Low-code/no-code development has got a lot of people excited about getting apps to users quickly and cheaply. However, these platforms are not a solution to every problem. How do they live up to the hype?
Of course, custom solutions seem expensive, which has led to lots of low-code and no-code products that aim to simplify — and reduce the price of — software development. Just like any other revolutionary technological approach, these tools come with positives and negatives.
As with all things in IT, what you intend to do with your website or app determines whether a low-code option is worth it or not. Refining your goals and getting expert advice is essential before you start developing anything.
What is No-Code Development?
Although the terms no-code development and low-code development are often used interchangeably, there are differences between the two approaches.
No-code apps commonly employ intuitive, user-friendly design and advanced drag-and-drop options in their features. All the major coding has already been done by platform developers so that the end-user has to deal only with a plain graphical interface.
Website builders like Wix or Weebly are great examples. These platforms sell ease-of-use and quick solutions.
The aim of no-code solutions is to allow anyone regardless of their technical skills to develop the product they want.
What Is Low-Code Development?
Low-code development is similar to no-code development, but it requires some coding skills. The amount of programming you have to do while working with low-code platforms depends on their automation. Some of the more user-friendly options, such as Kissflow can reduce coding time considerably.
A lot of what makes low-code development attractive is that teams can rely on low-code tools to automate part of their work — especially duller or more tedious tasks. These tools allow your developers some control over the outcome, but don’t force them to write code from scratch.
Low-Code/No-Code Usage in Modern App Development
The functionality offered by low-code/no-code platforms is both promising and confusing. To understand it better, it is important to look at its advantages and disadvantages, potential problems, usage scenarios, and product examples.
Pros of low-code/ no-code
On one hand, the less code your developers have to create, the quicker you get an app.
No-code apps are user-friendly and almost anyone can figure out how to build on them. Even if you’re a professional programmer with extensive experience who can deal with different IT projects efficiently, you will still be able to boost your productivity with no-code tools, saving time on mastering the most up-to-date technologies as no-code tools usually incorporate them. Other people without technical knowledge are simply able to start creating.
This also gives several opportunities to businesses. You can reduce expenses by reducing the number of IT specialists and reducing the overall time of product development. This in turn, decreases the time companies have to wait before they can start monetizing their software.
No-code and low-code tools can also automate and simplify many parts of your work. Automation systems can help sales and marketing teams send out emails while their targets are most active, even if they’re in a different time zone. This in turn can help generate more leads for less effort.
In theory, businesses would not have to rely as heavily on specialists, which could prevent disruptions if you can’t hire or retain IT experts.
Finally, no-code apps are particularly promising in situations that require repetitive and tedious tasks, for example, in software testing.
On the other hand, the more coding involved in the process of development, the more flexibility and control there is for businesses. Coding is a tool for creativity and customization. When used by a skillful programmer, an enterprise can get a product specifically tailored to its needs. Unfortunately, this is rarely a case for no-code solutions which, although might be equipped with a collection of templates, will still not allow you to move anywhere beyond their limitations. At the same time, their functionality might be extensive and useless.
Moreover, not only will such low-code/no-code platforms provide you with presets for functionality and a graphical interface, but also for other crucial parts of software, for instance, its security. Even though it might appear as an advantage, in practice, it means you will not be able to switch to more secure options.
These problems become even greater with the growth of the scale of a business. The larger and more complex the structure of a company is, the more difficult it is to meet its requirements by no-code apps with their standardized functionality.
When to use a low-code/no/code platform
Consider the purpose, complexity, and scale of your app, its importance for business as well as the processes it is going to run.
More intrinsic design, customizable features, scalability, integration with other apps and systems, critical and advanced functionality for business processes, and security will be handled better with low-code development or fully custom applications.
As a criterion, you can also consider the planned lifecycle of your app and the number of updates it might require. Depending on the nature of updates, they might be managed easier with tools that do not demand to code. When it comes to the lifecycle, you might be willing to stick to low-code development of products with a lifecycle of over five years.
Completely no-code development is a better choice for apps designed for tracking, analyzing, and reporting. It might also be a good choice for less demanding apps that should be optimized for mobile devices.
Examples of Low-Code/No-Code Platforms
The number of low-code/no-code platforms is constantly growing to offer its users more and more solutions for development.
One of the most popular examples of a no-code app is Webflow which is a tool for specialists working with visual web design as well as marketing. This application incorporates a hosting platform with web design functionality and a content management system.
Codeless platform integration and work automation can be effectively dealt through the intuitive graphic interface of another powerful tool known as Zapier. Currently, the tool supports over 3,000 apps for integration.
Airtable is an app offering low-code functionality for application development aimed at technical users while it also has a no-code tool for working with relational databases. IFTTT is one more codeless tool for creating applets.
Will Low-Code/No-Code Replace Developers?
As with any other technology that seeks to automate tasks, there could be some disruption in the software development industry. Needless to say, while many people are fascinated by the perspectives of software development democratization, many are scared by the possibility of decreasing demand for developers.
So far, the switch to low-code/no-code development tools has just started and its impact on employment is not entirely clear yet. Some people see a strong potential in this trend and foresee a decline in job opportunities for developers in the future. Others are skeptical about the quality of projects that can be completed with low-code/no-code platforms and, therefore, are not concerned about the employment market believing companies will still have to reach out to technicians for fixing the bugs created by low-code and no-code tools.
After all, excel did not put accountants out of business, and GPT-3 has not eliminated the need for copywriters.
Yet, there are also many people who see new opportunities for everyone including developers. Automation of performing simpler tasks is what everyone is looking for as it gives free space for using the full potential for creativity on more fulfilling work. Even if some development-related jobs will not be needed because of the rise of no-code and low-code platforms in the long run, it is only because there will be a shift to new jobs in the sector that we may not know today.
Low-code and no-code development approaches are quite similar, however, they bear many differences in determining the tasks that can be solved with their help most effectively. Both of them are giving great opportunities for a better time and financial management for companies, allowing them to get ready solutions a way faster.
At the same time, it is difficult to imagine software development without its driving force of talented and skillful developers who can handle vast and complex projects a way better than codeless tools. Using these tools as an extension of work of coders rather than a complete substitute might be a well-balanced approach.
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