In this tutorial, you'll learn how to turn a simple Excel spreadsheet into an app. With the Open as App Wizard, you'll be able to turn the mass of calculations in your business into native apps. These can be simple calculators or complex offer calculations that you have (so far) done with Excel. Of course, the logic from the Excel file remains in the app and can be extended with additional functions.
How to build a calculation app for iOS, Android, and Windows in just 1 minute? Watch and learn in this short video:
App creation takes place in the web browser. Launch the free app creator by clicking on the "Create Your First App Now" button on our home page. www.openasapp.com or directly here:
The individual steps to your own app:
- How to start the app creation
- Select source file
- Select template
- Select relevant input and output cells
- Select design for your calculation app
- Publish app
- Run your app on mobile devices
The app created in this tutorial will consist of one input field and four results. Thus, four variables are calculated for the input number - just like in the Excel spreadsheet that serves as our source file. It is a very simple example, which is dedicated to giving you a "quick start".
Start app creation based on your Excel
Use Open as App to mobilize existing data sources, such as your Excel files or Google Sheets. We enable automated app creation from Excel or business systems with a cloud-based tool, which works without any programming knowledge of the user.
App creation takes place in the web browser. Start the App Creator by clicking on the "Create your first app now" button on our home page www.openasapp.com.
Alternatively, use this URL to go directly to the App Creator and start the free build process: https://www.openasapp.net/portal#!/apps/wizard/data
Step 1: Select the data source
Your app is based on data from your Excel file, Google Sheet, or third-party systems such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and many more.
In this example, we want to turn a Calculation that we currently do with Excel into an app. The data source (file) can come from the PC as well as a third party online storage - for example, an Excel in your Dropbox, your OneDrive / SharePoint Online, or a Google Sheet from your Google account.
For detailed information about which data sources you can use and where your file (spreadsheet) can be hosted, see the section: Data Selection.
- Now select the Excel calculation file you want to turn into an app.
After selecting the file, you will be automatically redirected to the next step in the app creation process.
We prepared some sample files (like the calculator in this tutorial). They are available for you online. Feel free to use them to train your skills. All files can be found below the data selection box where you select your data source (first step of the app creation process).
Of course, you can also start directly with your own Excel calculation.
Data security is our highest priority. For this reason, Excel files that are (optionally) hosted by us are stored protected from third parties in the Microsoft Azure West Europe Cloud. For details, see the article "What happens with my data?".
Step 2: Select template for the app
Based on the data in the Excel spreadsheet, the Open as App Wizard automatically suggests "Calculation" as the appropriate type for the app. This selection simplifies the rest of the design process for you because a calculation should have different capabilities than, for example, a tabular list of sales reps.
- Select the desired app template.
- Confirm the selection by clicking on the "Next" button at the bottom of the website.
Step 3: Select relevant input and output cells
Think of the app as a new front-end or mobile user interface for your Excel. What you do in the "Select cells" step is to specify which cells of your Excel you want to use and see in the app. It is not necessary to add all cells from Excel just because they are dealing with the calculation. It is sufficient to focus on relevant inputs and outputs. The logic of your Excel is completely preserved, as you will do nothing but use the cells in your Excel file with the app.
Now select the cells from your Excel that you want to see/control in the app.
- Select the cells you want to operate and see in your app from your spreadsheet.
Note that we automatically add captions to the cells, so it is not necessary to add the cells containing the value itself and the cell containing the description of it.
Just look at the preview on the left, when selecting the cells from your data source.
You can change the automatically set captions in the element's editor. To do so move the mouse over the element and click the pencil icon.
- Check the selection in the preview. If you already want to change something about the individual elements added here, move the mouse over the element, open the editor, and make the element-specific changes.
- Confirm the step with "Next".
You have shown the App Creator what input and result cells you want in your app. If you're converting complex calculations with many cells into an app, be extra careful not to forget a cell at this step.
The app should preferably contain input cells and some calculated cells (results).
After a few seconds, a first preview of your app will be displayed. This now shows the cells from your Excel document. In the next step, you can make further settings.
It should be noted that the label of the respective cell is automatically transferred from the Excel file, if this is arranged logically. In our example, the labels are taken from column A. For our proposal, the wizard looks to the left of the selected cell until it finds a text. Otherwise, it looks up until it finds a text. Otherwise, it takes "something".
Click "Next" to confirm the selection of cells for your calculation app.
Step 4: Choose a design for your calculation app
After you have defined the first content and logic for your app as much as possible, in this step you have the option to select one of the prepared themes for your app. Detailed changes can be made in the next design step.
- Select (optional) a theme and click "Next".
Advanced Design Process
In the second design step, you have many options to make your app even more professional - e.g. by adding a chart or making some optical changes.
This step is optional. You can always - even after the app has been published - make changes and make that instantly available on all devices.
For the sake of simplicity and because the app is basically done, we will just change the image at the top of our app (Top Area Image) and give the Excel spreadsheet app a personal touch.
Individual elements of the app are edited in the "Preview".
- In the preview, click the pencil icon for the item you want to edit. The icons appear as soon as you position your mouse cursor on it.
- Change the Top Area Image.
- Confirm the change with a click on the checkmark.
The special thing about Open as App is that you can edit all your apps at any time in the web portal. You work in the view that you see in the screenshot below. So, you'll have plenty of opportunities to "explore" this area and give your calculator app more features or make visual changes.
Step 5: Publish your App
In the last step of the app creation process, you can name your new app and add some additional information. Your app can be found under the name chosen here in the Open as App container application (iOS, Android, Windows, browser application). This name will also appear in the title bar of the app.
Each newly created app is initially visible just for you - as the creator and administrator. Nobody else has access to this app unless you explicitly invite him or her. How to manage access to your app is explained in more detail in this article: https://support.openasapp.net/hc/en-us/articles/208137385.
To publish your app (in private mode), do the following:
- Choose a name for your app.
- Add a short description of your app (optional).
- Click "Create my App" to complete the app creation.
You have transformed your Excel calculation into a native app that is now ready to use! Your app now runs on Android, iOS and, Windows and can be consumed and shared with colleagues, customers, and friends via the Open as App Container app.
If you are using Open as App for the first time (or you are not logged in), you will be asked to log in or create an account. Registration is quick and easy - and free of any costs!
Install the app on your smartphone or tablet
You'll receive an email with a link within seconds of being created that will direct you to your self-created app.
- Open the email on the device where you want to use the app.
- Click on the link.
- The host application (the "Open as App" app) will open your new app.
You can also send the installation link to yours via SMS. Click on "Start App" and enter your mobile number on the next screen. There is a QR code waiting for you as well.
To use your own app, the "Open as App" app must be installed on your device. Any apps you create will be available to you. If you have not yet installed the Host App on your device, download it from your App Store.
Open as App is, of course, free and available for iOS, Android and Windows.
- Download Open as App on your device. Links to the available versions can be found here: https://www.openasapp.net/get
Start App Creation Now
You saw a simple example of how to turn Excel spreadsheets into a mobile app step-by-step. Now take your offer calculator, cost calculator or other excel file that you would like to use in mobile mode and launch the app creation with Open as App here:
We invite you to start your career in "converting spreadsheets to apps" with a few simple examples. You can quickly get a feel for the Wizard and can increase daily from there.
No one is born a master.