Low-code and no-code platforms have lately gotten quite popular in the digital world. They sound pretty alluring, and the prospect of developing software as simple as making a PowerPoint presentation or a Word document seems revolutionary.
With these solutions, everyday business users can go ahead and develop projects without having to hire a team of programmers.
While no-code solutions don’t require coding, they’re not as ubiquitous as low-code, requiring some coding skills.
However, they vastly speed up software development by allowing developers to incorporate pre-written code components as well as those managed by AI and robotic process automation.
Low-code can also help you save time and money and prove to be of great benefit to business owners and organizations alike.
Low-code makes a developer’s job more accessible by allowing them to design applications with a minimum amount of coding.
It frees them from writing long lines of code; instead, they develop applications and programs by dragging and dropping visual blocks of pre-existing code into a workflow.
Low-code solutions give you the same result in terms of applications you would otherwise get by developing programs and apps by hand-written code.
The critical difference lies in the types of shortcuts offered. Instead of hand-coding a program from scratch, you can go straight to developing something new in much less time.
With low-code solutions, developers can work smarter and faster since they are not distracted by the task of writing endless repetitive code lines.
Designers gain more leverage to develop creative solutions since they are not tied down with coding. They also offer additional benefits to developers, business people, and organizations alike.
Using these solutions, developers can simultaneously make apps for numerous platforms, particularly if they want to showcase designs to shareholders.
Developers who are acquainted with low-code platforms can even build working designs in a day!
Additionally, If an organization is on a tight budget, they can get things done quickly without shelling out an arm and a leg looking for able developers.
Low-code platforms offer excellent integration, dynamic security processes, easy customization, and cross-platform support, providing a good return on investment and low risk.
However, they’re not without their drawbacks. If you lack experience and don’t have coding knowledge, you will find it hard to work your way around low-code platforms.
Although these solutions make development easy and offer you many tools, it is necessary to have a basic knowledge of programming — you can’t just dive into it.
Also, low-code platforms do not always promise high-quality results, and your non-functional requirements might not be met using them.
Like low-code, no-code solutions also involve visual development and drag-and-drop methods. However, they are even more straightforward to use.
They’re designed to cater to businesses and individuals who do not know programming languages but want to develop a program.
No-code solutions are incredibly beneficial for businesses who might want to develop applications for their brand but do not have the budget or the time to accommodate a team of programmers.
It equips them with the tools needed to develop programs and apps without needing any formal development training.
No-code platforms provide users with tools to build an app or program from the base up, and many budding entrepreneurs use them to set up their e-commerce websites.
These solutions resemble popular blogging platforms with prebuilt pages that can launch your website in no time. Let’s look at some of the benefits no-code platforms and solutions offer.
Developers don’t require any special training to use no-code platforms, and they are pretty self-explanatory.
Pretty much any individual with basic computer knowledge can work their way around these platforms, which gives users the liberty to move ahead with development without having to divert the IT team from critical projects.
However, no-code also has its disadvantages; for instance, there is no supervision. Just about anyone can develop apps without checks and balances, leading to shadow IT and causing security and compliance issues, problems with integrations, and technical debt.
No-code platforms might give users the confidence to develop projects on their own. Still, it’s worthwhile to take past technical knowledge into account before following through with a project.
Low-code and no-code solutions are becoming widely popular, with several platforms and solutions available.
Therefore, enterprise low-code and no-code platforms offer high performance and integration with enterprise applications. However, they are much costlier than other variants.
Most low-code platforms are business process management platforms that support model-driven development. In this process, users first draw up a framework of how software should work before building it.
This diagram process involves setting up a framework to drag and drop shapes representing sub-processes in the correct order.
Most low-code and no-code platforms offer advanced UI capabilities, and they’re well-suited for developing mobile applications.
Some platforms even offer support for mobile operating systems like Android and iOS, coming equipped with plug-in collections and customized templates for different applications.
Many of these platforms and tools have recently diversified into the AI field, C3’s AI Ex Machina being one of the most prominent examples.
While low-code and no-code platforms are a breath of fresh air for developers and organizations alike, they also present a few challenges, and users must approach them with essential awareness.
Since they are still in their infancy stage, they lack communities, established practices, and a body of experience like traditional programming.
Developers are still unsure about the best practices as the low-code/no-code ecosystem is still relatively fresh.
Firstly, these solutions require a culture change in the IT setup. Most professionals and even organizations are accustomed to traditional programming and development.
To bring the employees up to par with low-code and no-code solutions, organizations must take many things into account, such as budget allocation, executive planning, the delegation of duties, etc.
Also, it takes time and effort for businesses to learn and assimilate these platforms within the organization entirely.
Although these platforms are user-friendly, they still require a certain level of expertise. Finding their way around the tools takes time for employees.
Some features like nested loops are not easy to master. Moreover, some platforms may offer certain advantages over others for particular cases, while others may offer more integration options with enterprise systems.
You might likely need to switch between different platforms to get the best components for your apps.
Furthermore, the biggest drawback of these platforms is the lack of community support and available resources.
This shortage of knowledgeable material is even more pronounced if you’ve just made the switch from traditional programming, where you can find countless developers in a multitude of programming languages.
Traditionally, developers can always find online resources, aids, and courses, as well as communities for outsourcing. Unfortunately, you will find these resources missing in the low-code and no-code ecosystem.
In addition, enterprise low-code and no-code platforms can be pretty expensive. If you opt for smaller and mid-tiered versions, that will be softer on your wallet.
And it could become even more costly if you’re compelled to bounce between iterations of both versions.
As these solutions become more common, we can expect more challenges to come forth. Right now, these solutions are in their initial phase, and not much is apparent.
Although low-code and no-code platforms are very similar, and it’s hard to distinguish between them at the UI level, there are still many differences that set them apart.
While they may share similar interfaces at the user level, there are countless minor differences in design and functionality that set the two apart.
Both platforms focus on making the development process simpler and faster. But how does one know which platform to use and in which scenarios?
If we were to break down the functionality of the two, low-code platforms would generally be preferred for standalone apps and portals. Also, if you’re looking to develop mobile and web apps or portals that need to be integrated with other systems, low-code is the best option for you.
Generally, low-code is very extensive and can be used for many programs, apps, and portals, besides mission-critical systems that need integration with multiple external data sources.
People with essential coding knowledge can use Low-code tools, so chances are, you won’t have to worry about security or compliance issues, as they will take care of it for you.
On the other hand, no-code tools and platforms are not applicable for backend cases and only work for front-end use.
Although their attraction lies in the fact that they are straightforward and do not require any specific training, they are more restricted in their functionality.
If you’re looking to develop simple apps and don’t need any customization, no-code will suit you better. In any other scenario, low-code is the right choice for you, allowing you to build user-friendly and customizable apps.
They’re also relatively easy to get the hang of, helping you save time compared to traditional programming.
Both low-code and no-code platforms are suitable for creating business and technical apps aimed at operational efficiencies, such as computerizing manual processes or incorporating business processes and management procedures.
Organizations can utilize them to modernize their existing systems, bringing their interface up to the cloud, incorporating new technologies like IoT and AI, and transforming their digital framework.
They can also create business apps meant to be used as customer engagement platforms by workers or between business partners and shareholders.
Having said that, the solitary shortcoming of these platforms is that they can only create apps that feature no complex programming requirements or customization.
Expect to see low-code and no-code tools playing an ever-increasing role in app development.
By the end of this decade, more than half of medium to large organizations are expected to make the switch to low-code and no-code platforms for their businesses.
Even if these platforms do not entirely replace traditional programming, they will account for a large percentage of the total number of applications developed.
As organizations are moving towards remote operations, the appeal of low-code and no-code solutions has undoubtedly grown.
It seems more feasible to delegate development within the organization than hiring professional IT experts, especially when dealing with multiple projects.
And these sources arm companies to jump into development without having to hire new recruits.
Also, no-code and low-code tools seem to equalize the playing field, allowing smaller organizations to keep up with large companies with access to highly qualified experts.
Smaller organizations can utilize their existing resources better and develop apps indigenously with ease, thanks to such tools.
However, it would be erroneous to say that these two options are the future of app development and will be the new normal in the digital world.
They’re excellent tools for developing mobile or departmental version-1 apps, but when it comes to making changes and updating to version 2, 3, or higher, they fall short.
Furthermore, these platforms are not suitable for enterprise-wide deployment, and they can accrue technical debt while contributing to backlogs.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to choose a platform that can combine the user-friendliness and visual appeal of low-code development with the productivity, integration, and customization of traditional programming.
The ideal platform should allow you to build apps faster and are primed for functionality without security or compliance issues.
As of now, numerous software vendors provide both low-code and no-code platforms, and some of these platforms even run on the cloud.
In the future, we can expect to see low-code platforms cater more towards enterprise adoption, offering faster development and customization.
However, do not expect low-code platforms to replace traditional programming and development methods completely.
Low-code tools will continue to fill new niches, such as reengineering technology stacks and ecosystems. Professional developers have started incorporating them in development to assist them in monotonous programming tasks.
But they haven’t begun to depend on these processes completely.
The areas where low-code platforms were most extensively used were business process or workflow apps, customer engagement apps, and mobile front-ends.
Their scope is now expanding and filling new niches, such as employee contract tracing apps.
However, we can expect enterprises to stick to traditional programming and app development since they require extensive functionality, data governance, customizations to specific environments, and strict compliance regulations.
Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.