July 19th, 2018 • Low Code
The business software market has seen a significant increase in the number of low-code development platforms. If the term ‘low-code’ is new for you, trying to pick the right platform is like trying to scale Everest without any climbing gear.
At their core, low-code application development platforms are designed to reduce IT bottlenecks by letting layman users create their own applications, without needing to rely on programmers.
But it helps to know what exactly low-code app development is and how it works.
Using low-code application platforms, skilled developers can produce programs and applications faster than through traditional hand-coding methods. Another disruptive use-case for low-code is to enable business users to create applications even if they have no prior experience with coding.
Low-code application platforms use a number of different design choices than traditional development platforms. One is the use of a drag-and-drop interface, allowing them to reduce the amount of code that has to manually inputted, in favor of using pre-built modules and ready-to-use APIs to interlink these modules.
Low-code application development platforms also employ agile application development methodology, a software development model that promotes rapid development and quick feedback over long planning and testing stages. Agile methodology enables development teams to work on new features quickly and get the prototype to the end user without needing to focus on building a complete product. The advantage of agile methodology is enabling fast development cycles without having to focus on building a complete product each time, like waterfall models.
But with low-code app development comes some confusion. What’s the difference between low-code and no-code? And what about aPass and RAD?
There are lots of terms being thrown around when it comes to low-code. The first is low-code vs no-code (or zero-code). As the name suggests, this is mostly about how much coding needs to be done. But at its heart, the distinction is who the platform is for. Generally, low-code application development is meant to make programmers more efficient, while no-code platforms are meant to open up opportunities for non-programmers, or ‘citizen developers’.
Another term you might hear is aPaaS, which means application platform as a service. Most cloud software that you use and pay a monthly service charge is called ‘software as a service’. ‘Platform as a service’ means that instead of a specific application, you are paying for a platform where you can build your own tools. aPaaS is simply a specific kind of platform where you can build applications. Low-code and no-code can both be examples of aPaaS.
Finally, RAD is a term you often hear with low-code application development. RAD stands for Rapid Application Development, and describes the methodology that programmers and users follow that involves a lot of iterating, prototyping, and consistent feedback. Low-code app development platforms make it easy to use rapid application development methodology.
Low-code application development platforms can improve the speed at which applications are coded. But there’s a lot more to these platform than just speed. Here’s a small taste of what low-code app development is capable of.
Visual Modeling Tools
These tools simplify the amount of raw coding a user needs to do to build an app.
Instead of having to rely on manually punched code all the time, low-code development platforms have pre-built components that can be snapped together to quicken the development time and reduce testing.
With rapid prototyping and production, it becomes much easier to scale your user base and operations when compared to other solutions.
Although it does say low-code app development, there is still an option to manually code any unique functionalities without having to search for another platform to do the task.
Approved by IT
Shadow IT can be a huge problem for IT.
Low-code application development platforms provide a relief around shadow IT for both business users and IT. Business can create their own applications with an IT-approved low-code app development platform, and IT doesn’t have to worry about data leaks by business users using unverified platforms.
All low-code application development platforms are not built the same. Depending on what you need, some types of low-code platforms will better suit your particular use case over another low-code application development platform. Here are the five major types.
General Purpose Low-Code Application Platforms
For most users, a general purpose low-code app development platform will be enough. It can create a wide range of mobile and web applications. Although it can create a broad spectrum of apps, it doesn’t provide some niche functionalities that other low-code app development platforms can.
General purpose low-code app development can enable creation of managing application life cycles, managing portfolios, creating database apps, supporting workflow automation, and improving collaboration.
Process Low-Code Application Platforms
Process low-code application platforms are more focused on process improvement and workflow automation. These platforms are focusing on coordination and collaboration between staff and customers. They help with process and workflow automation, and collaboration in business management. Although process apps work well for with process automation, they aren’t made for a generalized role-they’re primarily used in enterprise apps.
Database Low-Code Application Platforms
Database low-code app development platforms are designed to help business users create and manage relational databases. They offer organizations a great alternative to spreadsheets, which can be time-consuming. But they aren’t particularly suited to collaboration between multiple participants on the same application.
Request Handling Low-Code Application Platforms
As the name suggests, request handling low-code application development platforms handle the acceptance, processing, and handling of requests. These platforms need less configuration when compared to general-purpose platforms, but they do require specific customizations.
Mobile Low-Code Application Platforms
Mobile low-code application development platforms help create cross-platform mobile applications without the need for complicated development processes. They’re not particularly suited to workflow automation or other capabilities.
There are tangible and real-world benefits to employing low-code app development platforms. Here are some of them.
Helps Boost Productivity
One of the biggest advantages of low-code app development platforms is how they can boost productivity for all users, business or IT. Using low-code app development, business users aren’t forced to rely on IT to meet their software requirements.
But it also helps skilled developers by providing them with a low-code app development platform, enabling them to create apps at a much faster rate than they could if they did it manually.
Consider a business user needing a new customer support application, a texting feature to provide customers a way to contact support without being as slow as emails or as direct as phone calls. A business user can get to it instead of piling it into the IT departments inbox. What’s the benefit? The customer gets a text application much faster than he would if the business user approached IT, while IT doesn’t need to be consulted for such a simple implementation.
Even if a business user has the logic on his mind, collaborating between different participants, including IT, is a way to ensure the stability and workability of the application he’s making. It also provides a way to accumulate relevant data into a single pool without the need for multiple copies of the same file.
A business user working on a new database to update customer records and subscriptions would need to spend a lot of time updating the records. With collaboration, he can distribute the task to multiple users in the same organization, without the need to make multiple copies of a file to update the records.
Low-code platforms are built on the cloud, meaning organizations don’t have to buy and manage their own hardware resources to run these platforms. Since these platforms are on the cloud, they can be scaled up according to the needs of the company.
When an organization starts out, they may not need too many users on a low-code platform. As the company grows, there will be more people needing access to the platform. Instead of running operations on a local server, and buying new hardware when there are additional requirements, running a cloud platform enables you to scale up your operations when you need it, without having to buy expensive hardware.
Here are a few of the most famous low-code application development tools in the market.
Appian is one of the more highly renowned low-code tools on the market. As far as features go, it’s got the usual pre-built templates, object mapping, form builders, and a drag-and-drop interface. But one feature which puts Appian above a lot of the competition is its integration with third-party tools, allowing you to integrate tools you’re already using. Third-party integration lets you move to the platform a lot more smoothly. There’s also a free trial to let you test the product before you make a purchase.
Kissflow is a workflow automation and process improvement low-code platform designed at helping businesses maximize their productivity and efficiency. Many companies are turning to Kissflow primarily because of its no-code platform. It opens new options to business users to create their own apps without needing any help from IT or consultants. It’s got a plethora of features, including a WYSIWYG editor, a form builder, third-party integration for all your favorite tools, and an extensive documentation for training to help you get started. There’s a free trial and demo to help you try the product for yourself and see it in action to know whether or not it’s right for you.
Zoho Creator is another leading low-code tool. Zoho Creator provides you with the usual features, like form builders and object mapping. But one thing about Zoho Creator is how easy it is to build your own modules for custom implementations, compared to other low-code app development platforms.
The shift to low-code app development by organizations has been nothing short of monumental, and it’s not a placebo effect. There are real recorded benefits to moving to low-code.
One of the biggest reasons for the massive shift into low-code app development is the lack of properly skilled resources to be hired. 52% of IT leaders say skill gaps are a problem in their organization, and low-code app development has helped bridge the gap, providing existing employees a way to learn new skills without needing to change their job roles.
Speaking of job roles, 55% of hiring managers have said low-code app development platforms have reduced the need to retrain their staff for different roles, instead providing a ground to develop their skills in a safe and risk-free environment.
And these numbers are only going to increase. In the future, you’re going to see more and more companies adopt low-code app development as a solution to their IT and productivity woes. But low-code isn’t the end solution. There are other technologies and platforms on the horizon to keep organizations sated with their need for more in-house software, such as no-code app development, where business users won’t need to rely on code at all for any functionality they require.
Low-code application development has charmed businesses in all sorts of industries. By providing a means to develop software quickly and easily, there’s no need to rely on inadequate off-the-shelf products or order an expensive custom solution. Low-code app development platforms like Kissflow let businesses run their operations smoother than it would be possible had they been relying on manual methods and paper forms. If you’re interested in giving it a try, try it for free, and see if it’s right for your business.