Basically, the question is wrong. They’re all good. Or bad. In other words, it depends on what exactly you’re building. In this article we’ll walk you through the most popular options and explain what platform has a better usage for your requirements.
It is a fact that no code or low code platforms allowing users without technical background build applications are getting more and more popular. Moreover, some of them are widely used by professional developers as well. For instance, if building a front end with a no code platform is easy and more efficient than coding from scratch, it makes sense to use tested and efficient solution. Don’t we all want to get the result faster and with less costs?!
But first of all, let us add just one more important disclaimer. In this article we’ll deal with no-code platforms that actually allow users (developers or citizens) to build an app (web-based or hybrid). In other words, platforms like Webflow, Bubble, Adalo, Wavemaker etc. The problem is that many design tools (like Figma, or Canva, or even V.One) are being marketed as “no-code tools” adding to the confusion. They indeed don’t require any code knowledge to create a visual. But so does same old Power Point, doesn’t it? Certainly, design tools are extremely important. However, we’re not prepared to consider them as no-code platforms. If they don’t allow you smoothly connect front end and back and provide a “full stack” user experience, – it’s not a no-code.
Budget friendly no-codes
So, if you’re really tight on the budget to create your MVP and make it running, the best choice are Bubble, Adalo and Retool. All three have features rich free packages, great functionality and amazing opportunities to build upon, especially if you know what you’re doing. Actually, you can build almost anything on Bubble, – from Tinder-like matching app, to social network, to customized survey service. And though, Bubble io doesn’t have a free trial period, you don’t actually need one with a free plan available.
With Adalo the offer is basically the same, except the cheapest paid plan with Bubble begins with $29, while Adalo’s Pro Plan costs $50/month. However, if you’re building a mobile app (not web), don’t have any experience with UI/UX design, can’t afford a designer and your functionality is pretty standard (not startup-innovative, that is), Adalo might still be the best option. The reason for that is that Adalo includes design templates in it’s basic offer, while Bubble does not. And Bubble-built app needs a plugin to be “hybridized” or become “native-like” and it also costs some extra. While with Adalo you can build hybrid apps straight away.
Retool requires the lowest budget of them all. But it doesn’t allow building hybrid apps at all, only responsive web-based.
Dashboards and internal apps
The best no-code platform for dashboard-like apps (data visualization tools, project management apps, team management apps etc.) are UI Bakery and Wave Maker. They both offer dashboard templates to build upon. However, if UI Bakery will cost you from $0 to $50/month, with Wave Maker you’ll have to spend not less than $500 monthly for the basic plan. Therefore, WaveMaker suits you best if you’re an agency and develop app for various customers, as even basic Wave Maker plan allows you to create unlimited number of applications. Another important difference is that WaveMaker allows you to “wrap up” your app in hybrid form. While UI Bakery works only for web applications.
Why else these two are better for internal usage? Bubble and Adalo “host” the application’s source code. You actually have no direct access to it. Though, with Bubble you can add your CSS, JS or any other pieces of codes to be run on your page automatically. Still, you can’t choose where to deploy it and how. If you use no codes because you literally don’t know how to code, it’s not a big deal. But it is a problem, if you’re bound by the enterprise internal security protocols and such.
And again, if you’re building something simple with “standard” set of features (like dynamic pages, user-generated content, user chats, social networking, booking, deliveries etc.) If you don’t need very elaborate connection to external data bases, resources (like, Zoom, Google Sheets, AWS and such) your best option might be Adalo. All there standard features are built pretty easily using drag and drop interface.
However, if your startup presumes something out of the box, a creative solution, or a REST API external connection, you might think of Bubble. Being one of the oldest players on no-code market, Bubble has created a strong community of experts who will be willing to help. It has also embraced developers of all kinds, offering them a free ticket to Bubble marketplace. You can buy almost any plugin possible here, as well as get many of them for free. Besides, if you know what you’re doing, you can connect Bubble to ML, AI or any other “hot” services you can think of. If we were building a scalable startup, we’d definitely choose Bubble as a no-code platform.
Well, there are many more options available on the market today. Betty Blocks, DronaHQ, V.One, Webflow, – to name just a few. And almost every day a new ambitious player appears to challenge market leaders. However, when making a choice you’ll still be likely to choose based on “value for money” principle. We only encourage you to reflect on some other important issues mentioned in this article. Like, what exactly are you building (meaning, does this platform support out of the box solutions)? Do you really need to get access to the source code? And, if there’s someone who can help me with this specific platform if I fail to complete the task on my own?