On January 27, 2020, Google announced that it would be sunsetting the App Maker product. This announcement shocked many, especially the organizations that have used App Maker to rebuild legacy applications, create custom business applications, and take their core processes to the cloud.
Understandably, this announcement triggered a significant response, including a lot of frustration and even outrage from many Google customers and partners alike.
So, what is App Maker, and why has the decision to retire it caused so much angst?
App Maker is G Suite’s low-code development environment and was included with G Suite Business and Enterprise editions, as well as with G Suite for Education.
A low-code development tool typically provides business users with the capabilities to build simple applications themselves using drag and drop interfaces and only requires coding for more complex functionality.
App Maker delivered this with Google positioning it as a tool for organizations to fill gaps — or, more specifically, to replace existing manual processes and expand their scalability.
The volume of uptake around App Maker was not groundbreaking nor was it what Google was hoping for; however, for many enterprises App Maker was exactly what they were looking for.
These organizations spent a lot of time and effort designing, building, and rolling out apps using this tool. These are the most vocal in their consternation with the announcement of the shutdown.
In close proximity to this announcement came the news of Google's acquisition of AppSheet. While App Maker was low code, AppSheet is a no-code, mobile-first development platform.
There will likely not be full feature parity between the two offerings, which means that not all App Maker apps will be able to be recreated, or ported, in AppSheet.
Google has communicated to customers that in addition to AppSheet, AppEngine custom development and Google Forms could also be considered as day-forward alternatives to App Maker.
In combination, this level of uncertainty, coupled with the short transition period between the announcement and the effective end of life, which is one year, is an unwelcome surprise for the organizations that previously committed to App Maker.
But the end of life marker is not the only key date to be aware of.
As of April 15, 2020, existing users will no longer be able to create new App Maker apps, essentially ceasing the ability for users to innovate in this space from that point onwards.
Existing apps will continue to work until January 19, 2021, at which time they will cease to operate. However, any data stored in Cloud SQL will not be affected.
Despite not being able to create new apps, users will at least be able to take almost one whole calendar year to migrate their existing applications to a new environment. This is a critical decision that should not be rushed.
Many organizations are looking at this enforced change as an opportunity to completely evaluate how they are building apps and the value that they get from them — rather than looking for a quick-and-dirty fix to the problem.
Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing feedback from existing App Maker users, Google Partners, and, of course, our own internal team, specifically around how they are proposing to replace App Maker.
In addition, we will look at the questions you need to ask when exploring alternatives to App Maker and how factors such as application agility, ongoing support, and integration to G Suite should play into that decision process.
The old saying goes, “With adversity comes opportunity.” 2020 now provides the platform (no pun intended) to ensure that the demise of App Maker is not the end of an era but the beginning of something even better for your organization.