Low code platforms allow you to build custom web and mobile apps faster with minimal coding. Zoho Creator is one such intuitive low-code development platform that enables anyone to create business applications in a simplified, drag-and-drop manner.
With Zoho Creator, you can digitize workflows, automate processes, and develop solutions tailored to your business needs without writing thousands of lines of complex code. This platform is ideal for enterprises that want to empower their business teams to create apps independently.
In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into Zoho Creator – understanding what it is, its key capabilities, pricing, and how to get started building apps using the platform.
What is Zoho Creator?
Zoho Creator is a low-code application development platform by Zoho Corporation. It allows rapid development and deployment of web-based and mobile apps using a simple drag-and-drop interface and pre-built components.
With Creator, anyone in your organization – developers, business users or analysts – can build custom web and mobile apps tailored to your business processes with minimal coding knowledge.
Some key highlights of Zoho Creator:
Visual app builder: Enables drag-and-drop application development using pre-built components like forms, reports, charts, workflows etc.
Instant deployment: Apps can be instantly deployed to the cloud or on-premises.
Cross-platform apps: Apps work seamlessly across web, iOS and Android.
Pre-built templates: Several ready-made app templates for common business functions.
Secure access: Role-based access control, 2FA and other security features.
Scalable apps: Apps can be effortlessly scaled across teams and geo-locations.
Integrations: Seamless integration with databases, Zoho and third-party apps.
Open and extensible: APIs and source code access to extend platform capabilities.
In a nutshell, Zoho Creator empowers businesses to build scalable, cross-platform apps fast without coding complexity. It brings app development capabilities to business teams rather than just technical resources.
Key Capabilities and Benefits
Zoho Creator comes packed with an array of capabilities that enable app development teams to focus on solving business problems rather than getting bogged down in coding complexities.
Drag-and-drop app builder
The intuitive visual interface of Creator allows anyone to build web and mobile apps by simply dragging and dropping components like forms, views, charts, workflows onto a canvas. This speeds up app development significantly compared to traditional coding.
Forms can be used to capture information, views to visualize data, charts for analysis and workflows to automate business logic. Hundreds of built-in components are available across categories.
App deployment flexibility
Zoho Creator offers multiple deployment options for your apps:
Zoho cloud: Apps can be instantly deployed to Zoho‘s global cloud infrastructure.
On-premise: For more control, apps can be deployed on your own servers or infrastructure.
Hybrid: Certain components hosted on Zoho cloud while sensitive data remains on-premise.
This allows for deployment flexibility as per your preferences and security needs.
Access and share apps from anywhere
Since Creator apps can be built for both web and mobile, they can be accessed by users from anywhere through browsers or Zoho mobile apps.
Apps and app components like forms, reports etc. can also be easily shared via simple URLs with other users or made available on portals.
Rapid application development
Zoho Creator allows rapidly building functional prototypes and working apps. The pre-built templates and UI components help kickstart development.
Changes can be made on the fly to fine-tune apps during development without affecting existing applications. Apps can be iterated easily based on user feedback.
Seamless cross-platform experience
Apps built on Creator work seamlessly across platforms like web, iOS and Android without needing extra development effort. Users can switch between platforms without losing functionality or data.
Even offline capability is supported out-of-the-box for mobile apps along with features like barcode scanning, GPS tracking etc.
Scalable and extensible
Apps built on Creator can scale seamlessly across teams and geographic locations with its multi-tier architecture. Load balancing and failover mechanisms ensure apps remain available.
APIs provided allow extending platform capabilities by integrating with external services or legacy systems. Source code access also enables customization.
Zoho Creator provides enterprise-grade security capabilities for your apps including SSL/TLS encryption, two-factor authentication, role-based access control and IP restrictions.
Audit logs track all user activity for compliance reporting needs. Data isolation ensures customer data privacy.
Pre-built app templates
Zoho Creator offers several pre-built app templates for common business functions across verticals. Templates are available for CRM, HRMS, inventory management, IT helpdesk, invoices and more.
Teams can use these templates as a starting point for development rather than building from scratch. The templates can be easily customized to your needs.
Seamless integration with databases, cloud storage, Zoho products like CRM and Office Suite along with third-party apps is supported. This allows easy flow of data between Creator apps and external systems.
REST APIs along with deluge scripting facilitates integration. Pre-built connectors with services like G Suite, Office 365 etc. help accelerate development.
Reporting and analytics
Creator apps support an array of reporting formats like summary, matrix, pivot tables, calendars etc. for easy analysis. Charts and graphs can be incorporated into reports.
Apps can be integrated with Zoho Analytics enabling creation of rich, interactive dashboards for advanced insights.
Business process automation
The workflow builder enables automating business processes by modeling rules, approvals, notifications and actions. Logic like validations, calculations, lookups, branching can be configured without coding.
This brings structure, consistency and speed to business operations like employee onboarding, purchase approvals, lead assignment etc.
Customizable with deluge scripting
This allows adding complex logic or functionality not available out-of-the-box. Deluge skills further extend capabilities of the platform.
Zoho Creator Plans and Pricing
Zoho Creator is available in both monthly and annual subscription plans suitable for businesses of all sizes:
The Standard plan starts at $10 per user/month billed annually (or $12 month-to-month). It allows access to core Creator platform capabilities:
App development with forms, views, workflows etc.
Access via web, iOS and Android
Up to 2 apps
200 app forms
50 custom reports
Zoho SSO and 2FA
100 workflow rules
100 API calls/day
The Professional plan is priced at $20 per user/month billed annually (or $24 month-to-month) and adds advanced features:
Unlimited apps and forms
Unlimited custom reports
Unlimited workflow rules
Zoho Analytics integration
500 API calls/day
For larger, complex projects the Enterprise plan is recommended. It includes personalized onboarding, architecture reviews and technical support. Contact Zoho sales for Enterprise pricing.
Overall, Zoho Creator provides excellent value with capabilities comparable to platforms costing significantly higher. A free 14-day trial is available allowing you to test drive Creator.
How to Get Started with Zoho Creator?
Getting started with Zoho Creator to build your first app is quick and easy:
1. Signup for Zoho Creator account
Signup for a free Zoho account if you don‘t already have one. Then subscribe to Creator by choosing either the Free, Standard or Professional plan.
2. Launch Zoho Creator
Log into your Zoho account and click on the Creator icon to launch the web-based visual development environment.
3. Create an application
Within Creator, click on the "Create New App" button. You can choose to build an app from scratch, from a template or import data.
4. Build application UI
Drag and drop components like forms, views, charts, workflows onto the canvas to build your app UI. Connect components to create logic and workflows.
5. Integrate data
Connect to data sources like databases, Zoho CRM, spreadsheets or build your own forms to capture data. Bring data into your app.
6. Refine and test
Preview your app, gather feedback from users and refine it. Add security and access control settings.
7. Deploy application
Finally deploy your application on Zoho cloud or your own servers for end users to start using!
Refer to Zoho Creator documentation for more details on developing your first application.
Sample Apps Created with Zoho Creator
Here are some examples of the types of business applications that can be easily created on Zoho Creator:
- Helpdesk system – Manage customer tickets and support requests
- Sales CRM – Track leads, contacts and sales pipeline
- Purchase orders – Automate purchase order generation and approvals
- Contractor management – Onboard and manage external contractors
- Inventory management – Manage product inventory across warehouses
- Remote work – Applications to manage remote teams and WFH operations
- Inspections – Schedule and track site inspections on custom forms
- Event registration – Build registration and booking systems for events
- Compliance management – Applications to track internal compliance processes
- Appointment booking – Online scheduler for appointments and bookings
As you can see, Creator can cater to a wide variety of business application development needs.
Competitors and Alternatives
Some of the popular competitors and alternatives to Zoho Creator in the low-code development space are:
Appian – Leading low-code platform for large enterprises and complex workflows. More expensive.
Mendix – Focused on enterprises. Integrates well across systems. Steeper learning curve.
Outsystems – Visual development with good enterprise features. Partner ecosystem support.
Bubble – Code-free development. Limited custom coding capabilities.
Caspio – Cloud database + app development combo. Smaller customer base and community.
Knack – Browser-based. Very easy to start but less customizations.
Compared to the above platforms, Zoho Creator hits a sweet spot between ease of use, customizations and affordable pricing. The breadth of features and large user base also fosters an active community support.
Pros and Cons of Zoho Creator
Here‘s a quick look at some of the key advantages and limitations of the platform:
- Intuitive visual app builder
- Pre-built components and templates
- Cross-platform web and mobile apps
- Affordable pricing
- Scales from simple to complex apps
- Rapid deployment to cloud or on-premise
- Integrates well with other Zoho products
- Active community support
- Not ideal for highly process intensive apps
- Limited custom coding options
- Not many advanced governance features
- Third-party integrations need work
- Steep learning curve for complex builds
- Community support lacks for complex issues
Zoho Creator enables any business to build custom web and mobile apps fast without needing deep technical skills. Its drag-and-drop visual development, pre-built components and templates make app development accessible to non-coders.
For SMBs and mid-sized businesses, Creator offers a compelling low-code solution allowing you to digitize workflows and processes tailored to your specific business needs. The affordable pricing, strong community support and seamless integration with other Zoho apps provides an added advantage.
If you have been looking for a rapid application development platform that doesn‘t require an army of developers, Zoho Creator is definitely worth evaluating. Signup for a free trial to experience it yourself.