Choosing the best no-code app builder for your project can be a daunting task. In this article, we walk you through the process and highlight some of our favorites.
Over the past decade, the process of app development has changed dramatically, opening the door for more and more non-technical developers to dip their toes in the development pond.
Traditional methods of app development require a great deal of technical training and a team of multiple developers to be able to build even relatively simple applications. The introduction of low-code and no-code tools has changed this dynamic significantly.
A no-code app builder is a platform or tool designed to allow non-technical users, and developers seeking to build faster, to build web and mobile apps much easier than traditional methods of app development.
As the evolution of low-code and no-code platforms has progressed, the capabilities of these tools has grown tremendously. What used to be limited to early stage MVPs (minimum viable products) has now branched into fully scalable mobile apps for startups to enterprises and encompasses countless business use cases.
In this article, we will introduce you to some of the best no-code platforms available on the market. Each of these platforms has its own strengths and limitations. All, however, bring something unique to the table.
Ultimately, the goal of no-code app building platforms is to dramatically increase your speed of app development. With no-code app builder software, you can produce an app of comparable quality to a coded app in a fraction of the time. And because time is money – in a multitude of ways – no-code makes app development far less expensive than building with code.
Ask any no-code “maker” on Twitter and you’ll get the same answer to this question: it depends. We’re not going to rank the no-code platforms in this list, but rather provide you some insight into the best list of tools that we have had the chance to work with.
Additionally, this is not a no-code app builder review article. What we view as the best app builder without coding may not be the best for your needs. Instead, we provide you with information about the platforms so that you can make the choice that’s best for your use case. If you’re unsure how to evaluate no-code platforms, check out our no-code platform checklist.
For each tool, we cover both their frontend and backend capabilities. Every tool on the list has frontend capability, but only a few have built-in backend functionality. Not sure what the difference is between backend and frontend? Check out this article.
Finally, all of the below platforms offer some form of a free plan, so we focus the starting price on the lowest paid tier.
Of course we are going to start with the platform we know best – our own. Backendless is a complete visual app development solution, meaning you have all the capabilities necessary to build complex and scalable frontends and backends.
Backendless offers a visual UI Builder from creating your app’s user interface. UI Builder offers a wide array of components, themes, and a growing number of page templates. Backendless uses Codeless blocks to allow users to build logic and APIs visually, without writing code. The platform includes a large number of pre-built APIs for interacting with the backend database, file storage, messaging, user authentication, etc.
Backendless also features many post-launch tools, such as visual user management, push notifications for iOS and Android, email templates, and in-app messaging support. With the Springboard Plan, Backendless can act as a completely free app creator without coding, costing you nothing to develop your app.
Adalo is a frontend-oriented no-code app builder that allows you to build apps that can be published anywhere – web, mobile, and app stores. Adalo offers drag-and-drop components allowing you to easily construct your idea UI. The platform uses “Actions” represent on-page logic and can be used to trigger backend events.
Adalo offers its own spreadsheet-style database where data can be stored, updated and retrieved. Adalo does not allow for backend logic per se, but can integrate with other tools (and APIs) that provide backend functionality.
Frontend capability: Drag-and-drop components, actions for linking pages together and triggering events such as push notifications.
Backend capability: Spreadsheet-style database, API integration capabilities.
AppGyver boasts the capability to build applications for all form factors, including mobile, desktop, TV, and others. AppGyver uses a combination of containers and components to enable the user to build a wide range of user interfaces. The platform enables native functionality for mobile apps as well.
AppGyver also includes a theme engine designed to allow users to implement global themes across all of the platform’s 500+ components. You can build unlimited logic within the UI, or connect via API to third-party logic and backend functionality.
Bravo Studio prides itself as being a design-first no-code platform. You can create your app design using Figma or Adobe XD and import the resulting design seamlessly into Bravo Studio. Then, simply connect your app to a backend or database via REST API to produce a fully-functional app in no time.
Bravo Studio is focused on mobile app development, and produces publishable apps that can be submitted to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Frontend capability: Highly design-oriented, build apps in Figma or Adobe XD then import into Bravo Studio.
The most ubiquitous no-code platform, Bubble‘s strength is its large community. Bubble is primarily a frontend oriented builder, enabling users to build responsive web apps that are capable on both mobile and web. With its large community, there is a wide array of user-generated templates and components that can be used in your app.
Bubble utilizes the concept of workflows for designing logic. Workflows to interact with pages within your app, your Bubble database, or can enable you to use external APIs to gain added functionality not available in Bubble itself.
Unlike more developer-oriented tools, Bubble uses simplified terminology to make itself more accessible to the beginning non-technical app maker.
Frontend capability: Customizable UX/UI, integration-capable, drag-and-drop design, dynamic content, large selection of templates.
Backend capability: Serverless hosting, version control and backups, automatic SSL certificates and multi-factor authentication.
Draftbit is a browser-based builder for mobile apps that provides you with the source code of the projects you develop. Draftbit utilizes “bits” and “blocks” as two forms of components. This allows you to choose high-level, speed-oriented development or more granular and precise development.
Draftbit is designed specifically for mobile app builders, focusing entirely on mobile apps. You can easily preview your project on your mobile device to get a pixel-perfect rendering of your application.
Frontend capability: Two levels of components, mobile app development only, easy to preview and share, full source code available.
DronaHQ is a no-code app builder geared specifically toward enterprises and internal tool development. As such, DronaHQ apps are responsive on mobile, but typically designed for desktop. The platform uses “Controls”, similar to components, and has a large library for app makers to choose from.
As a business-oriented platform, DronaHQ offers easy integration with virtually any data source. The platform uses “Actionflows” as a variation on workflows, allowing you to add frontend logic to your applications. DronaHQ offers several enterprise-level features, such as SSO, SAML and oAuth capability, on-prem hosting, and granular permissions.
Frontend capability: Controls (component) library, easy integration with databases, Actionflows for frontend logic.
Retool enables no-code app makers to build internal tools “remarkably fast”. The platform provides a wide section of building blocks, including tables, lists, charts, forms, wizards, and maps. These components can be easily to connected to external data sources to produce complex apps very quickly.
Thunkable is a no-code tool designed specifically for building native mobile apps. Features include drag-and-drop components, advanced logic, native mobile app functionality, and easy publication. Thunkable apps can be directly published from the platform to the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, or the web.
Thunkable also boasts extensible integrations, allowing you to access third-party databases and backend functionality easily.
Frontend capability: Design components, animations, logic blocks, open integrations.
UI Bakery allows app makers to quickly build internal no-code business tools. UI Bakery lets you add your database credentials to query your data directly, or you can integration any REST or GraphQL API. The platform offers 25+ components and 10+ column and field types.
No-code and low-code tools enable the development of custom mobile apps and web apps much faster than traditional methods of app development. These tools boast great ease of use, tons of functional features, and can be used to create things for personal use or business use.
Finding the best no-code tool for you is likely to be a multi-step process. We recommend trying a few platforms before choosing the one that works best for your use case.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is No-Code development?
No-code, or Codeless, development is app (and website) development that does not require the developer to manually write code. Using visual Codeless blocks, you are able to compose user interfaces, logic and APIs visually.
An application built using no-code tools still contains code. Lots of it, in fact. This code is not written by the developer, however, but rather generated automatically by the platform itself.
What’s the difference between no-code and low-code?
While low-code development platforms may have a steeper learning curve, they also provides additional flexibility for the developer by removing some constraints.
What is a visual app development platform?
A visual app development platform (VADP) is a term that we like to use for web and mobile app development platforms that allow a developer to build apps visually, with little or no code.
The difference between a VADP and a no-code platform as discussed in this article is that a VADP typically provides both a frontend and a backend, and both can be managed entirely visually.
How does Zapier fit in a no-code app development stack?
No no-code app builder can do it all. As technology advances, with new capabilities for apps and websites being invented all the time, there are bound to be gaps in your platform.
Zapier is a no-code tool created to make it easy to connect multiple web-based services, including no-code platforms, with each other. Using Zapier, you can easily connect your chosen platform to thousands of tools available across the web.
What is the difference between a web app and a mobile app?
A web app is an application that is hosted and delivered via a web browser, much like a website. Most web apps, if built to be responsive, can be accessed by a mobile phone and still look great and function very well. They cannot, however, be submitted as-is to mobile app stores.
A number of the no-code platforms we discuss in this article allow you to build native mobile applications. Typically, mobile application development platforms provide additional capabilities that other no-code app builders do not.
For example, native mobile apps are able to access functionality on the device that is not available to a web app. Additionally, a web app cannot be directly submitted to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store without being properly packaged. There are services that can take your web app and prepare it for submission to the app stores.
Some no-code mobile app development platforms allow you to submit your app directly to the app stores through their platform.
Backendless offers two options for publishing your app to mobile: Backendless Viewer and a Flutter native mobile app shell. Backendless Viewer is itself an app on the app stores. You can publish your Backendless app directly to Viewer from inside Backendless Console.
Our Flutter shell is a wrapper for your app. It allows you to compile your Backendless app using Flutter. The resulting app can then be published to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store as a native mobile app.