Microsoft's Project Siena Enables App Creation With No Programming

Microsoft has delivered a beta version of a Windows 8 app codenamed Project Siena that enables business users to build apps without coding.

Microsoft has added a new entry to the list of existing tools aimed at empowering business users to create applications without writing code: Project Siena.

Project Siena is the code name of a new technology for business experts, business analysts, consultants and others to create apps for the device-first and cloud-connected world without any programming. In fact, the devices and services giant says building Siena apps is as easy as editing a document.

Siena is a Windows 8 app available in the Windows Store. The technology, currently in beta, is aimed at empowering business users to leverage their business expertise and build applications that tap into their organizations' big data pools without the need for IT intervention.

As Microsoft technical evangelist James Quick said in a blog post on Project Siena, "As far as data, you can pull data from an Excel sheet, Azure Mobile Services, REST calls, RSS feeds or SharePoint. This gives the developer a couple of different options for loading dynamic data, which potentially makes your app more enjoyable. Simply pump out new data to the user, and that gives them more reason to open back up your app, right?"

Microsoft said some examples of what users already have built with Siena include Apps to explore media-rich product catalogs and create ensembles that together serve a customer's needs; apps used on the spot to resolve customer service bottlenecks and logistics exceptions, with the custom intelligence to help the user make local tradeoffs; and apps for auditing and inspecting a manufacturing facility through photos, videos, and pen and voice notes, all tied to an asset database.

"Project Siena is a very interesting take on engaging nonprofessional developers that are working in the context of knowledge workers at enterprises," Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC, told eWEEK. "As we estimated at IDC in the Developer Estimates report, there are 7.5 million hobbyist developers, many of them are already employed in nondeveloper roles inside of companies. Over the next couple of decades, we will see more and more hobbyists engaged in developing apps through very rich high-abstraction programming metaphors like Project Siena."

S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division, said the proliferation of mobile devices in the enterprise has prompted the emergence of new purpose-specific apps that are rich in media, distinctive looking, simple to use, and loaded with custom intelligence and connected to high-value data.