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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

This blog series highlights success stories from our SAP Builders community. Do you have a project you’d like us to feature? Reach out to us on the Builders Group or comment on this post.

This edition features Tinashe Mukombe, an industrial engineering student in Germany who wants to build a creative community around his new app Toast Photography. Having limited programming skills, he dove into the world of low-code and developed the project using SAP Build Apps (community version), complete with photo sharing, blogging and AI capabilities. Tinashe shares his experiences of learning visual development and the journey from idea to publishing in the App Store. Enjoy the read!

Builder: Tinashe Mukombe

Profession: Bachelors Student in industrial engineering

Location: Duisburg, Germany

Solution: Toast Photography App


Tell us about the background for this project.

Tinashe: One of my hobbies is photography and I’m very passionate about it. I own a few cameras and I also have an Instagram page where I post a lot of my photographs. But a true dream of mine was to create a platform and a community for photography, where other hobbyists and enthusiasts can come together, share their photography and also experience other people’s photography.

I had the idea about three years ago, but didn’t have a way to realize it. I played around with trying to learn programming – first I tried Xcode and SwiftUI while being consumed within my studies. I soon realized it was extremely overwhelming to try and learn programming while completing my studies, so I did a little research and looked for other ways to make this idea come to life.
I came across Build Apps and fell in love with the UI – the way it’s designed with visual logic nodes, drag-and-drop components, it really appealed to me, as well as the ease of use. It was just really entertaining, and it sparked my enthusiasm to building apps.

After multiple months of building this app, testing, prototyping, I finally managed to break through the iPhone App Store guidelines and get my app published, which was an incredible achievement for me. It wasn’t easy and it took multiple attempts, but I finally did it! So now Toast photography is available on the App Stores.

How easy was it for you to get started with the SAP Build Apps low-code approach?

Tinashe: The only programming I had done before was for my uni courses. Seeing the logic visually made a lot of sense, and it’s easy to follow a visual map of what each component is doing. In regular coding, it's very easy to get lost, for example if you have a lot of nested IF functions. The logic builder was a game changer and this was one of my favorite features that I spent a lot of time on.

The other thing was the custom JavaScript nodes. In most other platforms you get kind of limited, so it's really nice to be able to expand beyond the pre-installed logic nodes, which is incredibly powerful. The formula editor is also revolutionary because you have so much customization and you can really finetune almost every property in your app to exactly what you need it to do. There were so many instances where I streamlined features within my app in ways that would have taken months to achieve without the visual builder.

Do you feel confident in your skills now to move on to other app projects?

Tinashe: I have much more confidence with app building now, in fact I’ve already released two more apps on the app store: a logistics utility app for economic order quantity calculations called Economic Order Size (EOS), as well as a fact/name generation app called Factorem. I’m also considering taking projects from clients and friends.
I want to start taking up more projects and apps so I can be immersed in different situations where I can tackle different problems. Instead of stagnating, I can start venturing into new problems every day that need to be solved and further strengthen my skills within Build Apps.

What do you see as the main benefit of using low-code?

Tinashe: The amount of time it takes from an initial idea to beta to possibly publishing – this time frame is incredibly reduced. It completely breaks down the barrier so you can concentrate on getting your idea out there.

How easy/difficult was it to implement the AI features?

Tinashe: Implementing AI within the app was pretty easy, granted with the assistance of a tutorial from Youtube creator TylerTalks as well as OpenAI’s API documentation. While the actual functionality is built off two logic nodes and chatGPT 3.5 Turbo API, it took maybe two months of design iterations, trial and error to get the UI exactly how I want it. Now AI is a core aspect within the app and I use it in many instances such as analysing an image for captions or suggestions for topics to write about.

What tips/advice would you have for other builders?

Tinashe: Just keep trying and be patient. Often, it’s easy to get frustrated and outright give up on a project. Just keep at it and practice patience because at the end of the day, there’s always a solution or at least a workaround to every barrier or brick wall that you’re facing.

What’s your vision for everyone using Toast Photography?
Tinashe: For everyone who uses Toast Photography, just enjoy the experience and hopefully it sparks an interest in the hobby of photography or the conversation around it. I just want to spark an interest in this field, I find it incredibly fascinating. And I hope I created a platform that people get to use for their love of photography.

💡 What's your experience with SAP Build in your daily life or work? Let us know in the comments below! To connect and engage more with your fellow Builders, join the Builders Group.