A new era of application development has dawned, shaking the foundations of the traditional coding paradigm. This is the era of low-code development platforms, a revolutionary approach that is increasingly being adopted by organizations across the globe. By significantly reducing the amount of manual coding required, these platforms are democratizing application development and opening up a world of possibilities for business users and developers alike.
What is Low-Code Development?
Low-code development refers to the design of applications through a visually guided interface. In essence, it’s a more accessible and efficient way of creating software applications without needing extensive coding expertise. As the name suggests, low-code platforms reduce the amount of traditional coding needed, facilitating rapid delivery of business applications.
An interesting aspect of low-code development is its far-reaching roots, tracing back to the fourth-generation programming languages and the rapid application development tools of the 1990s and early 2000s. Similar to these precursors, low-code platforms revolve around model-driven designs, automatic code generation, and visual programming.
The Power of Low-Code Development
The adoption of low-code platforms can deliver a multitude of benefits to organizations. With the relentless demand for software automation and new business applications, there is a pressing need for software developers to create custom applications quickly and tailored to an organization’s unique needs.
Low-code development platforms address this demand, enabling quick creation and deployment of functional applications that cater to the specific process and data needs of the organization. From automating business processes to creating mobile applications, low-code platforms are versatile tools that can enhance the productivity and efficiency of a business.
The Market for Low-Code Development
According to industry research, the market for low-code development platforms is on a robust growth trajectory. Research firm Forrester estimated in 2016 that the total market for low-code development platforms would grow to $15.5 billion by 2020. The growth of this market can be attributed to the flexibility and ease of use offered by low-code development platforms.
One of the key drivers of the growing popularity of low-code platforms is the focus on mobile accessibility. Instead of developers having to spend time creating multi-device software, low-code packages typically come with this feature as standard. As they require less coding knowledge, nearly anyone in a software development environment can learn to use a low-code development platform. Features like drag and drop interfaces help users visualize and build the application.
Security and Compliance in Low-Code Development
Despite the numerous benefits, concerns over low-code development platform security and compliance are growing, particularly for apps that use consumer data. The speed at which apps can be built raises questions about the security of these apps and possible lack of governance leading to compliance issues. Nevertheless, low-code apps also fuel security innovations. With continuous app development in mind, it becomes easier to create secure data workflows.
Criticisms and Concerns
Despite the advantages, some IT professionals question whether low-code development platforms are suitable for large-scale and mission-critical enterprise applications. Others have questioned whether these platforms actually make development cheaper or easier. Furthermore, some CIOs have expressed concern that adopting low-code development platforms internally could lead to an increase in unsupported applications built by shadow IT.
Top Picks for Low-Code Development Platforms
There are numerous low-code development platforms available in the market today. In this section, we will explore some of the top picks, their features, pros, and cons, and their suitability for different business needs.
As a versatile low-code platform, Zoho Creator offers an intuitive, customizable, and affordable platform for creating web and mobile applications. It stands out for its ease of use and the extensive integration it offers with other Zoho products.
- Simple, straightforward interface
- Easy-to-use form builder
- Affordable pricing
- Apps responsively resize for mobile
- Strong selection of pre-built app templates and fields
- Custom workflows
- Supports barcode scanning
- Pre-built Salesforce and QuickBooks integrations
- Built-in auto translation
- Requires use of proprietary scripting language for app customization and automation
- Mobile app development and pre-built template selection isn’t as advanced as in some other tools
- No third-party app marketplace
Appian is a robust low-code platform that is suitable for enterprise organizations looking to invest in the platform. The platform transforms app development into a social, collaborative, and productivity-driven experience for business users without a shred of coding experience.
- Appian Quick Apps is a true no-code experience
- Breaks up app creation and customization into distinct processes for business users and IT
- Built-in team collaboration, task management, and social intranet
- Native mobile apps
- Drag-and-drop process modeler
- Decision engine for modeling complex logic
- Aspects of interface are somewhat dated
- Appian Designer can be a disjointed experience for developers customizing various aspects of the application
- Some required fields can be superfluous
- Requires coding knowledge to fix errors, edit objects and fields, and enable integrations
Microsoft PowerApps is a formidable contender in the low-code development space. It offers a robust feature set, extensive number of integrations, and a wide array of user interface (UI) options and templates. Despite its power, it maintains ease of use.
- Robust feature set
- Extensive number of integrations
- Wide array of user interface (UI) options and templates
- Powerful mobile functionality
- Easy to use considering power available
- Load times could be better
- UI can be overwhelming at first
- Somewhat steep learning curve
These are just a few of the top low-code development platforms available today. The right choice depends on your specific needs, budget, and resources. It’s important to evaluate each platform thoroughly to ensure it aligns with your business needs and goals.
Low-code development platforms are changing the landscape of application development. By minimizing the need for traditional coding, these platforms are enabling businesses to respond swiftly to changing market dynamics, customer needs, and internal requirements. As the market for low-code development continues to grow, businesses of all sizes can leverage these platforms to enhance their agility, efficiency, and competitiveness.
Investing in a low-code development platform can be a strategic move for businesses looking to accelerate their digital transformation journey. By empowering non-technical users to create functional applications and freeing up developers to focus on more complex tasks, low-code platforms are positioning themselves as the future of application development.