Thunkable Live is a super useful tool to speed up your app development cycle. Like any tool, there are some things it’s really good at, but you can’t use it for everything.
Here’s my take on where Thunkable Live fits into a typical app development life cycle, followed by a more in-depth comparison.
- Thunkable Live
Whether your using pen and paper or you have a whiteboard and some dry erase markers, there’s really no substitute for doing a quick sketch of your idea.
Sketching allows you to answer questions such as “What components are you going to have on each screen?” and "How will your screens connect to one another? "
Before you begin any project you should sketch out a rough idea of what you want your app to look like. This will give you a great overview of your entire project and help clarify your own thoughts and intents.
There a lots of great tools available for wire-framing and UI prototyping. Some are free and some are paid, but in general, the more time you spend using these tools, the more useful they become. The drawback here, is that if you’re building your first app then this becomes “yet another tool” you need to learn before you can get started.
Design software like this is great if you want to communicate you ideas to a developer, or sometimes you can do some basic UX testing before you invest too much time in development.
If you intent on becoming a professional designer then this is a must-learn but for most Thunkers, this is one of the tools that you can use a lot less of if you’re using Thunkable Live.
It’s free, it’s cross-platform and it’s real time. The benefits of live testing are only really apparent if you’ve tried developing an app without live testing. If you make a change in your design or your blocks you can see and test this change immediately on your phone - there’s no need to rebuilt and reinstall your app over and over again. It’s like a power-boost for your development speed.
Thunkable Live also contains a feature called Live Preview. With “Live Preview” you can also access any of your projects, directly from your phone, without the need to be logged into Thunkable X.
Thunkable Live was never supposed to replace installing and testing your app on an end-users device, but rather to make your life easier, to to make testing your ideas faster.
The benefit of using emulators is that you can test a variety of devices without actually having to purchase every device you want to test on. The drawback is that each device has to be downloaded (typically a few 100 MBs) so you need a decent setup to use them.
The latest emulators allow you to simulate all sorts of sensor inputs like turning and tilting, but it’s still easier to interact with a physical device
Emulators are another piece of software that you can also use a lot less of with Thunkable Live in your wheelhouse.
It’s the most expensive, both in terms of time and money, but there’s still no substitute for testing on a real, physical device.
If you’re working for a large studio with a big budget then it’s no big deal to have a collection of devices to test on. You might even a person from IT to keep everything up-do-date and running smoothly, but for most of us, that’s not an option. We have to ship our apps and wait for user feedback.
Hopefully, with Thunkable, the process of fixing, re-testing and updating your app is a smooth one and you can keep your users happy.
In the next sections we’ll take a look at how these options compare under the headings of Speed, Value, Quality and Realism.