Application Building Tutorial

The walkthrough on this page will help you build your first application for the Appian Application Platform. We will be building a very basic application while learning basic concepts related to application and object security, but we won't be diving into details about designing interfaces, processes, or data. Those topics are covered in detail in other tutorials.

Conceptual overview

Applications are built using design objects that together form the user interfaces, logic, processes, and data users interact with while doing work in Appian. Every application that you build in Appian should represent a business solution. For example, you would build separate applications for customer relationship management and human resources.

All design objects in Appian are secured separately, including the application object itself. This tutorial walks you through setting up basic security as we go along. As you start to build applications on your own, you should keep in mind that the objects that you create won't be available to users unless security is configured correctly for each object. With that said, keep the following things in mind as we work through this tutorial:

  • An application functionally groups the design objects associated with it.
  • Design objects may belong to zero, one, or many applications.
  • To make an application's tasks, records, reports, and actions available to users, you must configure security for the design objects in the application.

Create the Appian Tutorial application

We will be creating the Appian Tutorial application for this tutorial. All of Appian's tutorials use the Appian Tutorial application as the reference application. This means that, once you complete this tutorial, you can reuse this application as you work through the other tutorials.

To create the Appian Tutorial application:

  1. Log in to Appian Designer (for example,
  3. In the Create New Application dialog, configure the following properties:

    Property Description
    Name Enter Appian Tutorial.
    Description Leave blank. It's normally a best practice to add descriptions to all design objects. However, to save a little time, we're skipping describing how to add descriptions during this tutorial.
    Application Prefix Retain the default prefix, AT, which Appian constructs using the initial characters of each word you entered in the Name parameter. We'll be following the recommended naming standard, and using this short unique prefix whenever we name an object in this application.
  4. Click CREATE.
  5. In the Review Application Security dialog, keep the default security for now. We'll set the long-term security after we create groups in this tutorial.

    The security of the application object is unrelated to the security of each of the objects contained within the application. This means that you will need to set security permissions for every object in an application in addition to the application object itself. For more information about security permissions for the application object, see Application Security.

  6. Click SAVE. The application view appears.

    screenshot of the application view

    Right now, the application is empty. Each design object that you create during the course of this tutorial will appear in this list and automatically be associated with the tutorial application.

Add groups to the application

One of the first things that you need to do for each new application is to create at least two groups: one for the users of the application and one for the application's administrators. Groups are important building blocks of an application, because they allow you to organize users and assign permissions to the groups of users as you add objects.

Let's create two groups for this application so that we can add security as we go along:

  • AT Administrators
  • AT Users

To create these groups:

  1. In the application view, click NEW > Group.
  2. In the Create Group dialog, configure the following properties:
    • For Name, enter AT Administrators.
    • For Group Members, enter your username. We're adding you to these groups so you'll have permissions to create and modify objects in this tutorial.
  3. Leave all other default settings.
  4. Click CREATE.
  5. In the Review Group Security dialog, give yourself permissions to view and edit the group:
    • Click Add Users or Groups.
    • For Users or Groups, enter your username.
    • For Permission Level, leave the default Administrator value.
    • Click SAVE.
  6. Repeat these steps, using AT Users as the Name value.

screenshot of the application view containing two groups

Learn more about managing groups and users on the Group Management page.

Add security to the application

We should address the security of the application before we move on. At the beginning of this tutorial, you assigned yourself specific permissions to the application. However, Appian recommends configuring security using groups, rather than individuals for better maintainability.

Now that we've created the groups we need, we'll grant the following security permissions:

Group Permissions Result
AT Users Viewer Members of this group can see the application.
AT Administrators Administrator Members of this group are administrators of the application.

To add security to the application:

  1. In the application view, open the settings menu , then click Application Security. screenshot of the application view and settings menu, focused on the Application Security button
  2. In the Application Security dialog, set the Default (All Other Users) permissions to No Access.
  3. Click Add User or Group, then add permissions for the groups as described in the table above.
  4. Click delete icon next to your individual permissions to remove them.
  5. Click SAVE CHANGES. screenshot of the application security dialog

Create a process model

Next, we are going to create a basic process model called AT My First Action and save it in a new folder called AT Process Models.

It is a best practice to create an object from the context of the application that uses it. We'll be creating the process model from the application view, so it's automatically associated with the Appian Tutorial application.

We'll also be adding security to the process model, so that you can verify the permissions of various users as you test the process itself. We'll want to grant the following permissions:

Group Permissions Result
AT Administrators Administrator Members of this group are administrators of the process.
AT Users Initiator Members of this group can start the process.

This process model won't include any smart services or user input tasks, but we will publish it so that we can add it as an action later in the tutorial.

To create the process model:

  1. In the application view, click NEW > Process Model.
  2. In the Create Process Model dialog, enter AT My First Action for the Name.
  3. Click Create New Process Model Folder.
  4. For Folder Name, enter AT Models.
  5. Leave Folder Description and Parent Folder blank.
  6. Click CREATE.
  7. In the Review Group Security dialog, click Add Users or Groups.
  8. In the new box, enter AT Administrators.
  9. For Permission Level, select Administrator.
  10. Click Add Users or Groups again.
  11. In the new box, enter AT Users.
  12. For Permission Level, select Initiator.
  13. Click SAVE.

    screenshot of the process model security dialog

The process model opens in a new window. By default, DESIGNER VIEW is selected.

screenshot of a blank process model

Publish the process model

Now let's save and publish the process model. This step is necessary because process models must be published before they can be added as actions.

To publish the process model:

  1. Click File.
  2. Click Save & Publish (Ctrl+Alt+S).

When you're done with this step, you can close the Process Modeler.

Add an action to the application

Now we are ready to add an action to this application. Once the application is published, users who belong to the AT Users group will be able to see and start this action from a user interface, such as Tempo.

To add the AT My First Action process model as an action:

  1. In the application view, open the settings menu , then click Application Actions.
  2. In the Actions dialog, click New Action, and then complete the following:
    • For Display Label, enter My First Action.
    • For Description, enter This is a sample description.
    • For Process Model, use the picker to select AT My First Action
  3. Click SAVE ACTIONS.

We need to publish the application before we will be able to see the action in Tempo:

  • Open the settings menu , then click Publish Application.

Now that we've created the action, let's navigate to the Actions tab in Tempo and check it out:

  1. Click the navigation icon, then click Tempo.
  2. Click Actions.
  3. In the left pane, under Applications, click Appian Tutorial.

You should see your new action in the list as shown below. screenshot of the actions list in Tempo

This action won't actually do anything since we haven't added anything to the process model or created any interfaces. Check out the other tutorials for more information about building functionality into applications.

Troubleshooting tips

If you don't see your action, you should check the security settings and verify that the process model and application are both published:

Export the application

Now that we have verified the action, we have completed the first stage of development on our application. Normally at this stage, a designer would be ready to export the application from a development environment into a staging environment for testing and validation. Let's see how this process works, even though we aren't going to import this tutorial application into another environment.

To export an application:

  1. In the application view, open the settings menu , then click Export Application.
  2. In the Export Application dialog, leave the default File Name and click EXPORT.
  3. After the export completes, click DOWNLOAD PACKAGE. screenshot of the Export Application dialog

See also

Ready to learn more about Appian? Check out our full list of tutorials or our free courses on Appian Academy.

Open in Github Built: Wed, Aug 16, 2023 (04:37:39 PM)

On This Page