Treason - Looking for another App Builder

Hi there, people who know and appreciate RAB,

a few days ago I was hunting for another App Builder: We have got many decorated proverbs (even audio for them) in a local African language. Each proverb is a small, square jpeg-file; mostly a background colour, a clipart and one sentence. Size is 480 pixels square but we also keep the masters in vector-quality, so could make better any time.

We make those initially to send out to several hundred subscribers per WhatsApp broadcast - one per week. The jpeg format makes sure that each user can see the entire proverb without any tofu.

You can see our proverbs here with translations, audio, deeper-meaning etc.:

The website is like our archive, where people go who want to know who provided which proverb, or how to say it in English or Spanish or whatever, or who want to study its meaning or write personal feedback.

Now having got a collection of 100+ jpeg files after two years of broadcasting, I wanted to make something “much lighter” and self-contained for offline-use, like a very simple photo-browsing-app for the Google Play Store.

I understand that we could use the RAB to make a “photo-browsing-app” (with no text underneath each jpeg). But I am hoping to give something to our users, which feels a little more “elegant” and a little less “educational” (no offense) which feels like a real photo album, maybe with animation for flipping pages and with less menu-bar on screen.

I have searched for other App Building Tools on the web and have found a few. But I was shocked at the pricing: 15 - 20 US$ per month(!) just to have one app out there… This is an indirect compliment to the competence and generosity of SIL for providing the RAB for free.

Still, I believe if anybody will know about other like-minded developpers, who have created similar tools like the RAB but with different aspects or different ways of doing-things, then it would be you people here.

So please commit a little treason and let me know about what else is out there (open source, or rather free licensing, or maybe one-off payment of licence but without eternal monthly fees).

Since the concept of the RAB is so awesome, it will not hurt this forum, to have here a collection of links to other similar tools. Photo-browising-app-builder, Quizz-app-builder, System-Keyboard-App-Builder (for minority languages), Cross-Word-Puzzle-App-Builder etc.

Thank you,


Hi Martin,
I know it’s been a little while since you posted this, so maybe you’ve already found some other lovely ideas you would be willing to share with us all.
If not…I am wondering if you’ve considered the Bloom beta app. It doesn’t have all the things you suggest like puzzles and such, but it is free, and is a different format than RAB. It also makes it much easier for people with less computer skills able to make the app. They’re still working on it though to get it to the point where it’s really ready.
For your immediate need with the proverbs, I wonder if you have tried the Windows-based (free) application PhotoStory3. It is a small download and primarily gives you the ability to make a slideshow out of a bunch of jpegs with your choice of background music, subtitles, narration, slide transitions, and export it in a variety of sizes and formats (although not every video format is supported, so you may want to use some video file type converting software afterward to get it into the format people in the community are used to using). This would not be an app per se, it would be a video. But lots of people like videos, so it might be worth a shot if your community there like them.

By the way, with Bloom 4.2 (currently in alpha test) you can control pan & zoom and background music. The plan is for SIL Intl Media Services to transition from PhotoStory3 to Bloom for these materials, and to start creating a large number of Bloom “shellbooks” that come with the animation & music already set up, you just have to do the translation and voice recording in Bloom. We don’t have video export yet, though. Just the Bloom Reader App; hopefully RAB will be updated to import these Bloom books as well.

MIT App Inventor 2 has quite a bit of functionality. I have 4 apps in the SIL apps and 1 in App Inventor 2 since it was able to make a app with several videos in it.

You might look at www…HisHandsReader…org.

It has self contained quad lingual mother tongue Android apps that include a 1742 meaning dictionary and reading primers using the Easy English Bible by Wycliffe Associates U.K.

Volunteers add their mother tongue to the lexicon from which new MT specific apps are semi automatically made and distributed by HHR.

Youth that use the HHR app(s) will be able to from the MT vocabulary they learn write their own books in Bloom and rehost into apps using App Builder. So no treason here… every app has a purpose to the broader goal.

You like pictures. The HHR dictionary has about 500 pictures and growing. Hearing and Deaf children also benefit from seeing a hand sign for each word.

Here is a screen shot of the html main page of the app. Easy peasy to traverse the content. I would suggest that you download the HHR Cameroon with French/Spanish to get a feel for how it works. Then follow these instructions to add your MT. Whoops …sorry the forum won’t let new users put links in posts.

Here are the instructions for adding your mother tongue or hand signs.

Dear Bob and community,

This is nice. I did not mean the “treason” literally, just a gimmick to
invite more users to read my question. I have had a few very promising
responses, some off-list (because of the treason aspect…)

Thank you for your sharing and your very nice write-up including
screen-shots. We love such tools, where we can focus on content and do
not re-invent the wheel.

My own humble contribution is this research: I could not find any
documentation how a small somewhere-local NGO can register on Google
PlayStore as a developer. After days of searching and correspondence
with Google this surprise came out:

One human being needs to register as “the developer”, he stays the main
admin. Once registered he/she can:

  • name several other NGO members as co-admins to work the PlayStore
    console, upload apps and updates, do customer-care, or “help desk” stuff

  • and a “developer page” can be created, where the NGO can design their
    PlayStore presence: Address, Logo, Photos, list of apps, featured app
    (so the person who initially registers, is no longer visible (if
    desired) and it becomes a real NGO presence)


We are trying a fully hybrid approach. We offer our apps “officially” on
the PlayStore under a name that our users recognize. And we enjoy the
respect or confidence this PlayStore presence is giving us from the
users. We also learn a lot from the statistics: (For example our
keyboard app has some issues with Android 4, and we can observe how
slowly Android 4 is “fading out”; now less than 1/3 of our users. All
later versions work fine.)

We also distribute our apps via our team and via bluetooth. Internet
connection is still costing real money for the population. We do not get
any feedback nor statistics, cannot trigger updates but the whispers we
are hearing are encouraging. People seem to like sharing good stuff for
free. Many users do not understand the warning-message about first-time
installing an app from not-PlayStore source; in principle a very helpful
warning, but…



Do your users use Shareit to share apps via blue tooth?

I have no idea. Our team is using all sorts of tools - there are
fashions happening and they might like something for a time and then go

When I mentioned sharing by bluetooth, I was talking about sharing from
within the apps, as with the Reading Apps from the Reading App Builder.

Where the app does not have a sharing feature (like our keyboard):

If I have APK file on my phone, I would just “right-click” and > share >
via bluetooth. That is why I encourage everybody to name their
bluetooth-label their own name, otherwise I see four Wiko and six
Samsung in the room…

I found a free app development environment called Livecode, which, although it requires one to learn some simple coding, is not difficult to use. In addition, software called Hyperstudio is available for about $30. It is very simple to use, but the end product is not necessarily easy to share. You would need a dedicated reader app.

Not perfect options, but they might be helpful.

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Thank you @HazelL for adding more tools. I will look into those.

This thread can stay active and collect more ideas. I also invite users to share any feedback, if/when they have tried any of the tools mentioned. I will too, of course. But it turns out that first I need to produce a “proper” SIL dictionary app this year…

Many people are waiting for that, because (drumroll) it will allow us to play local Scrabble and Prison (this is our local name for Hangman, because too many people get killed already, so our prison-version is less permanent to the losers).