- “By 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity.” – Gartner Report.
- In another press release, Gartner forecasts the worldwide low-code development technologies market to grow 23% ($13.8 billion) in 2021.
Traditionally, software application development has centered on skilled developers specializing in complex highly structured programming languages and full-stack development platforms (IDE). Bespoke development requires developers to write thousands of lines of code from scratch. This form of work is slow and resource-consuming.
Throughout the historical evolution of programming languages, the key focus had remained in achieving higher levels of abstraction and simplicity as has been the case with 3rd to 4th and 5th (GL) generation languages. Rather than understanding the languages that computers parse easily, the approach shifted towards the language we humans speak and make them easier to understand and use. Rapid advances in the field of hyper-automation (RPA, AI, ML, and NLP, etc.), open-source movement, and modular development approaches (microservice architecture), the rise of composable business, and a surge in digital transformation have led to the creation of low and even no-code platforms.
In addition to gains in productivity, low code movement has optimized costs, increased speed of delivery, and accelerated the time-to-market software applications, helping businesses to stay on top of the competition. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic recently has further boosted low-code adoption among the remote workforce as they find it much easier to learn and use it to develop applications faster.
What is a low-code development platform?
A low-code-development platform (LCDP/LCAP) is an easy-to-use, visual (GUI-based) application development environment with drag-and-drop features, pre-built template modules, and standardized boilerplate code. It supports declarative, model-driven application design and development that does not require traditional hand-coding, although procedural programming extensions are also allowed optionally.
An LCDP platform creates application metadata and interprets them during runtime. The underlying code is automatically generated, while the underlying server infrastructure is abstracted from the user. End-users can easily create responsive web and mobile apps on the fly; invoke built-in databases, integrate with enterprise applications, automate workflows for various business processes using decisions or business rules and deploy faster using one button.
The low-code development (LCD) technology platform categories include:
- Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP),
- Intelligent Business Process Management Suites,
- Multi-experience Development Platforms (MDXP),
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA),
- Citizen Automation and Development Platform (CADP),
- Rapid Mobile App Development (RMAD) and,
- Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools.
Some of the leading vendors offering low-code development platforms using the SaaS model in the cloud are:
Appian, Airtable, AppSheet, Bubble, Creatio, Cloudability, Dark, Google App Maker, Kissflow, Looker, Mendix, Metabase, Microsoft PowerApps, Oracle Application Express, OutSystems, Pega System, Quick Base, Salesforce Lightning, ServiceNow, Strikingly, SquareSpace, TrackVia, Tray, UiPath RPA, Visual Lansa, Webflow, Wix, Zapier, and Zoho Creator, etc.
According to Forrester, who coined the word “low-code,” the driving factor for the growth of low-code platforms is the urgent need for organizations to deliver and adapt high volumes of new apps fast, combined with decreasing developer resources to hand-code the overabundance of new applications.
Features to look for in a low-code development platform
Visually Simplified Development Tools
The first vital feature of the best low-code platform is to have robust visual development tools to make it simple and easier for developers to link and integrate code modules together.
It is not just about creating low-code apps; it is highly important to deploy them with ease. That is why it is highly recommended to have a low-code platform that allows you to deploy low-code apps seamlessly.
Scaling and Security
After creating and deploying the low-code apps, your platform must have the ability to scale them as the company grows and enable security enrichments for the safety of your low-code apps.
Usage of pre-configured modules and system configurations is another crucial feature of a low-code development platform. These pre-configured modules possess several advantages and come with all the core functionalities needed for different apps, and can be deployed fast for multiple solutions.
Advantages of using low code platforms
developers can leverage the following benefits of low code development:
- Shortens the cycle of software development (ideation to implementation) to deliver business-critical applications. Ten years ago, classical (waterfall) approaches to bespoke development meant going through all the stages sequentially – requirements elicitation, design, code, integration, test, and deployment used to take months if not years. Low code development has revolutionized that by enabling (10x, 20x, and 30x) faster development and value creation using prebuilt templates while reducing backlogs and workloads.
- Flexible and easy-to-use automation and collaboration. Low code development platforms are flexible allowing you to easily start small and scale up without compromising on performance, governance, and transparency. Complexities of the codes are hidden and abstracted from the user. Users can easily create automated workflows (BPM) for legacy time-consuming manual processes. It makes software development a collaborative practice (BizDevOps) between business and IT teams, instead of an endless ping-pong.
- Supports iterative development, increases agility, and provides a better user experience. Also supports procedural programming for further customization. Low code development supports agile iterative methods enabling developers to work more efficiently and deliver on time. Users can create amazing UI/UX much faster using standardized design templates, customize or create designs from scratch.
- One huge advantage is low code doesn’t mean no-code. If needed, you can write your own code and add it to the low code platform. Meaning, you’re not completely dependant on the platform’s abilities but you have the flexibility to maximize its abilities for your needs.
- Easily address software scope creep and technical debts. In a dynamic business environment, requests for new features, change requests, and shifts in the product roadmap keep happening. Developers can easily respond to these changes using low code platforms through iterations and modular development methods. Technical debts arising out of bad coding or bugs can also be resolved easily.
- Lowers the initial cost of setup, training, deployment, and maintenance, faster onboarding. Availability of low code platforms in the cloud and using the SaaS model lets users subscribe and readily use them without worrying about infrastructure, patch upgrades, and system maintenance.
- Addresses the organization’s specific process and data needs, automate legacy processes, and allows you to integrate with enterprise applications like ERP, CRM. Low code platforms allow users to create and use APIs and use a wide range of third-party plugins for integration with legacy and enterprise systems be it SAP, Oracle, DB2, etc.
- Accelerates the speed of innovation and digital transformation. Keeping up with the rapid pace of digital transformation across industries is easily possible with the model-driven low code development practices. The visual model integrates the ideal programming language, data structures, algorithms, application architecture, configuration, testing and QA, push-button deployments in the background while users keep focusing on creating the model according to business requirements. This is a novel way to integrate and implement new ideas and innovations faster.
- Some of these platforms also provide security feature integration like RBAC, LDAP, OAuth authentication, and regulatory compliance capabilities like HIPAA, GDPR, SOX, and FERPA, etc are baked in. This makes the low code platforms reliable and secured. SLA by the low code platform vendors reduces the MTTR rates significantly.
- Provides global coverage and instant mobility. Being cloud-native, these platforms as well as the applications created using them, can be accessed globally and quite often using Smartphones.
- Low code development frees your time to develop an application and rather lets you identify the business impacts from its use. As a result, users can easily adjust and align their business more transparently and achieve business success more quickly. Which makes everyone happy, the business side and developers who can feel achievement from building something of value.
When to use low-code development?
Image source: Software Testing Help
According to Gartner’s prediction, by 2024, the low-code application development approach will skyrocket and be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity. Low-code development is highly efficient and comes in handy when the time to produce software is low. Low-code development is a better option when companies focus on reducing the overhead costs that are incurred by developers.
The pre-built configurations and components can assemble the software in a relatively lesser time than a dedicated developer/coding professional. There is a huge potential for technology startups to experiment with low-code development platforms to reduce their overall costs initially to attain their profit margins.
The Future of low-code development looks very bright and sunny as more organizations are trying their hands on integrating such tools/platforms with their app development lifecycle. One can easily boost productivity and escape the developer skill shortages through low-code development tools/platforms. Digital transformation is the need of the hour, and low-code platforms aid such transformations.
Four best low-code development platforms to look for in 2021
Zoho Creator is one of the best low-code application development platforms used to create enterprise applications. It includes building applications with a little coding, hence drastically diminishes app development time, cost, and effort.
- Mendix Cloud
The Mendix Cloud is a low-code platform that supports the entire SDLC, including version control, backlog management, QA, testing, and deployment. Development teams can easily leverage such capabilities to develop and deploy apps faster quickly.
With Kaholo, you can easily build cloud automation workflows in minutes with a drag and drop interface. This low-code platform makes any complex tasks of every software development stage work effortlessly, with visual and intuitive workflows. Kaholo is highly recommended in your development ecosystem to enrich the collaboration, speed of development, and to basically GET THINGS DONE and fast. Try it on the free sandbox.
We cannot ignore Appian while talking about the low-code platforms. It has native deployment tools needed to build any app successfully. The Appian suite offers a drag-and-drop visual interface, third-party app integrations, and many other exciting capabilities.
By now you must have realized the advantages you gain by using low code development platforms. Summarizing the benefits, rapid development, and delivery of your applications along with regular updates lets you have more control over your delivery to production.
Domain experts across different verticals can now work more closely with IT teams, keeping them on the same page and have more ownership. They can bootstrap their own applications rapidly bringing innovations to life faster.
Low code development reduces development costs, provides scalability, improves developer productivity, improves collaboration and agility, enables faster decision making, removes redundancies, reduces risks, and gets your projects done! That’s something every developer wants to achieve.