Visual Mobile App Development

Options and alternatives for the rise of NO code development.

¿Left or right? ¿design or code?

¿Remember Macromedia? I built my first website with Dreamweaver, a WYSIWYG site builder that became popular during my teenage years. It was awesome. I think is still available under de Adobe’s umbrella offering.

Macromedia Logo.

Well, the idea behind Dreamweaver was/is to deliver good looking dynamic web sites in a shorter time, with some sort of snippets code in ASP, PHP, JSP, and ColdFusion, pretty ambitious but really cool for that time. With some integration with other programs like Fireworks, Flash, Contribute they used to reduce drastically the delivery and maintenance times. Adobe bought in 2011 a company called Nitobi, and rebranded it as Phonegap, so it was one of the first options to deliver cross platform apps with the eye candy, and later released an open source version of the software called Apache Cordova.

So the idea is not new.

We can see a explosive growing number of tools and platforms, even a Congress held in San Francisco, CA, USA about non-code dev or RAD (rapid application development), or visual app development, whatever you name it.

But I wonder if there is a trap or a only one-way road that you can’t never come back. Do you still have the control at some point ? can you add your own components? are they easily integrated ? are they performant or just because they are part of a bigger black box we don’t know or we don’t even care? can we optimize this apps? how much time do we reduce our development time ? and finally, is a real option or maybe is just better to keep our distance? in conclusion build or buy?

In my search and with no surprise I found a lot of options, can say there is a explosion or tendency, maybe we can separate the offering in 2 groups.

No Code.

Cloud based platforms.

Goode examples are (in no specific order).

Como, Appery, Mobile Roadie, TheAppBuilder, Good Barber, Appy Pie, AppMachine, GameSalad, BiznessApps, AppMakr, ShoutEm, etc, etc, the list could be enormous.

COMO is a web based platform

API Tools

API connectors like Zapier are a important part of the no code movement.

Low Code or RAD Tools.

As a developer I want to explore the alternatives where I can code and be more productive at the same time.

Qt

Qt is a cross-platform application development framework for desktop, embedded and mobile

In Qt you can import your design from two of the most populars prototype tools in the UI/UX market, Sketch and the old Photoshop. I personally use Sketch.

You can import your design,

C++ is though, I mean is not a programming language that you learn in one night, but is worth it, you additionally have the option to deliver embedded applications.

Embarcadero RAD Studio

RAD Studio is a pretty solid alternative, but I think the problem is that you must dominate Delphi, this could be a problem, to hire some Delphi programmers. As an alternative you can code in C++ but in this case I’ll rather use QT.

Based on a recent webinar, I asked, and there is no a visual easy integration with Graph DataBases, just SOAP (pain in the ass) and of course REST.

RAD Studio is not free, neither RAD Server, neither de Embarcadero DataBase Interbase.

RAD Studio

GeneXus

GeneXus is developed by Uruguayan company ARTech Consultores SRL, and it was founded 32 years ago, so they must be doing something well to stay in the market all this time.

Mendix

The Mendix application platform is based on visual, model-driven software development and perhaps maybe have to be in the cloud based category, but what I like about Mendix is that you have some sort of control, I mean you can code, front and back.

Mendix Platform

But “Where can I see the generated code?”. The answer is “There is no code! The runtime interprets the model and produces your application. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t use code to extend your model”.

There are two main ways that you can extend your model in the Mendix platform to utilize custom code. These are front-end extensions known as widgets and backend extensions called connectors. Widgets allow you to extend your Mendix application using JavaScript and utilize any JavaScript library you require such as: React, Angular, Dojo or D3. Connectors run on the server, allowing you to create custom Java/Scala code to utilize any Java or Scala libraries. As well as custom code, we also support native integrations such as REST, SOAP and OData.

Writing Code in a Low-Code World

Yu can start using Mendix for free but if you need some thing else, like a on premise installation, support for CI/CD integration, automated backups, yes, you have to pay.

Oracle Visual Builder

Oracle Visual Builder Cloud Service

If you currently use other Oracle products this is a good option, you can create applications that integrates with Oracle SaaS using Fusion Applications REST services pretty easy.

Oracle Visual Builder prices.

We all know that Oracle is stupidly expensive. If you don’t have access to the Oracle products and/or cloud don’t go this way.

I just realize (writing this article) that Oracle also owns Oracle Apex — Oracle Application Express, this tool enables you to design, develop and deploy beautiful, responsive, database-driven applications using only your web browser according to them.

One of the greatest advantages of Oracle APEX is that you have native access to all the capabilities of Oracle Database.

I’m not a huge fan of Oracle and I really don’t know the reason for having to similar products, but until I know, PL/SQL Developers PL/SQL (Procedural Language/Structured Query Language) is Oracle Corporation’s procedural extension for SQL and the Oracle RDBMS and is widely using by developers worldwide for database design and development and also in APEX and of course in Oracle, in contrast we can use a declarative JS development in Oracle Visual Builder.

Declarative JS development

I see this tools like more focused to extend Oracle capabilities or functionality, not as a general purpose app maker.

Price matters.

Adobe ColdFusion Builder

Adobe Cold Fusion

ColdFusion Builder is an IDE for delivering Rapid Application Development (RAD) using ColdFusion Enterprise or Standard server. Since ColdFusion Builder is based on Eclipse, it works easily with other Eclipse plugins.

Cold Fusion is and IDE Eclipse based.

I’m not pretty sure you can deliver a complete app without coding, but for sure the tag based language speed up the process.

Certainly the ColdFusion server is not free, they offer a developer free edition but the complete enterprise license cost around $12,500 USD. As an alternative you can install Lucee an open source project to run CFML scripting.

But to be honest it can be hard to hire a ColdFusion developer.

Xojo

Xojo, Inc. was founded in 1997 with the idea that software development should be accessible to anyone. With traditional tools, creating apps can be a very complicated process, but using Xojo anyone can learn to create high quality, native apps for the Desktop (macOS, Windows, Linux), Web, iOS (iPad/iPhone) and Raspberry Pi. Xojo also offers Xojo Cloud, which is easy, secure and maintenance-free web application hosting.

Xojo Web Site

Xojo is made up of a rich set of graphical user interface objects, a modern object-oriented language, an integrated debugger, and a multi-platform compiler but Android support is not released yet, a major setback in my opinion.

You can use JavaScript code in your Xojo projects, ¡JS is everywhere!

Conclusion

And as I said lines above, if you don’t know nothing about programming or don’t want to deal with code go for the cloud /web based options.

According to Gartner, by 2022, citizen developers will be building more than a third of all web and mobile employee-facing apps delivered in organizations with mature citizen development initiatives (Gartner Inc., “Market Guide for Rapid Mobile App Development Tools,” November 30, 2017, Jason Wong). Gartner recognized Mendix as a top player in the Low-Code Development Platforms arena.

Oracle Apex and Oracle Visual Coder are more like niche solutions in my understanding, so use it if you have other Oracle solutions, something similar to SAP Visual Composer, which doesn’t make sense if you don’t have other SAP modules available to interact with, or like Kendo Builder, it only fits for rapid development if you have a Progress Open Edge installation.

And we can keep going and going.

I know there are a lot more options maybe I don’t even know they exist, maybe you can drop a line or two and include them in a comment in order to in a future article revision/ update include them.

Thanks, Alex

Peace

Addendum

  1. Model Driven engineering
  2. Fusion Applications REST services
  3. Custom javaScript Client Code in Oracle Visual Builder
  4. Moving Adobe Coldfusion to Lucee

Update

what do you think ?

Cheerleader in chief for KMMX, RPA Enthusiast, DevOps, Technical Writer & International Speaker, Dad & 2 cats.