Becoming A Citizen Developer Having Never Written A Line Of Code

My Experience and Takeaways using SAP Build (AppGyver)

As the title of this blog indicates, I attempted to create my own app having never written a line of code before or any knowledge of UI or API. As a business student, to me, Phyton might as well be a snake found in the Amazon and C++ is a grade people get in school.

It was about time to turn this around and take up the challenge. For this, I used SAP Build (AppGyver), a low-code, no-code application development environment designed for ‘citizen developers’, individuals who are non-developers; project managers, product managers and sales team members!

This blog looks at my 5 key takeaways I have from my initial experiences with AppGyver when I created my first app. This gives me a chance to share my learnings with other citizen developers (like myself) or developers who want to develop their own apps.

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1. Getting Started using Appgyver’s Tutorial Section

The big question for me at the start was, how could I get started? Luckily AppGyver has perfectly accommodated for any beginners with a tutorial section. It’s a great way to get started with punchy videos to throw you into the world of low-code, no-code. I would recommend going through each section and playing around with what you have learnt. I can’t overstate how easy it is to get started!

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2. Creating my First User Interface with Drag and Drop Components

The tutorial AppGyver provide is brilliant but the intuitiveness of the software is truly what makes it shine. What could be easier than dragging and dropping components on a page? As a user, it felt like common sense to go in and play around with the components and in no time I had a UI beginning to form.

What I found here was AppGyver really does what it says on the tin. The drag and drop system makes it very easy to spin up a user interface, as if it was Tetris, the blocks simply fit into place. A big takeaway that came from this was, due to its intuitive and easy to pick up nature, as I began to understand the software more, I could begin to get really creative with the design. My Gym Tracker app went from a cluster of components to a structured UI that even gave motivational quotes to you when as you progressed through the app.

3. View your App Online and with the Preview

One of my favourite features I found at this stage was the ability to preview your app, not just online but on your phone, which is an awesome feature! Live updates in AppGyver mean that as you save your changes to your app, they are updated automatically on your phone. It’s great when trailing and testing different components.

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4. Applying Logic to Components to make your App come Alive

Apps these days are fairly extensive with multiple pages, search bars and toggles that happen at a click of a mouse. As a business individual, there would be no way I would know how to develop app logic without spending time learning what it is and how to do it.

In the world of low-code, no-code, there is next to no hassle. AppGyver visualises logic flows with drag-and-drop options to enable you to build an intelligent app. When creating my app I developed the logic that when you clicked the ‘Weights Time’ button on the screen, you will be taken to a new page and whilst loading, you will have text appear on your screen saying ‘It’s Time To Lift’.

Although these are quite basic, there is a multitude of pre-set logic that you can drag and drop into each component or alternatively, you can use the marketplace to get access to additional logic. Some honourable mentions to the functions that enable users to scan QR/barcodes which can be recognised in your app.

A highlight in my app came about using the ‘Scan QR/barcode’ logic. It allowed me to add a button that loaded up the camera on my phone to scan barcodes of food I wanted to track the calories of. The problem was that I now needed to connect the barcode scanner to an API to retrieve the relevant information.

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5. Integrating your App to External Data Sources using APIs

A significant factor in AppGyver is that you aren’t just confined to what you see in the app, data integration allows you to GET, POST, PUT and DELETE records to broaden the functionality of your app. Using the videos in the tutorial, you can to create integrate your app to data sources using an API.

As an individual from a non-technical background, this section of app creation was what I dreaded the most, I didn’t know what an API was! Luckily, AppGyver has a ‘Data’ section in their tutorial section which is a good starting point. While this section did take me the longest to figure out, this was down to the bottleneck in my knowledge of APIs, anyone with any type of technical expertise will be able to pick this up, no problem.

Once I had spent some time learning about APIs and how to set them up, I created my own GET records in the REST API direct integration to retrieve calorie information from the OpenFoodFacts API. This data was collected by scanning a barcode when the button in the app was clicked.

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My Overall Experience and Learnings I want to Share with Others Starting App Development using No-Code, Low-Code Software

When consolidating what I had done with AppGyver, it was clear to me that I had fun. I spent some time on each of the 5 sections mentioned above; playing around with the design, creating logic between pages, setting up barcode scanners and connecting the API. To me, the process had similarities to some online games that I’ve played and in the end, I had an app I was proud to show people. A few of my friends at the gym even wanted me to release a full version so they could use it.

But what does this mean for your project managers or sales team members who want to become citizen developers? AppGyver’s intuitive design makes it extremely quick to pick up and develop their own innovative ideas into apps. As someone who has never written a line of code before, I may not have reached 100% app mastery but I was able to create my own app, within half a day at that! I expect anyone with any sense of technical knowledge will pick it up significantly faster.

The complete visual aspect of low-code, no-code made the more complex aspects of app development easy to understand. The visual logic flows and drag-and-drop components significantly reduce the time taken for anyone to pick up AppGyver. That being said, the learning experience was fast and intuitive. From what I found, the more you play around with them, the more creative you can become.

On a final note, although it took me some time to pick up the integrations with API, it wasn’t impossible and it isn’t something you should be discouraged by. If you are coming from a business position when creating the app, I would recommend watching a few more videos on APIs, there are some great ones out there on YouTube. For those who have more experience in app creation, you should be able to pick up this section within a short time period.

Using what I've Learnt in a Real Project

The creation of my app acted as my foundation for a real-world project. Following this, over the course of 5 days, I lead a team at Notion Edge to take part in the SAP CX Hackathon, a competition with 18 teams to develop a new app extension for an existing SAP CX product.

Our app, ENSIGHT, a combination of enrichment and insight, enabled users to automatically enrich data collected from external sources to provide insights surrounding a business of choice. Our app finished 3rd place of the 18 teams. I believe this is a true testament to the ease of adoption of citizen developers using AppGyver.

You can see the app in action below:

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