Create your web apps in 5 minutes – Seriously!!

Yesterday I created what will hopefully be the last 4.x release of Phosphorus Five. It’s a BETA release of the upcoming “5th Amendment release”, and it contains one kick ass cool new app; Camphora Five. Camphora Five allows you to literally create your web apps, without ever having created as much as a single line of code, in your entire life.

An example of an app created with Camphora Five. More specifically, a “TODO list” application.

Camphora Five allows you to declare a bunch of columns, for then to use your app declaration to “generate” a new database driven, interactive, CRUD web app. CRUD translates into “Create, Read, Update and Delete”, and just so happens to be 80% of any domain problem, almost regardless of what your domain is – Assuming you’re interested in collecting data.

An alternative to Excel for gathering data

If you have ever used Excel to collect data, you would probably be very pleased with Camphora Five. It basically creates a database for you, using your “app declaration”, allowing you to Create, Read, Update, and Delete your data, from anywhere you are in the world. It works perfectly on iPhone, Android, tablets, and your computer. Hence, with Camphora Five you can create a web app to collect data, and have access to it from anywhere you are in this world.

Arguably, if you’ve solved “CRUD”, you have solved 80% of any problem related to software development. This is because at its core, our computers were built to help us collect data, store data, retrieve data, and then later analyse that data. Camphora Five commoditises all of these problems, except the “analyse” parts. Hence if you can declare what type of data you want to collect, you can arguably create 80% of any apps in the world. And it requires no more than 5 minutes, literally, to create your app. Below is a screenshot of how it looks like as you create your apps.

When creating your app, you’re expected to fill out a handful of different options, and declare your columns, for then to click “generate” – At which point you have a brand new web app, working on any device capable of displaying HTML.

You can also easily export your data to and from Excel or Numbers, using the CSV file format. This allows you to create an app which you use to gather your data, for then to export your data to Excel for doing whatever it is you’re normally doing in Excel – Or Numbers for Mac OS.

There’s a bunch of different types of fields to choose from when you create your app. Single line textbox input, multiline textbox input, checkbox fields, radio button select fields, select dropdown fields, etc. And the type of field you choose, defines which type of form input control is being used to edit and create your data values. Below is a screenshot showing you how you declare your fields, and their associated types.

Declaring your fields as you create your Camphora Five apps.

Camphora has a couple of really kick ass cool features. Obviously there’s a search interface, to filter items, in addition to the ability to sort your items according to any columns you have in your app. However, one features I am particularly proud of is the ability to use #hash-tagging if you create a “Multiline text” type of field. This allows you to hash tag items, for then to later filter according to items containing your hash tag. This feature works roughly the same way that Twitter works like, allowing you to specify only items tagged with a specific hash tag.

In addition, a multiline text field can also handle Markdown. This allows you to supply basic formatting to your items, creating bulleted lists, bold text, etc, as you create and edit your items. The multiline text type of field, also automatically recognises URLs, and turns them into hyperlinks for you. Below is a screenshot of how it will look like as you create a new data item in Camphora, depending upon how you choose to create your app – Obviously!

Creating a new data item in a Camphora Five application.

Camphora Five will also automatically create a “never ending scrolling experience” for your CRUD apps. This feature will automatically “feed” your datagrid with more items, as you scroll to the bottom of your page. Allowing you to easily keep on viewing items from your database, without even having to click a button. Yet again, kind of like the way Twitter works.

Have your cake, eat it, and sell it, all at once

Camphora Five basically allows you to put an Excel file online, allowing multiple people to edit your file, for then to later export it back to Excel if you wish, and handle the data in Excel. You can also create an app where anonymous guests are allowed to view your data. In fact, you can configure your app to allow also anonymous guests edit your data too – Although I am not sure why you would want the latter to be honest with you. This allows you to publicly expose any data you have, to anyone you wish to show this data to. And you can control who gets to see the data and who gets to edit it.

Importing items to your Camphora Five application, is as easy as dragging and dropping an Excel file (CSV format) into your browser.

When you’re done, if you want to apply additional features to your apps, this is quite easily accomplished if you wish. Since the “generator” actually creates a fully fledged Phosphorus Five module for you, which you can later edit as you see fit. This allows you to add additional features to your app, or skin it as you see fit, if you know some basic Hyperlambda or HTML and CSS. If you don’t know Hyperlambda or CSS/HTML, we’re of course available to help you out with this, for a fee.

Create €13,000 in 5 minutes

I once had an acquaintance in Norway (which I will not mention the name of), who bragged about that he had created a simple CRUD app, wrapping an existing database for a customer. He billed his customer €13,000 for this app. He was laughing as he told me the story, because he had “only” spent 12 hours creating this web app. With Camphora Five I could have created that app in literally 5 minutes. And the results would have been far superior, with dozens of additional features.

A Camphora Five app, would have outperformed the app that costed the customer €13,000, and this Camphora Five app would have taken no more than 5 minutes to create

Facts are, I have seen consultants create web apps, hundreds of times in my own career, that could easily be created in 5 minutes with Camphora Five. Sometimes these consultants have charged hundreds of thousands of dollars, and sometimes they weren’t even able to deliver a result, even after years of working on these apps. If these same consultants were using Camphora Five, they could have finished their web app in literally 5 minutes.

Getting started

The easiest way to getting started with Camphora Five is to run my installation script on a Ubuntu web server, for then to install Camphora Five through the “Bazar”. This process is a 3 liner, and requires about 5-10 minutes, assuming you have an existing Ubuntu web server somewhere.

The alternative is to download the source, run it in Visual Studio/Xamarin/MonoDevelop, for then to (yet again) visit the Bazar, and install Camphora Five. If you choose the latter, you’ll have to manually make sure you’ve got MySQL installed, in addition to some GnuPG wrapper, to handle your PGP keys. Camphora Five relies upon MySQL to function, and you might have to manually edit your “web.config” file if you choose this route, to make sure your MySQL password/connection string is accurately configured. GnuPG is also necessary, since the core of Phosphorus Five is heavily relying upon cryptography, when for instance downloading apps in the Bazar etc. I use “GPG Keychain” on my Mac OS, but there exists good GnuPG wrappers for both Windows, Linux and Mac.

The latter route allows you to test out Camphora on your development box, in addition to checking out its source – Which yes, you guessed it, is 100% Free and Open Source Software! So what are you waiting for?

Start creating apps worth literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in literally 5 minutes

Some examples of apps you can create with Camphora Five are given below.

  • Library database
  • Movie database
  • Inventory tracking
  • Customer list
  • Emails (for marketing purposes)

Basically, any app where you want to Create, Read, Update and Delete data items from a database, could be easily created with Camphora Five – Although it doesn’t feature “referential integrity” yet, hence any Camphora Generated app is based upon a single database table at the time being.

Yet still, I don’t think I have a single friend that doesn’t need to create their own Camphora Five app, for some purpose. My sister used to collect old vinyl records. She would have a book, which she used to track more than 3000 records with. If she had used Camphora Five to create her app, she could have thrown her book.

Another example is a friend of Lisbeth, which is an ornithologist. He collects data about birds, using old style pen and paper. When he comes home, he has to manually type in this data into some “bird database”, such that the Norwegian government can keep track of its bird population. Every single day he spends at least one hour doing this manual labour. If he had used Camphora Five, or more specifically his employer had used Camphora Five, he could have spent one hour more out in the woods, every single day, observing birds.

Any landlord having multiple rental apartments needs Camphora Five. I once went to look at an apartment, because I was looking to rent a new place. The guy who owned this complex had 25-50 different apartments. As we were going through the details, he took a piece of paper out of his pocket, looking like it was printed with Excel. If he had used Camphora Five, he could have had that database online, and such easily being able to filter, search, and view the latest updated data, contrary to the old piece of paper he was looking at.

In fact, I need Camphora Five myself. When I am done with the “5th Amendment Release” of P5, I will create a “Howto Hyperlambda” database myself, which I will use to create an app, allowing people to easily search my database of FAQ, to figure out how to solve some specific thing in Hyperlambda.

I don’t think I could mention a single human being on the planet, that would not benefit one way or another, from having Camphora Five, and use it to create some data driven web app. In fact, if you’re an Eskimo, and you’re hunting seals, and you want to keep track of which places the best hunting grounds are, and how many seals you are able to hunt – Guess what; Camphora Five does that!

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