Hello Client, a tutorial for first-time Legal App builders

Last updated: Oct 28, 2019

8 minute read

This tutorial is designed to provide an end-to-end walkthrough of how to build and publish a simple legal app. The app will (1) collect data via online questionnaire; and (2) generate an automated Word document.

You will learn how to:

Welcome to the App Builder

The App Builder is where you land when you click “start new app.” It is a visual programming tool that allows you to create web applications known as Legal Apps, or simply “apps.”

The App Builder is made up of six different tabs. We only need three tabs to build this app:

Add Question Block

Start your app by adding a Question Block. Question Blocks are a type of "Page Block" that allows you to ask the end-user questions.

Learning Moment

Page Blocks represent the web pages your end-users ― the people who use your app ― will see. Page Blocks allow you to ask the end-user questions (Question Block), collect signatures (Signature Blocks) or payments (Payment Blocks), present information (Info Blocks), or conclude your app (Final Block). The order of Page Blocks generally determine the order in which the user will see those blocks.

Logic Blocks represent the "background code" of your app. They allow you to create variables that represent legal concepts like "if the # of years between today and this person's birthday is less than 18, they are a minor." Logic blocks are invisible to the end-user of your app. Unlike Page Blocks, the order of Logic Blocks does not matter and has no effect on when their logic is evaluated.

Repeating Blocks are special types of blocks related to sections where the same Blocks run over and over (known as a "loop"). For example, you may want to have a section of your app that asks for the name and age of each of your end-user's children -- and if you don't know in advance how many children they have, you'll want to repeat the blocks of questions until the end-user indicates they have no more children to provide information about.

Next, add a Short Text Question to your block to collect the end-user's name.

Notice the yellow box to the right of your new question: this represents the variable your question just created. Every piece of data collected by your app is represented as a variable. This question created a new variable called variable_1. Rename it to client_name and then give the question a label like "What is your name?":

Best Practice

Give your variables semantic names — something that communciates exactly what kind of data is being collected.

Add Final Block

Final Blocks are web pages that end-users can't advance beyond (there is no "continue" button). As the Block name suggests, these blocks represent the conclusion to at least one pathway through your app. Add a Final Block that has the word "hello" and then the client's name. You add the client's name by clicking "add variable" and selecting the client_name variable:

Test run your app by clicking “run” in the top-right.

Well done! You successfully built a simple, but fully functional front-end for your app.

Client Engagement Letter

Next you are going to add to your app's functionality by having it generate a document. Under the Templates tab, you can create document templates for your app to assemble. Create a Word template:

Add whatever text you want for your engagement letter and at some point include the variable client_name by clicking the "insert variable" button:

Save and exit the Template Editor.

Attach Engagement Letter to Final Block

Return to the Blocks tab. We need to give the end-user their Engagment Letter. To do that, we must attach it to one of our Page Blocks. On the Final Block, click "document" and then select the Engagment Letter:

Publish Your App for Live Use

Publishing apps for live use removes the "Test Mode" badge from the app's front-end and watermarks from documents, and also eliminates certain limitations on the app's functionality. To begin the publication process, click the Activation tab:

There are two options for activating your app: to your account or to a community. In either type of activation, you can share your app with other people, the difference between them is how other people find your app.

  1. My Account — Nobody except for you can find your app online. The only instance where other people can use your app is if you provide a special shareable link to them.
  2. Community — If you publish to a public Community, your app is available for anyone on the internet to use; if you publish to a private Community, your app is available for only the members of that Community to use. In either case, you control the permissions people who have access to your app can use it under (for example, is usage free or for a price? can end-users only run the app or can they also copy it?). Note that when you publish an app to a public Community, we host the app for free (unless it uses certain features that are only available under paid subscriptions).

Under the App Page subtab, fill in details about your app, including the minimum required fields (i.e. Title, Short description, Long description, Jurisdiction tag, and Legal taxonomy tag).

After you complete your App Page, go back to the Activation Settings subtab and publish your app with the following activation configuration:

Click activate. Well done! You just built and published your very own client intake app.

Choose what to add next

How do you want to expand this app? Choose one of the following goals to learn the associated App Builder technique:

Conditionally add text to your template

Send data to Google Sheets, Clio, or Zapier

Use a table (database) to automate documents