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GitLab

GitLab is a cloud-based project management platform that allows software developers to develop and manage codes collaboratively. The platform can be deployed either on-premise or in the cloud. GitLab helps developers manage t...Read more about GitLab

Xray

Xray introduces Native Quality Management, naturally embedding the quality management process into the development workflow. With Native Quality Management, all QA tools, tests and processes are infused into the development enviro...Read more about Xray

4.0 (5 reviews)

Ionic

Ionic is an enterprise mobile app development platform that provides everything needed to build, connect, and deliver high quality mobile and web applications in-house, using familiar web tools, languages, and frameworks. Ionic’s...Read more about Ionic

Zoho Creator

Zoho Creator is an all-in-one low-code application development software platform that is designed to help businesses digitize their business operations without the hassle of traditional development. The solution enables profession...Read more about Zoho Creator

Anypoint Platform

Anypoint Platform is an application development solution for organizations that are looking to integrate applications, data sources and devices using application programming interfaces (API). The solution is suitable for industrie...Read more about Anypoint Platform

Sigrid

Sigrid is a data-driven intelligence platform that helps users analyze and manage applications' source code. By using advanced analysis techniques, it provides users with objective insights into the software's technical and busine...Read more about Sigrid

OutSystems

OutSystems is a high-performance low-code platform that achieves serious productivity, creating serious apps with continuous innovation. Visual development tools and automation powered by AI help customers tackle strategic challen...Read more about OutSystems

DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean is a cloud management software designed to help businesses streamline application development and database management operations. It enables software developers to build and deploy applications in cloud environments, ...Read more about DigitalOcean

Platform.sh

Designed for businesses in retail, marketing, education and other industries, Platform.sh is a cloud-based solution that helps streamline application development via custom templates, deployment management, data governance, applic...Read more about Platform.sh

4.7 (3 reviews)

Triggre

Triggre is a no-code development platform that helps all kinds of organizations build business applications without any programming knowledge: warehouse management, logistic routing, customer portals or completely automated proces...Read more about Triggre

4.4 (7 reviews)

Appy Pie

Appy Pie is an application development platform that enables users to create mobile applications compatible with operating systems such as Android, iOS and Windows mobile OS. The solutions creates applications for a variety of ind...Read more about Appy Pie

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Retrace by Netreo

Retrace is a cloud-based application performance management solution. It is designed for developers at organizations of all sizes and provides bug tracking, data aggregation and automatic alerts. The solution provides an acti...Read more about Retrace by Netreo

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Bizness Apps

Bizness Apps is a cloud-based application development solution designed for small businesses. Users can configure pre-built applications designed for food ordering, push notifications, mobile shopping carts and appointment schedul...Read more about Bizness Apps

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Airbrake

Airbrake is a cloud-based error and bug reporting solution that caters to development teams in small and midsize organizations. The features of this solution include backlog management, filtering, ticket management, issue tracking...Read more about Airbrake

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DevSuite

DevSuite by TechExcel is a cloud-based asset lifecycle and business process management solution that helps businesses with designing, developing, testing and knowledge sharing. The tool can also be deployed on-premise and supports...Read more about DevSuite

Knack

Knack is cloud-based database management portal software that allows companies to build online databases that can be accessed remotely. Key features include an application builder, customization tools, reporting and analytics, an ...Read more about Knack

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Rollbar

Rollbar is a cloud-based bug tracking and monitoring solution that caters to organizations of all sizes. Rollbar supports multiple programming languages and frameworks like JavaScript, Python, .NET, Drupal, Wordpress and Pyramid. ...Read more about Rollbar

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TrackVia

You know how some companies struggle to get work done as efficiently as they should or could because of internal bottlenecks, bad data and lack of real-time coordination between back-office and front-line employees? Well, TrackVia...Read more about TrackVia

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Glue

Meet Glue - a customer loyalty program designed specifically for local business owners. So much more than just a coupon creator or loyalty card maker, Glue offers local businesses their very own branded loyalty app, and an automa...Read more about Glue

4.7 (3 reviews)

AppSheet

AppSheet is a mobile app builder that helps users create iOS and Android apps from the data pulled from spreadsheets or cloud services. Users can extract data from multiple sources including Box, DropBox, OneDrive and Google Drive...Read more about AppSheet

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Buyers Guide

Last Updated: March 16, 2023

Research has conclusively shown that just because you build an application doesn’t mean your customers or your employees are actually going to use it.

The mantra in digital business these days is “fail fast.” So, if you choose to build an app, you need to get it out there in the world ASAP. App development software makes development easy, so you can get your app to the sink/swim phase and hopefully give it a few nudges to help it swim.

We’ll cover the following basics about app development software so you can make an informed purchase. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What is App Development Software?

Common Functionality of App Development Software

Benefits of App Development Software

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Market Trends to Understand

What is App Development Software?

App development software has existed for decades. Software environments like .NET allow for interoperability of programming languages across diverse OS ecosystems and application stacks, while integrated development environments (IDEs) speed the work of software development by providing a single graphical user interface (GUI) for various development tasks: editing code, compiling code, deploying applications etc. Finally, bug tracking software allows developers to manage and resolve issues with apps.

Applications can be deployed on desktops, mobile devices or via web browser. Many app development platforms facilitate the development of all three types of apps, but some cater exclusively to one or another. You’ll want to make sure the products you evaluate support your type of app development.

The term “app development software” is somewhat vague. In fact, businesses often use an app development platform, which is a whole suite of interrelated tools for creating apps. You can buy some of these tools separately, but smaller businesses will typically settle on just a single vendor for the platform.

App development platforms cover all the phases of development: design, coding, backend integrations, usability/bug testing, delivery (e.g., to online app marketplaces/storefronts) and post-deployment analytics. Additionally, mobile app development platforms support the delivery of app upgrades as well as paid licensing models for apps.

App analytics platforms, while central to the mobile app development process, are a healthy market unto themselves. That said, analytical capabilities are found in many app development platforms, and these should be robust enough for many standard use cases. Trickier use cases involve considerations such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which present beastly data integration issues.

Let’s take a brief look at some of the most important features app development software offers in these areas.

Common Functionality of App Development Software

The follow functions can be found in app development platforms and tools:

Integrated development environment (IDE)

A graphical user interface for source code editing, compiling, and debugging.

Code-free development

Especially useful for mobile app designers; features drag-and-drop interfaces, wizards and other visual interfaces for app development that allow non-technical users to build apps without writing code.

Prebuilt, templated apps

Typically, mobile app development software features templates for common app use cases (banking, field service, employee facing etc.)

Hardware compatibility testing

Allows you to preview how the app will display on multiple device types and operating systems, either via software simulation or pushing the app preview to actual hardware devices.

API

Mobile app development platforms sport RESTful APIs that allow developers to integrate the functionality of the platform with back-end services and databases.

Data synchronization

App development software enables the synchronization of data created by apps when they’re offline with online services.

Mobile app analytics

Gathers data about how users are engaging with the app after it’s deployed to spot bugs and opportunities for improvement.

Benefits of App Development Software

App development software offers a number of benefits, including:

  • Faster development time. This is of course the major reason to invest in an app development platform. Complex apps will still require some custom development work, but by automating or eliminating much of the code-writing process, app development platforms allow businesses to bring apps to storefronts more quickly.

  • Backend data integration. Connecting apps with backend services and databases can be tricky, but app development software makes integrations easier by providing user-friendly APIs for this purpose.

  • Visual development environment. Without an app development platform, business users with no programming skills can’t build apps. App development platforms feature templates and visual development environments to enable any business user to create apps.

  • Hardware compatibility. Typically, app development platforms integrate with native SDKs (software development kits) for iOS, Android etc. This means that developers have access to the hardware features of various smartphone platforms without going through the native SDK. Additionally, the usability testing that app development platforms enable allow developers to spot potential design problems before the app is launched.

  • UI/workflow design assistance. The various features that app development platforms offer for automating development enable developers to focus on the user interface and the workflows/user experiences it supports.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Typically, app development software buyers fall into two categories:

  • DevOps buyers. These buyers need to focus on the customizability of the code that app development software generates, since developers will typically need to expand and edit pre-generated code. DevOps buyers should also focus on the backend integration services supported by the app development platform.

  • Line of business buyers/“citizen” developers. These buyers should focus on the visual interfaces that app development software offers for app development. They should also examine the number of templated apps that app development vendors offer for common business use cases and industry verticals (entertainment, healthcare, banking etc.).

Market Trends to Understand

Rapid App Development. This technology refers to the coding-free technologies for app development that we’ve discovered throughout this buyer’s guide - visual wizards, prebuilt app templates, drag-and-drop interfaces etc. The goal of platforms specializing in rapid app development is to enable normal business users to design and deploy apps with minimal IT involvement. These platforms are particularly aimed at digital businesses in which marketing departments, customer service departments etc. need to launch apps quickly in response to emerging opportunities.

Integration Platform as a Service. Integration Platform as a Service refers to the emerging market for cloud platforms for data integration, including backend data integration for apps. While many app development platform vendors offer backend data integration services, a separate integration as a service may be required for more complex deployments.