Editor’s note: This was contributed by Thibault Genaitay, front-end developer and China head at Le Wagon coding boot camp. Before running Le Wagon, he worked with luxury brands in digital strategy for the Chinese market. You can connect thibaultgenaitay on WeChat.

2017 was marked by the arrival and quick rise of WeChat mini programs. No way you missed them with the recent mini games out, but you surely haven’t wrapped your head around this whole new thing yet.

Throughout the year Tencent, fighting its numerous early-stage detractors, was forced to expand its framework both on functionalities and marketing abilities. This update race was done at an unprecedented pace, keeping our friends, developers and product people constantly excited… but sometimes breathless too ? 

Hats off, WeChat developers!

Today is January 9 2018, and we all join you to celebrate the first-year anniversary of the technology ? (maybe all except for Jack Ma!). 

The whole evolution of Mini Programs naturally came with the creation of many dedicated players, some very smart first movers: they identified content and business opportunities and were quick to jump on the new bandwagon built by Tencent. From unofficial stores to forums and generators…. A huge ecosystem was born.

In this article, we decided to look at the current landscape and provide you with a global picture. If you are now developing a WeChat mini program or considering to do so, you will want to explore all these great resources…

Categories of players

Essentially we have divided the ecosystem in 8: 

(1) the ‘stores’ indexing mini programs, 

(2) the SaaS (Software as a Service) allowing to generate a mini program, 

(3) the service providers building custom code, 

(4) the BaaS (Back-end as a Service) offering a simple solution to Mini Program developers, 

(5) the analytics tools

(6) the specialized news platforms

(7) the discussion boards

(8) the development toolkits

The ecosystem in one map

Get the interactive map here.

If we are missing a service you’d like to recommend, give us a shout for an update!

Some highlights

Platforms like xcx.9.cn and xudoodoo.com are already combining stores + news + forums + generators + service… trying to capture the traffic and become the dominant hub! Let’s watch them closely in 2018.

Screenshot from Aladdin

Aladdin, a leading Mini Program analytics tool, was the first Mini Program startup to raise capital (10M USD in May 2018). Just like their competitor TalkingData, their data collection allow them to produce reports on Mini Programs trends, demographics and behaviors! Good for us, since Tencent has been quite shy on official data…

❤️ Our favorites

Because we know you are busy, we’re happy to tell you right here our recommended services**

1. Looking for case studies for your industry?
Browse this store: minapp.com

2. Want to read market updates?
Hop on xiaochengxuyingxiao.com. For example, they just released the Top 100 mini-programs of 2017 in partnership with Minapp.com.

3. No time to develop a custom back-end?

Use leancloud.cn for an MVP

4. Fancy to read some tricks and source code?

Browse wxapp-union.com

5. How about detailed statistics on your visitors?

Add www.aldwx.com to your source code!

6. Need custom and tracked QR codes?

www.weixin.hotapp.cn is super simple to use

7. Are you a designer?

Check www.coolsite360.com/wxapp to build prototypes of your Mini Program UI.

** Disclaimer: we haven’t tested all players thoroughly, nor do we have a fair comparison grid! This list is provided as a shortcut only and we reserve the right to change our mind 😉

TechNode Guest Editors represent the best our community has to offer: insight and perspective on how technology is affecting business and culture in China

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