There are quite a few steps between starting to learn to code and developing a web application, and a new Y Combinator startup is trying to fill in those gaps. Appcubator has launched to allow users to create their own web applications with drag and drop, text inserts and custom themes, rather than having to endure the arduous process of learning to create a full-functioning website or hire a contractor.
Co-founder Karan Sikka tells me Appcubator’s average user has some sense of the technical aspects of building a website, but aren’t professional developers. “Business people have a hard time grasping the fundamental concepts behind web applications, and they often lack the patience required,” Sikka says. “They’re often much more willing to pay and not have to spend a few hours.”
Since most of the startup’s users have some knowledge of building an application, Sikka tells me they figure out how to navigate the site fairly quickly. I had a little trouble at first, but there’s a handy little chat box in the corner where users can ask questions. The founders have also created a lot of resources to help users out, with video tutorials, a demo guide and examples of what others have built.
Your Appcubator website starts with a blank homepage, and you can then add customized features from a drag-and-drop toolbar. You can also edit the header and footer, with links to other pages created along the way (such as “About Us” or “Sign Up”). The webpage features range from basics like images, text and videos, to custom buttons and log-in through email, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
On the other end, Appcubator will show you your total users, visitors and page views. You can organize your data based on user information, as well as send an email to everyone signed up through Appcubator. From here, you can also change the theme, manage pages and change URLs.
You can save your work as you go, and whenever you want to preview or publish, just hit the publish button. You will then get the URL of your new website and the option to download the code files. From there, feel free to go back and edit as much as you want.
For those with more experience in coding, Appcubator lets users download the code for their applications. If you’re familiar with CSS, you can also go into “edit theme” for further customization. Appcubator uses standard Python code for its pages, built on Django web libraries.
A couple other applications like Bubble.is and dockPHP provide a similar service. But Sikka tells me Appcubator is different because it’s optimized for developers and provides users with a database. The team is working on adding plug-ins and making Appcubator compatible with mobile devices.
Appcubator is free to all basic users, and charges $35 a month for a custom domain, upgraded performance and developer support. To jump-start your site, you can pay a flat fee, starting from $480, for the Appcubator team to build it for you in a day.
Unless you’re truly dedicated, you’re Appcubator site probably is not going to be the most beautiful thing ever created. But it gives you an easily accessible way to get what you need, as well as manage your data.