Initially with static pages only, web development technologies such as scripting language allowed for more dynamic websites and web apps. Now, these technologies have advanced significantly to include APIs, web development frameworks, online work platforms, apps marketplace and software-as-a-service. In addition, online app builders are giving users the power to create their own business tools. Companies of all sizes, especially small and mid-sized enterprises, now have ready access to affordable and customizable web applications to boost their productivity and profitability.
The Top 10
In spite of the great number of choices, some companies and organizations with unique requirements are still looking for online applications that will work specifically for them. Below are our favorite ten that not only provide dependable core functions but also flexible technical platforms for the best possible combination.
1. Knack (* Editor’s Choice *)
Knack is a simple online database and app builder based in New York City, USA. It does this in three steps which are defining the database, building the interface, and sharing the data. From its experience in helping companies build online databases and web applications, it has recognized similar requirement patterns. Therefore, they made it easy by creating the building blocks of the applications for these requirements. Some of these applications are store locators, job portals, and for project management.
Caspio is a cloud-based platform that offers ready-made web applications as well as point-and-click tools to make your own. It allows users to create their own forms, reports, and database applications to help them run their business without being restricted by long and costly application development. Caspio, Inc., is a privately held Silicon Valley company that provides a complete solution of an online database, app builder, cloud infrastructure and expert support. It also has a wide selection of instant apps that include task management and a very flexible price plan.
Podio: A Citrix company with offices in Copenhagen, Denmark; and San Francisco, CA, USA. Podio is a work management platform with integrated chat, social collaboration, project management and automated workflows features. It is a highly flexible software that enables users to customize according to their specific structure and processes, easily include external partners for fast communication and collaboration, use data visualization on dashboards and reports, and provide granular administration control over user access. Apps are components that users can choose and combine from its Marketplace to create their own solutions using drag-and-drop technology. It also integrates with online file sharing services and other productivity apps, has extensions created by third-party developers, and email integration. The open API and mobile SDK allow users to build their own custom integrations.
4. Zoho Creator
Zoho Creator is one of the more than 25 online applications that have been launched by Zoho Corporation. It allows for the user to easily build custom applications without the need for a developer or an extensive knowledge of programming. It is an app builder that uses drag-and-drop action and rules-based logic. It can get data from different sources but keep yours in one central place. The variety of apps that can be built is great including for project monitoring, project plans and tasks. It also has apps that integrate with iOS and Android devices.
QuickBase is an online database platform from Intuit. When a company’s data is stored online, it can be accessed anywhere by the people who need it at anytime. It offers many kinds of web applications to make sense of this data. For example, it has free, ready-to-use task management or time tracking applications that can easily help in managing projects. Users can generate their own custom reports to improve project planning and execution.
TrackVia is a business application platform with headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Building an application can be started by uploading a spreadsheet containing data or starting from scratch. Users can then follow the step-by-step guide to build their own reports, dashboards, and input forms or connect to other web applications. It also has pre-built applications that provide complete business solution applications such as project management that has time tracking, milestones, automated reminders, reporting and collaboration.
ZenBase: An online database application builder created by Kayson Group Ltd, the Hong Kong-based creator of phpGrid. With a simple and easy-to-use interface, even non-technical users can create their business application in minutes. Data can be created from scratch or imported easily through a simple form. Some of the solutions that can be created on an accessible online platform are project management applications, product catalog, inventory management, employee directory and more. The hosted database service that supports role-based user and table permission control allows users to create, update, read and delete records, and use many interactive and inline editing controls, including images, progress bars, autocomplete texts and more.
TeamDesk: An easily accessible online database software by Long Grove, Illinois-based ForeSoft Corporation. With the help of many predefined database templates such as for project management and other business and industry-specific applications, users can build their database and customize their web-based application solutions. Clients all over the world are very satisfied with the flexibility of the software as well as the excellent customer support provided.
Fusioo: An online database service from Fusioo Ltd, a Luqa, Malta-based IT software and service company. Together with a customizable database, ready-made template use cases and a growing apps marketplace, users are given the flexibility to build solutions they need as they need it. Features include a point-and-click, drag-and-drop interface to quickly set up an application that can collect, manage and track different types of data entered as records. Data grid controls, dashboards and charts for reports provide users more control of their information and real-time feedback. Secure ISO-compliant data centers, MS Azure servers and role-based permission provide a safe and accessible collaboration platform. A simple per user pricing scheme enables easy scaling up or down of users, and also allows external partner collaboration for free.
All these app builders have the ability to help a company build their own custom web applications. QuickBase and Knack seem to be more suitable for companies with a large database. Zoho Creator and Caspio are ideal for the more technical user as it allows for a high degree of customizability in the kind of applications that can be built. TrackVia and Zoho Creator leverage their easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface, while QuickBase offers a more feature-rich, pre-built project management solution.