Review: Appian aces low-code dev, at a price

Appian Platform allows business users to create simple forms apps, and developers to enhance them with workflows

At a Glance

Application development is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. For a business, that means prioritizing some app development projects over others, and waiting for the development team to turn ideas into code. Often, the application the business needed yesterday doesn’t arrive for months. Sometimes it never arrives at all.

Low-code and no-code development tools promise more immediate gratification by allowing non-programmers to create their own apps, or by enabling developers to create those apps much faster. Case in point: Appian’s Quick Apps designer, a tool that allows business users to create simple applications on the Appian Platform.

Appian was once known as a business process management (BPM) platform — and it still is, although BPM is no longer its only function. Along with BPM, Appian now provides an application platform to create responsive web and hybrid mobile apps. Appian mobile app shells, which you can download from the Apple or Google Play app stores, act as clients to the web application.

The application platform has two designers. One is a full-blown app designer with a BPM module and several other nifty facilities that require some skill to use. The other, the Quick Apps designer, is an easy-peasy graphical designer for simple apps.

I watched an Appian product manager create a single-form Quick App from some data in a few minutes. Might he have done that demo a few dozen times before? Undoubtedly. But still, the hardest part was knowing enough of the correct data field names to trigger auto-completion.

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