In Gartner’s Emerging Risks Survey, it was found that the scarcity of talented programmers has become the top risk that organisations face around the world.
The study further says that this emerging risk may exacerbate interrelated challenges such as the rapid acceleration in privacy regulation and the pace of change organisations need to address – all while we continue to experience shifts and changes in the business world.
As the need to respond to the digital business landscape arises, the need for faster development and deployment of applications is also putting a lot more pressure on the enterprise to adapt.
This is where low-code application development comes in. As the name implies, a low-code development platform minimises the amount of code that a developer has to write by offering building blocks for common functions and utilities. A low-code development platform offers the benefits of agile development, lower cost, and cross-platform mobility.
However, alongside low-code, another form of development is on the rise – one that is seen to free users from coding entirely – and it is aptly named “no-code”.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the difference between the two development platforms. Is one better than the other? Should your enterprise invest in low-code? Or no-code? Let’s find out.
What is low-code, no-code? Are they similar?
Low-code and no-code both provide a visual environment that professional developers and citizen developers alike can use to create applications, without having to write thousands of lines of code.
These platforms employ declarative techniques instead of coding line-by-line. Low-code and no-code are visual integrated development environments (IDEs) which users can utilise like making a flowchart. Business users or citizen developers can drag-and-drop the reusable components, connect them together, and create applications.
Low-code and no-code application development provide the basic components of an application, thus giving developers the ability to focus more on critical parts and functionalities.
Where do we draw the line between low-code and no-code?
Low-code and no-code may seem very similar. But actually, their target market and the sophistication of the applications being developed with each of them are very different.
Low-code is aimed to support professional developers by allowing them to design and deploy applications faster, while still allowing traditional code where the low-code landscape is just too limiting to achieve the functionality required. Low-code contains building blocks that complement the way developers work.
A low-code development environment is typically a visual design tool that enables the developer to drag-n-drop these building blocks onto a service designer. The building blocks take care of the repetitive cookie-cutter functions of the application leaving only the custom outlier functions to be handwritten.
Low-code is often used for web applications that expose information and automate business processes. Low-code can create both simple standalone web and mobile applications as well as complex and sophisticated applications that run important processes at the core of enterprises.
Low-code helps automate processes within an organisation. For example, the on-boarding and off-boarding of employees can be automated which can result in significant productivity gains for the Human Resources department.
Applications developed using low-code may have application integration functionality to access and process data from multiple resources. The data can be aggregated and then rendered on a web page, mobile application, or a dashboard.
On the other hand, no-code solutions cater to citizen developers. They are designed to help non-programmers create applications with no coding at all. They are often used to replace, or even enhance, what would otherwise have been achieved using a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets, whilst powerful, don’t lend themselves to creating an application with a rich user interface. No-code applications can create an attractive user interface for an application on top of a backend powered by a spreadsheet or a database with some built-in functions to query the database.
What are the challenges associated with no-code?
No-code’s prebuilt templates and limited architecture may pose a challenge to enterprises wanting to create customised and unique applications exactly of their liking.
No-code platforms enable business users to develop applications even with little training, however, this may also raise a security risk as citizen developers building applications without supervision may inadvertently expose sensitive data.
In choosing a no-code platform, enterprises also risk encouraging shadow IT where applications are created and adopted by the organisation without being vetted or approved by the IT department. Ultimately the IT department can be held responsible for supporting the proliferation of applications created with a no-code platform resulting in a greater strain on their limited resources.
Leading players in low-code application development
The following low-code platforms have been leading in low-code application development and addressing the needs of enterprises. They offer varying features that customers can use depending on the requirements of their organisations.
Appian supports business process automation and modernisation of applications. This platform offers prebuilt no-code integration with AI services and support for DevOps with automated continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) for enterprise IT shops.
Mendix’s platform is designed to cater to users on multi-cloud and hybrid computing solutions, thanks to its support for on-premises, virtual private multi-cloud and multi-tenant public cloud deployment options. The company focuses on enhancing business-IT collaboration and application lifecycle management.
Microsoft introduced greater support for the low code development with its AI Builder, as well as deeper integration with Microsoft Azure services. This platform features simpler design-time tools in PowerApps, used in designing canvas applications which employ drag and drop approach and Microsoft Excel-like expression language.
Outsystems offers a combination of omnichannel support and scalability which focus on enterprise application delivery. It provides an alternative to older third-generation (3GL) platforms while enabling low-code productivity improvements with access to capabilities such as an advanced web and mobile user experience, B2C support, and batch processing.
Salesforce is known for its CRM application services, having intimate compatibility with its low-code application platform. Its Lightning Platform is focused on customer-related applications and extensions to SaaS.
It would be remiss of us not to include our own platform. Toro Cloud is a low-code API centric platform that includes solutions for creating applications, application integration, data management, API management, microservices, and workflow automation.
Low-code vs No-code: Which is the better option?
Having delved with the challenges and opportunities for low-code and no-code, it begs the question: Which should customers choose? Which is the better option?
The answer lies in the requirements, resources, and skill set of the organisation. In today’s IT landscape, where digital transformation and applications need to be implemented and developed faster, both low-code and no-code can provide advantages.
Low-code offers a robust solution and greater flexibility, which means developers can build powerful and responsive apps with room for more customisation through minimal coding. No-code, on the other hand, works best with citizen developers who need to automate their processes and create simple applications without complex requirements.
Development is headed towards a more democratised future, as vendors work on combining low-code and no-code to achieve the best application development platform. This provides programmers more room to innovate solutions and citizen developers to incorporate their new ideas.
Creating applications in a matter of days is now possible and more accessible through low-code and no-code development. Vendors will surely continue to work in driving innovations to address the increasing demands for new technologies and applications.
You can start utilising low-code in your organisation today by signing up for a 30 day free trial of Toro Cloud.