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Google's Low-Code App Maker Now Generally Available

Google announced the general availability of its low-code App Maker tool, designed to quickly create apps for its business-oriented G Suite portfolio.

Unveiled as a preview in November 2016, it copies the model of other offerings in the growing low-code space, featuring a cloud-based IDE and built-in templates, drag-and-drop UI composability and point-and-click data modeling, which reportedly can let business developers easily create their own apps or drastically cut the time needed by professional coders to create apps.

In announcing the general availability of App Maker, Google cited research indicating custom mobile apps can save employees 7.5 hours per week, one of the driving motivations behind the increasing universe of low-code tools in the face of a dearth of professional programmers.

But the tool has a desktop/browser focus and doesn't produce native mobile apps, even for the company's own Android platform. However, Google said low-coders can "Use HTML and CSS to white label your apps and control the way they look on desktop and mobile."

Targeted for use with G Suite -- which provides corporate apps along the lines of Microsoft Office for e-mail, docs, spreadsheets, storage and so on -- App Maker is positioned by Google as a tool for business users to create customized apps for smaller jobs below the level of CRM, ERP and SCM, such as requesting purchase orders or filing and resolving help desk tickets.

The tool easily connects to G Suite apps like Gmail, Calendar and SheetsPlus, and business developers can further use Apps Script to hook into more than 40 of Google's other services, along with Google Cloud Platform and other third-party services supporting JDBC and REST.

It features a variety of ready-to-go templates -- document approval, Q&A forum, project tracker, travel approval and so on -- and sample apps/tutorials for working with data, charts, navigation and dialogs, HTML Iframes and more.

App Maker is included with G Suite Business and Enterprise editions, along with G Suite for Education. G Suite pricing starts at $5 per user per month. Developer documentation is available here.

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About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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