Building Web applications has just gotten easier. A new tool called Iceberg makes it possible to build Web applications without writing any code at all.
This Web-based tool allows you to build an application or customise an existing Iceberg application using the visual interface only, meaning no coding is required. This is beneficial for non tech-savvy users, who can now build apps quickly without any knowledge of programming.
Non-profit users and up to five business users can obtain Iceberg for free. To download the tool visit http://www.geticeberg.com/ and follow the installation instructions. The package also includes UltiDev Cassini Web Server for ASP.NET 2.0. When the installation completes you will be instructed to log-in. You will then see a welcome screen, like the one below.
Install a sample application
To get a better understanding of Iceberg you can download and install one of the sample applications and study the way it works. At present there are four applications available:
- CRM application
- Vacation management application
- Bug Tracker
- Project Management application
To start using these applications, download them from the Application Directory. On the welcome screen click the Install an application you have downloaded to set it up. Alternatively, you can hover over the More tab and select Applications. Click the Add Application link and fill in the details in the first section of the page, called Application. Enter a name (for instance, CRM app), a description and set the status to active. In the Upload Application section, upload the zip file you have downloaded and click save changes. Finally, click generate application to get the app up and running.
The application will then become available and you'll see all its business objects as tabs.
Making an application
Creating an application from scratch is just as simple. Hover over the More tab, select Applications and then click the Add Application link.
Give the application a name and a description and set the status to active. Then, click Create at the bottom of the page.
Next, you need to add objects to your application. For example, customers, products and employees are some of the objects you can have for a business app. Go to the Business Objects section of the page and click the plus sign to add an object. When finished click Save Changes. When you create business objects, a table gets generated in the database.
To edit an object click the pencil icon next to it. You can then change the object definition, permissions, display it on the calendar, and customise the form.
Click the customise form link to set up your form. You will find a bunch of commonly used fields, which you can drag back into Available items. You can also add your own fields and fieldsets.
When adding your own fields, you need to choose what type they are (eg, Button, Small text, Text option list). To edit an already created field just double click it.
When you are done click Save form layout and then Finish customizing. Your form will get displayed and you can start entering information into it.
As you can see below, I've created a form for the Employee object, which can be used to enter a new employee into the system.
In Iceberg the applications can be interconnected and objects in different applications can still talk to each other.
Creating relationships between objects
To link two objects, go into the Form page, click Add field and choose Select List. In the Populate list where the drop-down is, select the object you want to link to. In the Searchable drop-down select yes. You will now be able to establish one to many relationship between the two objects.
Add Functionality to your Application
To give your application functionality you will need to create processes and work flows via the Process Designer. The final outcome will look like a flow chart with Start and End Process labels with actions and decisions between them.
With Process Designer you can drag and drop elements, including your own objects onto the stage. This is interpreted as code by Iceberg.
You can create a new process by clicking the new process icon in the top left-hand corner of the screen. You can also make an event trigger a process by expanding an object and selecting New Event.
Iceberg lets you control the level of access a user or group gets. On the More tab select Roles; this will take you to the Manage Permissions page. The four categories you can control are: Profiles, Roles, Groups, and Access Lists.
If you'd like to learn more about Iceberg, visit http://www.learniceberg.com/. There are comprehensive documentation and video tutorials that can get you started with building Iceberg apps.
While this tool allows users with limited programming experience to build applications, do you think it is a viable substitute for hand-coding?