Sunday, May 9, 2021

Building a Simple Mobile App on Glide

Glide ( specializes in providing users with a quick and easy way to turn their Google Sheets spreadsheet into a mobile app. I should mention that Glide has now added the option to use their internal data tables instead of Sheets, but I decided to go ahead and build my app with Google Sheets as my data source. The app itself is a basic reminder application, to keep track of appointments, projects, articles, or anything that I might want to explore further. Creating the app went like this: 
  • I went to my Google Sheets account, created a blank spreadsheet, and added six fields: Keywords, date added, target date, description, location/source, and image. The "keywords" field contains words that relate to specific types of items in the database: blog posts, no-code platforms and tools, sports, space exploration, medical technology, volunteer projects, animal rescue, and so on. The "date added" is self-explanatory, "target date" refers to something like a deadline date or the date of an appointment, "location/source" could be a URL, business address, or the name of a contact, and the "image" field could be a picture of a product, a map, or a screenshot of an app.
  • Once the spreadsheet was set up, I entered several sample records in order to have some data for Glide to work with: 

  • Next, I signed up for a free account on Glide. A free account allows you to create mobile apps, but you're limited to 500 rows of data and 1,000 sheet updates (changes to your Google Sheets spreadsheet), plus your app is public (open to everyone).
  • After I signed up the "new app" screen displayed (you can either click the "+" sign to start from scratch or you can choose to start from a template): 

  • I clicked the plus sign, which brought up the option to use Google Sheets as my data source or use Glide's new internal tables: 

  • Next, I selected "Google Sheets" as my data source, clicked "Continue", and chose "ReminderDB" as the spreadsheet I wanted to use. Glide connected to my spreadsheet, formatted my app to fit the sample data, and displayed the  result on the design canvas: 

  • Clicking on any of the 3 reminders on this screen (the "List" screen), automatically displayed the "Details" screen for that reminder: 

  • Glide added basic navigation automatically (note the back arrow on the details screen), along with a search box. And by checking a couple of boxes you can allow users to edit and/or delete entries. Clicking the pencil icon on the details screen brings up the "edit" screen, which also has a button that lets you delete the item being edited: 

  • In addition, there were some other options that could be added easily, such as grouping the list items by a particular data field. 
  • You can also add various "actions" to the app, such as composing an email, opening a hyperlink, playing a sound, and so on.
Overall, it was easy to build a simple app with Glide, and there were a number of other things I could have done with it. However, I stopped at this point for two reasons: 
  •  One, the responsiveness of the app isn't great at times (which is understandable since it's constantly accessing an outside source in Google Sheets).
  • Two, using Glide's internal tables would avoid the responsiveness problem, but if you have a considerable amount of existing data there's no straight-forward way (at least that I could find) to import that data into Glide's tables.
I did like working with Glide though, and once they address the import problem it would be one of my top choices for building mobile apps.

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