What are low-code & no-code platforms?
Low-code and no-code platforms are software development tools that enable users to create software applications with minimal coding or programming. These platforms provide pre-built components, templates, drag-and-drop interfaces, and other visual development tools that simplify the process of building software applications.
Low-code platforms generally require some programming skills and allow developers to accelerate development by automating routine programming tasks. These platforms offer a visual interface, enabling developers to create user interfaces, workflows, and integrations with minimal coding. Low-code platforms can be used to build complex applications and typically require more technical expertise than no-code platforms.
On the other hand, no-code platforms are designed to be used by non-technical users, such as business analysts or citizen developers. These platforms provide a drag-and-drop interface and pre-built templates and components, enabling users to create applications without writing code. No-code platforms can be used to create simple applications or automate business processes, such as customer onboarding or invoicing.
Low-code and no-code platforms offer faster development times, increased efficiency, and reduced costs compared to traditional software development methods. They have become increasingly popular recently, especially as more businesses seek to digitize their operations and accelerate digital transformation.
How does low-code & no-code work?
Conventional software development has long been thorough and detailed work. Developers write single lines of code that represent instructions and data. They organize this code into functional procedures and modules that provide the software’s functionality.
This approach requires detailed knowledge of the entire application development spectrum: development languages, development environments such as IDEs and compilers, test and deployment tools, and the various policies and practices used to approach coding, testing, and deployment.
By comparison, low-code technology abstracts and encapsulates much of the programming knowledge required to create software. Instead of writing individual lines of code, users select reusable functional components from a menu using a visual drag-and-drop interface. They order and organize the available active components to form the intended software flow, like creating a flowchart for solving a business problem or task. Users can easily add, move or remove functional components to build the final process. At this stage, the low-code tool includes the base code and support tasks such as testing and deployment.
The main benefit of low-code development over traditional application development is the cost and time savings that allow an enterprise to deliver certain products and features faster and at a lower price. Many reasons a business should continue using traditional development models, especially for complex or specialized enterprise software. Many projects require features and operations, such as performance optimizations, that do not easily fit into low-code approaches. The amount of work to create and modify low-code code to meet these requirements cannot be justified.
Low code or no code: Low code techniques can simplify and speed up many everyday business programming tasks, but low code is not meant to eliminate all coding. Many low-code projects require some programming knowledge to either modify existing functional components or create new ones, as well as assemble components in specific ways that the low-code tool may not support.
Low-code and no-code systems are fundamentally identical, but there is a crucial difference: no-code systems aim to provide all the intended functionality and eliminate the need to add or change components. This means that users do not need programming knowledge. No-code systems are generally considered a subset of low-code platforms.
Pros of low-code and no-code platforms
- Accelerated development speed. Writing single lines of code and mastering complex syntax takes a lot of effort. Low-code allows practitioners to assemble complex ideas and workflows into packaged functions or components organized into a user-friendly visual interface. It can also speed up future updates and iterations of the project.
- Greater availability of staff. In most enterprises, highly skilled development talent is critical. Low-code allows less experienced programmers (or even non-programmers) to participate in the software development process. Any customization or manual coding required can often be done without professional developers’ support.
- Increased efficiency. Companies can use low-code to create tools for individual departments. For example, HR may need a tool to help model or predict payroll and benefits to make better-informed pay decisions.
- Inexpensive innovation. Similarly, companies can experiment with ideas that can be costly or time-consuming in traditional development—for example, creating a tool for marketing departments to analyze campaign costs versus responses and determine the most effective ways to reach customers.
- Placement of niche projects. Low-code can quickly and economically accommodate narrow applications and small user bases. For example, a business may need more funds to develop a tool used in the finance department, but low-code can provide an attractive option.
- Performance management, leadership, and compliance. Low-code platforms typically track and manage a software project and its associated elements. This makes it easier for the business to control development and establishes guidelines that help ensure business governance and compliance. Low-code platforms also typically provide tools, analytics, and reports that can help gather important insights into a project’s performance and usage, which can help teams plan upgrades and troubleshoot.
Cons of low-code and no-code platforms
While low-code and no-code platforms offer many benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks and limitations to consider, including:
- Limited customization: While low-code and no-code platforms provide pre-built components and templates, they may offer a different level of customization than traditional programming approaches. This may limit the functionality or user experience of the final product.
- Integration challenges: Depending on the complexity of the application or business process being developed, integrating with existing systems and databases may be more difficult with a low-code or no-code platform. This may require additional programming or technical expertise.
- Security concerns: Low-code and no-code platforms may not provide the same level of security as more traditional programming methods. This may be especially important for applications that handle sensitive data or require compliance with specific regulations.
- Vendor lock-in: Using a low-code or no-code platform may require ongoing reliance on a specific vendor or platform. This can limit flexibility and result in additional costs or challenges if the platform is discontinued or no longer meets the organization’s needs.
- Learning curve: While low-code and no-code platforms are designed to be more accessible and easier to use than traditional programming methods, there may still be a learning curve for non-technical users. This may require additional training or resources to use the platform effectively.
Evaluating a project’s specific needs and requirements is essential before using a low-code or no-code platform. While these platforms offer many benefits, they may not be the best fit for every project or organization.
Where low-code and no-code platforms are used
Once the IT department and the business side define the business goals and align them with precise IT requirements, low-code projects can fill a lot of potential opportunities. Typical low-code applications include the following:
- Internet portals. Portals are a common and popular means for customers to interact with businesses, search for services or products, get quotes, check resource availability, schedule work or place orders, and make payments. Low code can help you quickly create an array of portals with standard interfaces or user interfaces instead of manually coding HTML and backends.
- Business systems. Companies rely on business systems and applications to complete day-to-day tasks. For example, a mortgage lending company uses a system to organize mortgage documents and paperwork, integrate assessments, and conduct credit checks and financial analyses of borrowers. Companies often buy a platform from a vendor or build it using traditional coding processes. Low-code offers a third option that helps enterprises build and add responsive and scalable applications and even migrate them to single or multi-cloud deployments.
- Digitized business processes. Traditional business processes based on paper or spreadsheets are time-consuming and error-prone. Companies can use low-code applications to capture the required information, pass information and requests through the company’s approval process, deliver results to requesters, and integrate with traditional business systems such as ERP. For example, low-code can optimize an application with a capital request.
- Mobile applications. With low-code, a company can create a wide range of mobile applications that present customer data and business interactions. For example, an insurance company’s mobile app allows customers to file claims and upload incident documentation from their smartphones, such as collision photos. Modern low-code platforms can assemble apps for both Android and iOS devices from the same project.
- Microservice Applications. The microservices architecture creates highly scalable applications from a number of independent components that communicate via APIs over the network. Details can be developed, deployed, and maintained independently, allowing faster development and easier upgrades with fewer regression tests than typical monolithic applications. Low-code is a viable platform for microservice-based components to quickly build and rethink core applications to improve performance and stability and to help transition traditional legacy code into modern, flexible microservice applications.
- Applications based on the Internet of things. Companies are trying to find ways to extract meaningful business data from the volumes of sensors and real devices that make up the Internet of Things (IoT) and monetize the resulting data or services. Companies can use low-code to create applications and functions that integrate IoT endpoints, collect data, send IoT data through backend computing infrastructures, and provide the resulting requests to internal or external clients. For example, a low-code horticultural application could use humidity and temperature sensors combined with data on cycles and growing conditions to control indoor lighting and watering crops automatically.
Can low-code & no-code platforms replace traditional software developers
The rise of low-code and no-code platforms has led to concerns about job displacement and whether these tools are stealing jobs from conventional software developers. However, the impact of low-code and no-code platforms on the job market is a complex issue with both potentially positive and negative effects.
On the positive side, low-code and no-code platforms have the potential to increase productivity and reduce the time and cost of software development. This could increase demand for software developers as businesses can complete more projects with fewer resources. Additionally, low-code and no-code platforms can enable non-technical users to create simple applications, freeing software developers to focus on more complex and strategic projects.
On the other hand, the increased availability and ease of use of low-code and no-code platforms could lead to some displacement of traditional software development jobs. For example, some routine programming tasks may be automated, and non-technical users may develop more straightforward applications without needing a dedicated software developer.
Overall, the impact of low-code and no-code platforms on the job market will depend on various factors, including the specific platform being used, the needs of the organization, and the level of technical expertise required for a given project. While low-code and no-code platforms are unlikely to replace traditional software development jobs completely, they may change the nature of the work and the skills required for success in the industry. As with any major technological shift, it will be essential to monitor the impact on the job market and to provide support for workers who may be affected by changes in the industry.
Conclusion – future of low-code and no-code platforms
Low-code helps enterprises fill this gap and create applications for specific business purposes with a broader range of IT and business involvement. According to analytics firm Gartner, low-code and no-code accounted for less than 25% of all app development in 2020 but will account for 75% by 2025. Over the same period, annual revenue for low-code and no-code platforms will grow from just over $9 billion to nearly $30 billion, Gartner predicts.
As low-code platforms evolve with more speed and automation, ensuring proper coding and defect management (testing and bug fixing) standards will drive additional testing capabilities and deepen test automation into the CI/CD pipeline.
Ultimately, the developer community must accept the reality of low-code business strategies. Developers should explore low-code platforms and work more closely with programmers to extend and customize low-code components. This requires improved communication and collaboration skills and the ability to interact with business personnel and even “civil developers” to build future enterprise applications.