App builder

What is an app builder? Types, benefits & comparisons

What is an app builder?

An app builder is a software tool or platform that enables you to create mobile applications faster and more efficiently than you’d be able to from scratch. Typically, they either have a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface or provide a library of reusable templates to make it as easy as possible for both technical and non-technical people to design, customise and publish their own apps.

In short, app builders simplify the mobile app development process for various operating systems, including iOS and Android, empowering you to bring your app ideas to life.

Types of app builders

There are two types of app builders: low code and no code.

Low-code app builders provide a visual interface and pre-built components in a drag-and-drop interface. Here, you can configure settings and use predefined code to create custom apps with advanced functionalities. To leverage these platforms, you need to be a developer or have coding knowledge.

On the other hand, no-code app builders require minimal to no coding skills. They offer templated features and limited customizability in a simple drag-and-drop interface. These platforms focus on simplicity and accessibility, enabling you to create online stores and other functional apps without tech knowledge.

What is custom-coding app development?

Custom-coding app development refers to the process of creating an app from scratch using programming languages and custom code. It involves designing, developing and implementing all aspects of the application, including its functionality, user interface and backend systems.

Custom coding gives you complete control over your app's architecture, features and performance. It requires expertise in programming languages like Java, Python or JavaScript and knowledge of development frameworks and tools.

Custom-coding app development offers the flexibility to build highly tailored applications that meet specific requirements and can be optimised for performance, scalability and integration with other systems.

How are app builders different from custom coding development?

App builders

Custom coding development

Development time












The main difference between app builders and custom coding lies in the development time, cost, customisation and maintenance.

1- Development time

App builders offer faster development due to their visual interfaces, pre-built components and templates. You can create applications quickly without writing extensive code.

Custom-coding app development typically requires more time as developers need to write code from scratch. The development process involves designing, coding, testing and iterating on various aspects of the application.

2- Costing

When it comes to app development cost, app builders offer a number of advantages by comparison to custom-coding app development. This includes the fact that they operate on subscription-based models rather than charging hourly rates. They also eliminate the need for hiring specialist developers.

Custom-coding app development tends to be more expensive as it requires skilled developers who may charge higher rates. The cost includes the development team's salaries, infrastructure and potentially ongoing support or maintenance expenses.

3- Customisation

App builders offer a certain level of customisation through their provided components, templates and configuration options. However, customisation is limited to what the app builder platform offers.

Custom coding allows for extensive customisation. Developers can create tailored solutions that precisely meet your specific requirements, including unique features, integrations, designs and customer experience.

4- Maintenance

Maintenance in app builders may either be handled by the platform provider or by a third party. This ensures updates, bug fixes and security patches for the underlying framework or components. You just need to test and apply those updates to your apps.

With custom coding, maintenance responsibility typically lies with your internal development team. Custom-coded applications may require ongoing maintenance to address updates, security vulnerabilities, performance optimisations and feature enhancements.

In summary, app builders offer you faster development, cost advantages and simplified maintenance but have limited customisation options. On the other hand, custom coding offers you extensive customisation, but development time, cost and ongoing maintenance can be higher.

Pros and cons of using app builders vs custom coding

Depending on your requirements, both app builders and custom coding have their own set of pros and cons.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the benefits:

App Builders

Custom coding development

User-friendly - no coding knowledge is required and apps can be assembled via drag and drop

Complete control over the app's architecture, functionality and design

Faster development, reducing time-to-market

Unlimited flexibility means you can implement features for specific requirements

Cost effective because features are pre built

Scalability means your software can easily adapt to emerging needs

Easy to maintain because of simplicity of features

Enterprise-grade security keeping company and customer data safe and compliant

Now let’s take a look at the downsides of each development route:

App Builder

Custom coding

Limited customisation because features are pre built and off the shelf

Longer development time as apps are often created from scratch or with the help of a low-code app builder

Lack of flexibility because of one-size-fits-many approach

Higher cost because of the longer development lifecycle and higher feature complexity

Platform dependency makes it difficult to migrate to another provider or modify your codebase

Prohibitive for entrepreneurs without development skills

Limited scalability makes it difficult to adapt to emerging business needs

Maintenance requires more attention because of app complexity

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