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In order to be competitive in today’s rapidly changing market conditions, many companies are exploring new methods to speed up their software development processes. The most common ones are DevOps and Agile development, which are designed to allow developers to continuously add new features to existing applications. But, at the same time, many companies are discovering the benefits of a new approach: low code app development.
In contrast with traditional app development, where programmers have to write every line of code, low code app development platforms only require a small amount of manual coding. This post will explain what is low code development, its advantages, and which are the best low code development platforms
What is low code development?
Low code development, as its name suggests, requires a minimal amount of coding in order to build applications. To achieve this, instead of requiring the the users to write code, low code development platforms rely on visual techniques and 3rd party APIs.
Even if the characteristics of low code development are hardly measurable, it is generally considered that, in order to be included as a member of the low code development platforms family, a product must:
- Be able to generate source code that can be used for customizations
- Allow the developers to customize both source code or any other markup language used (e.g.: HTML)
- Provide the means for easy integrations with databases or other APIs able to provide data
Benefits of low code development
No matter if the low code rapid development is used by the business users looking to create an application or by the coders that are trying to make their life simpler by automating processes, this approach brings several important benefits:
- Lower costs: the costs are decreasing when the application is built in less time. Also, with low code development platforms, there is no need to hire specialized and expensive software engineers.
- Improved agility: Visual design that replaces coding with drag-and-drop actions is going to significantly increase the speed of the development process. Also, many low code development platforms are bundled with automated testing tools, that help companies build applications faster than ever. Features that traditionally required months to implement can be delivered in just a few days.
- Better Customer Experience: With low code app development, enterprises can adapt faster than ever to customer needs or unexpected market changes.
Based on the above, we think that it’s easy to understand how low code app development greatly benefits organizations. Let’s see which are the main low code development platforms available on the market today.
Low code development platforms
Low-code development platforms are usually a mix of products and cloud services that allow coders and non-coders to develop software with ease, in shorter amounts of time, and with minimal coding. While there are many low code development platforms available, they usually rely upon several common features:
- Visual Development Tools. In order to reduce hand-coding, low-code development platforms provide easier and intuitive methods to build applications. For example business logic, data models, and user interfaces can be defined using intuitive visual models.
- Marketplaces. Most often, low code development platforms aim to further accelerate the productivity of their users by providing marketplaces designed to promote code reusability.
- Cloud Native. Several of the most well-known low code development platforms offer automated deployment to the cloud, using either Docker, Kubernetes or the other similar tools.
According to statistics, over the next eight years, the market demand for app development will grow more than five times faster than the traditional IT can deliver. Hence, a multitude of low code app development platforms are now available on the market. Let’s have a look at the most important ones.
Salesforce.com offers an SDK that developers can use to create Android, iOS and Windows applications. Also, the platform lets programmers design scalable back-ends using Heroku cloud.
The platform provides strong built-in security features like two-factor authentication, extensive data integration features and it is highly scalable. Even if Salesforce.com is considered by many the most powerful low code development platform available, newcomers can feel intimidated by its overwhelming array of features.
The main selling point for Mendix is the platform’s strong collaborative development capability that fosters social integrations and agile low code development. Developers can use a model-driven approach to create app logic, data models, and user interfaces. Also, Mendix offers a WYSIWYG page editor for faster web-based prototyping. The downside of Mendix is that it has a steep learning curve.
Appian Quick Apps is known for its interesting approach of breaking up app creation into separate workflows, on one side dedicated to business users and on the other side dedicated t developers. Also, it provides several useful tools like team collaboration, and task management. With Appian you can build native mobile apps using its drag-and-drop process modeler. The downsides of Appian are that it is expensive when compared to its competitors and that, in order to fix problems, some coding experience is required.
On the Future of Low Code Development Platforms
With such important benefits provided by low code platforms, it is easy to understand why low code application development is gaining traction. Companies need faster than ever methods to deliver applications, and agile low code app development cater to this exact need. But, in order to reap the benefits of low code application development, business leaders need to carefully evaluate the available platforms and choose the one that meets their requirements.
Unfortunately, due to the high demand for low code development platforms, the barriers to entry are low and new platforms are almost popping out of nowhere. For example, a platform that does not live to its promise is Linx.software. Many developers complained that it lacks indispensable security and stability features. Thus, an application built with this Linx.software low code development platform is not going to bring any of the benefits that low code development promises.
To compete, you need to constantly find methods to differentiate from your competitors. You have to do things faster, better, and cheaper. Hence, you should carefully do your due diligence in order to choose the best low code development platform for your next software development.
Simon Frey is a software and web applications developer with experience in PHP, Laravel, MySQL, .NET. He has been developing software for the past 11 years and enjoys working on new projects. Simon is available for hire and can be contacted through his website: www.simon-frey.eu