We've partnered up with expressFlow, a small startup providing simple and intuitive document-encryption in the cloud. expressFlow launched an app challenge, which we announced a couple of weeks ago and we caught up with CEO Martin Vasko to get an inside scoop on expressFlow and how the idea of the app challenge was born.
expressFlow App Challenge
As developers, we love when things are easy and they just work. Both things were not the case when we began to work with encryption. It was complicated to get things done - even in prototypes. And for a developer everything starts as a prototype. After many of our friends and colleagues experienced the same challenges we thought: Hey, why don’t provide the encryption functionality as an API? No sooner said than done!
And as some of our friends and customers began to play around with our API and integrated it in different scenarios we previously did not even think about we began to realize: Encrypting files in the Cloud is a very generic use case. Let's make an app challenge!
But why did we come up with such a crazy idea?
Well - we think that encrypting documents is a key requirement for most of the document management systems around. And with the growing popularity of cloud storage providers like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box and others we thought: Well - let’s take the API to another level and let our users and developers show us, what they can imagine with encryption. What about sharing documents from a mobile phone securely in the cloud? How about a nice small app to enable a secure four-eyes-principle? Just to give you a starting point.
The Cloud and mobile - a perfect match?
Speaking of Cloud and mobile brings me to our partnership: Application Craft shares with us the passion to make development less painful. Their app development platform is designed to reduce the complexity of app development - and they do extremely well!
Application Craft enables developers to build their mobile app by simply dragging widgets in the browser to assemble a professional mobile app for all major platforms. This approach significantly reduces the complexity of app development.
Based on this development platform and by the use of the expressFlow API it should be an easy task to build the next cool mobile secure document sharing app.
And now we give our developers the opportunity to show us! Accept the challenge and build the next big thing! With the Application Craft platform and the expressFlow API this has never been easier.
Thanks very much for your time, Martin. And... challenge accepted! If you are interested in participating please see details here.
The Application Craft Team
Creighton University recently held an App Dev Argy-Bargy, a competition that was a huge success and attended by many students, IT companies and the press. We caught up with Cindy Corritore, a Professor of IT at the University, earlier this year and heard about her experience from the teaching side. Now we've been fortunate to catch up with one of the students and competition's runner-ups, Morgan McVay, who created the CitySlicker app with team mate Catherine Lucas . The duo won themselves a Google Nexus 7 tablet in the process and have memories to last a lifetime.
Give us an inside scoop - tell us about yourself!
I currently am a Junior at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska pursuing a degree in Marketing and Economics with a focus in Psychology. I have always been interested in consumer behavior and human choices which naturally involves the reasoning behind using certain websites and apps. This concept immediately prompted my interest in gaining a background in website and app development.
When I first applied for Creighton’s BIA (Business Intelligence and Analytics) course, I only had a general outline of basic development skills (You could call me a master at the monochromatic, Times New Roman generic websites). However, the opportunity to learn how to further broaden my education as well as create a prototype to a phone app was too tempting to pass up.
How did you find working with Application Craft?
My experience with Application Craft was an enjoyable process! For a beginner like myself, it was a pleasant surprise to discover how clean and seamless AC was to use. I found it incredibly easy to understand and use; it became a vital learning tool throughout the semester. The multitude of video tutorials were one of my favorite features to AC; they were straight-forward, informational and thorough. However, the unique feature that really sets Application Craft apart from the rest is the reliability and helpfulness of the online community. This forum section became an invaluable resource to me and my partner as we worked our way through to create a fully functioning prototype three weeks later.
And on to the good stuff - tell us about the app you helped to create
As an individual looking to pursue a career in marketing, the first question I asked myself was ‘What app would my peers want to use tomorrow?’ I needed a concept that was simple enough to execute within our time constraint but held enough elegance and complexity to be captivating and desirable. From there my partner and I decided that college students would appreciate the opportunity to see their financial shopping mistakes before they made them and thus CitySlicker was born. Living in a larger city is not the cheapest lifestyle, so we created an app that allows you to track your total as you shop while categorizing your purchases. These categorized purchases then would input into a Zing chart and show the buyer in which area they were spending the majority of their money. This app provides a more visual approach to allow college students the ability to readjust their financial habits.
Before presenting our app during the Argy-Bargy competition at Creighton, we first sent out a survey to a small sample of Creighton students. Of this survey, 90% said they would download CitySlicker if it were available on the market. Their favorite features of the app included the barcode scanner and the clean sleek design. Introducing the app even prompted future demands to improve the app including a customizable list, online account, and the ability to compare store prices to find deals and coupons. The entire experience was incredibly inspiring and motivating for a young professional like myself.
What are your next steps?
Although my formal BIA studies have come to an end, I know the experience and tools that I have collected through Application Craft will be greatly beneficial in my future endeavors. I would recommend Application Craft for any individual who is interested in creating their own app or to those who simply would like to better understand and appreciate the hard work and dedication that go into a creating a fully functioning and sophisticated app. In summary, Application Craft is an invaluable resource for any level of developer and is a worthy investment.
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Morgan. We wish you all the best in the future!
-The Application Craft team
As you should already know by now, we're working on something BIG!. It's an all new cloud based software development platform. And it will be the very first cloud based IDE that every developer will love to use, day in and day out. Please register your interest and we'll let you in on the first public beta.
“We live not in a passive society, a read-only society, but in a writable society.”
Collaboration is the very first thing we thought about when we first sat down to plan the next major version of Application Craft, and has continued to be at the very heart of almost everything we are building.
Collaboration is arguably the single biggest advantage when using software in the browser, because the browser is constantly connected via the internet, and because the browser is now the most used application on almost any device. Collaboration is also hugely important when writing software and especially when building for the web. It empowers us to do more, while remaining in the [virtual] company of our friends and colleague's.
The cost of collaborating between you and others when using the browser and the internet are zero. Email, Twitter, Skype - these are all free to use, and they are all about collaboration.
"It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed." - Charles Darwin
Ah, but now I hear a few of you asking the question "what if I don't have anyone to collaborate with?". The answer to that is easy and simple... you do!
The world is full of like-minded people just like you. People who love building web apps, designing web sites, or creating mobile applications. And they all have something to share, even you! And whether you realise it or not, you co-ordinate and collaborate every single day, with people you have never met or spoken to before. No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.
The largest sites are essentially all about encouraging collaboration and making it easier for us to co-ordinate with each other. Sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Wikipedia, Github, Basecamp, and now Application Craft are leading the way here.
Collaboration is extremely powerful, and we think you're going to love what you will be able to do with what we have planned.
Introducing Creighton University
We like to round up different perspectives of various Application Craft users and were pleased when Dr. Cindy Corritore, a Professor of IT in the College of Business at Creighton University, offered her insights on what it has been like to teach with Application Craft.
Teaching mobile app development with Application Craft
I have been teaching for about 25 years, and hold a Ph.D. in Computer Science (which I have also taught). My programming is rusty, and I was never a crack programmer. I am more interested in HCI (human-computer interaction, UX). I want to tell you a bit about how I used Application Craft (AC) in a new undergraduate course – with great success, I might add.
If you have ever tried to teach programming to business IT students you know the challenge I faced. While some IT students love to program, most do not. In fact, it appears that they have heard horrible things about programming since birth, and have to date successfully avoided it. I was tasked with developing a course that would teach them about programming. The goals for the course were not to develop programmers – but to teach students the language of the world of programming, the inherent difficulties with programming projects, and what it really took to put together something reasonable. I decided to use a hands-on approach, and to focus on apps. I thought students would be excited about developing apps – the cool factor. I searched for a long time for an appropriate IDE – and luckily found the perfect tool, Application Craft.
Application Craft was perfect for several reasons. First, it was an online IDE – so it was platform-independent, both for development and for final device deployment. Second, it was developed for teams – and a class fits that description perfectly. Third, it was a real-world tool. That meant you could do meaningful and significant projects with it, the students could put it on their resumes, they could take it with them into business when they graduated, and companies would be interested in it and the students’ work with it. AC could also be used at different levels. For students who wanted to develop very complex apps, AC was more than up to the task. However, it was also the perfect IDE for students who needed to work at a more basic level, yet produce something that ‘worked’. Finally, the creators of AC had developed an extensive set of tutorial videos, user manuals, and an active forum to bring myself as well as my students up to speed.
From my point of view, the best thing about AC was the ability to develop at a high level using widgets and properties as well as to interact directly with the code. This is the perfect learning environment as you can start high-level to build confidence, then dive into the code when students want to do more with their apps. It was also very easy for me to help them, as I could access their apps in our shared team account. Yet their work was not accessible by other students. I plan to use AC for this course in the future. I hope to add features to the course such as using databases and custom widgets as soon as I learn it. AC is a great product, one of a kind, and I see it as a professional, commercial tool that can also double in education. I can’t say enough good things about it, but am so happy that we were able to use it in the course.
In a nutshell, the students loved AC. They said it was the best part of the course. They took to it quickly and became very good at developing with it within a couple of weeks. This was true of students who did love to program, and of those who did not. It taught them to program just enough for me, let them experience the programs of development such as project management, deadlines, having ideas that then had to be implemented with code, and most of all, team work. One student, Mike Wieger, described it well in his blog.
Argy Bargy Event
The work of the students was so good that we decided to have a competition, with awards for the team built the ‘best’ apps. Our “2013 App Dev Argy-Bargy” was a huge success – it was attended by other students, folks from IT companies around the city, and the press. The top two teams won iPads and Google Nexus tablets, sponsored by businesses, including AC. It was an exciting event, with judges and audience voting via SMS. My favorite part? When a student said, in response to a question, that “we used an IDE called Application Craft, which is platform-independent, device-agnostic, had a great API, and allows for native implementation on devices." Huh – three months ago these students wouldn’t have known the difference between IDE and API – that is, IMHO.