If you’ve read our executive perspective series with either Brian Reale of ProcessMaker or Harold Engstrom of FlowWright, then you know that many workflow and BPM software vendors have an origin story in some type of services business. Whether it is consulting, software development, or a bit of both as a systems integrator, many of these leaders had the same frustration. It’s a pain the rear to re-create the wheel for every client. Eventually, that thought evolves into something like “what if we made this rapid configurator into a platform that anybody can use?”.


Same Origin Story, With a Gift from Google

James Ferreira of App Maker University is no exception to this origin story, but the software gods decided to bless him with exceptional timing. “We were actually a few months into rolling our own platform based off of App Scripts and it was getting amazing responses from our customers…,” James shared. And then he got the call from Google.

Why did Google know about James? Well, James had been at the bleeding edge of Google Apps since the birth of App Scripts. If you were a part of the App Scripts community in the early days, chances are you’ve heard of him. For those not familiar with App Scripts, its Google’s JavaScript cloud scripting language to build web apps and automate tasks across Google products. James has been building extensions and consulting with some of Google’s largest Google Apps (or GSuite as it used to be called) customers helping them keep their data and workflows inside of Google’s solution.

Google brought James in early to give feedback on the App Maker project. A project that had been an internal initiative for many years inside of Google, and had only recently been moved from the “internal tool” column of the kanban board to the “public product” column.


Pushing Google to Improve No Code Development

“The idea behind App Maker is something that has been on my mind for a long time,” James continued. “When I was given an early preview I saw that Google wasn’t immune from some of the common pitfalls in the workflow industry. The learning curve is filled with jargon and user interactions that might not be intuitive for a first timer in the world of Google Apps, but we were able to help them work through some of that.”

To give you a sense of what it is like to use Google App Maker, here is a video from the YouTube channel Totally Scripted, where James introduced a few quick “how-to’s”:


That helpful perspective from James furthered his relationship with Google and prompted the creation of App Maker University as a go to market partner program aimed at helping people learn how to use App Maker.


Special Offer for NoCodeDev Readers

App Maker University provides online courses, bootcamps, and coaching for businesses and other future App Maker users. They were kind enough to offer a discount on their Video Bootcamp to all NoCodeDev readers – just enter the code “VBC10KL” at checkout for the 10% discount.

In addition to the Video Bootcamp and other support resources, App Maker University has a template library full of ready to run or customize templates for common internal business processes. Compared to the cost of ownership of templates I’ve seen in other workflow vendors libraries, these are a steal.


The Limits and Future of App Maker

I asked James why we should expect App Maker to become as common as Google Sheets, and he provided an insightful response. He explained that many large businesses who use Google Apps work hard to keep their employees inside Google Apps. Workflow solutions are common culprits in the world of “shadow IT” and App Maker should prevent businesses from needing to take any of their data outside of the world class security behind Google’s product suite. I agreed, this is a big part of the decision making process for a lot of large enterprises, but Google doesn’t have a solution for every business software related problem. These large customers are still going to use Salesforce, SAP, and other software from big players that won’t cost the purchasing manager their job. As a former CIO in a state government, James agreed and suggested that there are a few things coming to help with that.

So, what should we expect next from App Maker? James couldn’t share too much, but he is excited to see more built in connectors and integration tools with popular tools outside of the Google Apps domain.

What are the limits of App Maker?

  1. Apps have to be on your Google Apps domain.
  2. Implied, but to reinforce as a separate limitation, these apps should be for internal workflows.
  3. Performance.

To address number 3 from above, James pointed me to an announcement Google recently made at Google Next where App Scripts is getting a 10X performance boost. App Scripts is behind the scenes of App Maker, so we should see some big improvements there in very short order.

One of the examples that James provided was a large client who had $2 Billion worth of expense tracking running on App Maker. The client was thrilled with how quickly changes can be made to a very visually appealing UI to accommodate changes to their process. App Maker also works very well with Data Studio, and that packs a big punch when you are tracking that many dollars around an organization heavily invested in the Google Apps ecosystem.

In our original article announcing the launch of App Maker, we noted how several workflow vendors who targeted Google Apps users might be at risk. You can see their response here, and it will be interesting to see how the future of App Maker unfolds in front of such a fragmented market.

Thanks again to James and the team at App Maker University. If you plan on checking out App Maker, don’t forget to use the special 10% off code on the video bootcamp that we mentioned above. They also have an impressive library of templates ready to roll if you want to save some time.