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Building an App the Simple Way: 6 Database-Powered App Builders
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Expand Zoho Creator's Capabilities by Connecting with Over 280 Apps
If your team needs a customized app to store your contacts, manage your inventory, track changes to your code, or just about any other data-intensive task, you don't have to build your own customized app just for that. Instead, you can use tools like Zoho Creator to make a database-powered app that works the way you need, but still has the conveniences of mobile apps, online accounts, and integration with the rest of your tools.
Part of a large family of Zoho apps, Zoho Creator makes it as easy to build an app as it is to make an online form in most form creators. You'll just have to think about the data you want to collect, lay that out in a form builder-like interface, and Zoho will build a database to power it. Then, you can add your own custom coding and simple functions to show or hide fields, route data, or automate actions without much trouble.
Zoho Creator focuses on the forms in your app first, and uses them to build your database and everything else. It's a smart move—you'll need to create form fields to collect any data in your app, so Zoho lets you think through what you need to collect and turns those elements into your database. Or, if you have a spreadsheet filled with data already, you can import it and Zoho will make a form with elements for each of your spreadsheet's columns and import the data appropriately.
You could just add your form elements quickly, then click the Access This Application button in the top right to take it for a spin. That'd get you a working basic app in 5 minutes, tops. Or, if you'd rather make a more full-featured app, you can use Zoho's field actions and rules to add simple coding to your app. Select a fields and click the "Configure Field Actions" to add custom code to any field either by typing it in or by clicking logic elements and customizing them in Zoho's interface.
This gives you an easy way to add conditions to your fields, validate their data, show or hide fields based on inputs, manipulate data, and more. Or, you can use the Workflows tab on the left to add similar coding to your entire app. Then, from the Add Rules button back in the form editor, you can messages, notifications, set destination links, and more based on what's been entered in a field. It's features like this that let you build far more advanced apps in Zoho Creator than you could in a typical form builder.
Adding data and putting it to work automatically is nice, but you'll also need a way to display it. The simplest way to do that is with reports, spreadsheet-like views that let you show your data on a table, in a graph, on a map, or quickly sort through it in a pivot table. Select the item you want, then you'll bring in the relevant elements you want to display in that view.
That's enough to have an app in Zoho Creator—you could share it with your team right then and have an easy way to add, store, and retrieve data. But if you want more, there's also pages in Zoho Creator. Select to add a new page, and you'll see an editor similar to the Workflows page that lets you code your own app page in HTML or with drag-and-drop elements. You could write a paragraph of text with the HTML block, then bring in one of the forms you made previously, and underneath let users see the data immediately in a table. You can add conditions, pull data from your database, and more. It'll take more work, again, but you'll get far closer to having a hand-coded custom app—but without actually having to code the app itself.
Zoho Creator isn't the easiest way to make your own database-powered app, but it is one of the most powerful. If you're willing to take the time, you can code an advanced app—and if you're in a rush, you can still make something pretty useful with just its forms and default views.