What Are Low-Code and No-Code? And, What’s Their Future?
Intrigued by the idea of developing an application without writing a single line of code? Explore low-code/no-code, and learn how the ecosystem of LCNC works.
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The need for developers in the market is at an all-time high. However, there is still a lack of talent in the market that can stall business projects for months. To solve it, businesses use low-code/no-code(LCNC) development to create products. It also gives rise to Citizen developers, subject-area specialists participating in the app development process using LCNC platforms.
Intrigued by the idea of developing an application without writing a single line of code? Then, keep reading as we’ll explore low-code/no-code, learn how it works, and understand its ecosystem. We'll also learn about the difference between low-code and no-code development platforms and also look at low-code/no-code's future. Let’s get started.
What Is Low-Code?
With agile development on the rise, businesses must get their product to the market as quickly as possible. DevOps solves the problem with continuous integration/continuous development(CI/CD). However, it still needs significant effort and time to get the product to reach the market faster than low-code.
Low-code is a rapid application development(RAD) that gives businesses the tools to create apps using visual building blocks. The building blocks are automated to generate code and can be dragged and dropped through a proper menu interface. The generated code is still customizable as developers can edit them, and that’s why it is known as “low” code. Low code is focused on developers, requiring significant technical knowledge to develop applications.
What Is No-Code?
No-code takes a step further than low-code, where the user doesn't have to write a single line of code. It is also a RAD approach and offers plug-and-play code development without developers' involvement. No-code development platforms are 100% focused on providing visual tools to citizen developers.
Citizen developers are business users who know their vertical or business workflow and can use no-code platforms to develop business workflows and apps
How Do Low-code and No-Code Work?
The philosophy behind LCNC is to remove the dependence on expert programmers to create business applications. However, low code requires some programming knowledge for custom editing and development.
If you look at the general development process, a designated team of programmers works to write, test, and ship code through a well-defined Software Development Life Cycle(SDLC) process. They’ll also choose the “right” software stack and must constantly meet the requirements to ensure proper implementation. Here, the programmer has expert knowledge of the development process.
The low-code and no-code platforms offer access to the tools needed to create the application visually with minimal to no code requirements. It does it through encapsulation by providing building blocks. These building blocks are reusable components with changeable properties through visual input. LCNC platforms are easy to use, where users connect building blocks to get the desired functionality. Most LC/NC platforms are feature-rich, which lets users do experimenting.
As a business, you must define your requirements and visualize the desired outcome. Once you clearly understand what you need, create a workflow or business process using LCNC BPM(Business Process Management) and development tools. This should mention desired processes and workflow with identifiable modules, including how users interact with the said module. Now, implement the project with the LCNC platform. The platform backend should generate all the code for you. When finished, you can show the application to an IT expert who can evaluate the application and make changes if needed.
What Does a Low-Code Application Platform(LCAP) Offer?
Low-code application platforms (LCAP) provide tools and services to enable skilled developers to develop applications faster. It offers visual modeling tools(with a drag-and-drop interface) and ready-made components to make development faster than the traditional approach. As it is “low-code,” you can also do custom programming to add code for a few functionalities manually.
Technically, LCAP comes with an integrated development environment(IDE), reusable plug-in modules, code templates, and graphical connectors for automation. They also offer APIs to interlink modules easily.
By using a low-code application platform(LCAP), you also get multiple benefits, including:
- Improved productivity
- Lower costs
- A collaborative approach to development
There’re many low-code application development tools, such as:
What Does a No-Code Application Platform Offer?
No-code application platforms (NCAP) are 100% visually focused. With it, businesses can create software using a drag-and-drop builder without needing to write code. The tools can be used by developers and non-developers and are geared towards citizen developers who are subject-area specialists for a particular domain.
Just like a low-code application platform, NCAP also focuses on rapid application development. It offers highly-customized workflows and easy integration with different services. Small, medium, and large-scale businesses, including enterprises, can use NCAP to create business and workflow-based business applications.
Some of the popular no-code application platforms include:
- AWS Honeycode
Benefits of Using Low-Code/No-Code Platforms
LCNC platforms offer tons of benefits. These benefits include:
- You can do faster development using low-code/no-code platforms. Here, users need to connect building blocks and let the platform handle the code. According to Forrester, LCNC can speed up development by 20 times compared to traditional development.
- The LCNC platform users can focus on the end-user requirement as they tackle development from a simple viewpoint of solving problems.
- LCNC approach significantly decreases the cost associated with creating software.
- You can automate extensively with Low-code/no-code platforms as they provide workflows and integration options. They also offer machine learning and artificial intelligence to suggest what tools to integrate or automate.
- Low-code/no-code simplifies data integration as information is collected, shared, and processed via workflows.
How Do Low-code and No-code Differ?
Both low-code and no-code approaches are fundamentally agile methodologies. It enables developers and citizen developers to get out business applications faster than the traditional method.
As for the target audience, low-code platforms are aimed at developers. The user needs to know computer systems or the business process to get started. Apart from technical knowledge, they should also know how to read and edit code, to a certain extent.
For no-code platforms, this extensive knowledge is not required. And that’s why business people can use no-code platforms. The only caveat is the need to learn how the platforms work.
From a technical perspective, no-code platforms focus more on visual tools and don’t require the user to edit code. This means they offer an excellent user experience that focuses on hiding abstraction from the user. Low-code, however, is more focused on giving developers the tools to create software solutions using visual tools and manually editing the code.
Both platforms depend heavily on automation and come with modules to integrate services and solutions.
As for openness, low code lets developers edit the code and see how it works. For no-code, it is not possible to edit code. This approach has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, developers can add custom code to low-code platforms but suffer from the architecture’s core updates. If the version changes with an update, it can change how the app behaves. This is not a problem for no-code platforms as it is a closed system.
Brief History and the Future of Low-Code/No-Code
RAD tools such as Excel, Microsoft Access, etc., started the journey of low-code/no-code development. On the "right" hand, these tools can mean excellent outcomes, especially if they know the business or have the technical knowledge to work with a low-code platform.
If we go further back, we can see abstraction's evolution over time. It started with COBOL and Fortran, which provided a high-level programming language. They eased how programmers solved problems and revolutionized how programmers felt at that time. During that time, a new term, "autocode" is coined with significance to how coding has become easier and feels more automatic.
Next, in 1987, came the HyperCard, an Apple development platform framework that enabled developers to create applications without the need to write any code. It relied on graphical menus to draw interfaces and functionalities. Moreover, it also came with a scripting option for making changes to the code. However, Apple shut down HyperCard in 1998.
The term "low-code" was coined by Forrester in 2014. It is aimed at platforms that offer ease of use and simplicity in developing business applications. The "no-code" term's origins are unclear, but it came up in the last four to five years.
Keeping history aside, how does the future of low-code/no-code look?
The current trends suggest enterprises are keen to use the LCNC development platform as its app development is 5 times faster. Gartner also forecasts that 65% of the application development will be done in low-code application development by 2024.
LCNC can also make legacy systems obsolete with a focus on less IT dependency.
In conclusion, the future of low-code/no-code looks exciting. What's your thought on this? Comment below and let us know.
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