Whether you are part of a large company or startup, you know that having a mobile solution, usually an app, is no longer just a competitive edge. It’s mandatory. If you have been tasked with creating an app for your business you are probably thinking that the road ahead is going to be difficult, time consuming, expensive, or more likely, all of the above. But it doesn’t have to be.

Mobile App Development Platforms (MADP) have been created to make it easier and less costly for programmers and non-programmers to create apps using frameworks, limited automation or pure code generation. With these platforms, we’ve seen the emergence of terms like “low-code” and “no-code,” which are used describe the ability for someone to build software, usually an app, without having to write as much code, or any code at all.

Should you give no-code platforms a try? If you know how to code, or have a developer on your team, is either method relevant for you? Before we can answer these questions, we need to understand the differences between low-code and no-code platforms and the types of software they can create. This post covers some of the differences between these two development approaches in order to help you choose the option that best fits your situation.

1: Low-code platforms still require a firm knowledge of programming.

I’ll start with the bad news for the non-programmers: low-code mobile app development platforms still require a firm understanding of development. Low-code development platforms offer a more intuitive way to create the interface, logic, and/or data for your application, most often through a drag-and-drop editor. Doing so reduces the complexity and heavy lifting required to set up, build, and deploy an application but doesn’t remove it together. Low-code platforms still require some manual coding to take full advantage of certain features and to build highly-custom solutions that meet your unique business needs. Therefore it’s critical to note that a low-code solution doesn’t eliminate the need for developers, they are still going to be part of getting the app built and running. The value of these tools is assisting and speeding up development tasks, not eliminating them.

2: Low-code development tools dramatically decrease the time spent programming.

As everyone knows, time is money, so less “non-mission critical” code written by a programmer means the cost of development goes down. Ideally, app designs are created visually by using a drag-and-drop GUI, and then those designs are turned into code. In this scenario, programmers only need to insert code for the finishing touches or to add in mission critical unique elements. Instead of describing what the UI should look like to a programmer (who may not specialize in UX), a user has full control of the design process and can create a unique application with precise UI features. A programmer can then step in and use her magic to make it work with a big chunk of the work already done for her.

3: No development experience? You want no-code.

For the total app development newbie, a no-code mobile app development platform will be your best bet. Most of the no-code platforms and the apps they create are simple and rarely very customizable, but there are a few good ones that are reliable and capable of creating solid, working apps. Since it is intended for use by non-technical users, a no-code platform gives its users less control over the look and functionality of an application and only allows users to customize within platform tight preset constraints. This allows for extreme ease of use and keeps users from breaking anything while building out the simple application. No-code platforms are made for the non-technical users who don’t have the time, skills or resources to devote to developing an application from scratch, or who want to avoid hiring or outsourcing a programmer and need to enable an easy, quick launch of a basic application.

4: Ease of use in exchange for functionality.

It’s easy to build the app, but will anyone download it? Can you even launch the app into the app store? These are major issues that come with using no-code mobile app development platforms. In general, the answer to both is: it depends. Check with the iTunes App Store and Google Play store to confirm that the platform you’re using is capable and optimized for deployment to those destinations. No-code, also called “codeless” app development tools are a great way to get an app “quick and dirty”, but industry leaders question whether codeless platforms will ever meet enterprise standards. The no-code platforms limit what you can create in exchange for making it extremely easy to build, and can sometimes cut corners to get there. If great UX/UI and unique features are critical to your apps mission, you would do best to be very selective in choosing your no-code solution. If you’re a non-developer and just need something very basic for a very limited use case, then no-code platforms might be the best option.

Best of both worlds?

With pros and cons to both approaches, we decided to do something different with Dropsource and create a platform that combined the good parts of low- and no-code platforms, giving your development team the best of both worlds. Using our visual development environment, you design an app and Dropsource converts those designs into personalized, extendable, and truly native source code. Unlike other low-code development platforms, Dropsource writes semantic and concise native source code for you, and gives you complete access to and ownership of the code. This dramatically speeds up development cycles, without forcing compromises on quality, creativity or functionality. And finally, because Dropsource builds truly native apps, your apps can take advantage of the full functionality of the OS, can have great intuitive UX, and will have no problems getting into the App Store.

Tell us what you think about low-code and no-code mobile app development platforms below in the comments.

Check out Dropsource for your next app development project. Our platform helps dev teams efficiently build & ship quality native apps by converting your team’s app designs into concise, extendable native source code.