Five Misconceptions about Building Apps in the Cloud

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Over the years since we first started Caspio in 2000, we’ve grown accustomed to hearing disbelief from new users when they experience how easily they can create their own web apps without coding or software. And even as cloud computing gains momentum and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) becomes more mainstream, it’s remarkable to still frequently hear so many common misunderstandings from new users and so-called “experts” alike. I’ll try to tackle some of them here, primarily from Caspio’s perspective.

Misconception #1: Only simple apps are possible without coding

Depends how you define simple. You can certainly create a massively scalable, multi-faceted, multi-user, highly-interactive app on Caspio and integrate it with several other online apps and internal systems and load it with millions of records. On the other hand, games and other intensely graphical apps are not as well-suited on Caspio’s more structured database-centric app platform.

Misconception #2: Cloud apps are a temporary Band-Aid

The idea being that to build a “real” app for the long haul, you should go back to traditional coding. Not so! While it’s true that application development platforms (including Caspio’s) have their own unique strengths and approach to solving business problems, by no means are Caspio-powered apps a temporary stop-gap. We have countless customers who have built mission-critical enterprise applications since 2001, when our platform first launched, and continue to expand their usage today.

Misconception #3: Hosted applications pose security and reliability risks

Security and reliability are a big deal as they should be. But if you do proper due diligence in selecting your platform,  you could be assured that the security and reliability achieved through your cloud partner is typically above and beyond what’s available in most companies. Caspio is known in the industry for its leadership in enterprise-grade security and reliability measures. Read about our specific measures and policies here.

Misconception #4: Long-term apps are most cost effective when built in-house

What many don’t realize is that once you roll out an app, someone has to continuously host it, monitor its uptime, update its security, back up its data, apply upgrades, and deal with feature requests whenever necessary. When you leverage a hosted platform like Caspio’s, you automatically benefit from all the built-in maintenance, upgrades, support and economy of scale … without even having to think about it. Once you put these expenses into your ROI analysis you see that unless you are willing to make sacrifices in post-development operational quality, running your app on your own is not more cost effective than working with a well chosen cloud partner.

Misconception #5: Non-developers can’t build powerful apps

After many many years studying computer science at school, the mere thought that a web-based tool could make my skills redundant is disheartening to say the least. But cloud platforms are not meant to be a drag-and-drop replacement to ingenuity … they are accelerators and innovators.


Platform-as-a-service offerings are much like point-and-shoot cameras. They are increasingly smart in that they automatically find your subject, zoom in on them, adjust the shutter speed and so on, so all you have to do is to push the button. The result is a fairly nice photograph. Now is it as good as one taken by a professional photographer? Certainly not. But most pictures don’t require professional photography skills to turn out delightfully beautiful. Furthermore, just by spending an hour learning your camera’s user manual to get down the basic features of lighting, framing and movement, you can improve your picture quality dramatically.
In the world of application creation, Caspio is that point-and-shoot camera. The truth is that Caspio doesn’t make anyone a programmer. However, it does provide an easy way to implement your ideas. The trick is in planning and architecting your app. For that, Caspio offers free project consultations, customer training and technical support. So when you combine an easy-to-use tool with an eager-to-help support team to back you up, you bet that you can build powerful apps without knowing how to write programs.

Point-and-click app building is here and it’s only getting better. We have been focused on this for the past nine years and have seen thousands of fantastic app ideas get implemented without a single line of code. There used to be a time that only professional typesetters could create nice looking publications. Nowadays, my elementary school child uses Word to create great looking documents. Similarly, you now can create web forms and apps fast and without programming. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should!

One week with Caspio

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Nothing gets me more excited than seeing a customer succeed with Caspio Bridge beyond their wildest dreams. Fortunately, we run across such moments very often. Here’s a great example:

“One week ago we held our first “get acquainted meeting” with Caspio and came away impressed with the ease of service and terrific content possibilities. We then went through two training sessions and began gathering data. Today, one week later, we launched the wltx.com Data Center with 11 Caspio-powered searchable databases. The response from the public has been overwhelming and we can’t wait to build out more. Thanks to the entire Caspio team for making this seemingly overwhelming task, a piece of cake.”

Rich O’Dell
President & General Manger
WLTX-TV CBS Channel 19
Columbia, South Carolina
http://www.wltx.com/news/datacenter/

wltx-cut2.jpg

ABC News “20/20” Selects Caspio to Power Online Database

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

abc2020_logos_v2.jpgABC News “20/20” today launched a Caspio-powered interactive database that allows you to see just how much stuff goes missing every year from luggage at your local airport. The special interactive, “Lost & Looted from Luggage,” chronicles the tens of thousands of passenger belongings that have been looted and lost from luggage using data obtained from the federal Transportation Security Administration. The database is available online and will be featured in the special ABC News “20/20” segment, “Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity about Travel,” that airs tonight (December 14, 2007) at 10 p.m..

If you missed it on TV, check it out here.

Migrating Microsoft Access Programs to Web

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Many companies have aging internal applications that are built on Microsoft Access. There is tremendous appeal in making these applications web-based so they can be accessed from outside the office.

Caspio provides the fastest and easiest way to transform Access applications into web-based applications:

  • The Caspio Bridge user interface is designed to be familiar to Access users.
  • Access data can be imported directly into Caspio Bridge.
  • Caspio’s wizards for creating DataPages (i.e. web forms, searchable databases and other components for web sites) are designed to be easy to follow and intuitive.
  • Caspio’s plugin for Microsoft Office can keep a local Access database in synch with your online Caspio account.

Most importantly, Caspio’s Solution Advisors are very familiar with Access-to-web migrations and are ready to provide assistance and consultation.

Consultants specialized in Microsoft Access solutions find Caspio a powerful complementary addition to their toolbox.

Caspio Bridge User Interface
The 100% AJAX web-based user interface of Caspio Bridge is designed to be intuitive for Microsoft Access users.

Caspio database brings more page views than the Paris Hilton story

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Last week at the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) conference in Phoenix, Ryan Konig, a Senior Reporter for The Arizona Republic (and a new Caspio Bridge customer), told the audience that their database of executive compensation which he recently deployed to the newspaper’s web site using Caspio Bridge generated more page views than the “Paris Hilton Goes to Jail” story.

Ryan Konig (right) of The Arizona Republic
Sr. Reporter Ryan Konig (right) of The Arizona Republic, which was the host of the IRE 2007 Conference in Phoenix.

The public counts on newspapers for local data and online media sites are increasingly using Caspio Bridge as an easy and cost effective way of building searchable databases.

DataPages that Generate Page Views

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The number one reason for creating web apps is to make money, directly or indirectly. For online publishers advertising revenues are a big part of the business and increasing visitors and page views is a sure way to improve the bottom line.

Provided that you have a semi-interesting set of data, the design of your DataPage directly affects its ability to generate page views. Consider the following techniques to maximize traffic:

1. Don’t make me think
Long and complex search forms are a kiss of death. They intimidate me. They may be great for research, to find a single record in a massive database, but a fun and interactive “consumer” database should have a simple search form. I don’t have a lot of time or energy to learn a new interface. Make it easy for me.

2. My hand stays on my mouse
Limit your search forms to clickable controls like dropdowns and checkboxes. If you want me to have fun with your database and try different searches again and again, don’t make me work hard. Don’t force me to take my hand off of my mouse and type in some words in a text field. Besides, I could be tired or spelling-challenged, which ruins the whole search.

3. I can’t drink from a fire hose
Don’t dump your entire database on me. That’s no fun for me. Give me my search results in small doses, like 20 or 25 records at a time. Let me discover more by paging through your database. Remember, every new page is an opportunity to show me more ads.

4. Engage me!
Show me just enough to make me want more. Then take me to the detail page of your record for the whole story. If you show me all you have in the search results page, I have no reason to dig deeper. Also, don’t expect me to know where to click. Make it clear.

5. Design sells
Just because it’s a database it doesn’t have to look like one. Give your data a nice layout and color scheme and add interactivity with integrated maps, reader feedback, and rating.

6. Make me look smart
Give me an easy way to send the address of this page to my friends and family. Show me how to bookmark this page and alert me when you update this database or bring another one online.

Benchmark your current performance so you can measure the results you get by applying these techniques. Everything mentioned here is easily possible with Caspio Bridge. If not sure how, ask our friendly solution advisors.

Parameters and Relational DataPages

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

If you have created anything other than simple web forms, chances are that you have felt the need to send information from one DataPage to the next DataPage. In Caspio Bridge 5.0, due for release soon, we have introduced the concept of Relational DataPages through parameters.

In DataPage wizards you will have “on load” and “on exit” options for all fields. With “on load” you can assign a static value or a parameter to the field. With “on exit” you get to pass the field to the next DataPage.

Parameters along with other features built in Caspio Bridge version 5.0 make it possible to create one-to-many relationships in your apps, without programming.

For instance, you could create a customer details screen showing standard customer information from the “customers” table plus a history of each of their calls from the “call_log” table. Furthermore, you could add a “call log form” to this page in such a way that every new submission is automatically stamped with the customer id.

By default parameters are internal to Caspio Bridge DataPages, however, you will also have the option of passing or receiving parameters through query string values. This way you can integrate Caspio Bridge apps with external apps and web sites.

Sign up for Caspio Bridge 5.0 Beta

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

We are in the final stages of the release of Caspio Bridge 5.0. This release is packed with a long list of new features and user interface enhancements. I will begin discussing some of these features here in my upcoming posts.

Our development team will be opening this release for a brief beta period. If you are interested to check your DataPages and apps in version 5.0, sign up to participate in the beta program.

This is how the beta program is going to work. We will copy an image of your account to our beta servers. Your original account remains intact and will continue to serve your applications. The copied account will be upgraded to Caspio Bridge 5.0 and you will be able to sign in and verify your applications and try the new features. Your beta account is for testing and verification purposes only and at the end of the beta program it will be erased. We will have no provision to move anything from your beta accounts to your permanent account.

All standard Caspio Bridge DataPages will continue to work as before after this upgrade. With the beta program you will have the chance of ensuring your customizations are compatible with the new release.

The beta program is open to all regular accounts (no Trial and SOHO).

Reduce SPAM, and Eliminate Data Chaos for Free

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Most web hosting companies give their customers a CGI for email forms. You make a form and use their CGI to have the submissions emailed to you.

There are two major problems with this approach. The first is that with most of these CGIs your email address is in the source code of the form and accessible to email harvesters. If you have one of these forms on your site, chances are your email account is full of junk.

The second problem is that all your submissions are in your email folders and unless you manually cut and paste your emails to a database your submissions are scattered among hundreds or thousands of emails.

You can have both of these problem solved with Caspio Bridge. Forms created with Caspio Bridge never contain your email address, even if you have configured them to send you notification emails. Furthermore, since all you submissions are stored in your Caspio Bridge database, you can destroy your notification emails knowing that at any time you can run searches and reports on your database or export your data.

The success and efficiency of your company is largely dependent on your systems and processes. Caspio Bridge gives you the most critical tool for your business web site, and the SOHO accounts are completely free.