Home Programming Low-Code Application Development with Appian

Low-Code Application Development with Appian

By Stefan Helzle
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  1. Free Chapter
    Chapter 1: Creating an Appian Quick App
About this book
This book is an exhaustive overview of how the Appian Low-Code BPM Suite enables tech-savvy professionals to rapidly automate business processes across their organization, integrating people, software bots, and data. This is crucial as 80% of all software development is expected to be carried out in low code by 2024. This practical guide helps you master business application development with Appian as a beginner low-code developer. You'll learn to automate business processes using Appian low-code, records, processes, and expressions quickly and on an enterprise scale. In a fictional development project, guided by step-by-step explanations of the concepts and practical examples, this book will empower you to transform complex business processes into software. At first, you’ll learn the power of no-code with Appian Quick Apps to solve some of your most crucial business challenges. You’ll then get to grips with the building blocks of an Appian, starting with no-code and advancing to low-code, eventually transforming complex business requirements into a working enterprise-ready application. By the end of this book, you'll be able to deploy Appian Quick Apps in minutes and successfully transform a complex business process into low-code process models, data, and UIs to deploy full-featured, enterprise-ready, process-driven, mobile-enabled apps.
Publication date:
April 2022
Publisher
Packt
Pages
462
ISBN
9781800205628

 

Chapter 1: Creating an Appian Quick App

In this chapter, you will have your first contact with the Appian platform and create your first app. Creating an app will give you an impression of how the Appian user interface (UI) looks. You will define the data fields of a case as the foundation of that app. Appian will then automatically generate a framework of ready-made functionality around case management, task assignment, document management, and reporting.

The use case for this Quick App is the management of improvement requests by the quality assurance (QA) department. Typically, you will receive improvement requests by email, a phone call, or in a nice chat at the coffee machine. You enter and manage them in the Quick App to improve collaboration and transparency in your team.

We'll be covering the following topics in this chapter:

  • Login and first contact with Appian
  • Naming your Quick App
  • Defining case data
  • Setting permissions and generating an app
  • Testing your app

Getting your own Appian Community Edition is simple. Create an account at community.appian.com, go to your profile page, and request and manage your own Appian environment.

Figure 1.1 – Appian Community profile

Figure 1.1 – Appian Community profile

 

Login and first contact with Appian

To get started, you will need to log in to your Appian environment (the Community Edition or a corporate one). If your company enabled single sign-on (SSO), you do not need to enter a username and password and you can skip step 3. The following steps will guide you to the Quick Apps Designer:

  1. Enter the web address of your Appian environment. If you use the Community Edition, you will need to accept the license agreement.
  2. Once you are done with that, you will get the login screen. There, you will need to enter your credentials and click Sign In.
  3. Appian Community Edition greets you with a nice screen with information on how to learn more about the Appian platform, as illustrated in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.2 – Appian Community Edition after login

Figure 1.2 – Appian Community Edition after login

  1. From the waffle menu at the top right of the screen, select Quick Apps Designer, as illustrated in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.3 – The Appian waffle menu and its items

Figure 1.3 – The Appian waffle menu and its items

In case you do not see the Quick Apps Designer item in the waffle menu, please follow the next five simple steps:

Tip

This will only work if you are an administrator user in your environment. So, contact your system administrator if you are working in a corporate environment and do not see that menu item.

  1. Open the Appian Administration Console by clicking the Admin Console item in the waffle menu, as illustrated in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.4 – Opening Admin Console

Figure 1.4 – Opening Admin Console

  1. Navigate to the Permissions tab, as illustrated in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.5 – The Appian Administration Console

Figure 1.5 – The Appian Administration Console

  1. Click the Add Users to the Quick App Creators role link, as illustrated in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.6 – Administration Console permissions

Figure 1.6 – Administration Console permissions

  1. Click ADD MEMBERS in the membership list of the Quick App Creators group, as illustrated in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.7 – Membership list

Figure 1.7 – Membership list

  1. Enter Designers and click ADD, as illustrated in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.8 – The group to be added

Figure 1.8 – The group to be added

  1. Appian will reload the screen to reflect that change. Now, all users who have access to the Appian design environments also have access to the Quick Apps Designer, as reflected in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.9 – Group added

Figure 1.9 – Group added

You have now modified the permissions in the Appian environment and made the Designers group a member of Quick App Creators. As you are a member of Designers, you now have permission to access the Quick Apps Designer as well. If you want to allow everybody to create Quick Apps, add the All Users group instead. You might need to reload the browser window or log out and log in for the permission changes to take effect.

Click the NEW QUICK APP button in the top left of the screen, as illustrated in the following screenshot, to initiate a simple four-step wizard:

Figure 1.10 – The Quick Apps Designer

Figure 1.10 – The Quick Apps Designer

 

Naming your Quick App

To get started, think about a proper name and description for your new Quick App. Then, give the entries a name that implies what to enter. This helps your team to understand what the new app is about. Next, proceed as follows:

  1. Appian asks for some basic information, as shown in the following screenshot, which you enter according to the use case idea of improvement management:
Figure 1.11 – Quick App and entry naming

Figure 1.11 – Quick App and entry naming

  1. Click the CONTINUE button shown in the following screenshot to get to the next step:
Figure 1.12 – Filled-out form for improvement management use case

Figure 1.12 – Filled-out form for improvement management use case

 

Defining case data

The default fields are a good starting point. Leave them as they are. I will explain how to add the following fields to enable proper data management:

  • Description: A paragraph to describe the improvement
  • Department Manager: The manager responsible for the implementation
  • Department: The name of the department in which the improvement would need to be implemented

The default fields are shown in the following screenshot:

Figure 1.13 – Predefined default fields

Figure 1.13 – Predefined default fields

For each field, you define the name, a data type, and whether it is required or not. Some fields have additional options, which we will have a look at later.

Let's follow the next series of screenshots to add these three fields, as follows:

  1. Click the New Field button, as indicated in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.14 – Adding a new field

Figure 1.14 – Adding a new field

  1. Enter and select Paragraph for the data type, as highlighted in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.15 – Paragraph type

Figure 1.15 – Paragraph type

  1. Add another field and enter Department Manager for the label and select User as the type, as highlighted in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.16 – User type

Figure 1.16 – User type

  1. Name the last field Department and give it the type of Text.
  2. After adding the three fields, let's look at how the form and the dashboard will look. Click the PREVIEW FORM button to do so, as illustrated in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.17 – All fields added

Figure 1.17 – All fields added

Appian will display a preview of the form, and you can already enter data to see whether it fits your requirements, as indicated in the following screenshot:

Figure 1.18 – Form preview

Figure 1.18 – Form preview

  1. Click the DASHBOARD button highlighted in Figure 1.17 to switch to a preview of how the screen for each improvement will look. This is the result:
Figure 1.19 – The dashboard preview

Figure 1.19 – The dashboard preview

  1. Click the CLOSE button to close the review screen, followed by CONTINUE to get to the next step.
 

Setting permissions and generating an app

In the Access step, add users to the Owners field to define who is allowed to modify the app—for example, to add another field. By adding users to the Collaborators field, you enable them to participate in using the app.

Select an icon you'd like to represent the app's use case, as highlighted in the following screenshot:

Figure 1.20 – Defining permissions and icon

Figure 1.20 – Defining permissions and icon

Click the CREATE QUICK APP button to make Appian generate the final app. This takes a bit of time, so let's use that to recap what you did to create a Quick App, as follows:

  1. Define an app and record name.
  2. Define a name and type for the record's fields.
  3. Define who can work with the app and who can modify it later on.
  4. Wait a bit…
  5. Click the following link to open the Quick App:
Figure 1.21 – Quick App is created

Figure 1.21 – Quick App is created

The generated Quick App contains the following three tabs:

  • IMPROVEMENTS
  • TRENDS
  • MY TASKS

Check all the tabs. Since you have not entered any data yet, there is not much to see, as the following screenshot shows:

Figure 1.22 – The record list screen

Figure 1.22 – The record list screen

 

Testing your app

Testing is an important step in any software development, even in low-code with Appian and in a no-code approach when creating a Quick App. Later in this book, we will have a closer look at how testing and QA in Appian works. For now, let's create some new improvements to make sure the app works as designed. Proceed as follows:

  1. Click the + NEW IMPROVEMENT button, as illustrated in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.23 – Empty list, ready for adding items

Figure 1.23 – Empty list, ready for adding items

  1. You now see a screen to add a new improvement. This screen looks very similar to the one you saw just minutes ago in the preview function of the Quick Apps Designer, as we can see here:
Figure 1.24 – Add New Improvement screen

Figure 1.24 – Add New Improvement screen

  1. Enter some data to create a new improvement record item. An example of what to add is provided in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.25 – New improvement with some data entered

Figure 1.25 – New improvement with some data entered

  1. After clicking the SUBMIT IMPROVEMENT button, you should see a list showing your just created item, as depicted in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.26 – The record list showing one item

Figure 1.26 – The record list showing one item

  1. Click the new item to open it. You will see the data you entered a moment ago in the format as defined in the Quick Apps Designer, as illustrated in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.27 – The improvement record dashboard

Figure 1.27 – The improvement record dashboard

This app is instantly available on your mobile device. Download the Appian app from your mobile app store, start it and follow these four simple steps:

  1. Set up a new account.
  2. Add a new account.
  3. Enter the server name of your Appian environment.
  4. Enter your credentials.

The preceding steps are illustrated in the following screenshot:

Figure 1.28 – Account setup steps

Figure 1.28 – Account setup steps

Voilà—your first mobile app! Take a look:

Figure 1.29 – List of improvements on mobile

Figure 1.29 – List of improvements on mobile

Tap that list item to open the improvement. The following information is shown in the next figure:

Figure 1.30 – Improvement dashboard on mobile

Figure 1.30 – Improvement dashboard on mobile

Hence, with this we are done with testing our very first application.

 

Summary

There you go—congratulations! This is your first app in Appian: your personal Hello World. You learned how to open the Quick Apps Designer, assign a name, define the data and collaborators, and finally have Appian generate a Quick App. Play with your new app and collaborate with the colleagues you added. If you find out that there is a field missing, go back to the Quick Apps Designer and add it. And by adding more users as collaborators, you have your whole team on board in no time.

This is just the first chapter in this book, and there is so much more to discover in Appian. In the next chapter, you will learn more about how to get the most out of your new Quick App.

 
About the Author
  • Stefan Helzle

    Stefan Helzle is a Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers WPG GmbH, Germany. He has dedicated his career to low-code enterprise software development and is an Appian Certified Solution Architect and Appian Certified Lead Developer with sectoral expertise in Finance, Insurance, Healthcare, IT Services, and Pharmaceuticals. He has been working since 2009 as a Business Analyst, Appian Senior Developer, and Consultant Appian Solution Architect. Since 2015, Stefan has built a team of over 30 Appian Designers, conducted foundation training for almost 100 colleagues and clients, and mentored and coached all colleagues, and supported them in more than 30 projects. He has worked on Appian projects as diverse as re-insurance claims management and underwriting, a management suite for podiatry therapists, ITIL-based IT service management, procurement (request, approvals, tendering, supplier management), car financing and leasing processes end-to-end, document intake OCR and data extraction platform.

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