This article is an observation on how traditional software development changes with low code, the benefits of low code/no-code software development, who low code is for, the drawbacks of low code, and lots more.
Usually, at the heart of digital transformation plans lie the desire to enable the organization to be more agile and be able to innovate easily.
Businesses are continuously looking for ways to reduce the time involved in developing software and optimize the processes around software maintenance. They want to transform operations, achieve dramatic efficiency improvements, and launch new products and services faster.
But conventional approaches to developing software can take a lot of time and can require arranging expensive and specialized tools and resources. At the same time, maintaining the status quo can result in increasing complexity and high technical debt.
That’s where low-code, or no-code, software development makes a difference by providing enterprises with an easier way to develop quality software along with a much more efficient and simple maintenance and deployment model.
Forrester explains low-code software development as a platform enabling “rapid delivery of business applications with a minimum of hand-coding and minimal upfront investment in setup, training, and deployment.“
Low code/no-code software development is a much-needed alternative in today’s competitive business environment, where software development needs are growing exponentially.
But the big question is, what is low code software development? Low-code is a vague term. It can be used to refer to various things. With this article, you will understand what Low-code/No code actually means for software development and who stands to benefit from it.
So if you want to get an overview on:
Then this article is for you. Let’s get started.
What is Low Code?
Low Code, also known as No Code, is a fast-growing trend in business software development. It takes software development out of the realm of engineers and puts it in the hands of business users. Low Code is a term used to describe a variety of tools that enable non-technical people to create custom applications or “apps” for their business.
Low Code is a methodology that enables business users to create applications without needing the technical knowledge of a developer. Applications built using Low Code are supposed to drive business outcomes, remove tedious tasks for developers and increase the speed of delivery.
The Low Code concept is nothing new. It’s been around for years, but it’s going through a renaissance thanks to increased interest from IT departments and development firms. Because Low Code requires less time and resources than traditional coding, it’s an ideal solution for small businesses that need mobile application functionality but don’t want to pay big bucks for custom development or programming help.
What are the Low-Code/No-Code Features?
Low-code development tools come with integrated tools for the entire application lifecycle management. Low-code development automates the lengthy hand-coding process, allowing developers to focus their attention on the significant elements in the projects.
Low-code/no-code platforms are designed with the following functionality & features:
Visual design tools – Prebuilt functions and components allow you to drag and drop fields onto your application, so you don’t have to do any coding.
Connectivity – These platforms integrate with backend systems like ERPs or CRMs so that you can pull data into real-time dashboards or reports.
Business rules – Enabling workflows and processes within an application requires logic that needs to be coded or configured.
Business process automation – This feature allows developers to integrate applications with existing business processes through connectors or APIs that can access current systems or connect directly to them.
Cloud deployment – Applications can be deployed in the cloud for testing purposes or to production environments where they can be accessed by anyone with internet access.
Who is low code for?
Low-code development allows developers and even non-developers to build applications quickly on an ongoing basis. The development tools are offered almost as-a-service available in the cloud, with ready integrations to various data sources and other applications available out of the box.
Low code is for companies that want to improve their efficiency and profits with software innovation but don’t want to devote a lot of resources to it. Low code is the fastest way to get something new, like a mobile app, on the market without hiring programmers.
Low code is also for people who want to expand upon an existing platform or create a new one. Low code provides the tools and templates and specifies precisely how they should be used. And it’s for people who want to make sure they get something that works — fast — while maintaining control over what they’re creating.
Here are some of the most common reasons companies use low code:
What can you code using low-code development platforms?
Low code development platforms are used for building mobile apps, websites, and backend systems. They allow developers to create applications by dragging and dropping components rather than writing code. Low-code development is often associated with rapid application development (RAD). The term RAD was coined in the 1980s, but only recently has low-code development emerged as a viable approach to application development.
For example, an insurance company might use a low-code tool to quickly build an app that lets customers file claims on their smartphones, while a consumer goods manufacturer could use it to create an intelligent manufacturing dashboard for overseeing production lines.
Lastly, you won’t need to write any code to create an interface that’s consistent across different devices or to validate user input. And you will also be able to test your application much earlier in the process, which reduces the number of defects you might otherwise need to fix late in the game.
Rules for Low-Code Software Development
This section outlines the top rules for using low-code software development tools. It will help you understand how to benefit from these tools without sacrificing efficiency or productivity.
1. Model-Driven Development
Model-Driven Development (MDD) approach accelerates low-code development. MDD enables you to build applications more quickly by using models to drive the software development process. Models include business process definitions, business rules, data definitions, and more. Turn ideas into software and deliver customer value through automation.
The second rule for low-code software development is that collaboration is key. Low-code platforms are not designed to be used by single individuals working in isolation. They are designed to be used by large collaborative teams, including business analysts, developers, testers, data scientists, and end-users.
3. Agile Methodology
Apply Agile methodology to the entire low code software development lifecycle to eliminate bottlenecks, support iterative delivery, and achieve the shortest time-to-value.
4. Embrace the Cloud
Cloud technology helps build at scale and allows enterprises to build what customers want faster.
We are not saying that low-code platforms cannot exist without the cloud. We want to bring to your notice that it will be more challenging to take advantage of all the benefits that come with low code development without moving to the cloud. Embrace the cloud today!
5. Multi-User Development
The 5th rule of low code development is always to implement your software in a multi-user environment. Multiple developers should be able to synchronize and work on an application at the same time. This will give your application the best environment to run and allow for the most optimal performance.
Innovation is one of the key concepts in low-code development. Low code software development aims to enable developers to be more innovative in designing their apps. With low code, you don’t have to spend time writing tedious code that doesn’t add any value to your product. You can instead focus on the important parts of your app and build it quickly with less effort.
7. Governance and Control
Software governance (or Data governance) and control are the responsibility of a business. They should not be left to IT. The low-code platform is a shared asset among different departments, and all stakeholders must understand the rules of engagement. Clearly defined and stringent governance and control processes are essential.
Benefits of Low-Code Development
Here are the top 5 benefits of choosing low-code development.
1. Faster time-to-market
Low-code development platforms allow developers to start almost instantly and create functional prototypes without having to code from scratch. Pre-made and reusable templates can be used to develop new applications in a matter of hours or days, drastically reducing the time needed for testing and launch. Developers can move through the stages of ideating, prototyping, testing, releasing, and refining much faster as compared to traditional software development methods.
2. Reduced Technical Debt
When IT is overloaded with innumerable projects to support the business, a backlog can seem never-ending. When even non-technical employees can easily create the software as per their requirements, the IT team gets a breather. Low-code software development allows enterprises to reduce waste, streamline and shorten development, and fast-forward the deployment process, thus eliminating technical debt.
3. Reduces Costs
Low-code software development allows IT heads to achieve what they have always dreamed of – do more with less. They can build high-quality enterprise-grade software in a matter of days compared to months in the traditional approach to development. Low-code offers enterprises a cheaper and easier way to make business processes and workflows while customizing them to their particular needs.
4. Enterprise-Wide Efficiencies
By using low-code software development tools, developers can focus on introducing new and unique features and functionalities into their software without spending too much time on the underlying services/functionality basics. It is also easier for them to manage the user interface, data model, business rules, and definitions, which means that developers with even a little experience can quickly build software, reducing the dependency on hiring expensive skilled talent. Low-code tools also eliminate the need for the development team to constantly update the frameworks, infrastructure, and other underlying technology.
5. Support for Innovation
Combined with user-centric techniques like design thinking, low-code software development allows developers to test an idea by launching a minimum viable product (MVP) in the market before the launch and gathering customer feedback and market performance data without spending too much time and effort. Enterprises can thus translate ideas to action much faster and innovate on a broader scale.
Cons of Low-Code Development
Low-code development is not without its cons.
- Low code can be challenging to navigate and sometimes can lack the capability to meet the needs of large, complex projects.
- Low-code development does not produce the same level of customization as traditional programming.
- Software testing is super important. The code generated by the software is often buggy and inefficient. It is also hard to maintain because all the changes must be made manually. If you are using low code for mobile apps, you need to upgrade every time a new OS is released.
- Lastly, Low code can be more expensive than traditional programming because low-code software uses a monthly subscription model.
Popular Low-Code Software Development Platforms
Low-code software development platforms make it easier for non-developers to build powerful software thanks to existing templates, prebuilt forms, elements, and objects. They offer elements that don’t require coding, allowing developers to use them as ready-made blocks. Any low-code software development platform or tool should be simple but powerful and with several customization options.
There are various types of low-code development tools. Some are the classic development and business process management platforms that require an IT specialist, while others are low-code development platforms that support employees with basic IT knowledge to build apps and design business processes and connect data sources.
Here are some of the most popular low code platforms:
As of today, the Microsoft Power Platform is leading the foray into low-code software development platforms. It has a distinct focus on business process management and helps businesses analyze their data, create tailor-made solutions, and automate their processes. The Power Platform is easy to use and works fast, and allows each team member involved in the development to create custom software to meet the latest requirements. It comes with enterprise-grade security and reporting, and can be linked to Office 365, Dynamics 365, Azure, etc.
Quick Base ranks among some of the most popular low-code software development platforms due to its wide range of capabilities for meeting diverse business needs. Quick Base helps automate processes faster and also connects them with other work platforms. By democratizing the development process, takes the load off the IT team and boosts overall efficiency.
Mendix supports the creation of a variety of software products ranging from enterprise-grade to simple tools with AI-assisted development. It helps developers create visual model full-stack applications with low-code/ no-code options or custom code extensions.
For your further reading, here are the 5 best practices every business needs to follow when using Mendix for a user-friendly, secure, scalable, seamless, and highly maintainable application.
OutSystems is designed especially for large organizations that need heavy-duty enterprise apps. It has full-stack visual development and one-click deployment to meet the business process management needs of large enterprises. It also provides automatic refactoring of dependencies and the creation and modification of reusable services and applications. It integrates with external enterprise systems, databases, and custom apps and has enterprise-grade security.
Appian is another low-code software development platform that enables BPM digitalization. Businesses looking to optimize their customer journeys, build intelligent contact centers, enhance operational performance or governance, risk and compliance, like to work with Appian. Appian also offers robotic process automation and AI improvement of software applications.
Unlike traditional software development, low-code software development platforms use the declarative approach, which means that the user will input what the software will do and require some level of hardcore coding towards the software’s core functionality.
Is low-code the future?
Low-code development is so much more than just an approach for business users to build apps. Today, even traditional developers in IT departments use the low-code approach to build apps and collaborate with business users. Having said this, while offering a lot of benefits, low-code software development cannot entirely replace conventional application development methods because there are several areas where full control of the technology stack will benefit the organization.
The key benefit of low-code software development is helping organizations begin and run their digital transformation better and faster, replacing monolithic applications with more “modular” software that can be templatized and reused/recycled for faster development. Low-code software development allows IT teams to focus on more complex problems while maintaining oversight and governance while addressing their worries of developer shortage.
So, while the question of “Is low-code the future?” remains; at Zuci Systems, we are currently busy building that future for our large enterprise and Fortune 50 customers with quick deployment, immediate ROI, easier maintenance, scalability, and reduced risk. Check out our low code cases studies.
Contact us if you would like to learn about Zuci’s low code software development services. Make it simple & make it fast.