Building 'Mobile First' Apps in Coda

Hello Coda Community,

I think there is a lot of potential in using Coda for Mobile Apps and I think this has not yet been discovered enough. If I am wrong, please correct me.
I want to share here how I use Coda to create ‘mobile first’ apps and please share with me your thoughts and ideas about the topic.

Why use Coda for Mobile Apps? It’s just so easy to build mobile apps with complicated backend-log in Coda! It’s way faster to create mobile apps in Coda than in Glide. I stopped using Glide, because Coda is more fun and faster.
Also It’s great because all your processes are accessible by desktop also. So it integrates so well in your company processes. That’s also a thing that is better than for example in Glide.
A downside is not perfect custom design in Coda of course.
Important: Pages really need to be designed mobile first. With favorites it’s great to make a menu just for mobile.
→ This means we need Mobile First Design. In my pictures you can see some ideas so far.
I try to keep it really clean - just like in any other app.

My primary case is companies that need apps for either their employees to work on their phone or/and the customers for companies. (these can even be b2b customers of the company I develop for). I think many companies cannot access their processes with their phone. This can be a huge market.

Here are just two simple examples:

  1. Security Company:
    A security company that is used by their employees to fill out reports when they are done on a place. There are two different views of the apps. Employees have tabs and customers have tabs. Customers can see which places have been checked already.

  2. Workout App for Gym trainers:
    A Gym trainer can make training plans for their customers. People add in their trainings over time and see how they progress.
    The trainer can see their progress on web app and can make complex visualizations and reports.

Problems I’m running into:
I mean there could be many things optimized, but overall It’s really great for mobile apps.
One main problem: the dropdown is really bad and overall input-fields are not good.
And this is really crucial. Good input fields are a must for mobile apps.
This could be fixed I think quite easily.

Also, I’m aware that the mobile version is not perfect yet and that we can critique many things. But we can already build really good stuff with it, so lets focus on that!

One last thing: What is also really crucial is to not use it with the Coda app but to open the link in the mobile browser and creating a direct App Icon for every App I want to use. This way I can open quicker the right Doc and many different docs/apps. (Or even multiply Icons for one doc)

Let me know what you think of all of this :slight_smile:


Totally support you on this one. I was creating a workout app for my workout routine, but there are so many annoying bugs and bad design that makes me give up.
-Dropdown menus keep going all around the screen, without being attached to the imput field.
-Tables are inconsistent in which information it shows up.
-Slow for shifting between docs.
-Missing calendar (grid style) view.

I love Coda, but there is a long way to go, specially on the mobile experience.

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Hi @lars_hofstetter_10TIMES_io :slight_smile:

I’m trying to build an app on coda inspired also by the mobile-ready doc, this for the last 3 years, but i’ve stopped using it on mobile after the first week :joy:

It’s amazing for mini apps that you made for yourself but a pain if external users have to get it, also, after some amount of data you’ll start to slow down fast…this not to talk about having more than x user in the same doc, it’s gonna start to be super heavy (also privacy could be involved btw)…

It’s from day one that i’m insisting that coda is an extremely powerful tool for people and not (only) a business administration tool…with coda every person could benefit from automating calculi that before could be solved just by proprietary softwares, excel or external developer, with coda all of us could “have their data in their hand”, it’s a phrase that i use often with new users because it’s exactly the type of empowerment that i felt from the first time as a non-developer, and still nowadays

I feel that not only the mobile experience should and have to be improved, but also a more open approach to doc as (powerful as) apps could allow people to manage their everyday data’s like they are supposed to do in 2021 :slight_smile:

Thanks for the input and sorry to have gone a little off topic :sweat_smile:


I know there are some annoying things but as a wrote I really wanna focus on the nice stuff that is working already. I think we can already make cool Apps! :slight_smile:

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Hi Mario, thanks so much for your thoughts!

Sounds really interesting. The pains of privacy I am aware but the the ones about the doc getting slow not so much - this is important to know.

off topic is alright :wink: what are you missing in terms of “open approach”? this is especially interesting to me.

Hey @lars_hofstetter_10TIMES_io :slight_smile:

Thanks for asking :slight_smile:

In my mind coda could be an amazing complex apps builder, but it actually miss many of the features of which apps are heavily based on, i’ll give you some examples:

User management: This means different users have different permission, and i can keep track of them and maybe also with a payment processor built-in, as today i’m managing those features manually with cross doc and tables (i’ve created a topic about it btw :slight_smile: )

Privacy data management: As now the entire doc is loaded into the user pc, this mean that all the data into the doc are shared with anyone accessing it (as a temp fix i lock pages and features but that’s not gonna be feasible if 1000+ users are in the same doc, this for the next point)

Data management and processing: Coda works fine for everything that is loaded in a few second, but it depends on the rest of data, just to say one user with an empty doc in my app need about 55 second to load, with 10 user my doc needs 3 minutes (i would say it’s not usable anymore).
This because all the data are loaded every time you open the doc, and the processing of those data is made in YOUR pc, not on coda server, the same can be seen in cross doc, the entire tables (in my case a nutritional db with 6000+ foods with 160+ variables (nutrients) for each of them) are imported and then elaborated, in my case which food goes to which user, pet and recipe…as you can immagine this is not a good way of working with data…

This for what regards the serious limitations as nowadays in building an app on coda, those could not be encountered if the app is like a “mini web app” like a simple calculator that do not deal with users, data savings or others…

Then i’d love to say that coda is focused on business right now, just look at the pack released from day 1, all of them are business related, no packs have been developed to help normal people in everyday life (this would mean more versatility for general purpose app makers).

Also i’m sure that some codans would not like that but for what i’ve seen until now (i could be wrong, in case correct me) not a single suggestion was taken and realized form the pack suggestion from users…
This means that actually the pack suggestion doc is more a “let’s keep our users involved” but not a real “please do this or this other pack”…

Also, some other packs have been released in the meantime…no they were not in the first 10 spot, neither in the first 20…

Also, i remember from Shishir talk for 2021 new year that user-submitted packs would become a reality in the next times, this would definitely be the best option possible, but until that moment we can just use apis to communicate with the external word, and if we use coda we are not developer in most cases (off course we got some deep dev working on coda api implementations with other services, but not everyone of us have the skills) so we have to keep our doc outside of the rest of the world…

And, always in that talk “Doc’s as powerful as apps” have been used as “slogan” so i feel that there is still some interest in coda as apps maker!

To conclude, i feel that complex algorithms can be built on coda, but passing and storing data from this algorithm (we can see it as a input-output from the doc) is unfeasible as now.
This because small or medium dataset are seen from coda as huge tables, and off course working with those is a pain.
All of this would also need some sort of UI and as nowadays building a simple dashboard without the “dashboard trick” from Paul is not possible (i can comment on this one if could be interesting)

Also, to close this long message, we all know that there are many tricks or hacks to get coda to works as one need, but a totally different world is to sell or let others use that doc, where hack will be unsupported before or after, probably from day to night (it happened to me, twice)

As an app maker in coda (PROUD CODA APP MAKER FROM 2019!) i feel that we need more technical support to be able to present to users our hard work in a feasible form.

As you have probably seen i could talk for months about those subject so maybe if you have some specific concern i can give you my opinion on that :slight_smile:

Thanks for reading all this long post :slight_smile:


Thank you so much for your insights Mario!
This is extremely insightful. Hopefully also for some Codans that are hopefully reading as well :wink:

I think user-submitted packs would be a really great way. And I think as a software company now days you have to go that way at some point. You can only have success if you can get developers on your platform and let them develop on top of it. Hopefully this comes out soon.

As for the communication between Coda and Community I have found some difficulties over this one year I know Coda as well. I can understand that they will make their own strategy on what they will build. At the same time if you make a suggestion pack voting and nothing gets done, this is not optimal. I hope they will improve on how they interact and communicate with the community.

I will have all these concerns about privacy in mind and will see how this evolves from me.
At the moment I will still try to build businesses and cool apps on coda.
We have a group in coda doc where we look out how to do this. Hit me up (or anyone else) if you’d like to have a look!

Thanks for the long post!! :wink:

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For what regards coda next features choices, i’m sure they are doing their best to balance what they have to do to keep coda founded (money moves everything faster, isn’t it?) and make their users happy

I’d just like to underline that not every update is born with a request from users, just to make the concept more clear, we see everyday some links to some topics of sometimes year before, where the idea is finally on coda, but extremely rarely we see the “hey community, we are working on this” (i think i’ve seen it like 10 times from Ben and Angad) but all the rest is built under the scene with a little user partecipation (some users more than others).

This i think is made to not make promises that cannot be kept, and it’s fair and it’s an understandable point, but i want to have transparency.

As today, i do not agree with the ones who says “uh coda is really caring about their users needs and wantings” because it’s clearly not like that.

As proof of this i’ve tried in the last 3 years to suggest multiple times modifications to coda (they were freaking cool believe me :joy:), but in every occasion where something more was asked than what was already available in coda, i have received NO answer.
Zero, like none.

I mean, for each beta i’ve partecipated, for each new feature request i’ve proposed, i received ZERO answer.

Now, to be 100% honest, i’m not an easy user, i always want more, i want to know more, to progress knowing where coda is going, ecc, so i’m sure that some codans in a certain time they could be like “oh no another message from this asshole”, i can accept this because as a dev too i understand that users can become pain in the a*s but in no way coda is open and transparent with their users.

Or, if they are listening to us they are doing it so quietly that i have the time to change approach to a problem before i get an update from coda.

This doesnt want to be an hate message, it’s just because i cannot deal with “uh coda is loving their users, every update is from us etc”.
This is my opinion, and it says that is more a “selling update made for company benefit like if they was designed from the ground up for users”

Lastly, off course they do not answer my e-mail if i shot s*it in their community right here :joy:
Let’s remember that coda is my everyday tool to do many many things, i seriously love it, but not for that reason i’d love every aspect of it.
To close, this is the thinking of a CODA LOVER, i love you guys but they way you love me back is strange :joy: :kissing_heart:


Totally agree with this Mario. Love Coda. But please more transparency.


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