Code or NoCode?
NoCode is a tool that complements traditional coding within the technology stack of an organization. There are only certain projects that are ideal for NoCode.
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NoCode is a great concept that empowers nonprogrammers to build applications without having to become software developers; however, some people believe that NoCode will eventually replace traditional coding (i.e. that you can build anything on NoCode platforms). If you are starting a project with this mindset, you may end up sorely disappointed.
NoCode is a tool that complements traditional coding within the technology stack of an organization. There are certain types of projects that are ideal for NoCode, while others shouldn’t even be considered.
For example, I would strongly discourage you from building a banking application with NoCode. Any developer reading this would have likely scoffed at the mere mention. The fundamental complexities, data governance and compliance, and security infrastructure for a banking system easily occupy thousands of developer hours.
So, whether to use NoCode, LowCode, or traditional coding all depends on the type of project and its requirements.
What is NoCode Good For?
Let’s talk about some use cases that are ideal for NoCode projects.
The most common use case is probably the startup: if you have an application idea that requires you to go to market fast without spending too much money (i.e. launching with a Minimum Viable Product, or MVP), NoCode is an ideal platform. You can turn your idea into a functional product fast and cost-effectively. You can take it to market, present it to your investors, and begin accruing feedback. If you start getting good traction, you can then hire developers and build a proper solution. If you don’t get any traction, at least the idea fails without spending too much time and money.
Another use case for NoCode is small businesses: most small businesses have limited budgets for application development and little-to-no IT staff. They still need to build applications and tools to support their businesses beyond the common applications for standard business practice (e.g. sales, human resources, accounting). I am referring to applications and tools that are specific to their businesses. NoCode can provide an ideal platform where these business users can develop and maintain proprietary applications without significant training, time investment, or expertise. Since they typically don’t have a massive user base, the standard limitations of NoCode platforms should not minimize their effectiveness.
Large businesses also represent a good use case for NoCode. These businesses have development budgets and IT departments with programmers who can handle their application development needs, but the majority of these resources are allocated for the development and maintenance of their core business operations. However, their business units are often in need of specific, limited use, time-sensitive, and sometimes short-term applications.
These are considered tactical projects, as opposed to the strategic ones that constitute the core business applications. When tactical teams approach their IT with these requests, they are often rejected or given an unreasonably high-cost estimate and long timetable for development. From the IT department’s perspective, this makes sense since they have limited resources and those resources must be allocated to core business functions, often resulting in lower prioritization of tactical application requests. Additionally, the cost of these projects needs to be fairly high due to the significant cost of developer resources.
So, what do the business users do to get things done? Traditionally, they either perform these tasks manually or use software tools like Excel to build a limited-scope version of the application. NoCode is a perfect platform for these users in large organizations to develop their applications without having to rely on IT resources. They can build their applications quickly and deploy them to their user base. When the application is no longer needed, they can shut it down. If their application gets more usage than originally anticipated and becomes business-critical, which is not uncommon in large organizations, then they can take it to their IT with a level of validation in the tool’s business value and request that they build a traditional application for the long term.
Additionally, prototyping core business applications is another solid use case for NoCode platforms. Prototypes are created by developers based on project requirements outlined by business units. Despite being incomplete versions of the software, they can help by providing a baseline of valuable user feedback during the early project development cycle and can help steer the development in the right direction without losing an excessive amount of time in development before reaching business users. NoCode platforms can help save valuable company resources by allowing business units to build these prototypes and reduce the need for developing detailed requirements. This enables business units to be more active participants in these projects.
Limitations of NoCode Development Platforms
Despite their clear advantages, NoCode Development Platforms also have some shortcomings. That’s what makes LowCode and traditional coding ideal for some projects.
NoCode platforms are developed as modular units that are capable of various functions through configurable interfaces. Conceptually, they are a layer above traditional code. As a result, NoCode applications are typically slower in run-time than their custom-coded counterparts. When custom coding an application, you typically optimize everything per specific requirements, whereas NoCode platforms must handle many requirements that may not even be utilized in a specific project.
The ability to handle a large number of concurrent users from various geographies is another limitation of NoCode platforms. If your application is intended to serve a large number of concurrent users, it is usually better to custom code your application and optimize it to scale across multiple servers in multiple geographic locations.
Lack of Features and Business Logic
Lack of features is another limitation of NoCode platforms, especially when it comes to handling complex business logic. The majority of NoCode platforms are great for user interface and data capabilities but lack the ability to handle more complicated logical rulesets. Some offer visual if-then-else type logical blocks, but very few include the usage of mathematical operations without utilizing scripting languages, which require some level of programming expertise. I will delve into this further in a future article.
Cloud vs On-Premise
The majority of NoCode platforms are on the cloud. While this is not an issue for startups and small businesses, larger companies will often require that their applications are hosted inside of their networks for a variety of reasons, including compliance, integration with internal systems, and security concerns. This is a critical detriment in NoCode platforms gaining traction with large businesses.
Select the Development Platform Based on Your Project Requirements
There is no question that NoCode is a powerful concept that helps businesses save time and money in developing and supporting applications. NoCode development platforms will only get bigger and better over time, but there likely won’t come a day where they replace traditional coding entirely. Smart businesses use NoCode platforms as a complement to their traditional development platforms, based on their requirements, budgets, and timelines.
Published at DZone with permission of Ugur Kadakal. See the original article here.
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