Our editors here at Small Business Trends saw a segment on Fox News a while back in which Pete Khanna, CEO of Trackvia was interviewed. He spoke about Wired Magazine using the Trackvia service to create an app. But what got our attention was Pete’s assertion that “it’s so easy you can build it yourself.”
So we decided I would sit down and, using the free trial offer, attempt to build a Small Business Trends article assignment app. Was Trackvia really as easy as Khanna claimed? Here’s what I found.
I have to be totally honest and say that I needed help from the company. Sometimes when confronted with a new technology tool like this, my brain shuts down. So I asked Trackvia to give me some pointers, and they were only too happy to oblige. But when employee Dan Lopez started to show me how to use Trackvia, I realized how utterly simple it all really was. And I felt foolish for not getting it myself in the first place. Trackvia’s support staff are truly second-to-none.
Trackvia gives you a web-based service where you can set up an unlimited number of applications. These applications reside on the Trackvia servers. However, the company has told me that a white-label option (where you can brand with your own colors and logo) is something that is “in the works.” An unlimited number of people can be given user logins and permissions within the account. This means they can log in and use the apps that the company has built anytime.
When you hear the word “app,” it’s easy to assume (as I did) that it’s a smartphone-based app you’re building. But it’s not – at least not at the moment – again this is something in the works. Right now, it’s all web-based.
Constructing The App’s Foundations
I had been asked to make a new article assignment database for Small Business Trends. So first we needed to give the app a name. “Automatic Assignments Database” was the one I chose.
Then it was time to start constructing the app “table” (the columns of the app containing the information for our article assignments). I named this simply “Article Assignments” so that I would have a place on the Trackvia site to work on the new app.
Dragging & Dropping The Columns
The beauty of Trackvia is that you can set up fields simply by dragging and dropping what you need. In case you are not familiar with the term “field,” it is simply the box in which each piece of information goes. So, there’s the name field, the date field, and so on.
There are three columns on the screen. Far left, are all the possible fields you can have. The middle column is where you drag with your mouse all the fields you want to use. The far right column is where you see the settings for each field.
So, looking at the left, just decide which fields you want and move them to the middle column. When they are there, you need to rename them to whatever you want.
You can specify whether filling in a field is required or not. For example, you can say that in the finished app, the user must enter a name and date. But the rest of the fields may not need to be filled in if there is no relevant information. This way, you can make sure that the most important and relevant data is always entered.
Test Your App
Once you have all the fields in place, test your app to be sure it works to your expectations. This is what our app would more or less look like :
Trackvia spokesman Greg Thomason told Small Business Trends that Trackvia is being used by about 2,000 businesses. Pricing is a simple $10 per user per month.
“We don’t have specific demographic stats as to company locations or company size because we deal in an extremely wide-open space. We have customers managing their brick and mortar operations with 10 employees all the way up to multi-billion dollar fortune 500 companies. The real power behind TrackVia is its flexibility.”
Thanks for reviewing this, Mark, and showing the screenshots of the process too. Is it something you can see Small Business Trends using in the future?
Well we already have our own internal system, so I don’t know. If any changes are going to be made, it would be management’s decision. I am just Mr Shakespeare writing the articles. 🙂
(chuckles at Mr Shakespeare reference) 🙂
OK. I hear you, Mr S! Was just curious.