Which Should You Use: Appian or Entellitrak?

Entellitrak® is a low-code software development platform offered by Tyler Technologies (developed by MicroPact, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tyler Technologies®). The Appian Platform is a low-code software development platform offered by Appian®. Both companies have been in business for well over 20 years. IDEAMATICS® has a lot of experience developing in Entellitrak development and is getting onboard with Appian development.  It seems as though more government agencies as well as private sector businesses are moving toward the use of Appian.

What is similar?

Entellitrak and Appian are both low-code application development platforms that offer extensive documentation for developers in the areas of Documentation, Best Practices, and Community. Much of the information in the Entellitrak documentation requires partnership with Tyler before it can be accessed.

Both offer libraries/objects that developers in the community have developed to be integrated within the base platform. They have plenty of opportunity for customization and means to do mobile device development at the same time as desktop. They also offer lots of Reporting capabilities, though it seems that Appian’s are far superior in terms of ease of development and visual aspect. Both provide the ability to seamlessly integrate with other external systems and web services, and their security models are about the same. Both models have ways to secure different levels of users and groups (personas) using inheritance, and allow for separate site URLs for different personas. Deployment is about the same, with both using Export tools to produce zip files and customization files to deploy to other sites.

What is different?

The differences between Appian and Entellitrak are the target customers, look and feel for end users, certification achievement, non-custom development, custom development, debugging, the need to know SQL, and developers’ skills.

Target Customers

For Appian, the target customers are more geared toward solving process efficiency (Business Process Model – BPM) needs. For Entellitrak, the target customers are more geared toward case management (CM), using a data-first approach.

Look and Feel for End Users

Appian has a better visual appeal to end users. Although limited to 5 pages per site (out of box), the pages can be built using different layouts, such as columns or side by side.  One of those 5 pages is dedicated to supporting Reports, including Bar Charts, Pie Charts, Line Charts, etc. Entellitrak’s sites look more cumbersome with grids of data and look more outdated. However, the number of pages (tabs) is unlimited, but both allow drill down from lists of records to details for each. Overall, Appian seems easier to navigate and use.

Certification Achievements

Entellitrak certifications include both testing knowledge via exams as well as successful completion of a complicated work product that is graded by Tyler professionals. The work product ensures that the applicant has achieved practical, hands-on experience. Appian certifications are fairly easy to achieve compared to Entellitrak. After taking free online classes, applicants must only pass a knowledge exam with a 62% (Associate) or 65% (Senior) score.  The certifications can be obtained without any practical, hands on development. The price tag for certification is higher for the Tyler certifications (due to cost of class), but the Entellitrak certification is more of a valid indicator of the developer’s skill. A developer can pass the Appian certification exams just by studying and finding practice exams, without touching the Appian Platform.

Non-Custom Development

The “non-custom” here implies development of process models and workflows as well as user forms and sites that can be achieved with the use of the basic out-of-box platform, without writing any custom code. Entellitrak development is done in Java and JavaScript. JavaScript can be useful when needing to customize forms for hiding/showing data elements or doing extra validation depending on the user.  The line is blurry here when defining if this is “custom code” or not. Appian development is done in SAIL (Self Assembling Interface Layer), which is a low code proprietary language used to create front-end interfaces and to integrate with database. It is easy to learn, especially with the Designer and Editor tools available to developers.

Appian provides the ability to show/hide form data elements depending on user groups. Entellitrak development is done using the Entellitrak platform and, optionally, using an Eclipse plug-in for managing code that is written outside the platform. The plug-in allows the developer to Import and Export code from the Eclipse IDE to the Entellitrak platform.  There is no versioning of code, but there is at least the concept of checking out/checking in code and resolving merge conflicts. Appian development is done using visual tools such as the Appian Designer. It allows the developer to drag and drop components onto a palette for UI development and point and click for developing process models.  Once learned, this is probably easier than Entellitrak development. Tyler offers about 20 Application Accelerators when purchasing an Entellitrak instance. These accelerators are targeted to specific needs and provide a quick start to any customer that has similar ones.  Check out the Tyler Entellitrak Brochure in the References for a list. Appian does not offer this, but there are lots of templates and examples that can be found in their documentation and community sites.

Custom Development

Both allow extending the platforms’ capabilities. Entellitrak allows the developer to import other developers’ code or to write new code in both Java and JavaScript. Other developer’s code is imported as a java library. Appian allows the developer to use java plug-ins to extend the platform. This allows the extension of the UI as well as the process modeling to offer the Appian developer more options in its visual Designer. Appian does not support JavaScript – – there is no straightforward way to provide custom code related to forms. Appian has a better visual appeal and a more flexible UI than Entellitrak. Appian supports better forms layouts than Entellitrak, so there will most likely be less custom code to support changes to the UI.


Appian has built in tools for unit testing and debugging individual components. This testing can be automated to kick off before each deployment. This can be achieved in Entellitrak, as well, through custom coding, but it would be more ‘expensive’ since it’s not out of box functionality. Both make use of logging capabilities to aid in debugging custom code.

The Need to Know SQL

Entellitrak developers must know SQL in order to write queries against the database. Appian developers do not – – Appian has a Query Editor that allows developers to write queries without knowing SQL.

Developers’ Skills

In Appian, the developer’s skill is based on how to use the Appian platform for Process Modeling and using the Designer. They will also have to use SAIL,  ‘ low code proprietary language’ developed by Appian. In Entellitrak, the developer’s skill is both their programming ability (in Java and JavaScript) and the use of the platform. The Entellitrak platform is not visual, so its developers have to know what they’re doing code-wise and how to navigate the complexity of the platform.

A Senior Developer's Thoughts

There seems to be more job opportunities for Appian developers, as discovered using Indeed.com. There is risk of being pigeon holed into being an Appian Developer vs being a ‘true’ Software Developer (vendor lock-in). However, the use of low-code platforms generally does this…. and may indicate that the need for software developers with multiple software language skills is waning. Entellitrak is currently used for mostly large federal agencies with lots of data. These won’t be going away. Appian is used for both Business to Business and Business to Government applications. Again, these won’t be going away. Having experienced both, I think it’s easier for a new developer (‘new’ meaning new to using the Entellitrak or Appian platform) to quickly learn how to use the Appian platform, primarily because it’s much more visual and ‘user friendly’ than Entellitrak. I think any developer can learn the basics of SAIL in less than one month by following the free online classes and working on the community supplied Appian Community Edition site. I think it takes an Entellitrak newbie more time as the concepts seem to be a little more complex. Also, Entellitrak developers *MUST* know Java and JavaScript as well as have a strong foundation in SQL to be effective. Appian developers do not have to have *ANY* programming skills to be effective as long as no custom code is required.


This blog does not attempt to speak to the cost of development or running the site(s) once development is complete.  Both platforms have their strong points and their weaknesses.  I will say that Appian does provide Admin tools for examining system and process performance, which can be hugely beneficial to improving overall site performance.

To make a choice between the two, the business needs of the customer is what’s most important.  If the business is more process driven, use Appian.  If the business is more data-centric or case management, it still makes more sense to use Entellitrak.  Entellitrak is also reported to have an edge when it comes to response time when there are large numbers of concurrent users.  Another consideration is if there will be a need for custom code.  If so, Entellitrak is the better bet.  Finally, use Appian if you want a more modern UI.  This applies to both development using the visual Process Modeler and Designer tools as well as for producing more appealing records lists, Reports, and providing Search capabilities for users.

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