by • February 7, 2023
Ever since computers started to make their way into the workplace, application development has been a priority for businesses. As a company grows, there is a need for new applications to handle new business processes and make the most of new opportunities. However, the list of custom applications requested can turn into a backlog as you hit the limits of developer resources. To ease this burden, the concept of low-code application development has entered the enterprise. This methodology provides a way for all business users who aren’t coders to easily build their own apps.
At the same time, embracing digital transformation has become key for companies to remain competitive in today’s marketplace. That requires all business processes to have some sort of software solution. Rather than waiting for the IT department to find the time to build these apps, users are turning to low-code platforms and tools as an easy way to get the apps they need.
Low-code application development looks to be the future of the software development lifecycle. That doesn’t mean it’s the perfect solution, however. There are some challenges involved, and there’s still a need for highly skilled programming resources. Even with some limitations, low-code development is perfect for your digital strategy. Here are some reasons why.
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Low-code application development is the practice of programming via a graphical tool with a drag-and-drop interface. Through the use of templates and automatically generated code, software development is made accessible to business users without a background in programming. Low-code app development also reduces the time and expense associated with traditional application development.
Business users who take on the task of low-code development are sometimes referred to as “citizen developers” in reference to the democratization of programming.
On the downside, implementing advanced features can be difficult. In some cases, a professional developer may be able to modify an app built with low-code tools, but this isn’t possible on all platforms.
Set your sights a little lower for these projects. Workflow automation helpers and small mobile apps are easily created on low-code platforms. Despite the limitations, many businesses are embracing low-code tools as a way to reduce the backlog faced by their development teams.
You could also check out no-code development systems. As the names suggest, writing some code may be required in the low-code development process but not in no-code. The no-code development approach is best suited for very small apps with limited functionality.
However, both no-code and low-code application platforms are constantly improving. As more and more companies utilize these methodologies to build business applications, their functionality improves, and better apps are made.
Here are some of the main reasons why low-code is the app development model of the future.
Low-code and no-code platforms represent the easiest way to get started creating applications. The low entry barrier for people with no programming experience makes low-code a relatively risk-free proposition for businesses.
With intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces, nearly anyone with basic computer skills can get started building simple applications. Those who do tend to learn more advanced features as they go and gain a better understanding of the concepts behind programming. There is also a high level of satisfaction involved when employees are able to create their own solutions.
Time is money, as the old business adage goes. Low-code tools greatly reduce the costs associated with the software development lifecycle and allow for rapid development.
This has the positive side effect of solving business problems more quickly. Gaps in digital strategies are addressed sooner than traditional software lifecycles would allow for. And through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs), low-code apps make it easier to exchange information across the company.
The code automatically generated by low-code tools will typically be free of coding errors that result in buggy apps. In more conventional app development, reliability testing and debugging take up a lot of time and can disrupt business processes.
When bugs do creep into low-code projects, low-code platforms usually have debugging tools that simplify the process. This contributes to the overall time and cost savings found in low-code app development.
Every business process is important, but many are time-consuming and depend on manual intervention.
Imagine if department heads need updated forecasts at the beginning of each month. Your finance team could manually email them all attachments, or they could place the documents on a server and hope the department heads remember to take a look.
On the other hand, the finance team could develop its own app to automate the monthly emails.
Automating business processes saves time and contributes to a company’s digital transformation strategy.
Complex software development projects tend to have a higher failure rate. The cost of development, inflexible deadlines, and ambiguous expectations are all threats to large projects.
Low-code apps have a much narrower focus, as they’re often meant to solve one particular problem or satisfy a small need. With less complexity comes a lowered risk of running into budget and time crunches.
Using low-code tools internally is also an attractive option over outsourcing expensive programming talent. By utilizing existing staff who can work on the app as time allows, you eliminate much of the time and effort required to complete a project — and the risk of the project failing.
The problem of legacy systems hanging around the enterprise is well-documented. Older software and hardware can become ingrained into your business processes. Sometimes this is due to user preference, or maybe an outdated system does one task especially well.
Regardless of any benefits of legacy apps, they represent one of the biggest headaches for IT today. Making old software run on new systems — or keeping old hardware running — can become time-consuming and expensive. And the lack of updates for software that’s been abandoned by its developers presents a security risk.
Giving a low-code development platform to a citizen app builder is a great way to eliminate legacy systems. By building a replacement that mimics the functionality of the older app, you remove the risks and hassles of maintaining outdated systems. And since the new custom app will have access to modern frameworks like the cloud, you may even gain some functionality in the process.
One of the biggest trends of the last decade in software development has been the shift to the DevOps philosophy. In simple terms, DevOps is a combination of development tools and philosophies to deliver software and services at a rapid rate.
The use of programming assistants and other code technology has enabled developers to optimize their processes in DevOps environments. As these tools improve, expect them to open up to those with little or no coding knowledge. Non-developers could likely already use some of the low-code software tools that DevOps teams use.
APIs are more important in software development than ever. Web service APIs enable the exchange of data across applications and services without having to know the internals of the apps.
The abundance of APIs perfectly suits the low-code development model. Low-code tools often have the functionality to create API integrations. This may be done with a simple drag-and-drop or by copying and pasting the code for an API request into the app. Many organizations have found the simplicity of low-code tools ideal for their API integration projects.
An API-centric development process also fits right into digital transformation strategies. The main goal of digital transformation is to capture the data of every business process. The rapid development of low-code apps covers the smaller tasks found in every business. It also helps replace legacy systems that aren’t able to connect to modern systems.
The low-code apps can now contribute their data to a company’s digital ecosystem via API. And it’s done quickly and easily, without the need for hiring a digital consultancy firm or waiting for internal development teams to create a larger app.
The proliferation of APIs in the enterprise means that API management is a crucial component of any software development strategy. Many of the best API management platforms already operate on a low-code or no-code software philosophy, allowing users to input information and have APIs generated automatically.
If your company is committing to a low-code strategy, you’ll quickly realize the importance of APIs for exchanging data across your systems and custom apps. APIs will be how a lot of your low-code or no-code apps get the information they need to meet your business needs. The only thing you need is a comprehensive API management platform.
DreamFactory’s iPaaS API management solution has all the features you need. From API code generation to documentation and version management, DreamFactory offers a complete solution. To find out how our platform has helped many organizations manage their APIs and software development efforts, reach out to us today.
Or if you’re ready to find out for yourself, sign up today for a 14-day free trial now!
What is Low Code?
Terence Bennett, General Manager at DreamFactory, has a strong operational, business, and extensive experience in government IT systems and Google Cloud. He started his career as a U.S. Navy Intelligence Officer, then honed his skills on Google’s Red Team and later became the COO of Integrate.io.
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