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The Lego Approach to Software Development

July 19, 2016 by Gabriele Middendorf 126

Imagine coming up with an idea for a solution in the morning, and implementing it in the afternoon. This is now possible thanks to the appeleon ZeroCoding Service powered by SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

“I was always fascinated by Lego as a child,” explains appeleon CEO Dirk Laufer in our interview. “It therefore made perfect sense to employ this concept in software development.”

There’s no mistaking it. The ZeroCoding service from the Mannheim-based company is reminiscent of the internationally renowned children’s toy. Just like Lego’s colorful plastic bricks that can be put together in multiple different ways, appeleon offers over 500 features to build applications that fit the customer’s needs. And just like with Lego, there are no instructions necessary. The customer doesn’t need any programming skills to activate the features, and instead is guided through the software by an assistant.

Custom-Built Solutions in an Instant

This service from appeleon is particularly beneficial for business departments, who are able to quickly build applications to suit their individual needs. If a department requires a special system for service disruptions, for instance, the configurators can select the basis template from the appeleon application mall as a starting point. Piece by piece, customers are able to configure features using the “Lego toolkit.” The most recent example is the data object “Ticket” with individual fields such as “Title,” “Description,” “Date,” “Priority,” “Creator,” “Status,” and “Data File” for photo attachments. Within a short space of time, a message system can be created that is tailored to meet departments’ individual requirements without the need for programming.

The ZeroCoding Service from appeleon is just another example of how SAP partners are successfully implementingSAP HANA Cloud Platform. The appeleon applications can be directly configured on the platform, as well as operated and integrated with SAP applications.

“When it comes to SAP HANA Cloud Platform,” explains Laufer, “We represent a small, but equally important jigsaw piece for SAP. SAP and appeleon can offer support to businesses looking to replace existing applications. For this, we offer the appeleon Transformer through which customers can analyze Lotus Notes or MS Access applications in a highly automated way, and migrate to SAP HANA Cloud Platform.”

The ZeroCoding Service powered by SAP HANA Cloud Platform also helps prevent the proliferation of Excel files which has become a problem in many user departments. For instance, an Excel price list can be transformed into an appeleon application with access rights, in which users can work and simultaneously monitor precisely who has changed what values and when.

SAP and appeleon: A Perfect Fit

When it comes to target groups, SAP and appeleon complement each other perfectly. “We are a great addition to SAP. SAP HANA Cloud Platform provides programmers with outstanding tools to help them become even more efficient and productive. We supply business information engineers – the connecting link between user departments and IT – and business analysts with development tools,” says Laufer.

SAP and appeleon are also a strong team when it comes to products. “There is often something lacking between adjustable standard software and classic custom development. Custom software comes at a price, and the development simply takes too long. Standard software can be implemented quickly if you know what you’re looking for, but it’s restricting for the user,” explains the appeleon CEO. “It is appeleon’s fundamental objective to make up for this deficit.”

Laufer believes that one of the biggest advantages is the speed with which appeleon applications can be created. With basic applications, the user department is able to productively implement the solution on the very same day. Changes can also be realized quickly. “With the features that we have, we are not only able to build, but also rapidly re-build,” Laufer strongly believes.

At the beginning of a development project, it’s not a case of planning everything in the minutest detail. A 70% specification is an adequate starting point upon which the solution can be tailored to fit the needs of the use with increased precision and accuracy.

Endless Combinations

appeleon’s features offer countless building possibilities. The features are initially neutral, and, through combining and naming, can be transformed into individualized solutions — just like a mountain of colored Lego bricks will gradually turn into a car, ship or a house. Businesses often use appeleon to map controlling or project management scenarios. “Project management is a big issue for our customers. About 50% of project management applications are the same for all customers, while the other 50% are very diverse,” observes Laufer.

End users can immediately build simple appeleon solutions without the need for instructions. A one-day training course is recommended for the configuration of expert features. For the so-called master features used for the creation of more complex applications, a week-long training course is necessary.

“Once again, the Lego parallels are evident; building a simple house out of Lego bricks can be done so intuitively and without guidance. For a more complex structure, say a Star Wars spacecraft, you need special bricks and a construction manual,” says Laufer with a smile.

Top image via Shutterstock

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