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Pros and Cons of Using Third-Party Software in Your App Development

Pros and Cons of Using Third-Party Software in Your App Development

Creating an entirely new application undoubtedly takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, so it’s understandable that developers usually make use of platforms, libraries, and tools instead of writing common features all by themselves.

Third party software is a term that refers to any software components that are reusable and are supplied/developed for a certain purpose by a separate company or person than the one that has built another, existing product on a particular system.

The most common types of third-party software are:

Libraries

These are collections of non-volatile resources (mostly source code) that are often used for software development. They can be open source (where anyone can use them without cost) or proprietary/closed-source (where people may need to purchase before use).

Examples:

  • Snapkit (iOS) – great for developers who want to be more productive and do more with less lines of code, Snapkit is a library for using code to build app layout.
  • Lottie (Android) – this library is for designing animations for developers to better with interactions.

Platforms

These are ready-made and integrated solutions for developers to help realize a certain feature. Examples are maps, chats, or user logging. They’re SaaS products for developers to outsource specific functionalities, either for free or for a monthly fee.

Examples:

  • Google Maps Platform – a set of SDKs and APIs that lets developers embed Google Maps into web pages and mobile apps or just to retrieve data from Maps.
  • Auth0 – allows developers to quickly integrate authorization and authentication for mobile, web, and legacy applications.

Tools

These make app development more effective and raise the final product’s quality.

Examples:

  • Danger – automates code review chores. This frees up developer’s time to work on problems that only a human can solve. It leaves messages inside Pull requests via rules that the developer creates.
  • Zeplin – enables UI designers and developers to collaborate efficiently and effectively. Designers can share their designs and development resources can be generated automatically. Everyone in the team can access the most recent design resources and are notified of changes.

Pros of using third-party software

  • Pay just for what you need – third-party solutions only charge a monthly fee for their used limit, unlike the high upfront cost of building whatever feature it was from scratch.
  • Faster development process – because developers don’t have to write code from the ground up, the entire process takes far less time.
  • Significant cost savings – third-party services are far more cost-effective, both during the app’s operation and upfront. For example – building instant chats would cost at least $50,000, but with Pusher, a solution for instant chats, it would only cost $49.99/month.
  • Faster time-to-market – leveraging third-party software means that developers can focus on more complicated tasks, and this helps the application go to market much faster.
  • A shorter feedback loop from users – once the app has gone to market, verifying its value and usability and getting feedback from users happens faster too. This leads to quicker feedback to build an app that’s even better.
  • Potentially greater capabilities – platforms can be too sophisticated for the initial requirements of a client, but they are a great fit for the app’s future development.
  • Easy integration for developers – most platforms on the market have modern SDKs for fast and easy integration. It would take 2 days to implement a user authentication feature with Auth0, when it would take 2 weeks to do it from scratch.
  • Less maintenance effort – there isn’t any need to maintain third-party platforms’ code as it’s the provider’s job to do so. Developers can enjoy less code to maintain this way.

Using third-party solutions is a smart move in MVP development

Minimum viable products (or MVPs) allows the substantiation of a product idea without the need for investing time and money into the complete product.

Beginning with an MVP and then using the agile methodology for software development means that development teams can focus on the most important app elements.

Third-party solutions can help development teams focus on the parts of the app that need to be unique and therefore bring the MVP to be tested in the market faster. Third-party solutions can offer quick and cost-efficient solutions like authentication and more.

Once the app gets some tractions and begins to obtain revenue, then the third-party solution can be replaced with code created from scratch.

Cons of using third-party software

  • Less flexibility – providers’ default methods and solutions usually need to be worked around, and developers can take a lot of time (and therefore money) to do this. Third-party solutions won’t be a good idea for features that are truly original/custom.

 

Additionally, migrating from third-party software to custom codes and solutions come with costs which are different in each case. This Is why analyzing costs at the beginning of a project is smart.

  • Vendor lock-in – using third-party software means dependence on the provider, which poses risks to the software’s stability. Third-party software is best used for non-core elements of an app.
  • Risk of rising costs – providers may change pricing and this can be drastic. It can also be a headache for when the issue of scaling the app comes up.

When to replace third-party software in your project?

Scaling the application can make third-party software too expensive. The costs can mean that building the app from scratch is a better choice. It could also be the case that the app simply needs more flexibility and requires specific customizations. Unique features help set an app apart from competitors.

Conclusion

Hopefully we’ve helped you understand the advantages of using third-party solutions and how they factor into modern software development.  

For questions on how our teams make use of third-party software when creating applications (especially when developing MVPs), don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our team of highly-qualified experts have been making use of third-party software to build applications for many years, and they know exactly how to get the perfect balance of speed, cost, and functionality.  

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