With Open as App, you can mobilize your existing data sources like Excel files or Google Sheets within minutes. We enable automated app creation from Excel or business systems with a cloud-based tool that does not require any programming knowledge from the user.
This article will give you an overview of the individual steps from the Excel file to your own app. As with almost everywhere, Open as App also has the motto: Exercise makes the champion. We invite you to familiarize yourself with the individual steps in this article to speed up the learning process.
Do not forget that you can edit your app at any time in the web portal and the changes are available immediately in the app on your phone. This means you do not have to complete everything perfectly in the first run, but you can gradually make improvements, change settings, invite people to your app.
From the spreadsheet to the app
- Before you start: Prepare the source file
- Select data source
- Select worksheet and confirm file
- Determine the template for the app
- First design step
- Additional design process
- Publish your app
- Registration or Login
- Use your app
Before you start: Prepare the source file
The app creation already starts in your Excel spreadsheet. The cleaner the columns and cells are formatted there, the easier you will turn this file into an app. Format the cells according to their contents! Instead of writing "10%" as text to a cell, format it as a percentage to automatically add a "%" symbol to the 10. The same is true for currencies including symbols, text, date, decimal places, and so on... You want the values in a column to show the $ in front of the number? Format the cell accordingly in your Excel file.
With a clean formatting, you not only work more effectively, but also nearly error-free. By the way, you can make it easier for the wizard to adapt your app to your needs. It is not about colors or fonts in your file, but about the actual definition of the content. You can change the design of each element of your app on the Open as App web page.
For example, in the top line, you should include the column headings for your inventory list. These are also automatically recognized by the wizard and assigned to the individual values. You will gradually learn the individual steps and as already said - practice creates masters.
First, start the app creation with a look at the Excel file and make the first improvements, if necessary. You will find detailed information about the source file in the article "Do's and don'ts for your Excel Spreadsheet".
Select data source
In the first step of the app creation, you determine where the data for your app comes from. You can process a file stored locally on your PC, or a spreadsheet that you host in an external cloud (Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Sheets and some more), or in your corporate network.
In the "Choose your data source" step, you set the source file for the app creation process. You can find out what options are here and what happens with your file in the article "What happens to my data?".
Select the desired file from your PC, or click the icon of your cloud provider.
For detailed information about the individual choices and cloud providers, please refer to the "Choose your source file" section here: https://support.openasapp.net/hc/en-us/sections/202073925
Select worksheet and confirm the file
If your Excel file consists of several worksheets, you can choose which datasheet you want to start with. The Open as an App Wizard will analyze the architecture as well as the formatting of the selected worksheet and offer the appropriate suggestions for your app in the next step. This analysis is designed to make the initial app creation process easier. It does not mean that you cannot use data from the remaining worksheets.
Determine the template for the app
After the analysis (in which no content of your spreadsheet is read, only the architecture is considered), the wizard recommends different apps. The templates optimize the app creation process by adjusting individual steps. For example, you can make different basic settings for a list than for a calculation.
The template only determines the first creation process. It does not mean that you cannot combine different concepts like calculations, lists, and surveys. You can find out which templates are available in the article What is a template?".
The selection of the template removes many manual steps. For example, in the "List & Map" template, not only the recognized list is added as an element of your app, but an additional page is automatically created, which displays the data from the list data in a map.
The prerequisites for displaying the data in a map are the latitude and longitude values of the individual entries. See the following article for more information: https://support.openasapp.net/hc/en-us/articles/207919915.
As you can create unlimited apps with Open as App, we invite you to try out different types. You can also use our example files (sample files) and thus see the individual steps of converting different Excel files into apps.
The template is confirmed by clicking on "Next" in the "Select the type of your app" step. After that, the multi-stage design process can begin.
First Design Step
The step "design" will vary according to the template chosen. While you select individual input and output fields for calculations here, for lists you define the different views.
Please note that the step design consists of several individual steps and you can also add diagrams in the process, as well as edit the individual elements.
First design step for lists
On the "Select visible columns" page, you determine which columns you want to display in the app and in which order. The list element consists of different views which can be designed independently of one another:
- the list view - which is directly visible when the app is started,
- the detail view - which you open with a click on an entry to see the content from further columns,
- and the list analysis - with which you can add a filter function as well as an evaluation of the data in diagram form. For detailed information about the list analysis (formerly "Dynamic Dashboard"), please see this article: https://support.openasapp.net/hc/en-us/articles/206254844.
In this step you can already define whether the entries in the list view are to be grouped according to a column, according to which column they should be sorted and in which order.
There are additional options available for detail view and list analysis.
We have prepared a tutorial for you, which explains step by step how to create an inventory application. "Convert an Excel inventory list into app with dynamic dashboard".
First design step for calculations
On the Select Cells page, select the fields from your document that you want to see on the first page of your app. Later, you can add more pages and cells, and then move or redesign each element of your app in the second design step.
If your file consists of several worksheets and you want to display input / output cells from different worksheets of the source file on a page in the app, you can easily switch between the individual sheets and add the cells.
Note that when you add a cell, the Open as App Wizard automatically looks for a caption (title) for that cell. It is not necessary to add the input/output cell and the label cell to your app. In the second design step, you can easily change the captions, add additional headings, etc.
A separate tutorial is available for the calculation. Here you will learn how to create a license calculator with which you can send offers as a PDF file directly using the app. Create a license calculator with print functionality
Additional design process
Once the first content and logic for your app has been defined, in the second design step, you have the possibility to make further settings for your app. These can be optical changes to the elements - which can be done, for example, via the preview or under "Design & Info", or you can activate additional functions for your app. In the case of calculations, this can be, for example, the printing function, in the case of list elements, the possibility of editing or adding data to the source using the app.
Second design step for lists
For a list application, you have already defined most of your app by selecting the template and defining it in the first design step. After publishing, you can edit your app at any time in the web portal, add pages, elements, and features. For more information, see the section "Design your app".
Second design step for calculations
Calculators are usually the more complex apps compared to lists. Excel calculations consist of many input and output fields or diagrams. The second design step helps you make your app as effective as possible. Add additional pages to your app where you add additional input or output cells or diagrams. Visit https://support.openasapp.net/hc/en-us/articles/207232199 for a deeper insight into the app designer. There the individual elements are explained and you will learn how each of them can be edited individually.
Publish your App
In the final step of app creation, you name your app and can add a description. This is used, for example, for the invitation e-mails when you want to invite people to use your app.
Each newly created app is initially only visible to you - as a creator and administrator. No one else has access to this app unless you explicitly invite him or her. How to manage access to your app is explained in detail here: https://support.openasapp.net/hc/en-us/articles/208137385.
By clicking on the "Create your App" button, you officially create an app. Congratulations!
If you selected a file from your PC to create the app, a copy will now be saved in the Microsoft Azure West Europe Cloud from Open as App to serve as the source file for your app. Your file cannot be viewed or edited by third parties.
Registration or Login
You are not logged in or registered yet? Registration with Open as App is free!
The non-commercial use for private users as well as for extensive evaluation for companies, is free of charge and free of any time limitations. For more information about Open as App and how to digitize your spreadsheets, see the article "Welcome to Open as App".
Do you already have an Open as App account? Wonderful, then you know how it works.
Use your app
Now everything is ready and your app is waiting to be used.
New here? Your app will be opened and used with the "Open as App" app. "Open as App" is free for iOS, Android, Windows 10 devices, as well as available in the web browser. Download "Open as App" from your store and log in with your access data. The apps you create are placed in the "My Apps" section. Thanks to the use of this "container app" solution, your apps are instantly available on all platforms, and all changes can be rolled out in just a few seconds as an update on the devices of your users. This way, everyone is always up-to-date and you do not have to administer an app in the respective stores, which is an immense time and cost factor and puts additional stress on your IT.
Not sure how to download and use Open as App? Check out the article "Open as App | Download and Login".