The thriving Lo-Code/No-Code space has continuously become an amazingly disruptive movement in the enterprise digital world. Gartner predicts that more than half of small and medium-sized companies and large enterprises will have implemented low-code app development platforms by 2023. The disruption is hugely associated with the need for citizen developers and professional developers to quickly build applications without writing endless lines of code.
In reality, traditional software development is often slow and expensive. It’s also complex and requires hiring additional technical resources. Low-code/no-code platforms are addressing some parts of this complicated process, allowing enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation.
At a glance, it’s easy to confuse low-code and no-code. But the main difference is the type of individuals utilizing these modern platforms to build more advanced applications.
In the No-code environment are the “citizen developers” – users who can build applications to facilitate the processes of business operations using development guidelines of IT. The Low-Code space, on the other hand, focuses on professional developers, who streamline and simplify their work to deliver high-class applications with little or no coding.
Now that we have gotten the confusion out of the way, let’s look at what low-code and no-code platforms have to offer in terms of how it works, advantages and disadvantages, and when to use a low-code/no-code platforms. We will also highlight some of the top low-code/no-code vendors in the market.
What is Low-Code/No-Code?
Both low-code/no-code development platforms are built with the same thing in mind: speed. These visual software development environments allow citizen developers and enterprise developers to drag and drop applications, connect them and create mobile or web apps in real-time.
The low-code software development approach enables users to design and build apps fast without having to write massive lines of code. The method utilizes visual interfaces with simple logic and drag-and-drop features rather than extensive coding languages to build apps. Low-code enables professional developers and programmers to skip hand-coding, speed up the app development process, and shift their efforts away from time-consuming programming tasks to more complex and unique tasks that have greater value to the organization. According to Gartner, low-code will be responsible for more than 65 percent of application development by 2024. Forrester’s report further shows that the low-code market will likely hit an annual growth rate of 40 percent, with the spending expected to hit $21.2 billion by 2022.
Slightly different, the no-code development allows non-technical users to build software applications using drag-and-drop functionalities utilizing a visual setting with little or no prior coding experience and programming language skills. These citizen developers can easily build, test, and deploy business apps, provided that the tools used align with these commodity functions and capabilities.
Appealing to a lot of industries, no-code and low-code environments are witnessing a speedy adoption because of three critical factors: you don’t need any developer’s skills, it’s cost-effective, and the potentials for growth are unlimited.
Low-code and no-code platforms are like the megastars of application development, utilizing small components to build many large structures easily. The best part is that these components are intuitive, users can make changes without tampering with the rest of the solution under construction, and projects of a large scale can be completed quickly.
Businesses and organizations alike have decided to dump the traditional application development process, and are continuously implementing a low-code/no-code approach to handle their app development needs. The main advantages of implementing these application development approaches lie in the speed, simplicity, and agility they deliver.
Understanding how to build apps with the help of a low-code/no-code platform is easier, thanks to the intuitive drag and drop features. Every development stage is simpler and fewer resources are required. The apps created on these platforms are easy to customize based on the user or business needs.
Low-code/no-code platforms also speed up the software development process. Because the platform involves automatic generation and deployment of code, there is less risk of error during the coding process, which eliminates the lengthy steps of each development phase, as seen in the traditional methods.
Still, on that, low-code and no-code app development are agile, which means that changes can be made after the planning stage. Since they utilize smaller components to construct large structures, it’s easy to separate these components and recycle them if any changes are needed throughout the development process. This gives way for a more flexible application development process.
Evolution of Low-code/No-code
Although the concept of low-code/no-code app development came to light in 2014, its roots go back to the 1990s where rapid application development (RAD) tools such as Excel, Microsoft Access, and Lotus Notes put some form of development-based capabilities in front of business users. The only problem with these tools is that they required users to have enough understanding and experience with business apps and their development environments to create apps.
In contrast, low-code and no-code options make the application development process smoother with drag-and-drop functionalities, visual models, automatic code generation, and business process maps, allowing users with minimal or no coding knowledge to build business apps. Applications produced by low-code/no-code platforms are robust enough to be used by multiple departments and throughout the entire organization. Other external users such as business partners and customers can also use these platforms. They shorten the learning curve and make app development more quick, simple, effortless, and accessible.
Most importantly, these platforms allow users to deploy apps once across all devices. Application creators do not need to know much about coding, traditional programming languages, and form of development work that may be required to build the platform’s configurable components.
How Do Low-Code and No-Code Platforms Work?
Traditional app development requires programmers to have in-depth knowledge of coding, deployment process, development environments, and testing protocols to create functioning business apps.
Low-code/no-code platforms compress all that work behind the scenes. They help you select visuals and connect reusable elements through drag-and-drop features and link them together to create the required computerized workflow.
Low-code platforms are a good choice for developing standalone mobile and web applications that are most likely to require integration with other systems and data sources. They can be used for most app development processes except the highly complex, mission-critical systems that require integration with multiple backends and external data sources.
No-code platforms are often used by businesses that aim to digitize various processes using cloud-based mobile apps. They are commonly used for front-end use cases. They can accelerate the software development process by reducing the time, budget, and app development capital resources. By combining a wide variety of drag and drop functionalities and tried and tested templates, no-code platforms can help add layers of user functionality to a wide variety of business systems.
The impressive feature about low-code and no-code platforms is that they have components that allow users to experiment, test, and deploy apps in the software development lifecycle.
Benefits of Low-code/No-code
Whether its business users creating apps themselves or shortening the software development process for developers by automating manual processes, low-code/no-code platforms make it easier to create flexible apps for certain tasks.
Here are the most valuable benefits of low-code and no-code options.
Empowers Non-IT Professionals
Low-code/no-code development has given way to a new class of developers: The citizen developer, a non-IT professional creating business apps based on their knowledge of the company’s or customer’s needs. Using codeless tools, citizen developers can turn that knowledge into applications that help solve customers’ pain points. These tools put more problem-solving capabilities into the hands of non-technical professionals, to help build the application demanded by your customers and overall IT teams.
Of all the benefits of low-code/no-code developments, the ability to speed up the process of application development and delivery is the most important one. This significantly reduces the development time and delivers apps faster.
Low-code and no-code platforms utilize drag-and-drop functionality, pre-built templates, and models for business processes to enable the quick development of full-stack, cross-platform applications. The easy-to-implement connectors and APIs integrate seamlessly with other tools that developers use, eliminating many time-consuming learning, deployment, and operations processes.
Business agility enables enterprises to adapt to the ever-changing digital world using innovative, digital solutions that solve pressing business problems.
Since low-code/no-code developments feature drag-and-drop functionalities, built visually with pre-built modules, it means that apps are developed faster with little to no coding. Study shows that 72 percent of low-code developers build apps in three months, compared to six months or more to develop the same apps using traditional development. Testing is done automatically which further cuts down development time.
Since low-code and no-code options are highly extensible, they allow direct integration with major vendors and some legacy systems. This increases the time to integrate and deploy new tools and technologies, thus helping enterprises stay ahead of consumer demands and market trends.
By increasing the use of automation and streamlining the software development process, IT teams aren’t overloaded with endless requests from other departments in the organization. What used to take weeks or months can be reduced to days or even hours. Development teams can utilize these platforms to create apps faster and then make improvements to deliver even more value to the business.
Low code/No-code Challenges
While many businesses have embraced low-code/no-code platforms to rapidly develop new business apps, they also have to contend with the challenges that these platforms generate.
Here are the main challenges facing no-code and low-code platforms
Lack of Visibility
Since no-code and low-code tools are relatively cost-friendly, it can be difficult for enterprises to keep track of what their employees are building. If an employee creates an app using an installed app development tool on the desktop, it doesn’t have visibility to the IT process.
The lack of visibility for businesses could mean that there’s no oversight and accountability to the data being generated, used, or even exposed inappropriately in apps.
One of the biggest fears surrounding low-code and no-code platforms is vendor lock-in. Some vendors generate clean, standard code that works anywhere. These are simple to maintain within and outside the platform. Other vendors lock you in such a way that they generate intricate code that’s nearly impossible to maintain outside of the platform.
In other cases, the code and security controls that low-code/no-code platforms vendors put in place may not be visible to an enterprise and it’s hard to edit or move your applications to a different platform once you stop using the tool.
Moving to low-code and no-code development options that don’t have this kind of transparency takes away some level of control from security teams. Ensure you understand the vendor’s policies before using a tool and find out whether or not you can be able to maintain application outside of the platform.
Top 5 Low-code / No-code Platforms
Low-code/no-code platforms have notable capabilities and approaches to support the app development lifecycle. While some focus on rapid, simplified development, others go a step further to offer different experiences as well as integrated capabilities that allow citizen developers and professional developers to collaborate on application development.
Here are the top low-code and no-code platforms in the market that enable application development, extensions, integration, deployment, and testing.
For the longest time, Salesforce has been building and presenting new platforms targeted solely to users who’re not tech-savvy. The platform now includes a range of exceptional tools designed to help businesses and organizations alike in their application development process. These tools include Salesforce Lightning, Salesforce App Cloud Platform, and Force.com.
Salesforce Lightning provides business users with an intuitive platform and Pro-Code tools such as Lightning Flow, SalesforceDX, App Builder, and more to help them create mobile apps with advanced security. These tools allow you to use any programming language to build apps. It also provides features such as AI and IoT and integration with Salesforce and other programs to accelerate the production process.
Microsoft Power Apps
PowerApps by Microsoft is a low-code/no-code platform that allows users to build applications instantly using pre-built templates. It’s among the most robust development platform that is well integrated with a range of Microsoft products and work with enterprise data stored in the primary data center or on-premise or online data sources such as Microsoft 365, SharePoint, Dynamic 365, and more.
Skilled developers can create more modern apps with the help of advanced Azure functions, workflow extensions, and plug-ins. Developers can also leverage the tools on Power Apps to build custom connectors and integrate with other data systems using webhooks and virtual entities. The tool also has other features such as cloud-based workflow automation, services integration, App running, App sharing, and more to streamline the app development process.
Designed to be a game-changer in the world of low-code/no-code platforms, OutSystems allows users to build web apps, mobile apps, and enterprise-grade applications that can be improved based on business and technical requirements.
It’s equipped with a wide range of features including an editor, drag-and-drop functionalities to build your apps visually, and an app marketplace with pre-built templates and apps to make the development process quick and easy.
A skilled developer can use OutSystems to create new extra features with the help of customer codes in the app scripts. The security features provided by this platform offer advanced security to your apps. And you can be sure your apps can be integrated with any system.
Appian enables developers to build applications for enterprise at a speed that is 20X faster than your typical hand-coding. It transforms application development into a collaborative, social, and productivity-driven experience for business users with no prior coding knowledge.
Applications created through Appian are feature drag and drop tools and integrate seamlessly with AI/ML platforms through Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google. The platforms also harness machine learning to give recommendations for the next stages during the application development process.
Businesses can use Appian to create solutions to enhance customer experience, optimize business operations, analyze global risk management, and enforce compliance with regulations and policies.
Quick Base is among the most popular platforms with low-code and no-code offerings. It’s a widely used database software and cloud-based RAD software that automatically generates and hosts applications. With powerful features such as centralized data capabilities and end-to-end process automation, Quick Base extends and connects processes, data, and workflows to drive even deeper insights across different systems.
Developers can use Quick Base sandbox to test functionality, RESTful API to extent functionality, and Quick Base Pipelines for automation capabilities and drag-and-drop integration.
When to Consider Low-code/No-code?
Many software companies are looking for effective ways to reduce time, cut costs, and speed up a product launch. A perfect solution to achieve this is to leverage the power of low-code and no-code platforms.
Such companies should consider using these platforms to create apps aimed at achieving operational efficiencies, such as automating manual processes and developing business-critical solutions to contribute to business management efforts.
Low-code and no-code platforms can help improve a business’s digital operations and transformation by bridging gaps in IT skills, reducing time-to-market, and boosting efficiency. They can also help improve the agility of these digital platforms and facilitate effective risk management and overall governance.
If you need to minimize operation costs, optimize your business processes, and facilitate transparency across different kinds of operations, low-code/no-code platforms are your best options.
Getting Started with Your Low-code/No-code Journey the Right Way
With the right structures, strategies, and models, low-code/no-code platforms will unlock a new era of advanced innovations in the enterprise.
Industry experts agree that low-code and no-code options will continue to drive the future of application development. Gartner estimates that the low-code market will grow to $13.8 billion come 2021, a 22.6 percent increase from 2020, and are expected to grow even further in the coming years. Forrester further projects that about 50 percent of businesses today use low-code development, and this number could rise to 75 percent by the end of 2021.
Both professional developers and citizen developers alike stand to reap a lot from the fast and reliable low-code and no-code development process. Since these platforms are flexible, they allow these groups of developers to create a range of apps from simple dashboards to complex, enterprise-based solutions.
With all the benefits associated with low-code/no-code platforms, businesses can expect this trend to become more prevalent in business processes now and beyond.
If you want to know more about implementing a low code or no code tool into your business, Taazaa, a robust customer software, and development service can help you get started. We help you design and create secure, fast, and high-quality digital solutions that fit your business needs to better serve your customers and propel your business to new heights.
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