Should I turn these simple programs into *apps*?
April 4, 2012 3:55 PM   Subscribe

Dear Chaps, I have two products, an Excel spreadsheet and a Filemaker Pro database. The excel spreadsheet is for sale to mortgage brokers. It's the kind of thing designed for a user to enter figures and get all kinds of graphs and information based on the data entered. The other is a contact manager database, again designed as an easy-to-use program for the end user. Does it make sense to turn these products into iPhone/Android/Cloud-based apps, and what would be the next steps in doing so? In other words, what exactly would I be turning them into, and whom would I outsource this job to, if it makes economical sense?
posted by DesmondDoomsday to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Spreadsheet: are these graphs and aggregate information something the user would need when away from his desk/out at the field? The iPhone display is small and limited compared to what you get on the desktop, and the device isn't really good for lots of data entry. Think about how often you need this information right at your fingertips. Might make sense on an iPad/tablet device though. You'd want an iOS developer with experience working with graphing packages.

"Cloud" is a pretty nebulous term, if you'll forgive the pun. You might want a server/web based solution though if multiple people maintain/view a single spreadsheet. Here you'd want a competent database architect, PHP/Rails/ASP.NET programmer with experience with graphing packages. Unless you're supporting tens of thousands of users with terabytes of information and have/need a linearly scalable system with automatic redundancy... the "Cloud" isn't for you.

Either way, your logic and layout in Excel will not be directly useable. Your programmer will have to translate it to another language/system. Which means building the thing from the ground up using your spreadsheet as only a guide.

Contact Manager: the big question for me is, "What does this do that the builtin Address Book doesn't do?" If all you want to do is sync contacts among multiple users then you should tie everything to an Exchange server and be done with it.

Assuming there are significant advantages to using your contact manager, FileMaker has a new version out that claims to produce mobile apps from your projects. So in theory it should be easy.
posted by sbutler at 8:13 PM on April 4, 2012

Response by poster: I thank you for these answers! So in the case of the Excel spreadsheet, is it still the norm to sell these in places where you find well-programmed Excel spreadsheets for a few dollars? That marketplace just seems outdated in this age of "app stores".
posted by DesmondDoomsday at 6:24 PM on April 5, 2012

Best answer: That I don't know. Good luck though!
posted by sbutler at 10:54 PM on April 10, 2012

Best answer: Turns out I was being short-sighted. What we're doing is not converting but "re-imagining" the products in these new ways!
posted by DesmondDoomsday at 1:16 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

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