You’ve definitely heard of low-code and no-code. Are these just the latest buzzwords in IT, or are they actually useful tools?
Our lives are becoming more and more digital minded, there’s no point in denying it. The corporate world has to follow suit. Thanks to tools and applications, employees can perform their daily tasks quicker and more efficiently. But the traditional IT department quickly gets overwhelmed due to the pressure to develop all these new applications. The result is a huge backlog.
How do companies solve this problem? The obvious solution is to hire more employees for your IT department, but they won’t be very happy with their job if their workload keeps increasing. You need a long term solution. And that solution can be provided by low-code or no-code platforms. Bye-bye unmanageable backlog, hello citizen developers!
citizen developers and business users.
A citizen developer is a business user with little to no experience in programming languages, that builds applications with technology approved by the IT department.
Citizen developers can constitute a real added value to your company. They are generally closer to the business than the traditional IT department, and they often know better what the company and the clients need.
By encouraging citizen developers in your company, you’ll help the IT department to manage their backlog (or at least you’ll make sure it doesn’t get any bigger) and you can make sure that the people in your business don’t get frustrated because the tools they have to work with are outdated. It’s a win-win!
In these fast-changing digital times, there’s a big pressure on the traditional IT departments to develop more and better applications. The IT departments can barely keep up with the growing demand, and their backlog gets increasingly bigger. If the backlog gets too big, you’re at risk for shadow IT: employees start developing their own software, applications and services without the IT department’s permission. Most companies would like to avoid this, because it entails many risks.
That’s where low-code comes in the picture. Low-code is a tool that allows people with few development skills to build their own applications. Low-code platforms usually work with drag & drop functionalities, that typically use a what you see is what you get interface. The user drags chunks of existing code in a workflow, to build a software application without actually having to code. These chunks of pre-existing code can take on any form. For example: different types of headers on a webpage, specific functionalities in an application …
There are many Low-Code Application Development Platforms (LCAP’s) on the market. They all have their own applications, integrations, configurations, scalability and payment & license methods. Some examples of LCAP’s are: Mendix, Outsystems and Microsoft Power Platform.
who can use low-code?
Finance, HR or marketing teams can use low-code to build applications themselves, without relying on the IT department.
Experienced developers can use low-code to develop applications quicker and more efficiently. They aren’t slowed down by writing code or by performing repetitive tasks, instead they can focus on the part that makes the application truly unique. The so-called grunt work is done by the LCAP.
What are the main advantages of low-code?
- Speed: thanks to low-code, you can build multiple applications in just a few days or even a few hours.
- Simplicity: after you deliver the application to the stakeholders, they let you know that they would still like to see some changes… The advantage of low-code is that you can adapt your application in no-time.
- Low risk, high ROI: robust security processes, data integration and support are build into the LCAP. This means less risk, more time to focus on your business and a higher ROI.
- You only need 1 click to deploy your low-code application. No more launch stress.
- Control: most LCAP’s allow you to work in teams. The developer can still ask for help where necessary, and the IT department stays in the loop to prevent shadow IT.
Still, low-code has some disadvantages. If you have little development knowledge, most LCAP’s will have a steep learning curve. What’s more, not all low-code tools can guarantee scalability, quality and high performance. You’ll have to look for the LCAP that’s the right fit for you and your company.
No-code also uses solutions such as a drag & drop, what you see is what you get interface. The difference with low-code is that no-code platforms can be used by people who have no experience in programming languages at all.
In other words: companies can use no-code to give their teams the right tools to design the applications they need, without any development training.
Typical no-code tools are the popular blog platforms that offer pre-build pages to get your website up-and-running in no-time.
- Speed: this is also the biggest advantage of no-code. If you want an application with specific functionalities, no-code platforms can help you out quickly without having to wait for the traditional IT department.
- No training necessary: for low-code you actually need some basic knowledge on programming languages, but for no-code you need no programming skills whatsoever. Everyone can work with a no-code platform!
The danger of no-code is shadow IT. Your employees develop applications without any guidance or control. The biggest risks involved are:
- security issues
- non-compliance with the rules
- integration problems
- applications that use more resources than necessary
We recommend having your application checked by someone with experience in coding while using a no-code platform. These platforms should only be used to develop the most simple applications. If the application is complex, it’s better to use low-code.
no-code/low-code vs. traditional code.
Can no-code and low-code platforms replace the traditional development process entirely? Or are there scenarios in which we’d still better use traditional coding platforms?
No-code or low-code platforms are without a doubt an added value in certain situations, but sometimes you’re better off sticking with traditional code. When can you use no-code or low-code?
- If your application needs many changes and updates: no-code/low-code platforms allow for quick adjustments. Traditional code uses more bulky tools and features, so making adjustments to an application takes longer.
- If you need the application quickly: as mentioned above, speed is one of the biggest advantages of no-code/low-code. If you’re building an application using traditional code, you’ll have to plan for a delivery time of a few months.
- If you’re talking about a unique application that benefits only 1 of your departments. In this case it’s easier to use a no-code/low-code platform, because traditional code takes longer and costs more. Most companies can’t invest that much time and money in a small project that will only help 1 team.
No-code/low-code platforms have so many advantages, why do we still bother with traditional code? From now on, let’s make everyone a citizen developer! Well, it’s not that simple. There are quite a few situations in which we can’t use no-code or low-code.
- Unstructured problems: sometimes your problem isn’t straightforward, and the solution won’t be either. If you want to build an application without a predetermined structure, it’s better to use traditional code. No-code/low-code platforms work best on solutions with a clear, linear structure.
- Specialized applications: if you’re building a specialized application that needs a lot of interactivity, you should use traditional code. Traditional coding platforms often offer more flexibility, freedom and functionalities than no-code/low-code platforms.
We can conclude that no-code and low-code will never entirely replace traditional code. They offer a lot of advantages, and can be the answer to the growing demand for business specific applications in companies - but at the same time there are still scenarios in which traditional code offers the better solution.