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Tech - Creating an App! (1 Viewer)

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I am wanting to create a simple App that can track my mileage and give me an option to upload to a specific webpage. I assume I will need some sort of authorization from the webpage, but how hard is is to create Apps? I am not wanting fancy or graphically stunning. I just need the data in a specific text format. Is this something that I can learn to do (no coding exp) or should I just buy an App that matches as closely as possible?
 

Knightly

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Unless you are wanting to learn (and by all means learn) it will always be cheaper to buy something than to develop it. Unless you think you can sell it.
 

Sic

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what is it you're trying to do specifically? is it because you want to make the app? or is it because you have a problem you need a solution for?

a quick search turned up this open-source tracking app > Zenroad < that *might* be something you're looking for
 
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I've made several mobile apps (using a few different tech stacks), some desktop apps (mostly for Windows), and lots and lots of web apps.

A few questions I have:
  • What kind of "App" are you talking about? Is this something that you need to use on your phone? App is really an ambiguous term nowadays, but I assume you mean mobile app.
  • Is this something that only needs to live on your phone, or are is this something that you want available to other people?
  • When you say "track my mileage", are you expecting the app to track your miles driven automatically or are you expecting to enter some data manually? At the very least, you'll have to enter the gallons of gas that you buy?
  • Are the owner of the website that you want to upload data to?
    • If so, how do you plan to upload the data?
    • If not, does it already have a mechanism that supports this (usually this is called an API)?
To answer your question:

Creating mobile apps kinda sucks, especially if you own an iPhone. If you have no development experience, you won't find it to be easy. If you want to incorporate location data, it gets even harder. There are just lots and lots of "gotchas" that you get a long way. Products like Zenroad that Sic linked above make it a lot easier, but it's not the kind of thing you can expect to turn out in a weekend if you have no experience.

I have to imagine there are already apps on the marketplace that do this kind of thing. If not, the easiest way to approach this is to get something that lets you store/calculate arbitrary information. If you get something like that, each time you get gas you can simply enter your car's current mileage and the number of gallons of gas you just added. At that point, some simple math produces your MPG since your last fillup. That math could be done anywhere and then uploaded to this website.

A few years ago, I used an automation app like this to create a little automation for calculating group lunch costs at a place I used to work at. I could enter in a few pieces of data, take a picture of the receipt, and it would calculate the cost per person and email the people that attended with how much they owe. I can't find the exact app that I used (it wasn't this one), but I expect you could do something similar with this. That would be much, much easier than creating your own app.

EDIT:

I found the app that I used before: Shortcuts. Since I last used it, it was bought by Apple and renamed. If you're on Andoird, I'm sure there's something similar.
 

Knightly

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Android has Tasker which beats anything the iPhone has, unfortunately (or fortunately if you are an Android user)
 
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Thanks for the answers and questions. So I drive a lot for work and I get paid something like $.47 per mile. I currently use a form of a log book. I have to write down where I went, purpose for the trip, date of the trip, and distance round trip. This doesn't seem like a headache, but at the end of the month I have to transfer all of that information into a specific format and then copy and paste it into the company's travel webpage.

What I have been doing for the past 30 months has been writing it on paper daily (kind of like a log book) then putting it in excel in a specific format so when I enter it on the webpage I can just copy and paste. Even copying and pasting takes about 30 minutes because every bit of info that is entered the page reads and refreshes (I know that is not the term of what it is doing but if I try and put 2 pieces of data in at once it will refresh and the 2nd piece will not have saved. On top of that the website is known to crash often so you have to keep hitting save after a few lines or else you get more frustrated when it kicks you off.

So basically what I am trying to do is to maybe create an app that will read my data and upload it to the form on the webpage if that is possible. I have no idea if I would even be allowed to do that, but if I had an app created it could be something that I could bring to management and say "hey I created this app to help with travel, but it needs to be linked with the webpage" that they might be able to get that part done. I am being kind of selfish here because it would really help me out a lot with saving me a lot of time and since the company has thousands of employees that have to report travel it could save the company countless man hours and $$$. An of course they would give me a bonus for something that would save them money.

I don't mind putting in the mileage manually into the app. My biggest concern is having to put it on paper, then into the computer in a specific format, then onto the webpage. I could cut out the 2nd step but then doing a month of travel will take me hours trying to get it done on the webpage that likes to timeout or kick you for random reasons.

We don't get reimbursed for gas or oil changes or anything like that so all it needs to do is to be able to track when, where, how far. And by track it can be automatically or something we input. Basically I think I just want a digital logbook for a phone, unfortunately it is an IPhone that the company gives us.
 
Joined
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RedCents
327¢
Thanks for the answers and questions. So I drive a lot for work and I get paid something like $.47 per mile. I currently use a form of a log book. I have to write down where I went, purpose for the trip, date of the trip, and distance round trip. This doesn't seem like a headache, but at the end of the month I have to transfer all of that information into a specific format and then copy and paste it into the company's travel webpage.

What I have been doing for the past 30 months has been writing it on paper daily (kind of like a log book) then putting it in excel in a specific format so when I enter it on the webpage I can just copy and paste. Even copying and pasting takes about 30 minutes because every bit of info that is entered the page reads and refreshes (I know that is not the term of what it is doing but if I try and put 2 pieces of data in at once it will refresh and the 2nd piece will not have saved. On top of that the website is known to crash often so you have to keep hitting save after a few lines or else you get more frustrated when it kicks you off.

So basically what I am trying to do is to maybe create an app that will read my data and upload it to the form on the webpage if that is possible. I have no idea if I would even be allowed to do that, but if I had an app created it could be something that I could bring to management and say "hey I created this app to help with travel, but it needs to be linked with the webpage" that they might be able to get that part done. I am being kind of selfish here because it would really help me out a lot with saving me a lot of time and since the company has thousands of employees that have to report travel it could save the company countless man hours and $$$. An of course they would give me a bonus for something that would save them money.

I don't mind putting in the mileage manually into the app. My biggest concern is having to put it on paper, then into the computer in a specific format, then onto the webpage. I could cut out the 2nd step but then doing a month of travel will take me hours trying to get it done on the webpage that likes to timeout or kick you for random reasons.

We don't get reimbursed for gas or oil changes or anything like that so all it needs to do is to be able to track when, where, how far. And by track it can be automatically or something we input. Basically I think I just want a digital logbook for a phone, unfortunately it is an IPhone that the company gives us.

Ah ok, I get it. First, I totally feel your pain. I've had to those manual expense reports and it can be a complete nightmare. I have definitely eaten expenses over the years because it just wasn't worth the time it takes to enter them.

Anyway, now that I understand what you're after, I think you'd have a tough road to trying to create your own app for it. I don't know what kind of expense software your company is using, but it's unlikely that they'd be interested in opening up any 3rd party access to it for security reasons. Of course, you know your company better than I do, so maybe they would be.

I can say with absolute certainty that there are expense reporting platforms on the market that have mobile apps that do exactly what you want. I'm intimately familiar with Concur (owned by SAP). It has a mobile app that lets you enter mileage, scan receipts, upload photos, etc. It's also very expensive, but, as you said, it usually pays for itself in people-hours saved, especially with thousands of people doing it.

I don't have any great ideas for you at the moment. I think you could use/create an app to help you track it without paper, but I'm not sure about getting the company to let you upload automatically.

Maybe see if you can make friends with someone from IT? In my career, a few beers after work have gone a long way to getting me what I want :)

Good luck either way. I really like automating things, so let me know how it goes. Always happy to help.
 

ChatWithThisName

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Have you considered simply pitching the idea to the company? It sounds like it has all the boxes ticked to indicate that not only would it save their employees time and frustration of the manual task, but also save them man-hours for the foreseeable future. Which sounds like something they may be interested in having paying a professional to do for them as opposed to using an existing third party resource which potentially could be more expensive. Alternately, perhaps the third party route would work for them as well. Either way identifying an issue, and recommending a solution at the same time, while underlining the benefits of that solution in a way that makes it beneficial from a business point of view may pique their interest.
 
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Thanks for the advice guys. No I hadn't pitched it yet. I wanted to see about the feasibility before pitching it. Looks like pitching the idea might be the best option. Who knows they might decide to do it. I know it would literally save the company a million dollars per year or more.
 

ChatWithThisName

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Thanks for the advice guys. No I hadn't pitched it yet. I wanted to see about the feasibility before pitching it. Looks like pitching the idea might be the best option. Who knows they might decide to do it. I know it would literally save the company a million dollars per year or more.
I don't know the structure of the company. But for something like that it feels like it should be going to the people in charge of the business itself. Like "Corporate" as opposed to say "your direct supervisor". Sometimes things don't make the full trip if they have to pass through the hands of many people before they reach their intended destination.
 
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my company use Motus to track and payout our miles. I can’t imagine it costing them much more than paying someone to manually handle it within the company. Might be a good starting point as a pitch to your superiors
 

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