April 17th, 2018 • Low Code
Low-code development is all the rage. Whether you call it the democratization of app creation or putting the power in the hands of ‘citizen developers’, there’s no denying that the market is responding to low-code development platforms.
But are these low-code tools as revolutionary as some think, or is it just clever marketing and insider jargon to justify a new whitepaper? Let’s take a deeper look.
"Platforms that enable rapid delivery of business applications with a minimum of hand-coding and minimal upfront investment in setup, training, and deployment."
Low-code programming offers easy-to-use interfaces and incredible flexibility to build applications faster, even for people with very limited knowledge in coding. Forrester dubs the new group of neo-coders “citizen developers”—non-IT business users who have all the reasons to build their own apps but don’t have the technical knowledge required.
One example of an early predecessor to low-code is in web content management. The language of the web is HTML, but not many people can write or program fluently in HTML. To code your own web page from scratch takes a lot of experience and time.
When a platform like WordPress first came on the scene, it was a game changer for many people. In order to manage the content on a website, someone could use WordPress, which required only a minimal amount of coding. WordPress introduced different modules that took care of the most common requirements like creating and editing new pages, changing headlines, and adding images.
Knowing HTML is still necessary to do any kind of custom work in WordPress, but it is a good example of how to think about a low-code development platform. Except that with a low-code platform, you are making full applications, not just web pages.
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Applications might be written in a variety of programming languages, but unlike web pages, they might require thousands of lines of code to produce even a relatively simple tool.
A more inclusive change occurred in the early 2000s, when low-code development platforms overtook long hours of manual coding. Low-code apps lowered the ceiling for coding requirements for non-IT developers to create, customize, and control the entire cycle of application development with little to no dependency on IT services.
Low-code development platforms has consumerized IT skills among non-technical teams and allowed them to reap the benefits of rapid application development (RAD), a methodology where business can build multiple applications at great speed.
aPaas is Application Platform as a Service, a term invented for development platforms on the cloud. Typically, these are of two types, depending on their functionality. They are high-productivity and high-control.
Low-code development platforms are a part of aPaas, but there’s a difference. They don’t fall into any particular category, with each platform differing. Some platforms can be high-productivity, whilst others can be high-control.
In terms of RAD model, low-code development platforms would fall into the high-productivity side of the aPaas distinction. Low-code development platforms are designed to maximise productivity, enabling rapid prototyping with quick feedback.
Following low-code application development has serious advantages.
Even for professional programmers, coding by hand takes a long time. A good low-code development platform will allow them to dramatically reduce the time taken to build an application from scratch.
Earlier, low-code development was a single-person job. Lots of people might have insights on how the app should function, but it was basically just one person who would build it. A low-code development platform lets multiple people be a part of the process and have greater visibility into how it functions.
IT is responsible for all of the technology in a company, including all the small applications needed for daily functioning. This is a massive responsibility and no IT team has enough people to manage everything. A low-code development platform means that the IT team doesn’t have to be 100% involved in every project. They can come in and provide additional customizing help when required, but need not do everything.
Great low-code development platforms usually will prevent common errors from occuring. When you don’t have to hand-code everything, you can ensure that the app will function as intended without any hiccups. Low-code development is a much safer and secure way to reduce errors.
Low-code development platforms are not extremely expensive, but they may seem so compared to open-source tools, or starting from scratch. However, when you consider the amount of time it takes to build with these tools and the cost of hiring talented people to program them, the price of low-code development seems like a no-brainer.
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Low code development platforms give citizen developers a simple layout to build applications. They present a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) interface. This speaks to them in a language they can understand.
One of the most common themes among low-code development vendors is the use of a drag-and-drop design interface. This technology makes most complex problems in low-code development intuitive and simple.
Many low-code development platforms also give the option to write custom codes in case the platform doesn’t offer a feature or functionality that users want in their application.
All low-code development platforms are not equal. Many seem promising, but don’t have everything customers expect. Here are a few pointers to identify the best low-code platforms:
UI/UX is king when it comes to low-code development platform. If it isn’t intuitive from the first screen, it isn’t worth your time.
Low-code development platforms should easily integrate with major software, especially for process management.
While low-code development is still best done on a larger screen, apps should run well on any device.
The strength of a low-code development platform is measured on how it can keep up with demand without faltering.
Market leaders offer support for low-code development platforms that spans app design, deployment, maintenance, and future configurations.
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If you want to see what a low-code development platform looks like, start a free trial of Kissflow. Kissflow is a great example of a low-code development platform that lets you create automated processes with forms and workflows. It has an industry-leading user-interface and simple design techniques.
Try it today and catch the bug for low-code development!