Low-code mobile development tools

Review: AppStudio is like Visual Basic for mobile dev

NSB/AppStudio simplifies development of mobile Web and hybrid apps with a Visual Basic-like, drag-and-drop IDE

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At a Glance
  • NS Basic Corporation NSB/AppStudio 4.2.9

In its day, circa 1991, Microsoft Visual Basic (aka VB) disrupted Windows development by making it possible for novices to drag and drop their way to runnable Windows applications built from forms and controls (originally called gizmos). Yes, those novices had to write some code, but not much of it -- and the code was in Basic, not the syntactically more difficult C language. 

NS Basic, from the eponymous Canadian firm NS Basic Corporation, arrived in 1994 with a VB-like development environment for the Apple Newton. In 1998, the company released a Windows CE version of NS Basic, which I reviewed for Windows Magazine. Over the years, the company produced NS Basic versions for Palm, Symbian, and Windows desktops, then finally released NSB/AppStudio in 2010 for mobile Web development.

The current version of NSB/AppStudio, 4.2.9, targets both mobile Web and mobile hybrid apps. The AppStudio IDE was written in JavaScript, HTML5, and WebKit, and it runs on Windows and Mac OS X. The combination of ease of learning, ease of use, royalty-free distribution, and low prices helps AppStudio bring mobile Web and hybrid development to the masses, in the spirit of VB and the early Borland visual programming products.

You can drag and drop your way to runnable mobile applications built from forms and controls (Figure 1), as well as write code either in NS Basic -- essentially VBScript with a few extensions -- or in JavaScript. At app publication or runtime (Figure 2), whether for local development or server deployment, any Basic script is transcompiled to JavaScript. You can also display the JavaScript for any displayed form from the IDE (Figure 3). 


Figure 1. NSB/AppStudio is a drag-and-drop IDE for mobile Web and mobile hybrid app development, very much in the spirit of Microsoft Visual Basic. Notice the familiar form designer, toolbox, project explorer, property sheet, and help windows.

Inside the AppStudio IDE

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