by • February 14, 2023
Developers and engineers want to create great digital products faster, get them to market at record speeds, and eliminate the risks of downtime and poor user experiences. The traditional development approach often prevents this, as developers spend increasing hours meticulously coding workflows for thousands of tasks. Low-code development platforms are an increasingly popular solution for dealing with this challenge. Automating and simplifying a range of essential yet repetitive or time-consuming actions means businesses get their apps in front of users faster, creating better first impressions and boosting engagement.
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Low-code software solutions utilize visual or drag-and-drop user interfaces to facilitate speedier application development. These intuitive interfaces combine with minimal coding from the user to create an integrated development environment (IDE). This allows developers to use their expert skills while taking advantage of a range of automation services, icons, or images that streamline working practices when creating web applications, mobile apps, or other digital products.
No-code platforms are a little different. In a no-code environment, as the name suggests, users don’t need to do any manual coding at all. These interfaces are usually purely visual or use natural language instead of programming terminology.
What can DevOps teams create using low-code platforms? There are no limits, really, but here are just a few ways developers are using low-code software:
Globally, the low-code platform market is worth around $22.5 billion, according to Statista, and is expected to reach $32 billion in 2024, growing with a CAGR of over 26%. Gartner published its own forecast in December 2022, with a prediction that the market for low code development technologies will grow by 20% in 2023. But why the recent spike in popularity?
It’s because the low-code methodology has a number of positive points, appreciated by developers, IT teams, and even business owners. It’s not just about making it easier for the DevOps teams but also boosting an organization’s bottom line.
When developers don’t have to do everything manually, projects get completed more quickly. The faster you get a minimum viable product (MVP) to your beta testers or internal users, the faster you can get feedback and make the necessary improvements to have a market-ready app.
Launch day for traditionally developed apps may be fraught as developers ready themselves to deal with bugs, glitches, or downtime. Many low-code tools give developers the option to roll their app back to a previous version — ideally one with proven stability — while they iron out any glitches that arise. This improves the experience for end users and can boost an organization’s reputation organically.
If you only have one or two DevOps specialists in your company, you might have to wait until they’re finished with their current project before you can start anything new. With low-code tools you could get started without a high level of expertise, maximizing your business’s time and resources.
Again, we’re using the example of only having one or two professional developers with an aptitude for multiple programming languages who write and understand the source code for your business apps. With low-code development tools, there’s the possibility to bring onboard members from other teams or departments, as long as they have some level of programming aptitude. They can provide expertise from their area, whether that’s sales, human resources, or customer experience. There’s no longer any need for every collaborator to fully understand the underlying code of the project in order to contribute. This helps prevent data siloes and promotes a company culture of collaboration and information sharing.
Low-code or no-code development solutions empower businesses to create apps even if they don’t employ a dedicated expert-level coder or programmer at all. Every business needs to be able to engage with its customers online, and it needn’t be costly or time-consuming to achieve this anymore.
Automation is essential for developers and software engineers that don’t want to spend every minute manually performing every task. Many low-code platforms offer automation for a variety of workflows, helping businesses move toward “hyperautomation,” an aspect of digital transformation that involves automating as many business processes—including IT processes—as possible.
It makes sense that when you can get your apps to market faster and utilize fewer resources, your ROI should improve. ROI can also get a welcome lift from users appreciating a more stable, more frequently updated app. These users may share their good experiences, which could organically increase traffic to your website, app, or other digital engagement points.
Business users with lower budgets might find employing a dedicated coding specialist challenging, especially in the early days of their company’s journey. Because low-code software is usually provided as a software as a service (SaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS), it can be quite easy to budget for, even when starting out. It’s important to note that some coding experience is required to get the most out of any low-code solution.
Because these platforms are paid options on a subscription basis, there’s often plenty of support available. In addition to email, chat, or phone support from the provider, there are often online forums and communities that provide advice.
Are there any actual downsides to low-code solutions? Some developers believe so. Tom Stiehm of Coveros is an Agile software developer who believes some things are simply too complex for low-code or no-code solutions. He states: “We saw the same thing with Visual Basic in the ’90s. VB was valuable, and a lot of software was written in VB. In the end, it was the complexity required by some applications that caused VB to break down and no longer be a good solution. Low code will be the same.”
Whether he’s correct, of course, remains to be seen. However, there are other issues that some experts have shown concern over relating to the rise of the low-code environment.
Scalable services need to grow with the business. There’s a concern that marketing low-code solutions to citizen developers will ultimately limit how much the service can expand and deal with increasing pressure, traffic, or other demands. However, there is no need for this to be the case. Ultimately, low-code development tools simply provide an alternative methodology for app creation, and the developer should be able to expand their projects as much as they like as long as the tool is fit for purpose.
One of the most critical aspects of monitoring modern systems is observability, and there’s a concern among some developers that not having complete control over every aspect of code could limit observability within a system. Also, in drag-and-drop app building systems, how can a DevOps team trust that every aspect of pre-built code is as secure and safe as if they built it themselves? This is where research comes in. Most PaaS providers have to prove what security they provide and will be quite transparent about this. If you have any doubts at all, speak to your vendor or look up user reviews from other professionals.
Traditional web and application development requires an expert in manual coding, which can be expensive for some businesses. However, if you already have a specialist development team, they may become frustrated if they can’t easily input their own custom code or other manual changes required to produce an app that exactly matches business specifications. Thankfully, most modern low-code options are actually highly customizable, showing that low-code PaaS creators take developer requirements seriously.
Low-code application development nearly always means subscribing to a proprietary product. The concern for some organizations is that they’ll end up permanently reliant on a software provider that is too costly or provides a poor level of service. Switching from one tool to another may also not be a simple proposition. This is never an issue when coding from scratch. Again, careful research ensures you commit to a trusted provider with flexible options.
A low-code approach doesn’t mean no-code, and that can be a sharp learning curve for business users who try developing their own apps without any prior programming knowledge. An amateur coding enthusiast might learn on the go, but an eager startup owner with zero programming experience is likely to end up frustrated and waste time and money. No-code environments are the obvious solution here.
Reduced development time and increased speed to market are certainly key drivers in the seismic shift toward low-code development frameworks. While there are still detractors, of course, there are many more benefits than downsides to the low-code revolution. As automation technology and AI/ML advance, expect to see more and more aspects of business technology becoming increasingly accessible to a wider range of programming aptitudes and more low-code or even no-code solutions available at all levels.
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Why Low-Code Application Development Is the Future
As a seasoned content moderator with a keen eye for detail and a passion for upholding the highest standards of quality and integrity in all of their work, Spencer Nguyen brings a professional yet empathetic approach to every task.
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