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What Are Low-Code Development Platforms?


July 23, 2019

Low-Code Apps Can Transform Your Business

What Is Low-Code Development?

Low-code app development platforms have been rapidly growing in prominence over the last few years. The market was worth $1.7 billion in 2015—estimates indicate it will be worth over $27 billion by 2022.

Even the most pessimistic observers will note that is a huge increase in investment. So, what is low-code? Why are so many SMBs pouring resources into no-code and low-code app development tools?

Put simply, low-code platforms are development tools which provide software that can be used by programmers to create apps visually, as opposed to using more familiar coding platforms.

Apps can be created for web and mobile by dragging and dropping elements on a graphical user interface. The barrier to entry is lowered for app development, making it easier for staff who don’t have traditional IT expertise to participate in creating powerful apps for their business.

This has effectively opened up a new avenue for business users to remedy basic issues in the workplace without little to no training.

These platforms are so far proving to be wildly popular among SMBs, a trend that is likely to continue for the near future. It provides decision makers with ample opportunity to increase productivity, save on costs, and bridge the gap between business and IT.

The Position of DevOps

Many SMBs will be familiar with the DevOps model of approaching software development. That is, a combination of strategies that attempt to prevent development and operations teams from becoming too siloed.

Closer communication between the two helps to streamline the process; meaning collaboration, speed, frequency, and delivery of complex software produced by skilled IT teams can be improved with DevOps.

The emergence of low-code and no-code platforms has prompted questions regarding how they can fit into DevOps strategies. Will IT staff be made redundant by the emergence of low-code tech?

The signs so far indicate that they won’t. In fact, DevOps and low- and no-code platforms can work successfully together for SMBs of all sizes to achieve common goals.

For larger businesses, developers are given the opportunity to take care of simple tasks with just a few clicks.

For technical personnel in software development, being able to quickly address “boilerplate code”—simple but time-consuming programming—means they can focus their energies on solving harder problems. This can achieved by using a low-code platform.

For smaller businesses with smaller or non-existent IT teams, they can build simple apps themselves with a no-code platform. It also means the process of hiring development firms to build apps is streamlined and quicker.

Agile Development

Speaking of DevOps, development agility is one of the major advantages that low-code seeks to bring to the table.

The idea is that every aspect of development is faster. Apps can be created more quickly, feedback is given immediately, which means that adapting to change is easier.

The needs and requirements a business will inevitably change. The ability to build something fast, hand it off for review, and then come back and make changes is invaluable for developers.

This way, decision makers don’t have to wait months and months, only to realize during the demo phase that the developers misunderstood the task. If a project is heading off track it can be caught promptly.

Some of the benefits of low-code/no-code in the dev process are:

  • Create tests for modules in a concise time
  • Update projects with ease on-the-fly as needs change
  • Collaborate with business-focused personnel in the dev process

Our Development Process

Our preferred method here at Impact Networking is to conduct two-week sprints. Of course, this can be done with any type of development, but low-code platforms have the tools to work with this methodology.

There’s also the added benefit that progress can be displayed graphically and not in a block of code, making it much easier for non-technical people to understand. Our process maps mean we can walk through the project process in a way that makes sense to someone unfamiliar with code.

Platform as a Service

There is finally the benefit of running it on the cloud in a scaled environment. For example, if more servers need to be added because of greater user demand, that’s as simple as a few clicks.

Backups, high availability, and load balancing can all be easily managed because it’s a Platform as a Service (PaaS). As a result, hardware and infrastructure are not a concern. Cloud platforms also mean higher standards for security as they must run on HTTPS protocol.

Low-Code vs No-Code

The differences between low-code and no-code are significant, but the two are often conflated. Many providers of these development tools, like Mendix, offer both tools in one integrated program.

  • Low-code: Low-code platforms give developers a mechanism to write software with minimum coding needed. Modern platforms dramatically speed up the app delivery process. Low-code platforms are especially useful in the hands of a seasoned developer solving a complex task with apps that are often used enterprise-wide.
  • No-code: No-code differs in that it is usually used to solve more simple problems. Unlike low-code, no-code utilizes a completely visual development process and zero coding required. This makes it an easier platform to use, though typically only for specific tasks in a department and not company-wide.

In short, low-code is better for servicing developers and improving the speed of development for creating complex apps.

On the other hand, no-code is good for business users creating simple apps quickly and easily, but their customization is more limited.

Citizen Developers

The concept of “citizen developers” has become a consistently prominent theme with regards to low-code development.

Outsourcing and articulating a business need to a developer can be hard. Utilizing tech-savvy staff and low-code platforms to bridge the gap can be an invaluable tool for an SMB.

Low-code programs allow these users to create an application on their own, built to the specification and look that they want. Then, it can be handed off to a professional developer to finish.

The citizen developer buzzword that no-code platforms are pushing has its issues and limitations. This is usually in relation to complexity and large-scale integration. As we mentioned, low-code is suited to those familiar with coding and no-code offer benefits to rookies.

Large vendors like Mendix seek to offer extensive integration capabilities built into its platform, but there’s still a general expectation that technical developers will help with the app integration.

This is particularly the case when dealing with larger businesses which might look to integrate legacy apps or large amounts of data. Most platforms understand that the development roles of low-code and no-code within are distinct. Utilizing the potential of both as assets is the best approach.

Takeaways

  • The market and popularity of low-code/no-code platforms are growing significantly
  • They are a complement, not a detriment, to existing IT staff
  • Platforms mean the development process is more streamlined and can more accurately align with business needs
  • While citizen developers are capable of creating simple apps, technical staff with coding experience are more adept at building complex, enterprise-wide apps

Want to Learn More?

Low-code development platforms like Mendix are helping SMBs reduce costs, improve efficiency, and further the capabilities of their businesses by utilizing digital transformation techniques.

Reach out to our Managed IT team to learn how modern solutions can change your business for the better and give you a competitive edge. Speak to one of our experts today!


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