A Beginners Guide to Low Code and No Code Platforms
Are Low code and No code platforms the future of software? Let’s discover.
A report by International Data Corporation (IDC) has estimated that by the year 2023, more than 500 million apps will be developed and deployed. The Covid pandemic has spurred the demand for digital transformation and the rise of apps and software developed by businesses. Executives interviewed in a McKinsey Global survey concurred that during the pandemic, their companies accelerated the digitization across all aspects of their operations.
While the demand for digital development is galloping, there is a lack of qualified developers to meet this demand. Also, traditional software development requires higher budgets, infrastructure, and time. Thus, many digitalization projects get relegated further down the to-do lists of IT teams. Businesses suffer since they cannot address operational inefficiencies timely, and 'time–to–market' is compromised.
Low and no-code development platforms are addressing these challenges and seeing steady growth. Let's delve a bit deeper into them:
What are Low code and No code platforms?
Low and no code (LCNC) platforms have emerged as practical and easy alternatives to the traditional development process. Low code or no code platform is a rapid application development (RAD) approach allowing organizations a quick and cost-effective path to business digitalization and improved competitiveness. Traditional software development required programmers to write line after line of code to create the desired functions of the application. The programmers need to have detailed knowledge of computer languages and development and deployment processes.
Low-code and no-code (LCNC) platforms integrate this development work behind the scenes. LCNCs are web-based applications that allow users to create their own websites without significant coding knowledge. Users select and connect displayed components (representing a particular step or capability) and link them together to create the desired automated workflow. In essence, LCNCs simplify software development to a series of selections, much like drafting a flowchart by adding available components.
Low code platforms: Low-code and no-code (LCNC) platforms integrate this development work behind the scenes. LCNCs are web-based applications that allow users to create their own websites without significant coding knowledge. Users select and connect displayed components (representing a particular step or capability) and link them together to create the desired automated workflow. In essence, LCNCs simplify software development to a series of selections, much like drafting a flowchart by adding available components.
No code platforms: Many experts treat no-code platforms as a subgroup of the modular low-code development approach. No code platforms offer users with zero coding knowledge to build apps and websites through a simple user interface. While low code may require some development expertise in scripting or manual coding, no-code is entirely dependent on visuals. Such platforms focus on doing away with technical details allowing users a guided environment where they can develop applications solely through instinct and logic.
As per a research report by 2025 from Gartner, 70% of new applications developed by organizations will rely on no code or low code, a significant leap from less than 25% in 2020. The rise of these platforms has democratized software development and is driving innovation.
Difference between low code and no code:
Targeted end users: Low-code is ideal for professional developers and helps them do away with the process of replicating basic coding for each new app. Thus, it helps them focus on the more complex aspects of development and innovation. On the other hand, no code is well suited for business users who lack the ability to code while having extensive domain knowledge. It allows the process owners to address issues they know best without overly relying on an IT team..
Use case: No code is suited for quickly developing front-end programs using drag-and-drop interfaces. Apps with user interfaces that pull data from sources and report, analyze, import, and export data are suitable options. Additionally, no-code is the best way to replace tedious tasks such as Excel-based reports that business teams need. It also works well for internal apps that don't have to deal with complex functionality or smaller commercial apps with a tighter development budget. Low-code, with its extensive component library, is extendable to high-demand apps that help critical business operations. They are a better no-code alternative for integrating with other apps and external APIs, connecting to multiple data sources, and for systems with more sophisticated IT security requirements.
Speed: Low code offers the advantage of more customization options and thus also requires more training and learning. It is much faster than traditional development but still requires more time for development and deployment compared to no code. No-code is quicker to construct because it is highly configurable and plug-and-play only. It also does away with the chance of potential errors introduced by hand coding and thus reduces testing time.
Advantages of Low code No code
Rapid development and deployment: These platforms are accelerating enterprise application development. With low code and no code platforms, developers or business users can build simple apps within hours. The agility afforded by these platforms allows quick response to evolving business requirements.
Democratization of software development: Almost anybody can build fully functional applications using no-code platforms. Low-code and no-code are democratizing the ability to create applications and software to solve real-world challenges. They are giving rise to citizen programmers (non-technical business users) who no longer face technical limitations such as a lack of coding knowledge for their software development needs.
Empowering business users: These platforms empower non-IT business professionals to develop specialized applications suited to their strategic or operational needs. Business users no longer need to rely overly on IT and spend innumerable hours explaining business requirements to developers. The low code and no code platforms allow for greater ownership of new applications within the organizations, aiding in quicker adoption.
Promote innovation: Low code no-code platforms allow developers to showcase their ideas through quick and easy apps before ramping up for implementation, freeing them up so they can focus on niche development needs. These platforms also allow more innovation by involving domain experts in the app-building process who bring newer ideas, fresh perspectives, and domain knowledge to build apps that genuinely meet business needs.
Increase Efficiency: Low code and no code platforms help improve the efficiency of IT departments as they can address their operational challenges without the need for many coders. IT departments can be made more compact and agile through the effective use of low code and no code across the organization.
Improved Customer Experience: An essential recipe for winning over today's digital-first customers is a consistent experience across platforms. Low code helps organizations integrate their app offerings with multiple services and platforms, thus enabling a consistent omnichannel experience.
Ushering in the new era of low code and no code
Tech Behemoths and smaller startups are all joining the low code and no code bandwagon. The number of large and small organizations offering these platforms has drastically increased. In its "2020 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms," Gartner has ranked nearly 20 of them.
Salesforce, Microsoft, OutSystems, Mendix, and Appian have already established themselves as key names in the industry. Tech giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon have also made a foray into the no-code space. Microsoft released its no-code tool Power Apps for iOS and Android. Google is riding the wave by acquiring AppSheet, a leading no-code application development platform. It also developed a Google AI platform that allows data scientists to integrate toolchains to run an ML application and a Google ML kit that will enable non-techies to build software on iOS and Android. Apple has also developed Create ML, an app for people with no machine learning knowledge to develop training models.
With a NASSCOM report stating that businesses that have adopted low code and no code platforms are witnessing up to a 3X-7X reduction in development & deployment time and a 3X-5X decrease in development costs, more businesses will soon switch to these platforms. Low and no code are improving the speed and efficiency of application development. Also, they offer a unique potential to improve alignment and collaboration between business units and IT teams and decentralize app development to meet organizational goals better.