various use cases for the no-code platform. App creators span the globe and work in various fields. However, they always have a few things in common: they want to jump-start digital transformations in their workplaces and bridge the physical and digital worlds. Read our first app creator spotlight on Hennie Scheepers, who uses AppSheet to build apps for his company, Faces Advendurance.  Ready to become an app creator yourself? Start building on Google Cloud's AppSheet today:

We Are Still All In This Together

Google Cloud AppSheet extends COVID-19 support to December 31, 2020 With disruptions related to COVID-19 still rippling across the globe, enterprises need to reimagine how business gets done. No-code development is emerging as an important tool in many organizations’ efforts to become more resilient, helping them extend the ability to create much-needed line-of-business apps and to optimize business workflows outside of traditional IT.  By enabling those closest to challenges to build apps or workflows without programming, no-code platforms can free up IT to work on more sophisticated strategic initiatives while also eliminating the backlog of line-of-business apps in IT’s queue. With more people able to harness a company’s valuable data for new uses, no-code platforms help accelerate the development of new apps while still maintaining administrators’ control over how and by whom data is accessed and used.  Earlier this year, Google Cloud offered AppSheet, our no-code platform, at no cost for any use cases related to COVID-19, and we’ve been inspired by the thousands of apps that have since been built and are in active use. The AppSheet team collaborated with app creators to create a multilingual app, for example, that supports more than 100 languages and can serve as a baseline for creators around the world.  Having heard from our customers and the market that no-code solutions are a pressing need, we are extending the COVID-19 promotion through the end of the year. These are uncertain times and like so many others, we are grateful to be in a position to help. There are, of course, countless other examples of how app creators have leveraged AppSheet’s no-code platform to respond to the pandemic, and while we cannot cover them all, here are two that illustrate the innovative ways in which app creators have risen to the tasks at hand. Tracking and managing critical medical equipment Under the guidance of USMEDIC, a provider of comprehensive equipment maintenance solutions to healthcare and medical research communities, AppSheet, along with other companies collaborated to build and deploy a  medical equipment tracking and management solution that would support healthcare organizations in their COVID-19 response. During the course of its work with various healthcare organizations, USMEDIC realized that hospital staff were often spending many hours a day trying to locate vital medical equipment which was often redistributed due to surging patient volumes. Traditional tracking options, while available, took months to develop and were expensive to implement. The challenge? Building an alternative solution that could be launched in days, without system integration or the need to purchase expensive equipment. Thus began a cross-functional collaboration and within two months, this team built a solution that can be used by hospitals that have not already implemented a comprehensive equipment management system or to augment existing ones. An app built on the AppSheet platform is what hospital personnel would use to manage and track emergency assets and we all hope that this solution will provide relief for hospitals struggling to locate much needed equipment Supporting needy individuals in the form of digital aid During the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa has been in some form of lockdown now for some 137 days, preventing people from working and earning an income for basic necessities. It is estimated that 47% of households ran out of money to buy food in April coupled with a rising  fear that the traditional method of delivering food parcels would be overwhelmed. Enter the Mthunzi Network, a not-for-profit organization that delivers much needed assistance in the form of digital food vouchers directly to those most impacted populations: assisting mothers of young children, the homeless, refugees, and those not receiving support from the South African government. To manage this effort, Mthunzi built a simple, easy-to-use AppSheet-powered app that automated the beneficiary registration and digital aid redemption process. Development organizations in local communities would register individual households in need of support through the app and specify the type of aid needed — food vouchers redeemable at beneficiary selected corner shops or retailers. Mthunzi would then send those digital food vouchers to the registered beneficiaries and using the app, the development organizations would support beneficiaries with the redemption of the aid. To date, Mthunzi has helped over 25,000 beneficiaries with digital aid and expects to see this number grow to 60,000+ within the next three weeks. Lifting up app creators It is safe to say that every one of us across the global community has experienced a roller coaster of emotions as we come to terms with everything that has changed. But I hope that you, like me, are able to also see the helping hands that are doing their best to lift us up. We are so very proud and grateful for the help that our AppSheet creators have provided and we look forward to continuing to support them. To learn more, go to our COVID-19 support guide.

8 No-Code Sample Apps to Reduce Workplace Risk During COVID-19

Up until a few months ago, it was normal for workers to gather in conference rooms, around the water cooler, or on a job site, or to have impromptu chats in the hallways of an office building. This kind of real-time in-person connection helped make workplace communication and collaboration fluid and happenstance in a positive way.  Fast forward to today and the working world is pretty unrecognizable from that time. Nearly every aspect of the workforce has been transformed — in many cases, overnight. Conference rooms have been replaced with video conferencing software, businesses that relied on paper for record keeping have had to quickly transition to storing and sharing their documents online, and office chit chat now takes place over group texts. Long story short: businesses are relying on cloud services more than ever to adapt to the ever-changing landscape caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Cloud computing software has not only enabled work to continue, it’s also helped front-line workers stay connected (while keeping physically distant) and reduce potential risk factors in an increasingly harsh environment. And with so much changing on a weekly (or sometimes daily) basis, businesses are increasingly turning to no-code development platforms like Google Cloud AppSheet in order to quickly build and launch apps that are not only critical to keeping businesses running, but also keeping everyone safe. No-code app development allows anyone to build custom apps, even with zero coding experience. With no-code, workers on the ground who understand the day-to-day business needs, customer needs, and problems best are empowered to build solutions themselves. So businesses have naturally been turning to platforms like Google Cloud AppSheet during this Covid-19 pandemic to quickly develop and launch apps that improve communication across remote workers and allow teams to scale their processes safely. By empowering the entire workforce to build the solutions they need to get things done, businesses are able to bypass the hurdles of waiting on engineering or IT resources and the one-size-fits-all approach to purchasing and deploying off-the-shelf apps that often don’t fully meet workers’ needs. Here are several no-code workplace apps (also built with Google Cloud AppSheet) that you can copy and customize to address specific health and safety concerns during the pandemic. Building Inspections This sample no-code app makes tracking building inspections and safety measures simple. Using data from a Google Sheet, you can track, monitor, and take action to make sure your building is up to code and that you’re keeping up with all the latest recommendations and requirements for Coronavirus safety and prevention measures. Safety Reporting When it comes to safe working conditions, every team member has a responsibility to keep a watchful eye. With this sample no-code app, people working in construction or any workplace can report and track issues and accidents.Workers enter their job site and submit a report that includes a priority level, detailed description, and relevant photos. The site lead can then review new issues and track open tickets. Finally, the safety board dashboard allows select users to create maintenance tickets with priorities and deadlines. Building Management Because of Covid-19, some businesses are having to rethink their office spaces and building use to keep workers safe. This sample no-code app helps with building management. You can plot your floor plan, organize and maintain your office furniture supplies and costs, and so much more. As you think about returning to the office or factory floor, you can use an app like this to reorganize workspaces for social distancing and prepare for safe office re-openings. Approved Disinfectants Keeping workplaces fully stocked with necessary cleaning supplies can reduce the risk of virus spread and help your team maintain a healthy work environment. Using data from a Google Sheet, this sample no-code app provides a list of all the disinfectant products that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and lets you order them directly from the app. Surface Sanitation Having the right supplies is the first step, but making sure you clean and sanitize surfaces regularly is key to guarding against Covid-19. This sample no-code app makes it simple to manage a checklist of surfaces that need to be cleaned on a regular basis. The default frequency cleaning alert is set for every 24 hours, but you can easily update that timing. Users are notified when it’s time to get scrubbing. And here's a list of sample no-code apps built with Google Cloud AppSheet that you can copy and customize to assist with personnel, workplace, and health needs during Covid-19: Community Support During times of crises, our friends, neighbors, and coworkers can become trusted networks that help us get through challenging times and increase recovery efforts. This no-code app built using Google Cloud AppSheet allows community organizers to easily track, manage, and fulfill safety requests from people in their nearby areas by pulling data from Google Sheets. The app makes it easy for members within a community to make requests and helps organizers fulfill those needs. Team Alerts Staying informed and keeping information flowing in real-time is fundamental to remote work situations. The ability to alert your team to relevant news and updates is essential. With this sample no-code app, team leads can create groups, send alerts to their groups via push notifications and emails, and easily share helpful resources. Out of Office Ensuring coverage when colleagues are out of office is critical to maintaining efficiency and preventing gaps in work streams. Whether workers are out of the office due to a family emergency or a planned vacation, this sample no-code app makes it easy for employees to share when they’ll be unavailable by logging in and entering their out-of-office days. Anyone with the app can easily see everyone’s logged days in a calendar or table view. If you’re inspired to build your own no-code apps, use the apps above as a starting point. Just copy the apps and customize them to your business needs with AppSheet, using our support guide as a reference. And always be sure to consult the official CDC guidelines for office buildings and workplace safety, to ensure your measures meet the highest health standards possible. Ready to build apps from your own data sources? Try Google Cloud AppSheet today:

Formulas and Expressions are Key to Powerful No-code Apps

Building custom apps can really streamline business processes, but where do you begin if you don’t have a technical background? While coding traditionally requires years of education and expertise, you can immediately start building custom apps using a no-code development platform — even with zero coding skills.    If you need to build customized apps for complex business processes, consider the flexibility and robust functionality of a declarative no-code development platform such as AppSheet, which uses formulas to tell apps what to do. In AppSheet, these are called app formulas and expressions. Using formulas and expressions may sound intimidating, but they’re actually intuitive to master. In fact, if you can use a basic spreadsheet, you can use the AppSheet no-code platform. In fact, AppSheet expressions are a lot like the formulas you use in Google Sheets or Excel. For example, if you have an app for job managers that contains data for every job your team does, you can use a formula to filter the view to display a specific result such as “jobs not completed.”  That’s just a basic example; with formulas, you can build powerful functionality within your apps. Consider that same data set of jobs and the information captured about due dates and status. With formulas, you can have your no-code app highlight overdue jobs, jobs that are incomplete, and all jobs that have a due date before today. You can even configure your app to have a custom view that marks overdue jobs in red or displays a list of only overdue jobs. Using formulas, you can also create a more user-friendly experience that displays your data dynamically and doesn’t require job managers to manually filter tables to get the type of reports they need. Taking formulas to the next level, you can create actions. For example, for each overdue job, you can have your app create a new email that’s pre-populated with a message that job managers can easily edit before sending an update to their supervisors. You can also have your app record the fact that the email was sent and save that data to the job record.  The most powerful use of formulas in no-code apps takes actions to the next level with automation. In the example above, sending out the email required the job manager to spend time customizing and clicking to send and record the email. If you want to reduce this type of manual task (especially ones that might be repetitive) further, you can automate your no-code apps. For example, each morning your app could send the job manager and their supervisor an alert with all newly overdue jobs. The AppSheet platform excels at this kind of workflow automation by managing a complex scenario that triggers an action, helping keep your work moving forward on time and on task. Automated workflows are a powerful feature of declarative no-code development platforms. With declarative no-code apps, you can filter results, display custom views, create helpful actions, and create automated workflows that reduce manual tasks and opportunity for human error.  Here are some tips and best practices to take into account as you build no-code apps: You might already be familiar with expressions if you're a spreadsheet user. Learn a few new rules and you'll hit the ground running.  Filter data using expressions in Security Filters or Slices to make sure your app users experience the best performance and only see data relevant to them. Use expressions as 'Show If' conditions on views, actions and data fields throughout the app to ensure specific app features only appear when relevant to the user. Take advantage of app user details to influence app functionality and make it relevant to the individual app user: USEREMAIL() for detecting who is using the app CONTEXT() for understanding what type of device they're opening it with HERE() to use their location to present nearby entries USERSETTINGS() to apply their custom settings to their app experience (localization) For more ideas on how to create your app using formulas, check out our App Design 101 guide, which walks you through the different types of formulas you can use to build and make the most of your no-code business app. Ready to build? Start AppSheet today for free.

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