What is AppSheet and when to leave it?
What is Appsheet? It’s a software designed to create apps powered by data stored on spreadsheets, bringing a much needed responsive interface to solutions like Google Sheets or Excel. The process of creating those apps is quite straightforward: you just have to connect a spreadsheet and AppSheet will try its best to put out an interface that works best for your kind of data. You can also refine this app later, doing things such as customizing the app’s logo or choosing the kind of format for each field (like date or text).
This can be a blessing for people who need to create a better front for their data fast, but often delay the transition from spreadsheets to true relational databases that companies scaling up have to embrace at some point. AppSheet’s relative ease of use paired with the lack of advanced customizing options may also mean it can be quite quick to set it up, but also just as quick to outgrow it.
Here are some warning signs of when AppSheet may not be the solution you need, and how Jestor may be the best appsheet alternative.
First, a brief summary:
Is Appsheet the best alternative for desktop?
If you’re using a solution like AppSheet, that’s probably because you want a mobile-friendly, responsive interface to a spreadsheet. And, in that regard, AppSheet certainly delivers.
However, it fails to accommodate desktop users by using the same UX/UI regardless of the device you’re accessing the app from. Google’s material design is omnipresent and very strongly enforced here: with all the positives and negatives this entails.
As such, using an app generated by AppSheet on desktop may not be as smooth as using it on mobile devices: it won’t really do much with the extra real estate a larger screen provides, and while material design is very optimized for touchscreen use, it doesn’t really translate well to desktop.
So while the mobile will look good:
Desktop may feel underwhelming in comparison.
This can be somewhat placated by customizing the app and tinkering with the different types of views, but make no mistake: this is a mobile-first, almost mobile-only experience. When you have a large part of office workers using laptops more frequently than the smartphone, sacrificing the desktop experience may not be the wisest choice regarding productivity.
Jestor brings a responsive interface that works great both on mobile devices and desktop screens, carrying the same experience across platforms while still delivering a responsive interface on mobile devices, something spreadsheets fail to do.
So while desktop users can use jestor efficiently with an intuitive and fluid interface:
Mobile users will have access to the same experience, but tailored to their screen sizes and without the finicky nature of spreadsheet cells:
You’re not wrong to want a good mobile interface. We believe mobile experience should be flawless, as we point out in this article, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice desktop usability for mobile excellence, that’s one of the reasons that makes jestor the best Appsheet alternative.
Why Appsheet is not a relational database
AppSheet uses one of your spreadsheets as a database in order to build an app. This can be a great feature for people wanting to power up their daily spreadsheets, but as we’ve mentioned before, this won’t fill the need for databases that growing companies eventually develop—and sometimes not even realize.
While spreadsheets can be used as makeshift databases, they are not built to do so. Information is not related, and rows don’t even need to contain grouped information. This means that while you can use a formula such as VLOOKUP to search a client’s name by his ID on a sale, you can’t actually relate the sale directly to the client, only copy his name. Also, spreadsheets are more often than not only one mistake or typo away from breaking down, either by breaking formulas or by dragging information to the wrong place.
True databases are more organized and more difficult to mess up than that, which is why when you’re scaling up (in revenue, complexity or number of team members) spreadsheets should not be your primary database. They’re too unreliable to be the backbone of growing companies.
While we’re at the subject of databases, as AppSheet uses a spreadsheet as your source of data, you’ll eventually run into some problems with this kind of integration:
- AppSheet will inherit some flaws inherent to spreadsheets, such as slowness when there are too many calculations or references on cells, or limitations on size/number of rows (though there are ways to circumvent this, you’ll probably hit AppSheet’s app size limit even before this particular spreadsheet limitation);
- AppSheet will need to sync with a spreadsheet to update/fetch data, which can take some considerable time when you have a lot of information on a file.
Jestor, however, is a relational database. This means:
- “Rows” on a table will follow a record structure, that is: the information contained in a row is always a group of data. You can’t drag things out of place;
- You can truly connect data, such as linking a particular sale to a client record (and see all the sales that are linked to that particular client just by accessing their record);
- Whatever you do on jestor, it automatically reflects on the database. Creating a field means not just a change on the interface, but on the database itself. Also, there’s no need to sync. Information is always up to date.
To find out more about why using true databases are vital to scaling up, check out this article.
Best alternative for Appsheet no-code
No-code is amazing. It empowers companies with no tech team to create their own solutions and automate their processes. We wholeheartedly encourage teams to get the most out of no-code. After all, this is an area in which jestor excels at.
However, sometimes you just need a little bit more. As your operation becomes complex, you may need to customize automations with complicated rules that no-code just can’t predict. Or you may need to send data to a solution that needs carefully tuned lines of code to integrate properly. You may even want to create a fully customized UI for a specific part of your platform (either by having a minimalistic interface to streamline processes or complex, feature-rich interfaces to allow full control).
In the above scenarios, the ability to code will be your best friend. Appsheet, however, has no way of allowing you to take this next step. By being ultra focused on providing no-code front interfaces to spreadsheets, AppSheet excels at delivering apps almost effortlessly, but fails to expand beyond this specific need.
In jestor, as well as having no code functions to create tables, dashboards, automations and integrations, you’ll also be able to create anything you want with low-code. You can create fully customized automations and integrations, and even create custom pages with back-end and front-end personalization.
This flexibility allows jestor to be an easy starting point for companies that just need to move from spreadsheets to databases, but also to become just as complex and scalable as necessary in future building sessions. No matter the stage the company finds itself, jestor can adapt itself to it being the best Appsheet alternative.
To find out more about why integrations and automations can boost your company to the next level, check out this article.
Why you can’t connect data on Spreadsheet Apps logic
The last thing to consider before using AppSheet is: do I need data to be connected and communicate with other parts of the company?
As your apps will be powered by spreadsheets, they’ll always be limited by whatever is contained in that spreadsheet. This may work fine when you need to create an app for Sales and an app for Finance, but it can become cumbersome, and sometimes outright impossible, to create spreadsheets in a way all of your company’s information is organized and connected.
This leads companies to create multiple spreadsheets that sometimes have duplicate information, which can lead to situations where one spreadsheet has up-to-date data and the other one doesn’t. Or, sometimes, a spreadsheet just may not have the information you’ll need one day, because it’s on a different spreadsheet restricted to another area of the company.
The separate apps and spreadsheets logic is similar in results to the workspace logic that some software use, and can lead to segregate data and less than optimal analytics.
Jestor, however, ditches this logic so you can use it as a company-wide platform. Any table on jestor can access any other table (provided, of course, that the user has access to it). This lets you make analyses that use information from any part of jestor, letting you build more insightful charts and indicators, as well as other types of components which is the best appsheet alternative to create real solutions.
While AppSheet has some cool components for dashboards, the lack of one true source of data for your company will not allow you to create dashboards with shared data, a much necessary feature to boost your team’s productivity on their daily routines.
To find out more about why everyday analytics are so powerful, check out this article.
Best alternative for Appsheet user based price
AppSheet comes with two pricing models:
- User based: applies to “Secure” apps, that is, when you’re creating apps in which you have confidential or sensitive information and need to control who has access to them. As most software, it charges per user/mo;
- App based: applies to “Public” apps in which you have no sensitive information and anyone can have access to it. In this type of plan, you pay a fee per app.
While this may give you a semblance of scalability, in reality it may become costly very fast depending on your usage. This is because while one model seems to be aimed at internal teams and the other at external users, in reality what you’re choosing here is level of security. And, if you’d like the same level of security for external users, you’ll have to subscribe to the “Secure” plan anyway, which means paying a premium price for the external users.
There are some niche use cases in which “Public” is fine, of course, such as collecting data on surveys or displaying non-sensitive information such as events or store addresses. But, if you want something like a shared app for your team and your clients, “Secure” is probably the way to go.
Jestor’s pricing model, however, is designed around usage. This means that you can add as many users as you want in any plan—even the free one. Also, information will always be private: the only people who’ll have access to your data are the people you invite to your jestor.
This pricing model solves the problem of paying a premium price for users who may not even do a lot inside the platform. Logging in and viewing information is not considered an action, so users that only have to look up things every once in a while won’t even register as usage: you can have as many of those as you want for no extra cost.
Team members, clients, suppliers, consultants: jestor encourages you to use the platform however you like it and will scale on usage, that is, on how much it’s helping you, instead of paying for how many people can use it regardless of what they’re going to do with their access. Jestor also has unlimited records per table, which means there’s no need for workarounds or splitting information into separate spreadsheets when they reach their maximum size making it the best Appsheet alternative.
To find out more about why usage based models are the way to go for growth oriented companies, you can check out this article.
Verdict – Appsheet is scalable?
AppSheet is a great solution that can provide dedicated apps to empower spreadsheets almost effortlessly. as such, it can be really useful to breathe extra life into your spreadsheets or improve their usability on mobile devices. Also, AppSheet is one of the best solutions if what you’re trying to do is build simple apps entirely no-code and spreadsheets will suffice as makeshift databases.
However, this laser-focused on ease of use and what you can do with it may cause you to need a different, more robust solution when your operation grows more complex and spreadsheets just don’t cut it anymore. After all, if your company’s back office is outgrowing spreadsheets, it’s probably outgrowing situations in which AppSheet may be ideal.
Jestor’s fully customizable platform, low-code features and true relational database can cover most of the bases AppSheet may let you down. So, if you need to create an app to empower spreadsheets for specific uses (such as public surveys), use AppSheet.
If you need to move away from spreadsheets and need to take your processes to the next level, use jestor. And, of course, you can always integrate both to take advantage of both software’s strengths and create a solution tailored to your needs. For example, you could create a simple app with AppSheet to collect data that feeds into a Google Sheet file, and then integrate that spreadsheet with jestor to receive that information on your account, where you can create dashboards or use that data to run your back office processes with all the advantages of jestor’s tricks and relational database.
What’s the best Appsheet alternative?
When your company grows, you need a platform that is designed for growth. If you need full control and data reliability, why don’t you give jestor a spin and schedule a tour?