No-code and low-code development is a type of software development approach that allows for rapid application development by using visual programming languages or declarative programming paradigms.
What separates the no- and low-code approach from a traditional way of developing applications is the abstraction of code. In traditional development, writing code is essential to creating an application. But no- and low-code platforms, utilize visual UI and Drag&Drop elements instead of code to develop applications.
What is no-code/low-code development?
The no-code movement promotes the idea that technology should enable and facilitate creation, not be a barrier to entry. Both low and no-code platforms rely on visual, drag and drop interfaces to accomplish tasks traditionally solved with code.
By allowing users to create software using a graphical user interface, instead of writing code, no- and low-code platforms require minimal investment upfront in setup, training and deployment.
The common advantages of no- and low-code platforms over high-code environments include:
- Faster time to market of digital products
- Ability to digitally transform a business faster
- Reduce overall IT costs
- Increase budget available for innovation
- Increase dev team productivity
- Build an incredibly agile digital team
- Decrease reliance on IT and empower business users
Reasons to adapt no- and low-code development
There are multiple reasons for enterprises to turn to no- and low-code tools:
- Massive backlogs: organizations with massive legacy systems and large amounts of technical debt find it increasingly difficult to keep up with business requirements with the time and resources available
- No time to innovate: Over 80% of IT budgets go towards “keeping the lights on” and maintenance types of projects, leaving little room for innovation.
- Scarce resources: In order to quickly deliver the types of solutions that organizations must develop to stay competitive demand resources that are not available. Finding those resources in the market is difficult and expensive. Training and hiring developers or consultants to deliver these solutions can be prohibitively expensive, even when such resources are available in the labor market.
- Complex systems: Expectations are greater around the ecosystem that products are being developed in. Any products must integrate with multiple solutions and systems, and deliver great experiences on any device. This means that there are a lot of moving parts, and the ecosystem continuously evolves, making the task to keep up that much more difficult.
- More apps: It is predicted that the demand for new applications is going to outstrip the capability of IT to deliver by over 5 times in the next few years.
- More platforms: Demand for platform support is growing exponentially, adding more complexity.
- More data: The amount of data to take into account is growing as well, including systems of record, various SaaS platforms, pushing organizations to integrate with different types of data. Push towards automation, AI,and machine learning etc, requires leveraging external ecosystems.
- More technology: Technology is a moving target. As the live span of these technologies is becoming ever shorter, organizations face difficult decisions of where they are going to invest their resources.
- Constant demand for change. The amount of time available to deliver digital applications is going to continue to shrink. To meet business demands, the acceptable project cycle times are shrinking from months to weeks to intra day changes
No-code vs low code
Both no- and low-code platforms provide a visual drag-and-drop interface that requires minimal coding. No- and low-code platforms differ by the amount of technical knowledge required to utilize them, as well as level of customization available. The main difference between low-code and no-code platforms is the issue of degree when it comes to amount of coding required to build applications:
- Low-code platforms are intended for professional developers who want to speed up their workflow and accelerate the application development process without sacrificing control over the code.
- No-code platforms are designed for business users who want to develop relatively simple applications only with minimal help from IT.
Low-code platforms can be fully customized with minimal programming. These platforms require technical knowledge, and allow good coders to work faster, thus amplifying technical resources in an organization. The more powerful the tools to speed up technical development, the better suited it is for coders.
No-code platforms on the other hand, target business users and can be utilized without any technical knowledge whatsoever. No-code platforms often have more limited customization capabilities, which is offset by the ease of use, allowing anyone to tailor the application without coding knowledge whatsoever.
Some no-code platforms offer the simplicity of no-code for one set of users, while giving the ability to add more customization with code to more advanced users at the same time, offering the best of both worlds when it comes to ease of use and customization.
Although low-code/no-code development won't entirely replace traditional application development, we are likely to see a continued enterprise adoption for low- and no-code tools, especially for addressing specific business needs while slashing time to market.