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I have been doing Objective-C programming over the past few weeks, and I have learnt a lot. However, I see that there are other Web-companies offering services to consumers directly from their website that allow consumers to create their apps through a point and click and drag features without any code. Clearly they are more cost effective and fast than having a developer write an app. I was wondering if there are any advantages then of having a developer build an app for someone, other than the obvious advantage that its got a custom look and feel.

Could someone please clarify, since Im new and would like to evaluate whether it is worthwhile spending time towards learning a whole new development environment when someone could just use a webservice to make an app for multiple platforms


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migrated from Mar 13 '11 at 13:46

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

Web 2.0 - You make the content, we take the profit. – Andreas Johansson Mar 13 '11 at 15:47
  1. The point, click and drag features don't cover everything that it's possible to do on Android. You've already spotted that there are things to do with look-and-feel that can't be achieved using the web design thing. There might basic functionality that also can't be accessed.

  2. There is more to software engineering than throwing together a few mix-and-match pieces. Nobody has yet come up with a system that allows ignorant amateurs to do all the worthwhile things that software engineers do. The closest is probably that pretty much any beginner can patch together a few snippets of Javascript on a webpage. If their idea is good they'll come up with something very valuable, but most of the time for a web app to be both really good and really innovative takes the use of skills like requirements-gathering, design, optimization, and just in general knowing what you're doing. I strongly suspect the same applies with these DIY phone apps.

Programmers have faced the "threat" that just any civilian might be able to do our job ever since BASIC was invented. In fact there are more skilled and trained programmers now than ever. The people using the web thingy to throw together apps might well become programmers the first time they think of something they want to do that the web thingy won't let them. Programmers do the jobs that easy-to-use design tools don't cover. Every time someone thinks of something new that needs doing, our realm grows on one side. Every time someone comes up with a new easy-to-use tool, our realm shrinks on the other side. You get over worrying about it ;-)

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It very much depends on what you're building. If you're building a glorified single-site RSS reader, one of the cookie-cutter apps with a logo and colour scheme may well do the trick. There's no way, though, that you could create something like Angry Birds via a drag-and-drop template.

You also need to consider future-proofing - if you're stuck to someone else's drag-and-drop framework and it doesn't offer a feature you might need in the future if your app takes off, you'd have to redevelop the entire thing.

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Remember this: Somebody had to write the web tool.

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Don't know about Android, but I've never heard about such on-line tools for iPhone. However it is probably impossible to develop unique and valuable application without a line of code. Even such powerful tools like Unity have built-in script editor.

And even if there is such tool, I think for the real developer it is essential to understand what is going on inside.

Don't be a monkey that pressed

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There are a number of "add a flickr feed, add a rss feed, add static HTML content" type templating systems for building very simple apps for iOS. – ceejayoz Mar 13 '11 at 13:37
@ceejayoz maybe, but I've never used such tools. Really what is the point of creating application, that has over9000 clones? – Max Mar 13 '11 at 13:40

Im feeling a little disillusioned!

Take a look: DIY app company

I mean how does this whole DIY thing work on their side? How are they able to generate iPhone programs by just someone going to their website, adding icons and images and then text and the whole app is generated?

How does that work?

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I suspect you should post this as a new separate question. – pt2ph8 Mar 14 '11 at 19:18

If you are trying to develop a marketable skill, evaluate those tool(s) as well the potential customers, and target learning how to develop the stuff that the tool(s) can't do well or at all, and that customers want to do. Given the current state of these tools, that's the vast majority of the technology used to create almost all of the top popularity apps in the App stores.

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My wife is starting her own business and looking to create a Web page. At first, she didn't enlist my son's expertise in designing, but chose those cookie-cutter versions. The problem is that those DYI applications don't allow her to design the page the way SHE wants; they only allow a few stencils for "most people".

She is now enlisting my son to code up the web pages. They look a lot better than those DIY pages. There is a difference between the DIY stuff and what has been originally coded. These days, having a unique, easy to navigate web site is where the competition is. DIY, templates and stencils are only for those whose primary form of advertising does not require the Web.

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