discussion / Software and Mobile Apps  / 1 February 2018

Using app-building tools for conservation monitoring

Hi all,

Here at FFI's marine team we've been trialling the use of app-building platforms to create bespoke mobile-based data entry apps. We've mostly used them to build simple interfaces to, for example, monitor fish catches and collect Knowledge, Attitudes and Pratices household survey responses. All apps we've made are at testing, rather than implemented, stage. 

The platforms we've explored are AppSheet and Microsoft's PowerApps; both use some format of web-shared spreadsheet (e.g. Office 365 Excel, Google Sheets etc.) as the back-end database and, as long you set the sheet up to be relational, the platform does the rest and codes you an app that you access through their app portals which are downloadable for iOS, Android etc. 

I can see that there will be issues in the future with user management and users trying to change the back end spreadsheet rather than the schema, but overall, it's been a really easy set-up. (Next step field-based testing!!). Images from a dummy Madagascar fish catch monitoring app made in AppSheet attached...

Would be really interested to hear others' experience with these tools - do's, don'ts, challenges etc...

Hi @djscrazyhorse 

I've been looking at a similar thing. I actually decided against it in the end, and instead to take a tack of developing a solution for a particular niche.

I just published an article about the thought process here:


Would love to hear your thoughts.


Any reason you went with those particular App Builder solutions, out of interest?