MATLAB App Designer

Comparing GUIDE and App Designer

MATLAB® offers users two interactive design environments for building apps: App Designer and GUIDE (GUI Design Environment).

Interactive Design Environment Introduced in Works with
App Designer R2016a uifigure
GUIDE 5.0 (1996) figure

App Designer is the recommended environment for building apps in MATLAB, and GUIDE will be removed in a future release of MATLAB. 

After GUIDE is removed, existing GUIDE apps will continue to run in MATLAB, but will not be editable using the GUIDE environment. To continue editing an existing GUIDE-based app and help maintain its compatibility with future MATLAB releases, you can use the GUIDE to App Designer Migration Tool for MATLAB on File Exchange. Alternatively, you can export it from GUIDE to a single MATLAB file by selecting File > Export to MATLAB-file.

To help in deciding how to best proceed with your existing GUIDE app, please consider the following options and which will best meet your needs.

What can I do with my GUIDE app when GUIDE is removed?



 Action Do Nothing Export to .m Migrate to
App Designer
Rebuild with
App Designer
Run app        
- Initial effort to run app n/a Low Med High
Edit app layout        
- Interactively        
- Programmatically        
Edit app code (behavior)        
- Effort to maintain code Med Med Med Low
- Effort to enhance app High High Med Low

When creating new apps, you are strongly encouraged to use App Designer and the appdesigner function instead. To learn more about the benefits of App Designer and the features it supports, please review the table below.   

 Support for interactive and programmatic app building
Support for programmatic app building only

Design Environment


App Designer

Component Library


Property Inspector


Component Browser


Callback Sharing


Custom App Icon



Diff & Merge Using Comparison Tool



Single-File Management for Code and User Interface



Modern Look & Feel



Toolstrip-Based Desktop



Rich Canvas Interactions



Embedded Code Editor



Rich Property Editors



App Metadata Management



Robust Programming Editor and Workflow



Quick Start Interactive Tutorial



App Testing Framework Support


App Templates    

Code Editor

Design Environment


App Designer

Code Debugger


Code Folding


Code Analyzer


App Input Arguments


Rich Programming Aids


Quick Code Navigation


Global Component Rename


Utility Functions via Custom App Methods


Graphics Support

Design Environment


App Designer

2D & 3D Plotting


Axes Support (axes, polaraxes, geoaxes)


Axes Interactions (pan, zoom, rotate)


Figure Interactions (keyboard and mouse events)




See Displaying Graphics in App Designer in the MATLAB documentation for more information.

App Sharing and Access

Design Environment 


App Designer

Share as MATLAB App Install File


Share as MATLAB Standalone Desktop App 1


Share as MATLAB Web App 1


Create, Edit, and Run Apps in MATLAB Online 2


Export as Standalone MATLAB Class File


Containers and Layout Managers

Design Environment 


App Designer

Context Menu    



Menu Bar


Tab Group


Scrollable Containers


Grid Layout Manager


Common Components

Design Environment


App Designer



Drop Down


Edit Field (Text)




List Box


Radio Button Group

Text Area    
Toggle Button Group    
Date Picker    
Edit Field (Numeric)    
State Button    

Dialogs and Notifications

Design Environment


App Designer

Alert Dialog


Confirmation Dialog

Progress Dialog    
Color Picker    
File Selection    
Save File    
Folder Selection    
Load Variable    
Save Variable    


Design Environment


App Designer



90 Degree Gauge


Linear Gauge


Semicircular Gauge




Discrete Knob



Rocker Switch
Toggle Switch
Airspeed Indicator 3
Altimeter 3
Climb Rate Indicator 3
EGT Indicator 3
Heading Indicator 3
Artificial Horizon 3
RPM Indicator 3
Turn Indicator 3

Component Extensibility

Design Environment


App Designer

Custom Components


HTML Component

ActiveX Control4    
  1. Requires MATLAB Compiler.
  2. MATLAB Online is available with select licenses. Check your eligibility on
  3. Requires Aerospace Toolbox.
  4. Will be removed in a future release.