In Dropsource you can build data-driven mobile apps for iOS and Android featuring a range of native functionalities. Dropsource enables developers to visually build their apps from the ground up without writing any code. Read on for tips on evaluating how well suited Dropsource is to your project and needs.
Your Use Case
Since Dropsource connects to your data via API, there’s no real limit to the complexity of what your app can achieve – on the other hand you can quickly throw a simple prototype together if that’s what you need at first. The platform is primarily optimized for mobile phone apps, but you can use adaptive layouts for different screen sizes.
Dropsource uses plugins to achieve the user interface elements and functionality that create your app’s UX. While a range of standard features are available inside the editor at any time, we can also develop custom plugins to suit your needs, so the range of what’s possible is absolutely not limited to what you see when you login.
What is Dropsource not ideal for?
Dropsource can implement a wide variety of use cases, and our list of available features is always growing. However, the platform is not an ideal choice if you’re developing certain app types:
- If you need a high level of control over the details of user interaction with your app or need to implement graphics / animation processing, Dropsource is probably not the right platform for your project.
- Custom UIs
- You can achieve a lot of control over your visual and user interaction design in Dropsource, but the available controls are determined by plugins, most of which are based on standard platform classes for iOS and Android. We can work with you to create additional plugins, but if you need a highly customized UI that uses non-standard features and interactions, Dropsource might not be the platform for you.
Dropsource is a Bring Your Own Backend platform – you cannot build a local or web database via the Dropsource platform. You can connect your app to external data such as BaaS providers or internal enterprise database systems via REST APIs documented in Swagger/OpenAPI. This means your Dropsource app can carry out operations involving any existing data source, user accounts, or services, via API requests that send and receive JSON data. In the Dropsource editor you can bind request parameters and responses directly to your UI, and respond to events associated with your data operations, to carry out processing on the data received and build it into your app’s functionality. Your app can also cache API data locally so that you can manage changes to the user device connectivity status.
Check out a few requirements and caveats for your API:
In Dropsource you can integrate with third party services via both API requests and a selection of prebuilt plugins you’ll find in the editor or that we can add to your project on request. Currently the platform includes access to integrations with the following services:
- Amazon Pinpoint (mobile analytics)
For more info on which particular operations you can access from these services, contact us. Not seeing an integration you need in the editor? Get in touch and let us know what you need, we might be able to add it to the platform via a custom plugin.
Building your App
Dropsource is a visual drag-and-drop development environment. The editor is primarily suited to web and software developers. We have had successful users build apps with no prior programming experience, but a development mindset is recommended. You will carry out the following broad tasks to build your app:
- Create user interfaces for each page in your app by dragging and dropping elements onto the canvas and configuring their style and layout properties
- Connect your app to external data by importing APIs and building requests that you can bind directly to the user interface, including dynamically loading variable lists of data items
- Add functionality to user interaction and lifecycle events in your app, defining what will happen when the app runs, building dynamic data into processing, and implementing control flows
- Iteratively test your app by running it in the interactive simulator without leaving the editor, as well as testing it on physical devices, and sharing it with stakeholders
- Launch your app by publishing it to an app store or other deployment service, sending it for beta testing, or downloading the source code
- Develop and release multiple versions of your app for testing and maintenance
Although Dropsource provides a detailed level of control over your app’s functionality, you can quickly put a prototype together without having to implement a lot of in-depth configuration. Your prototype can then go on to form the basis of your completed app, meaning any development efforts you’ve invested in it do not need to be replicated in order to move forward from the prototyping stage. Similarly, Dropsource streamlines the testing and feedback process, facilitating iterative development from within a single environment.
The Dropsource Builder
When you hit the Test button, Dropsource creates a build of the app you’re working on in the editor. At this point Dropsource validates your project, writes the source code for your app, then compiles the app so that it can run for testing on a virtual or physical device, or be deployed to the channel of your choice. You can continue to run and download previous builds so that you can compare your app before and after any changes you’ve made. If you download your source code, you’ll see that it’s all written using standard conventions, and is structured in a way that will facilitate any future development or extension you choose to make.
When you sign up for Dropsource, a range of getting started resources will help you get to know the editor, including a selection of editable, fully functional example apps. The Dropsource help center contains all of the product documentation, as well as FAQs, tutorials that walk you through creating complete apps and carrying out common tasks, plus guides to integrating with other tools, including a few popular low-code backend options. The Dropsource forum is available to anyone who wants to connect to our community of users, get help, make feature requests, report bugs, and find out about platform updates.
When you sign up for an Enterprise Developer Account, you can schedule an introductory training session. Prior to your session, we’ll ask you to provide some information that will help us tailor the training to your needs and get you off to the best start possible. Additional training sessions are also available via your account, and if there’s anything you would like more advanced guidance on, we can provide that through our support channels.
Support and Services
Dropsource provides a range of support and development services:
|Individual Developer||Enterprise Developer|
|Developer Assistance||Add-on available||✓|
|Plugin Development||Available on request|
|Full App Development||Available on request|
|App Requirements and Design Review||Available on request|
|Data Integration Assistance||Available on request|
|Prototype Development||Available on request|
An Enterprise Developer Account gives you access to developer assistance via live chat, as well as a range of other optional development and consultation services including plugin development, integration guidance, and full app development. You can purchase developer assistance via live chat as an optional add-on without an Enterprise Developer Account.
Deploying your App
You build your app in the Dropsource editor, which you access via the web browser, but your app itself is not hosted or deployed directly from Dropsource – once your development is complete you can distribute the app via a range of services depending on your account level:
|Individual Developer||Enterprise Developer|
|Share via the simulator in the browser||✓||✓|
|Share via test device install||✓||✓|
|Publish to an app store||Self-deployment from source code||✓|
|Download source code||Requires source code license||✓|
|Deploy to a distribution service such as MDM||✓|
|Send to a beta testing service such as TestFlight, Google Play Beta Testing, and Crashlytics Beta (among others)||✓|
You’re never locked into the platform or dependent on Dropsource for access to your app. During development you can share a functioning virtual simulation of the app with stakeholders right from the editor, or you can send a working version for installing on your own device (or the mobile devices of teammates), so you’re not limited to only getting input on your project from within your Dropsource account.
Maintaining your App
Once you’ve deployed an app, you can continue developing it, releasing future versions as often as you need to. The Dropsource builder is continually updated to write code that reflects any iOS and Android platform updates (for example to address security concerns and vulnerabilities), so to update your app for an OS change, you can typically just log in, build your project, and initiate a new release from there. If you find that you want to take the app elsewhere or carry out customizations outside of Dropsource, there is nothing stopping you from doing that, the source code is yours to do whatever you want with it – just be aware that any customizations you make outside of Dropsource cannot be imported back into the editor.
Ready to take the next step and get to know Dropsource a bit better?