Introduction to Low Code
Low code development is a unique approach to software development. It is a virtual technique that requires little coding when building applications and processes. Note that the traditional software development practice requires thorough coding to build an application or software.
This approach allows you to be abstract and automate all your application lifecycle steps helping you streamline the realization of several solutions. Your organization can tap into this unique virtual approach to come up with an array of application solutions that your business may find helpful.
This type of application development has captured the attention of different industry players. The Global Research and Advisory Company estimates that by 2024, it will have driven more than 65% of application development activities. It would be best if you, therefore, considered finding out more about it.
In this guide, we delve deeper into low code development, furnishing you with more information regarding low code development platforms and some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this approach. But first, let us differentiate between low code and no code, two practices that confuse several people.
Low Code vs No Code
It is easy to confuse low code and no code, given their almost similar framework. Even some of the biggest analyst firms have over the years shown that they have a problem distinguishing between these two.
We may have defined what low code is, but let us seek out a different definition that will serve this context. Low code offers developers of all skill levels a means of designing applications quickly since it requires very minimal hand-coding. All they have to do is drag and drop already-existing code blocks and come up with applications. It, therefore, offers a shortcut in building software.
No code is also a visual development approach that uses a drag and drop feature. However, unlike low code, this technique applies to people who are not skilled in any programming languages but are seeking to come up with applications for different uses.
Low code serves all developers, some of who may not be heavily skilled in software development but have undergone formal training. No cod, on the other hand, helps people create applications without any development skills or training.
No code platforms, therefore, have everything one needs to build a software or application. Examples are blogging sites or e-commerce platforms which include pages that users may want to use for their blogs and sites.
However, you should know when to use both, even though their platforms are built to speed up building applications. This brings us to another difference.
Remember, these two have similar functions: to speed up building your application by simplifying your work. You do not, therefore, require extensive coding knowledge to use both platforms.
However, low code will serve you well if you need to develop standalone mobile and web applications and portals that must integrate with other systems. You can use this software development approach for any software other than the sophisticated ones that need integration with several back-ends and external data sources.
On the other hand, you can only use no code for applications that require front-end use only. It, therefore, works for the simplest of applications. If your main aim is to build user-friendly and responsive applications, then turn to low code.
Remember, low code also requires one to know software development, making the final outputs even better.
Benefits of Low Code
Now that you understand the difference between low code and no code, it is only fitting that we look at what you stand to achieve if you decide to push on with it when building an application.
- Increased Agility
Low code simplifies the development process for coders since it automates manual processes. This means that the organization will be operating at a higher digital speed, facilitating the creation of application features that users need for smooth functionality across many devices.
- It Facilitates Easier Transformation
As the world progresses, so does the need to transform increases. Since low code development saves coders and software development teams from the complexity of building an application from scratch, it gives organizations an easy time adapting and responding to the ever-changing business world.
They can build modern business applications faster or even make changes to the existing apps that reflect the business world.
- Cost Reduction
Organizations and businesses should always aim to minimize spending and maximize profits. Low code development does just that. It enables enterprises to build several applications in record time, therefore reducing the need for more experienced developers, who cost an arm and a leg. It further reduces the need for several developers working on one project, thus helping businesses cut hiring costs.
Also, the right low code platform (we will cover how to choose one later in this article) can be used by everyone in the organization, with the help of the IT department, for more productivity.
- Ensures More Productivity
This software development approach removes all the complexities of software development, allowing more apps to be built in considerably less time. It, therefore, promotes innovation and saves time that can be channeled into production.
- Makes Change Easier
Applications need to be changed to adapt to new requirements or reflect the business world, which may take ages when done from scratch. Low code development ensures that these changes can be made instantly, given that it removes the need for complex coding.
This also plays a significant role in risk management and governance, given that new laws and regulations keep coming up. Changes can be made faster with low code development to reflect the new rules and conform to industry standards instead of waiting for a developer to start from scratch.
From these advantages, it is pretty clear that your organization stands to achieve a lot by adopting low code development. However, that will never be possible if you do not pick the right platform.
In the fourth section of the article, we furnish you with six criteria that you should abide by when choosing a low code development platform for your organization. Let’s take a look:
Criteria For Choosing a Low Code Development Platform for Your Organization
- Skillset Required
Before settling on a low code development platform, you need to consider the skillset and type of users in your organization. This brings forth several questions that you must take time and answer.
Is the platform accessible to the intended users? What levels of experience and coding skills do they need to build apps using the platform? Are coding skills even necessary, and can the users build apps through modules and widgets?
Answering all these questions will help you settle on the viable options before considering other factors. You can view options in the market that support both developers (their pro versions) and non-developers.
However, when settling on a low code platform only, you need to go for an option that developers of any skillset can use. Get a choice that both beginners and experienced developers can handle.
Other platforms such as Timeseries also allow users who are not yet developers to learn how to develop applications through their TimeSeries University. All in all, make sure that that platform you choose has the necessary provisions for developers of all skill sets.
- Level of Governance
You need first to ascertain the level of governance accorded to the IT department of your organization by the platform. Find out if the forum has an IT governance dashboard.
Your choice of platform should have several add-on tools, including an Application Quality Monitor, which will come in handy in your app development. If possible, there should be an open toolset that extends to helping any third-party testing tool that you may have in mind.
You need to connect with your applications, regardless of whether they are hosted or non-hosted. You also need to monitor several aspects, such as the availability and performance of your external API endpoints.
In short, make sure that you have a level of control.
One of the main reasons different organizations are turning to low code development is that it speeds up software development. Therefore, you need a platform that encourages reusability.
Does your platform promote reusability through an Appstore where you can get different tools? Settle for an option that allows you to obtain templates, business components, widgets, plug-ins, and other connectors that will enable you to access merging technologies.
You can also settle for one with a private Appstore, where you will get to distribute whatever intellectual property your company owns to be used among the different development teams. These two options will make building apps easier.
While still on this factor, you may also want to confirm if your platform has a collaboration project portal and reusable microservices. An option that allows you to reuse different elements ensures that your app landscape is consistent, thus promoting usability, information accuracy, and productivity.
Reusability also ensures that your application’s development period will be reduced.
- Cross-Platform Support
This is one of the criteria that most people overlook when fishing for a good low code solution platform, despite it being crucial. Business is all about staying competitive. To do that, people should feel your presence in all the available media.
Therefore, make sure that you settle on a cross-platform solution that will help you build both web, desktop, and mobile applications. You do not need an option for building web applications and different frameworks for other platforms when you can have them all in one.
Choosing an option that supports the building of all available platforms will save you time and simplify the process, allowing you to reach a wider audience. Also, ensure that your choice can support the building of platforms for any device or application architecture.
- Use cases
It would be best to ask yourself the use cases and applications that your option can support and whether it is flexible enough to extend beyond them. If possible, ask the vendor to prove whether the platform has been used in the same industry as yours. Also, find out if the platform can handle complex cases.
We advise you to settle on a versatile platform that can work for all case situations. This will solve the issue of complexity, which is a considerable challenge in many platforms. Remember, your preferences regarding application development may change after some time. If they do, you need a platform that will take care of your new preferences.
Ensure that your platform has a broad spectrum of use cases, extending beyond what you may need at the moment. Also, consider finding and settling for those that expand beyond their current offerings as time progresses.
If your platform cannot handle complex use cases, then you need to reconsider.
You need to ask yourself how your organization will adopt a low code platform and whether the platform vendor is willing to furnish you with some of the best practices to help you succeed. If your answer is affirmative, then you can go ahead.
Keep in mind that taking up a low code platform is not as simple as having a technical forum. You need to consider the partners, processes, and projects that you intend to implement or develop with it.
Therefore, ensure that your platform of choice offers a customer success program right from the beginning to help you structure and scale. Others also have an adoption service that will help you succeed faster and see your organization grow.
Other factors that you may have to consider include co-delivery and service partner, security and financial stability, as well as templates and quick starts.
Low Code Use Cases
We must have mentioned use cases as a guiding factor when choosing the right low code platform. By now, you definitely understand why they are essential. However, do you know what these are?
Low code is generally used to help nonprofessional developers or anyone with soft coding skills develop simple applications. This is usually considered the primary use case.
However, you should know that these techniques can also help experienced and professional developers to improve their efficiency when handling bigger tasks, such as back-end integration.
In this section of our guide, we look at some of the use cases where low code development can highly help development teams as they go about with their work. Take a look:
- Platform Integration – We have low code tools that can generate different configurations to enable cross-platform integration. A common example is the CRM or CMS system that can be challenging to write manually. You can effectively use these tools to integrate apps without much coding and lots of unique configuration management.
- UI Design – You need to understand that, at times, developers find building a user interface to be more complicated than the application itself. These interfaces are required to work across several platforms and devices, calling for thoroughness. Thanks to low code, you can automatically generate an interface code that suits your application UI. This can also be remodeled fast, depending on the users’ preferences.
- Business Process Management – if you have interacted with business process management systems, you understand that a good number comes with in-built low code tools to help you create applications and manage data. These tools can also help professional developers when working on sophisticated applications that require integration with BPM systems.
- API generation – Manual generation of API usually takes a significant toll on developers, especially for apps initially designed to work without one. In such scenarios, low code API generators can automatically generate API based on the given application’s code.
- Containerization – You must have seen specific low code platforms with deployment environments. These are included to permit applications to run inside containers. The deployment environment feature will serve you well if you aim to deploy an application to a range of environments quickly.
Examples of Low Code Application in Various Industries
What we have covered above are some of the everyday use cases of low codes. However, you should also note that we have industry examples of low code use cases that you should look at.
- Education- In education, low code can contribute to the building, rebuilding, and modifying applications targeting aspects of learning such as the learning outcomes. These can cover class sizes and attendance. It can also play an essential role in the integration of several digital platforms.
- In healthcare, low code tools have been used to develop customer-generating applications that work together with enterprise back-end systems, thus allowing easy access to information by patients.
- In Finance, financial services companies can leverage low codes to develop user-friendly and multiplatform applications for their customers that integrate with relatively sophisticated back-end systems.
- Lastly, low code can also be used in retail to manage inventory and process different information such as order fulfillment. This also saves the retailer money that he/she would have otherwise spent on a development team.
Best Low Code Development Platforms
Here are some of the best platforms that you can turn to for your low code development needs:
This is offered by Appian Corp, a renowned computing and software company that provides a fantastic low code platform to help you create apps timely.
- Has customized templates that you get to choose.
- It is fully equipped with predefined interfaces to help you create incredible apps.
- Easily configurable APIs.
- Faster Integration.
- Can create an app in less than three minutes
- Offers top-notch security
- Has case management tools
- Customers find its user interface basic.
This American low code development platform supports both low code and no-code development options.
- Offers customized IDE to developers.
- It has a drag and drop feature.
- It has an Atlas UI framework for building the perfect designs, which enhances the user experience.
- Has prebuilt connectors and APIs
- Offer enterprise security
- Supports single kick deployment
- Has a central application management
- It is not affordable.
3. Microsoft PowerApps
This is a low code software development platform that allows you to build professional-level applications quickly.
- Has power query tools and data integrator. These present data in CDS.
- Has code plug-ins.
- Can integrate with services running on-premise thanks to a data gateway.
- It is an all-in-one solution provider.
- You do not need any coding knowledge
- App makers and admins pay really high prices.
This is a high-end low code platform that helps users create applications faster.
- All the provisions are customizable and can be accessed at any time.
- It has a live preview option for viewing all the changes made.
- You do not have to change the UI source code to switch between GUI technologies.
- It is flexible
- All the services are customizable.
- It does not require any coding knowledge
- At 249 Sterling Pounds a month, this is arguably one of the most expensive options.
5. Zoho Creator
With Zoho Creator, you can easily create and launch customized applications with lightning speed.
- It is an all in on solution (supports payment)
- Offers expense reporting
- Has online inventory and order management features.
- It has high-security standards.
- It is accessible
- It comes at an affordable price
- It is not purely a low code development platform
Top 10 Free Low Code Development Platforms
Some of the platforms that we have covered above are paid options. However, if you are just starting in business with no budget for a low code development platform, you can use the free versions of the available platforms. However, keep in mind that these versions come with a few offerings, meaning that you may have to upgrade to enjoy more features. Lets us take a look at these;
1. Claris FileMaker
This low code development platform comes with an array of powerful tools, learning resources, professional partners, and a thriving community to help nonprofessional users build and share their applications.
Every business can also customize apps to meet their business needs. These can also integrate with their internal systems allowing development teams to share, manage and collaborate information.
Knack has a free version that you can use to build your applications. This platform has an expert builder network to allow your team to create custom applications. Depending on what you need, you can build apps to collect and manage data, ensure that processes are automated, and oversee the online movement of workflow.
It comes with several tools such as search, table, and forms to be used in building apps that work with the data imported from spreadsheets and converted to online databases.
This is a low code development platform that allows developers and business owners to develop excellent mobile, web, and progressive web apps. It boasts of a cloud-based back end, drag and drop UI builder, pre-configured modules, built-in collaboration tools, and high-level security.
This is a cross-platform development framework that allows developers to create and share apps across several platforms. You can build any app of your choice through one development environment, thanks to the drag and drop UI builder and the easy, objective Xojo programming language. You will definitely have a good time using this platform.
5. 1C: Enterprise
If you are looking for a solution that has been used by several companies, here is one. This platform offers you a single environment for developing cross-platform applications and a considerably equipped programming pattern library. This can be used in small organizations, large companies, and even government agencies.
If you need a cloud-based low code platform to build internal tools, then DronaHQ is here for you. It comes with several features, including a drag and drop UI builder, rule engine, ready connectors, app templates, prebuilt UI components, user management, and multiplatform layouts and outputs.
This platform supports application building, user management, cloud hosting, maintenance, and real-time deployment. This is the best option if you need faster app-building based on existing data sources.
7. Pega Platform
Pega doubles up as one of the best low code development platforms in the world. It has a free version that can help you revolutionize how you build software. It aids in digital transformation through artificial intelligence, customer engagement capabilities, and intelligent automation.
It is a simple yet powerful platform that can help you meet all your application building needs.
Retool has many powerful tools that can help you build your application of choice. It has drag and drop building blocks, allowing you to assemble your applications quickly.
This app allows you to write custom code, build custom queries and logic as well as connect to any data source.
Vinyl is majorly concerned with data integration. It allows different development teams to come up with solutions while using minimal code. It, therefore, strikes a balance between low cod and no code through patented technology.
Several customers have reported that the time spent building applications has greatly reduced, and they can interact with their data on a single screen.
10. Visual LANSA
This last option is one of the best integrated development environments for building mobile, responsive, and desktop applications for both cloud and on-premise purposes. It comes with several features, such as its built-in security, flexible searching and easy navigation, as well as zero code prototyping tool.
There are more than 50 free low code development platforms that you can use to build applications. However, make sure that you settle on one that will help you meet your business needs.
Low Code Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the most common questions that people ask regarding low code. These should capture some of the information that we may have omitted in our discussion.
1. Will The Increased Adoption of Low Code Wipe Out Developers?
No. You need to understand that low code does not aim to reduce the value or skills of developers. It is just an approach that saves time and helps people interested in coding but do not yet have higher skill sets to build applications.
In fact, instead of competing with developers, it helps them to produce more value quickly. With their vast coding knowledge, they can use a low code platform to develop and maintain high-quality web and mobile applications.
2. Can You Compare Low Code to Traditional Development Methods?
Low code simplifies development which makes it more of an improvement of traditional coding. It involves dragging and dropping visual blocks of code in a given workflow to develop an application, making it one of the most straightforward approaches any organization can turn to.
It can also completely replace hard coding, explaining why many organizations are adopting it. It is, therefore, better than the traditional approach as it allows skilled developers to work faster and smarter while avoiding repetitive coding. Business users also require just a little training to build applications effectively.
3. I want to Develop a Mobile Application. Can I Use Low Code?
Yes. You can. Remember, all applications built using this development approach are optimized on all devices automatically. Therefore, when developing a mobile app, you will not need to write or maintain different code bases for a range of devices, making it a good option for coming up with an application that works on your mobile and other platforms such as the web.
4. What Can Someone Build Using Low Code Platforms?
This is usually one of the commonly asked questions when it comes to low code development. You can build any type of web and mobile application that you need with low code. These include customer-facing applications, employee engagement applications, replacement apps, operations improvement apps, and data collection applications.
5. Will a Non-Developer Have an Easy Time Using Low Code?
Low code is quite different from no code. Well. Non-developers can use low code, just that they may need a little bit of training. All in all, low code platforms came up to enable business owners to create simple and easy-to-use applications to meet their diverse needs.
Highly skilled developers can also use low code to supplement their expertise and experience, especially when working on complicated projects.
Businesses are fast turning to low code platforms for their application building needs. These platforms ensure that they can easily create easy-to-use and customer-friendly platforms. If you are a developer, you can consider using low code together with your expertise to come up with unique creations that will take your organization a notch higher.