Appian's Quick Apps Move Citizen Developers Toward Digital Transformation

Appian has delivered Quick Apps, a new platform to help bridge the developer skills gap by enabling users to build apps with little or no code.

Appian Quick Apps

Tapping into the trend of empowering so-called "citizen developers" with tools to quickly create enterprise applications, Business Process Management (BPM) platform provider Appian has announced its new Quick Apps product that lets users build apps in a few short steps.

At its Appian World 2016 conference in Washington, D.C., this week, Appian unveiled the latest version of its BPM and Case Management platform, including the new Quick Apps offering. Malcolm Ross, vice president of product marketing at Appian, told eWEEK the new release helps businesses accelerate their digital transformation efforts with new design capabilities, as well as other platform-wide enhancements.

"The inspiration of the Quick Apps solution is we've seen this continuing demand from the market, from IT organizations, to do more with less and to allow more people inside the organization to generate technical software solutions to help create a digital transformation inside their organization," Ross said.

With Appian's new Quick Apps, citizen developers can create fully functional applications in 15 minutes or less with no technical knowledge, Ross said. The Quick Apps Designer prompts users for the key points of their application. Then, all necessary data, forms and processes are auto-generated, resulting in a fully functional Quick App. The app may be used as-is to support dynamic, data-centric work, he said.

Ross noted that BPM tools like Appian have been focused on how to visually convey software logic, such as the orchestration of a process or a business rule and to make that a functional application. Quick Apps brings more of a data-centric, collaboration approach to that same model, he said.

"But it really boils it down to a three-step wizard," said Ross. "If you can fill out three things, you can create a Quick App. Then when you hit publish the system will create all the tables, dynamically create all the schemas for the entire application. It will create all the interfaces for all the CRUD (create, read, update, delete). It will also create ad hoc passing capabilities. It integrates with Appian’s collaboration capabilities and creates all the necessary business rules and security permissions to make sure it's properly locked down."

Moreover, Quick Apps are automatically supported on most leading devices, from desktop Web browsers to mobile devices, without additional effort. Additionally, they provide the basis for full designers to expand the application with more advanced functionality, such as dynamic rules, automated process decisioning, and system integrations.

Clay Richardson, principal analyst at Forrester Research, who spoke at Appian World 2016, said Forrester has been tracking the low-code application development trend and has identified 42 companies providing tools for this space. Appian ranks among the leaders, he said. When Forrester began looking at the market in 2014 it sized the low-code market as being worth about $1.5 billion. Richardson said it is at about $2.5 billion today and will grow to between $13 billion and $15 billion by 2020.

"There are all of these companies trying to make application development more accessible across different skill levels," Richardson said. "But what I like in the Appian model is with Quick Apps they're providing a way to build apps quickly, but you can take those assets you build in Quick Apps and if you want to expand on them later you can reuse that technology. The previous generation of low-code platforms did not allow you to do that."