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6/17/2011
03:22 PM
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LongJump Cloud Platform Gets Mobile, Social

The cloud-based database and application creation tools are getting a mobile client and social feeds.

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LongJump, which offers cloud-based database and application creation tools, is adding social interaction to its platform, along with mobile app delivery options.

LongJump introduced its hosted application platform in 2007, and CEO Pankaj Malviya said it falls into the same Platform as a Service (PaaS) category as Salesforce.com's Force.com application builder. However, because LongJump has had its greatest success with small to midsize businesses, the company typically markets the platform as an online database builder like Intuit's QuickBase.

"Online database" is the phrase SMBs are more likely to search on when they are looking for a simple way of sharing data online, Malviya said. "An SMB does not think of creating apps, they think of using apps--think of problems they want to solve." So LongJump provides Web-based database design and form builder tools and customizable application templates, plus the ability to import data from Excel and generate a default form to match.

The application platform does also include a development options for coders, such as an Eclipse-based Java integrated development environment and APIs for tapping into the hosted database. However, LongJump is concentrating its marketing on the theme of application creation without coding for small businesses and departmental users within enterprises who want to create a custom application without requiring help from IT.

With additions to the product that were announced Monday, LongJump says customers will be able to add social media features to their applications, and also make those applications available to mobile users. LongJump Relay makes it possible to add social comments and activity feeds to LongJump applications. Users also can follow comment streams from other users, or they can follow a business process to get an alert when a record is updated or changed. Each record also can include a social sidebar with the comments that have been made on a customer, product, or other object. The goal is to provide employees with "contextual awareness of what's happening around them," Malviya said.

LongJump Javelin provides applications with a mobile interface--not just a mobile Web presentation, but native clients for different phones that work with the platform. The first of these to be released is one for Android.

LongJump pricing starts at $19 per month for two users and scales up. Alternate pricing based on API calls is available for public Web applications.

LongJump has a big fan in Chris Swanson of BMA Marketing, a contract marketing and sales organization in Wolcott, Conn. "I'm using LongJump primarily as someone might use Microsoft Access," said Swanson, a marketing professional who had taught himself Access database development but had often been frustrated in his efforts to create shared database applications without turning himself into a programmer.

Swanson experimented with Caspio, which markets itself as a "Microsoft Access" of the cloud, Coghead, and a platform as a service pioneer that went out of business in early 2009. He started down the road of creating applications in HTML/OS, but was finding it too demanding for his limited programming skills. He was also giving some thought to adopting Salesforce.com, even though he thought it was too expensive for his needs.

When he stumbled across LongJump, it seemed to be the system he had always dreamed of. "I flew through the tutorial and was just elated--oh, wow, I think I can build some applications," he said. His staff had been suffering through "all these miserable tests of mine" with different products, but despite that application fatigue instantly welcomed the LongJump apps he created. The reaction was, "Oh my god this is awesome, amazing--can we use this. Stop, stop, you've got this winner here."

Swanson is enthusiastic about the base product, but has so far chosen not to enable the Relay social media feature. After spending so much time trying to create a structured application, he said he is leery of messing it up by adding unstructured social interaction. "I'm going to continue to think about it," he said. The Javelin feature is also interesting, but his firm doesn't have a pressing need for mobile app support, he said.

In a statement for the press release, Hirease marketing manager Dawn Pieke said her firm had switched from Salesforce.com and wants to use the LongJump mobile features to allow "multiple branch offices and distributed teams to have key information they need for engaging with customers wherever they are." Hirease is a nationwide employee screening and onboarding firm.

[Disclosure: The author has done freelance consulting for Caspio, one of LongJump's competitors.] Innovative IT shops are turning the mobile device management challenge into a business opportunity--and showing that we can help people be more connected and collaborative, regardless of location. Read the new report from InformationWeek Analytics. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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