What is low-code development?
An increased business demand for software solutions and a shortage of skilled developers have brought out the adoption of low-code development platforms to the forefront. Low-code is a software application development technique that enables businesses design and applications development via graphical user interface (GUI). Compared to traditional programming, which requires a significant amount of manual coding, low-code development only requires you to drag and drop application components into a flowchart-style formation. The code is generated and programmed automatically afterwards.
With a low-code application development platform, you can use visual development tools to create, deploy, and maintain business apps.
Why low-code technology is becoming so popular?
Perhaps two of the main reasons have to do with deliverability and innovation. In a world where digital innovation plays a key role in business growth, automation and speed can make the difference between leading ahead or falling behind.
Low-code can transform anyone into a developer. This mean that you don’t longer need a software developer to create web and mobile applications, using model-driven logic through a graphic user interface and making use of pre-built application components.
Low code can speed up the development process to build applications and accelerate digital transformation by enabling rapid application development. This allow digital transformation to move ahead without complexity and slowdowns.
Benefits of using low code technology
Low-code has potential to make software development as much as 10 times faster than traditional methods. Drag-and-drop functionality, pre-built user interfaces, and models for business processes, logic, and data models enable the rapid development of cross-platform apps and eliminate time-consuming deployment and operations processes.
Coding for (almost) all
One of the key benefits of low-code development platforms is that they democratize programming making it accessible to almost anyone at any level of your organization. This democratization has helped many businesses to relieve the strain caused by the ongoing developer shortage.
Better use of resources
Making application development more accessible, it enables developers to dedicate their valuable time and attention to larger-scale projects and tasks that are more complex. Low-code platforms typically do not require additional resources such as developer expertise or IT support to function, which means you do not need to spend more to get the desired results.
Low-code helps enterprises to get closer to new digital initiatives necessary to keep up with market changes and customer needs. It enables you to deliver modern cloud applications that integrate with other systems and all kinds of components into your applications. With low-code, you will save time on manual coding and testing, therefore your business will become more agile and adaptable to changes.
Can help you transform your business
In order to achieve digital transformation, organizations must shift away from legacy systems and embrace new technology, and their employees must look for innovative ways to leverage that technology. Low-code development platforms can accelerate digital transformation because they make cutting-edge technology available to a wider audience, free up IT and developer resources for higher priority projects, and enable businesses to keep up with innovation.
Implemented on multiple platforms
The best low-code platforms are designed to cater to a variety of environments. This means that you only need to develop an app once, and you can use to work on different environments.
Throughout the life cycle, the software has to be updated, debugged, fixed, and changed according to requirements. Low-code platform makes this easy and quick, instead of having to develop updates and fixes for weeks.
Classification of low-code development technologies
Developers should be aware that low-code development technologies are not a single market or segment. In fact, they cover a spectrum of software development functionalities. The combination of technology and processes attract developers who do not have much experience or competencies in software development or the one that are under extreme pressure to deliver ‘good enough’ solutions as quickly as possible.
To date, we can identify three main types of low-code development technologies:
Low-code application development platforms (LCAPs)
This category includes high-productivity PaaS applications, as well as RAD and RMAD tools. Their goal is to provide rapid application development, deployment, and execution. Low-code development platforms reduce the amount of traditional hand coding, enabling accelerated delivery of business applications. This kind of platforms include application development tools without auto-generated code and collectively represents the largest segment of low-code technology providers.
Multi-Experience Development Platforms (MXDPs)
MXDPs centralize life cycle activities such as designing, developing, testing, distributing, managing and analyzing — for a portfolio of multiexperience apps. Multiexperience refers to the various permutations of modalities (e.g., touch, voice and gesture), devices and apps that users interact with on their digital journey across the various touchpoints. Multiexperience development involves creating fit-for-purpose apps based on touchpoint-specific modalities, while at the same time ensuring a consistent user experience across web, mobile, wearable, conversational and immersive touchpoints.
Process management systems and business / decision rules
This discipline involves any combination of modeling, automation, execution, control, measurement and optimization of business activity flows in support of enterprise goals, spanning systems, employees, customers and partners. This type of model-based development platforms allow dynamic changes in models and operating procedures. They support the automation of business operations through processes (BPMS) and business rules / decisions (BRMS / DMS). While the ‘model-based’ implies ‘little code’, some of the models are complex and highly specialized, leading to sophisticated decision and process models that may require development by external experts for support.
How to choose a low-code platform?
The market for low-code platforms has growth enormously in recent years. Since there are so many vendors in the market, it can be a complex task for companies to choose the right low-code development platform. Below you will find some tips to get the right one for your business.
Clarify your needs
When deciding which platform is right for them, a company should first consider the role of low-code in their objectives. Ask yourself the following question: will this solution help your organization to achieve its goals, or is it a point solution to solve a specific problem? It is important to avoid the risks of selecting a tool for limited scenarios. Organizations should choose a low-code platform that meets the organization’s overall goals.
Identify the right people to use the platform
Low-code platforms simplify many engineering complexities of app development by minimizing things like hand coding and setting up a build environment. While this certainly reduce the technical skill requirements to use them, it does not mean than anyone can become a developer. There are other “softer” skills necessary to manage these platforms efficiently like attention to detail and project management.
According to the experts, to be successful with low-code platforms, an organization needs the type of user that understands data organization and logical flows and has the ability to analyze problems and provide the simplest solution.
Low-code development tools features
Those responsible for development should assess the organization’ requirements and the characteristics of diverse low-code tools and platforms before getting one. Checking the following requirements can be very helpful.
Determine if the use is for a professional developer looking for RAD, a developer with non-programming technical knowledge (such as a business analyst with IT knowledge), or a citizen business developer who is neither technical nor programmer.
Front-end versus back-end.
Determine if just a new UX or a new backend process, or both, are required for a full-stack application.
Complexity and sophistication of the UX is usually higher for B2C applications. For a focus on multimodal UX, an MXDP approach may be best, while for internal B2E applications a simple web form-based approach may be perfectly suitable.
Sophistication of services
Applications can be used to create, read, update and delete data operations. Others require integration of multiple services, including event processing.
Specific market niche
While many tools are generic in their approach, some are increasingly focusing on specializations such as ERP, CRM or SaaS applications.
Ecosystem and partners
The technical characteristics are in many cases an insufficient criterion for choosing a low-code platform, since all platforms have a high level of competition. Issues such as manufacturer support, availability of qualified staff on that platform, and training opportunities, app stores and developer communities, and the quality of partners providing development services may be more important than simple product evaluation
Management and agility
The ability to measure KPIs for business, as well as for application development and resource usage, is a growing advantage for many users.
The need for software automation and new applications for business processes places demands on software developers to create custom applications in volume, tailoring them to organizations’ specific needs.
Low-code development platforms have been developed as a way to allow quick creation and use of working applications that can address the specific process- and data needs of the organization. Without a doubt, low-code platforms have made software development that much easier for all companies. They provide different capabilities around the software development lifecycle from planning applications through deployment and monitoring and can speed the delivery of applications, modernizations, automations, and more.