Of all the technologies disrupting the information technology industry, low-code/no-code is a trend that is not as prominent but promises to upend the decades-old, established structure of IT teams developing applications that business needs. An increasing number of vendors are introducing sophisticated and intuitive low-code development tools that business users can use to develop applications that they need quickly, and more importantly, sometimes without involving the IT organization of the company.
These range from the likes of simple form creation tools to full-stack application platforms. The end-goal is to deliver an impeccable rapid application development (RAD) experience to end-users.
What is low-code development?
Low-code development is the process of creating applications by typically working with a highly visual tool or platform. It allows users to build a software application by simply dragging and dropping pre-built code components and model-driven logic thus eliminating the need for writing the code from scratch.
The typical functions of low-code development platforms include:
- Visual software development in real-time
- Easy coding and deployment of end-results
- Highly scalability and easy maintenance of applications
- High security that stops scaling from converting into bottlenecks
These benefits allow low-code to disrupt the traditional IT backdrop. Businesses can now create and launch full-scale applications in the time it takes to build the business case.
Here are some best low-code development tools that enable developers to scale their tech across a range of devices, platforms and form factors – Business rule management systems (BRMSs), business process management systems (BPMSs), multi-experience development platforms MXDPs and low-code application platforms (LCAPs).
Best practices for low-code development
Choosing the best low-code development platform and methodology is essential. I have listed some of the best practices that one can follow for optimal low-code development:
- Cater to the feasibility of API creation and choose a capable vendor.
- Explore low-code tools that accelerate server-side work that is challenging for developers.
- Check the type of low-code development and categorize application use cases to identify appropriate ones.
- Deploy low-code products that have requisite security guardrails for citizen developers.
- Be open to opportunities in external-facing apps and ensure that the licensing costs meet the set ROI.
Apart from opting for next-gen platforms, businesses are experimenting with developing their own low-code applications (apps). The demand for such apps is soaring as they function as quick fixes to new-age tech problems and empower employees to upskill themselves in new domains.
Intuitive use-cases of low-code development
There are four common use-cases where low-code application development can be used:
- Innovation-oriented applications: Apps that give shape to tech innovations while leveraging leading technologies such as IoT, AI, and machine learning.
- Operations applications: Internal and organizational-facing apps that are aimed at reducing manual processes.
- Customer engagement applications: Engagement apps that increase customer engagement and retention by promoting seamless interaction with the business.
- Legacy migration applications: Apps that can directly replace outdated legacy tools. The goal here is to support new processes while overhauling existing ones.
Leading low-code development platforms
Here’s a look at the most popular low-code development platforms and how they stack up against each other:
- Mendix: Supports a myriad of application development needs and comes with options of private cloud, public cloud, and on-premises deployment. It has a dedicated enterprise version provided with features such as automated backups and horizontal scaling. Some of its leading features include offline working capabilities, agile project management, visual modeling tools, and reusable components.
- Outsystems: Perfect to build mobile, web, and enterprise-grade apps, Outsystems is also meant for both on-cloud and on-premise deployments. With a full-stack visual deployment, users get a drag-and-drop UI for both full-stack and cross-platform app development. A wide variety of pre-built open-source connectors reduces the development time even further.
- Appian: An intelligent automation platform, Appian spearheads the development of smart apps with drag-and-drop functionalities and native AI services. The cross between intuitive automation and low-code development becomes the unique selling proposition. Automated updates and unified data fields further ensure that processes and be orchestrated and disparate data sets can be assessed anytime.
- Microsoft Powerapps: The go-to platform to build web-based apps that are compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows devices. It comes with a point-and-click app development approach with pre-defined templates and enables developers to build complex apps with ease. Multiple pre-built AI components, cloud-based services integration, workflow automation, and app sharing make the development process seamless.
What are your views about low code development platforms? Have you used any of these platforms before? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.