Want to create a simple iPhone app for personal use - can I do it: cheaply, with little to no coding, etc?

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synthfan23
Posts: 175
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2019 11:36 am

Want to create a simple iPhone app for personal use - can I do it: cheaply, with little to no coding, etc?

Post by synthfan23 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:15 am

So, I have a few small IOS / iPhone apps I'd like to create for personal use. While I've scripted in several languages: Python, Perl, and PowerShell; and dabbled in C, Pascal, and Lisp--I am *not* a software developer. Nor do I wish to become one (although I envy the Ninja Skills Software Developers possess--but it's a Different Universe / Sphere of Work from what I've done: namely GIS Analysis, Systems Administration, and Database Administation--"I think in tables (tuples).

Anyway, are there any IOS drag-and-drop IDEs that would enable me to get to, say, 65% of my requirements? Which are the best? Which offer free or cheap trials? And how do I ensure

Frankly I'd rather find a pre-existing Open Source app and modify it rather than Roll My Own From Scratch. Again, these mini-apps aren't for public consumption. They're just for me--for giggles, personal productivity, and as a catalyst for writing. And to aid my syrupy brain in conversation since I don't think well on my feet or buttocks.

Some Use Cases / Requirements / Rough Outline of what I'm trying to achieve / Pseudo-Requirements
(I don't think what follows could be called pseudo-code; could it?):

1.0: Launch app & it presents a grid of 9 Named Category Buttons (NCBs)


2.0: Touching a NCB would lead to another grid of NCBs; which in turn would lead to a third & final NCB grid. Nesting = 3 max.

What was that popular web design book from the 90s? "Don't Make Me Think?" Well yeah, that's what I'm after--having my iPhone help me think through minimal / intuitive / quick navigation.

3.0: Once the "terminal" NCB is touched here's what I want to happen:

3.1: User is randomly presented with a word or phrase, a definition, and 1-3 randomized "examples of usage in a sentence

Bonus Features / Wish List:
BF01: Ability to Favorite an item and/or example usage then access these later
BF02+: <dunno what these are yet; haven't had enough coffee>

Reminders:

A) While I have deep respect and admiration for SW Developers I'm not presently interested in becoming one; perhaps just learning enough basic IOS app development to tweak a pre-existing app.

B) I don't have a lot of bux for this; it's a personal hobby project that I, at least at the time of this writing, do not intend to monetize; although it could be fun to release on the App Store to see if others find my apps useful | humorous | etc.

Final Note / Alternatives:

A dear friend suggested that, rather than create an app, that I create a web app which uses "heavy caching" to achieve my ultimate objective(s). What say you BH Community? Please be Kind. Rewind (?). Warm Regards - SF23

stan1
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Re: Want to create a simple iPhone app for personal use - can I do it: cheaply, with little to no coding, etc?

Post by stan1 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:42 am

Have you looked at Apple's Shortcuts?

You haven't mentioned this but one problem is getting said app onto the phone. Apple doesn't let you just do that. You'd have to be a registered developer & go through Apple processes, or find a phone/OS you can jailbreak. I don't know if Shortcuts can do what you want but its available on the platform which gives it some advantages. May depend on what flexibility you give yourself.

Also Pythonista is a python development environment for iPhone.

Topic Author
synthfan23
Posts: 175
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2019 11:36 am

Re: Want to create a simple iPhone app for personal use - can I do it: cheaply, with little to no coding, etc?

Post by synthfan23 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:26 am

Wow, thanks! You said the magic word: PYTHON. If I had to choose a language to learn right now it would by Python because:

A) It's commonly used in Data Science / Analytics

B) It's the automation scripting language ESRI uses for ArcGIS (not that I use ESRI products these days; I'm a QGIS / GRASS Man)

C) Finally a language I can settle on for RasPi projects; can finally open the CanaKit my wife gave me for XMAS like 3 yrs ago.

Wish you could use Python to program Arduinos. Can you? Or is it C and/or C++ only; no way am I doing C ever again. Once was enough)

In other words, great multi-purpose language that I'd strongly consider re-learning. And I can remain Procedural or go OOP. My choice--at least the Last Time I Checked. :-)
Last edited by synthfan23 on Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:47 am, edited 3 times in total.

bluebolt
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Re: Want to create a simple iPhone app for personal use - can I do it: cheaply, with little to no coding, etc?

Post by bluebolt » Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:29 am

stan1 wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:42 am
Have you looked at Apple's Shortcuts?

You haven't mentioned this but one problem is getting said app onto the phone. Apple doesn't let you just do that. You'd have to be a registered developer & go through Apple processes, or find a phone/OS you can jailbreak. I don't know if Shortcuts can do what you want but its available on the platform which gives it some advantages. May depend on what flexibility you give yourself.

Also Pythonista is a python development environment for iPhone.
I'm pretty sure you can deploy an app to your own device without being an Apple Developer (though you can't submit to the App Store).

Apple's new SwiftUI (coming with iOS 13) looks to be pretty straightforward to use for simple apps.

A web app is pretty straightforward as well. You'd likely need to learn some JavaScript framework for that (like Vue). You'd also need to pay for some hosting, but that's super cheap.

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jhfenton
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Re: Want to create a simple iPhone app for personal use - can I do it: cheaply, with little to no coding, etc?

Post by jhfenton » Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:56 am

bluebolt wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:29 am
I'm pretty sure you can deploy an app to your own device without being an Apple Developer (though you can't submit to the App Store).
This is true. You can individually load apps compiled in Apple's free Xcode IDE onto your own iOS/iPadOS device.
bluebolt wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:29 am
Apple's new SwiftUI (coming with iOS 13) looks to be pretty straightforward to use for simple apps.
+1 SwiftUI is going to make a lot of UI elements much easier to manage. (But I haven't had time to play with it yet.)

The UI and functionality that the OP describes would not be very difficult to build in Xcode. You can build a UI in Xcode via drag and drop, but there is still coding needed to tie actions to UI elements. Given the OP's background, a few hours with online courses might be enough to get started.

Unfortunately, I haven't seen (or looked for) any other iOS IDEs beyond Xcode.

(The references to C, Pascal, and Lisp take me back to high school and college days--also COBOL, FORTRAN, and RPG, at least in high school. I coded a linguistics project junior year of college in Lisp, but I haven't used it since.)

MrBeaver
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Re: Want to create a simple iPhone app for personal use - can I do it: cheaply, with little to no coding, etc?

Post by MrBeaver » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:04 am

synthfan23 wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:15 am
can I do it?
Yes
synthfan23 wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:15 am
Cheaply?
Yes. Xcode is free. Assuming you have an iPhone, all it will cost you is time. As others have said, SwiftUI would be a good place to start, although you will need to be prepared to align to a moving target, as it won't necessarily be a consistent and stable API and may change with each release for a while.
synthfan23 wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:15 am
With little to no coding?
No, but if you have time, given your background it may be a fun endeavor.


In this particular case though, there are a ton of vocabulary training apps and flashcard apps with vocabulary sets already available for cheap or free. Have you tried them to see if they would suit your needs?

Having a project you care about is one of the best ways to learn a new tool, but sometimes it's more rewarding to not reinvent the wheel and ensure you pick a project you really care about where creating it yourself is really the best option.

Topic Author
synthfan23
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Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2019 11:36 am

Re: Want to create a simple iPhone app for personal use - can I do it: cheaply, with little to no coding, etc?

Post by synthfan23 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:44 am

Processing. Thanks to all for now. Will report back in 7 days or less.


rj342
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Re: Want to create a simple iPhone app for personal use - can I do it: cheaply, with little to no coding, etc?

Post by rj342 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:19 am

Question Zero:

Do you have a Mac to develop on?

Android apps you can develop anywhere, but not iOS.

Topic Author
synthfan23
Posts: 175
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2019 11:36 am

Re: Want to create a simple iPhone app for personal use - can I do it: cheaply, with little to no coding, etc?

Post by synthfan23 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:55 am

rj342 wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:19 am
Question Zero:

Do you have a Mac to develop on?

Android apps you can develop anywhere, but not iOS.
Great question.Yes. A Mac mini of around 2015 vintage. And a MacBook Air of roughly the same vintage.

AerialP
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Location: Central Kentucky

Re: Want to create a simple iPhone app for personal use - can I do it: cheaply, with little to no coding, etc?

Post by AerialP » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:23 am

synthfan23 wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:26 am

B) It's the automation scripting language ESRI uses for ArcGIS (not that I use ESRI products these days; I'm a QGIS / GRASS Man)
Amen to, for, and about QGIS.

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