Look here for info on each tool in your Dashboard and how to build with Crowdbotics
Regardless of your technical expertise, you can create a fully functional app with Crowdbotics. If you’re having trouble translating your idea to paper, you can start with storyboarding your app on the Crowdbotics Dashboard (more on the Storyboard Tool below). Another often useful exercise is to draft what’s called a tech spec and a user story document. These detailed written plans can make the building process a little more smooth. If you need to put that together, here’s a helpful post.
Once you’re ready to build, you will need to work through the following:
- Create your app
- Visually lay out your app
- Define your app's data
- Deploy your app
- Interact with your app
After these steps are completed, your application will be ready to publish on the Apple App Store or Google Play.
If you’re looking to speed up your development and your app fits a common app type, one of our Blueprints may be for you. For example, say you want to build an app to allow customers to find and hire plumbers in an area from their mobile phones. You could start from the Taxi App and customize it to fit your specific needs, saving you time and legwork. Take a look at the blueprints we currently offer in our Marketplace here, or find out more about Blueprints here.
CONTRACT ON-DEMAND WITH VETTED EXPERTS
If you need it, we also have a full staff of qualified developers, project managers, and designers ready to hire at the click of a button. Once you log in, you can request help with your project from the team page. Choose from our list of common software to-do items, or draft custom tasks and source help from the Crowdbotics team directly.
We’ll prepare an estimate for you to approve and then start working on your project. To learn more about working with Crowdbotics Professional Services, take a look here.
CREATE YOUR APP
To create your first app, simply log on to app.crowdbotics.com and either create your own app from scratch, upload your own app (or just designs) to the platform, or browse templates of apps we commonly see created. You can make this decision based on what’s fastest and best for you. Assuming you want to start from scratch, choose whether your app will be mobile or based on the web.
Our standard stack uses Django for the backend and React/React Native for the frontend. These are modern frameworks with widespread adoption, and we chose this specific stack in order to keep things simple and reliable. We believe in building with tried and trusted software.
When you imagine your application in use, what are the screens users will see? What screens are necessary for users to achieve their goals? Just like making a movie, a storyboard outlines what will happen, step-by-step. The Crowdbotics Storyboard Tool helps you quickly storyboard your own applications.
As you think through the necessary functions and screens needed for your application, imagine a flow that makes sense for the user: a login screen might take a user to a profile screen; a purchase screen may take a user to a payment information screen, and so on.
With the Crowdbotics Storyboard Tool, you can quickly start linking screens together to keep track of what goes where (and identify what’s missing). Your storyboard is complete once you account for every screen, and how the user will arrive there.
Learn more about Storyboarding your app here.
We know your app isn’t just about functionality - it also needs to look good! The Screen Editor allows you to customize the look and feel of each screen within your app. After you add a module to your Storyboard canvas, hover on it and select “Layout” to edit a screen’s appearance with Screen Editor. Read more about the Screen or Visual Editor here.
All apps have a front end and a backend. The frontend is what the user sees, interacts with, and experiences (buttons, colors, fonts, stuff like that). The backend is everything going on behind the curtain. Just as the Storyboard Tool allows you to lay out the app’s flow, the Model Builder allows you to lay out/specify the app’s data structures.
Create models on the canvas to represent the types of data objects you'll have in your app. For example, if you were building an app for an upcoming conference, there might be a number of vendors attending, so you'd create a Vendormodel with fields of appropriate types. A Vendor object might include a name field of TextField type, a website of URLField type, and a category field that corresponds to a different Category data model that has its own fields.
In order to interact with data, apps use Application Programming Interfaces, commonly referred to as APIs. In general terms, an API allows one system to interact with another system in order to retrieve, create, or modify data. Simply check the"API" checkbox when creating or editing your data model, and the next time your app is deployed, the system will not only create APIs for the model, but also generate supporting documentation.
Note that you'll need to save on the Model Builder page and deploy your app in order for back end changes to take effect. When your app is next deployed, database structures will be initialized to hold records for each data model. You'll be able to create and edit database records from your Admin Panel, which becomes available only after a successful deployment. Be sure to check the “Admin” checkbox in order to make models available from your Admin Panel.
Once you’ve uploaded your models, go ahead and click “Deploy App” on the Crowdbotics dashboard, then head over to the admin panel (found on the left-hand menu of the dashboard). You will need to Deploy your app and then create (and reset) your Admin Panel credentials from the Settings page on your App Dasbhoard.
Learn more about using the Model Builder here.
DEPLOY YOUR APP
Deployment is the process of publishing your project to a live URL. Crowdbotics enables you to deploy your project directly from the left-hand menu of your App Dashboard. Simply click “Deploy” and watch as Crowdbotics assembles your app and publishes it to an automatically generated URL (hosted by Heroku). You can view your deployed app by clicking “View App”, or by clicking the URL generated in the “App Activity” section of your App Dashboard.
You will need to deploy your app to enable access to your project’s Admin Panel. You also need to deploy your project to fully apply any changes made with the Model Builder Tool.
All apps built with Crowdbotics include an Administration Panel, and they come with a lot of handy, built-in features:
- Add and remove users
- Reset passwords
- Define which users have access to the admin panel (click the staff checkbox on a user’s account in the users list and save to give someone access)
- Create user groups (click on Groups, or click on a user and click + to create a group)
- Define which user groups have which permissions to access which models
- View all database objects that you’ve created
- Add and remove database objects individually
The admin panel is the easiest way to manage the items in your database, so we recommend interacting with your database exclusively through the admin panel. You can read more about the Admin Panel here.
PUBLISHING TO AN ONLINE STORE
You can publish anything you build with Crowdbotics on your own, or you can make a request from the Tasks page on your App Dashboard and we will handle this process for you. If you’d like to publish on your own, you must meet the criteria below before you can initiate an app transfer:
- Master Agreement
- Approved and Deliverable App Version
- Developer Info Update
- In-App Purchase State
- The app uses Sign In with Apple.
- TestFlight Beta Testing
Find out more about posting to the App Store here.