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What are mobile app development platforms' pros and cons?

Codeless mobile app development platforms can save time, money and resources. But with limited customization options, they shouldn't be the only tool in a developer's toolbox.

When it comes to providing enterprise mobile applications to workers, organizations turn to codeless mobile app development platforms for two reasons: cost savings and speed.

Custom enterprise mobile app development, especially for multiple mobile platforms, can be resource-intensive and time-consuming, especially when considering developer costs. Quality developers are expensive and often difficult to find. Even if you outsource your mobile app projects, you're still paying for those developers.

Codeless mobile app development platforms don't require developer expertise, knowledge of complex programming languages or lifecycle management experience. Nontechnical personnel can build and implement apps, allowing in-house developers and administrators to focus on more critical projects. Mobile app development platforms (MADPs) offer reusable components and predefined templates, carrying out the majority of tasks with drag-and-drop operations that are quick and easy to perform.

Most codeless MADPs are available as cloud-based platforms that do not require costly infrastructure or resources to set up and maintain. MADPs typically include the workspace, connections, deployment tools and management capabilities to support the entire application lifecycle.

Not only does this approach result in lower startup costs -- it allows apps to get out the door faster. Codeless mobile app development platforms can deploy an app in a fraction of the time it would take to do it from scratch.

Where codeless mobile app development falls short

Codeless mobile app development platforms don't require developer expertise, knowledge of complex programming languages or lifecycle management experience.

Codeless mobile app development platforms aren't always the best option. For example, their template-based approach limits customization. Some services support customization capabilities -- which require real developers -- but they are usually limited in scope and tend not to provide the tools needed to deliver the sophisticated apps many organizations require.

With codeless MADPs, as with many mobile app development platforms, there is also the issue of vendor lock-in. MADPs handle the entire app lifecycle and tend not to interact with or move to other platforms easily.

Codeless MADPs must also work across multiple delivery platforms, so users often build apps to the lowest common denominator to support all host operating systems. Doing so can result in less sophisticated apps.

When considering codeless MADPs, pick and choose wisely and look at the long-term costs. Above all, make certain the apps can deliver what they're supposed to deliver; anything less can result in disgruntled end users and apps that never take off.

Next Steps

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What to look for in a mobile app dev platform

This was last published in April 2016

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