10 simple tools for building mobile apps fast
No-code and low-code mobile dev tools
The difficulty and cost of mobile app development have not escaped the notice of innovative companies. We present here 10 low-code or no-code builders for mobile applications. Some of them target more than one mobile platform; some target Web applications as well. All are aimed at getting your mobile application development project up and running quickly.
Alpha Anywhere is a database-oriented, rapid app development tool that shines at creating Web and hybrid mobile apps that work offline. It allows developers to build good apps quickly, with surprisingly solid performance and nativelike look and feel.
Alpha Anywhere’s SQL database support is especially strong because it allows you to use the native SQL dialects of each database if you wish, or you can go with Alpha’s Portable SQL facility, which will emit the appropriate native SQL for the current database connection. Alpha’s support for offline mobile operation is also quite complete. It reduces the development of data conflict resolution logic to a few clicks.
Recently, Alpha added mobile file system access in hybrid mobile apps for large amounts (gigabytes) of data, with compression. This has advantages both for viewing cached media offline, and for creating large numbers of photos, audio files, and video, even when you don’t have connectivity.
Mobile Optimized Forms were released in the spring of 2016. Alpha built this capability around a FormView, with specialized controls for the likes of ink annotations and audio capture (with pausing).
App Press is a Web-based, no-code app creator that targets iPhone, iPad, and Android applications. Aimed at designers, App Press uses a Photoshop-like user interface for assembling screens from visual assets, via layers. On the back end, App Press is an Amazon cloud-based service and platform. The company claims that designers can produce their first app in one day, that with experience designers can create five apps per day, and that experienced designers can train new designers on the platform.
EachScape is a unified, cloud-based, drag-and-drop editor for native iOS and Android apps, as well as HTML5 Web apps. That might seem like an odd combination, but it works well. In addition, EachScape includes mobile back-end services for apps you build with its platform, Web preview for all apps, and an online build service.
The architecture that allows EachScape to build iOS, Android, and HTML5 apps from a drag-and-drop editor (the Cloud Studio) depends on blocks and modules, as well as layouts and actions. Under the hood, EachScape has implemented a set of classes in Objective-C for iOS, Java for Android, and CoffeeScript for Web apps that correspond to ads, buttons, containers, controls, data connectors, data input, HTML, images, maps, media, navigation, placeholders, RESTful remote queries, social networks, and text. Advanced developers can build new blocks and modules for EachScape to extend its capabilities, using its SDKs.
Read my full-length review of EachScape v5.0 .
EachScape. free to start, pay when you are ready to publish
Form.com is a Web-based enterprise platform for creating Web and mobile forms, combining a drag-and-drop forms builder and flexible back-end technology. The builder can create new forms or replicate existing paper forms, set up process-specific workflow and API integration, embed logical transitions, allow the capture of images within the forms, capture digital signatures, and enable form field autofill. Finished mobile forms can collect information when disconnected and transfer the collected information when the connection has been restored.
Form.com. $412 per month and up, depending on project scope and requirements
iBuildApp is a Web builder that offers customizable templates for iPhone, iPad, and Android apps and promises that you can create an app in five minutes. For common app types, template-based systems such as iBuildApp can sometimes produce usable results, as long as the selection of widgets includes the functionality you need.
Appcelerator combines an IDE, an SDK, multiple frameworks, and back-end cloud services into an enterprise-level system for mobile development. The Titanium SDK lets you develop native, hybrid, and mobile Web applications from a single codebase.
Titanium Studio is an extensible, Eclipse-based IDE for building Titanium applications and Web applications. Appcelerator Cloud Services provide a wide array of automatically scaled network features and data objects for your app. Alloy is an Appcelerator framework designed for the rapid development of high-quality Titanium applications; it’s based on the model-view-controller architecture and contains built-in support for Backbone.js and Underscore.js. Arrow combines a framework for building mobile APIs with an elastically scalable cloud service for running them.
Appcelerator. free to develop, Appcelerator Platform priced at enterprise levels