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For some time now, the tech world has been abuzz about low code technology or no-code development. (These two are not the same. In this article, we briefly discuss the differences.)
Low code development is a way of working that has been in place for quite a while. It’s just that no one had come up with a name for it until 2014. At that time, two Forrester analysts coined the phrase “low code.”
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What Is a Low Code Development Platform?
When we talk about low code development, we are referring to tools that require minimal code development. With low code development, users can create applications without knowing how to program.
Low code platforms have a robust interface, with pre-configured components. Users only need to drag and drop the elements they prefer. Furthermore, these platforms can be integrated with other software with little extra configuration.
This way of working democratizes software development. In other words, with low code development, company employees who know the business best can work on developing mobile and web applications. Because they know the company’s specific needs, the apps they develop will more precisely meet those needs.
However, nearly every project will need minor adjustments to customize the tool to the company’s needs. Therefore, the help of a developer is often necessary to achieve a perfect finish.
With no-code tools, on the other hand, the hand of a developer is expendable. No-code tools require no programming knowledge. The only thing users have to do is bring together the necessary components. At most, they may need to connect to some external service, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, in order to create the app or software they have in mind.
How These Platforms Evolved
As we mentioned above, low code app development is not something new. It is an evolution of Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools. RAD tools also worked with visual drag and drop mechanics and the use of templates.
Little by little, these tools evolved to become the current low code business software. Now, however, they represent two different aspects:
- On the one hand, the creators of RAD software have further automated the application deployment processes. In this way, the participation of developers in the creation of applications has become minimal.
- SaaS companies have taken advantage of low code platforms so their clients can make customizations and extensions of their platforms.
Therefore, only extremely complex applications or those that require new functionalities now call for experienced and specialized programmers.
Features of a Low Code Tool
Currently, there are countless low code platforms. To choose one or the other, users must consider their various characteristics:
Users can choose from three options. That is, they can deploy on premises, in the cloud, or a hybrid of the two.
Will the developer be a professional developer with experience in RAD? An employee with technical knowledge who is not a programmer (for example, a business analyst with IT experience)? Or an employee who has little or no technical expertise? (The latter will likely require a no-code approach.)
Depending on whether your applications are focused on B2C or B2B, they will need a different levels of complexity with regard to the user experience (UX). B2C applications need more development in UX than B2B ones.
Targeting a Specific Activity
Many low code tools are generic. Others focus on a particular activity such as ERP or customer relationship management (CRM).
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When choosing a low code tool, find out as much as you can about the support you can expect after your purchase. Will qualified personnel to answer your questions? Is there a training or developer community around this tool?
The Advantages of Low Code Tools
- Less development time: Tools that come with pre-designed code require less development time.
- Decreased maintenance times: Low code platforms need little in the way of application maintenance. Also, support will be straightforward.
- Lower costs: Because the implementation and deployment times are short, the price will also be less.
- Increased productivity: With a product that’s straightforward to implement, developers can focus on their creativity on getting the most out of the software.
- Alignment of the IT team with other teams: In a simple development environment, IT teams can more easily involve areas of the company that are related to business development. This ease of collaboration leads to the design and creation of software that better suits the needs of the business.
The Disadvantages of Low Code Tools
- Limited integration: Today, countless software and products can be combined to create your digital transformation strategy. But not all low code tools can be integrated with any software. So you need to consider what software you are going to integrate with your low code tool. This is especially important if these tools are at the core of your business.
- Minimal customization: It is likely that when you purchase your low code software, you could be unaware of a specific need that might arise in the future. Therefore, you should choose a tool that gives you greatest number of customization options. After all, you wouldn’t want to have to adapt your business to the limitations of a low code tool.
- Security and traceability: The difference between creating your own software and relying on a low code one is that you won’t be able to know every part of the low code software. This means you’re taking a moderate risk with low code software. Mainly this is because you have little control over the software’s basic functions. This can cause security and traceability problems.
The information in this article can help you decide whether to take advantage of the benefits of low code technology for your business.