With Startup Weekend NYC Mobile rolling into town this weekend, I took advantage of a free demo from one of this event’s sponsors. Yesterday EachScape’s CEO Ludovic Collin proved to a room of coders, business types, and at least one blogger that they could produce a very-high quality iPhone app without a line of Objective C. Obviously a useful feature for hackathons, but EachScape is not at first what it seems.
I was expecting a rigid toolbox in which non-tech types like myself could click their way to a respectable app. With memories of configuring ShoutEm and OnePager–both good choices for their small biz target market–I assumed that EachScape would be in the same genre.
Not quite. While it is possible to punch out an uninteresting mobile app with a few clicks, there’s much more to this app creator. EachScape looks a little like an Integrated Development Environment or IDE (see this video) but without all that messy code. After watching Collin show off its powers, I became pretty convinced EachScape was as capable as its more developer-oriented cousins.
You don’t need to know a language or much HTML to perform some very clever tricks, including embedded video, telephony, data access (XML/JSON), ecommerce, and also fine control of the display. The grunt work is done by a user contributed library of components that are adjusted through a small panel of exposed fields.
I finally got it: EachScape is somewhere between a content management system, like WordPress, and a drag-and-drop IDE. But it is far slicker than WordPress, without those confusing templates, and not nearly as complicated as something like Eclipse for Java.
While watching non-programmer Collin create a RSS-feed viewer, I focused on EachScape’s built-in iPhone emulation. He was able to drop components into a virtual screen, and then we all gazed in wonder as it rendered this as a kind of wire-frame.
Web-designers, who are really the intended power user, would have no trouble getting EachScape to really shine.
Unlike WordPress (don’t mean to pick on it), designers have access to, as we like to say in tech marketing, a “rich set of device events and actions.” Again, no coding at all. So what you can do with this? How about automatically triggering Shazam when a user watches a video.
EachScape produces native code–IOS,Android–or if you prefer HTML5. There are allowances for different device forms, so that a different view can come up for an iPad versus an iPhone. With device independent layouts, of course, the key is always in the design, and that’s something a HTML-savvy user can tweak for ultimate flexibility.
Why haven’t we heard more about EachScape in the tech press? This product is used by the pros. Their list of clients is heavily weighted towards media players (A&E, NBC, CBS, Time Out, CNet), who are, in very un-startup fashion, actually paying for a license. So think of this as something like ShoutEm for the 1%.
However, all is not lost for the remainder. Collins told us that a lite version of EachScape is in the works, which would allow hackers and developers who don’t have the budget to play and then pay when they’re ready.