Founded in 2012 in France, Siberian CMS (also known as just Siberian), is taking a very interesting approach to app making. For them, app ownership is a main concern of their users. Which is why you can’t just use the platform on their website - you actually have to install it on your own domain. But they also let you create an app for free and even give you the full source code. If you are familiar with Wordpress, it’s a pretty similar setup.
Here it helps to understand what a source code is. The simple version is that it’s a collection of files that you can turn into an app for iPhone or Android. Building the app requires special tools. With Apple, you’ll need a Mac and a program called XCode (free). For Android, you can use any kind of computer and an APK generator (APK is the file format for Android apps).
All the other app makers you see on our site manage the source code themselves through their online platforms. On the one hand, it’s useful because they update the content automatically and give you an app that’s ready to submit to the stores (and sometimes submit it for you). But what if they run out of business? What if their website goes down? What if they suddenly stop being able to submit updates? This is where Siberian comes in.
So with those facts in mind, how is their platform? Is their free solution too good to be true? Let’s find out by breaking down their offer below.
Create your app and get the source code completely free.
Create an unlimited amount of apps!
Unlimited app creation and white label solution to resell them to clients. If you pay monthly, they will host this one on their server.
You can also buy a lifetime license of each version. The Multi-Apps Edition costs €399 and the Platform version costs €799. These are one-off fees. Please note that all the prices are in Euros as it is a French company.
Pros & Cons
You can certainly build a very professional app at no cost with Siberian. This really is an amazing offer.
Sure, it means an extra step for submitting your app, but the tutorials are easy to follow. And it’s a small price to pay for having complete ownership over your app.
Siberian has a wide range of robust features (paying and free). We’re big fans of the Pay in App module (to sell VIP access to sections) and the WooCommerce integration, amongst others.
You have to install the Siberian platform on your own domain. This is quite a technical configuration process, involving FTP software, MySQL Database and DNS. On the plus side, their tutorials are very good. On the minus side, you will need to pay extra for your own hosting.
Editor could use an update:
It’s a bit clunky at times. For instance, it’s not always clear when changes are updated in the live preview. Not exactly a deal breaker, but the user experience could be improved in future versions.
Siberian has a “marketplace” where you can buy advanced features for your app (they are payments for 1 year licenses, so you can use the features on multiple apps). This could be a fun Scratch Card feature (79€) or RealTime Chat (159€). These aren’t hidden costs as they’re very clear about the paid features – but we guess that’s how they recover some of their money.
Ease of use
Out of all the app makers we’ve tried, Siberian is by far the hardest to get started with. If you are scared of technical concepts like FTP, DNS or SQL, maybe you should look away now. Having said that, it’s really not that complicated if you follow their excellent tutorials. But expect to take a few hours of setting up before you can start building your app.
Or another option is to buy their services so they can do all the setting up (59€).
Once the installation is complete, things are pretty breezy though.
Design, flexibility and templates
You have 14 app templates on launch, and these aren’t the most exciting to begin with. However, there are dozens of layout options that really give a different feel to the apps. There are also tons of customisation options so you can end up with a good looking app if you spend enough time playing around. You can even find more (paying) layouts in the marketplace.
The platform is in English, but you can add 12 extra languages to offer your app to a worldwide audience for free.
As far as we know, Siberian apps aren’t affected by Apple’s 4.2.6 guideline. You will still need to pay $99 per year for a developer account.
Siberian lets you build web apps, but you don’t have access to progressive functions like SEO settings.
Ad support is available via AdMob only.
Available in the free version. You also get unlimited segmented push notifications for a one-off fee of $45.
Geo-fencing, local maps, etc… Everything is there in the free version.
Very good m-commerce options. You can set up an in-app store, a product catalogue, accept payments via Paypal and Stripe and link to Shopify. You can also integrate your app with a WooCommerce shop for 79€.
RSS feed options
You can add RSS feeds for text and images.
Adding your own HTML code
One of the modules lets you insert HTML code.
Social media integration
You need to follow a slightly technical tutorial to insert your Facebook or Twitter feed. This means grabbing the API from these social media platforms and integrating it, which is easier to do than it sounds.
You get tons of loyalty features right off the bat, from QR coupons to loyalty cards. You can also buy the “Progressive Loyalty” module which creates a point system for users (159€).
You can buy a Mailchimp integration. The 1 year license costs 49€.
You can create user roles such as admin or collaborator and offer as many logins as you like so users can access and build your app.
By definition you get everything as part of the app source code.
Unfortunately, testing your app is not as easy as with other platforms. You have to build the app and transfer it to your phone, which is slightly technical. Once again, their tutorial is very good though.
If you are building the app for clients, you can buy the Previewer App module (1 year license= 49€).
The platform comes with its own analytics dashboard. It’s good.
Siberian has two offers for those who want to create multiple apps. The MAE (Multiple App Edition) costs 399€ as a self-hosted one off fee, or 70€ per month when hosted by Siberian. You can create unlimited apps, but it’s not white label. The Platform edition is what you really want (€799 self-hosted one off fee or 149€ per month hosted by them). You get white label and an integrated payment gateway to create your subscriptions. Please note that you can’t install it on shared server, so you’ll need to host it on a VPS or dedicated server.
The online tutorials are very good, clearly detailing how to perform complex tasks in an understandable manner. The FAQs could answer all our questions, and there are also excellent video tutorials. The forums are a bit more confusing, and the community sometimes seems to struggle to find answers to their technical problems. Paying users of the Multi App and Platform Editions can get email / ticket support during business hours.
Getting started might be a bit frustrating since there is so much prep work to do. But once you’re inside the editor, it’s actually quite fun to build your app and to give it exactly the look, feel and functionalities you desire, even if the user experience could be improved.
Excellent built-in free features, decent design options and the ability to purchase extra functionalities make Siberian a strong contender for the best app maker out there. Unfortunately, the chance to own the source code and the platform comes at a price: it’s a lot more complicated to set Siberian up than other app makers.
Siberian might not be for everyone. If you want the easiest solution, you should probably look elsewhere. But if you’re comfortable following tutorials and understand basic web hosting, you’ll have no problem getting started with the platform. And from there you’ll have a fantastic opportunity to create a very professional app for free.
Having said that, there could be extra costs to take into account. You’ll need to host the platform yourself (usually around 5€ – 10€ / month) – and certain advanced features are expensive. Some cool examples include the ability to create a Classifieds app (1 year license= 159€), to integrate Quizzes (1 year license= €79), or to restrict sections of the app to certain users with Padlock Pro (1 year license= 99€).
Still, Siberian’s offer is an incredible one. You will get some of the most sophisticated functions an app maker can give, and a ton of them are available straight out of the box. You will have complete control and ownership over the app, which will make it future proof. The only real cost is the amount of time it takes to set the platform up and to build the apps. In our opinion, it is totally worth it.
What does self-hosting mean?
You need to have a domain or subdomain dedicated to running Siberian. For example, it could be www.apptooltester.siberian.com
Then you have to install the platform yourself following a series of steps. If you have manually installed WordPress on a domain before, it’s quite similar.
Do I have to self-host the platform?
It’s the most common way to use Siberian. But you can pay them to install the platform for you for 59€.
The Multi App Edition, at 149€ a month, is the only one hosted on their servers.
Can I cancel my monthly subscription?
Yes, and you will still have your app – but you won’t be able to update it.