Developers
June 10, 2020

Low-Code Development: What It Is and When You Should Use It

Low-code development can be a powerful tool when used correctly.
Source: Pixabay

Low-code development has become a popular alternative to traditional software development for many companies. As its popularity has grown, many companies have turned to low-code to rapidly meet their needs, especially for internal applications.

Like all things, however, it has both pros and cons. Understanding what those are can help you decide whether low-code is right for your organization.

What Is Low-Code Development?

Low-code development is a term used to describe creating applications using a type of graphical user interface (GUI) or WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) tool. The tool allows you to drag-and-drop various components, creating a workflow for your app, while the tool generates the code behind-the-scenes.

Low-code development is used in a variety of fields, and for a wide array of applications for the web, as well as desktop and mobile.

The Benefits of Low-Code

The most obvious benefit to low-code development is the relatively low barrier-to-entry. Companies that need a custom application, but lack a full-fledged development team, may find low-code tools especially helpful. Using low-code solutions, a company can quickly design, deploy and maintain the internal applications they rely on for day-to-day operations.

Because of the speed with which these apps can be developed and deployed, low-code is ideal for rapidly changing environments where tweaks and adjustments need to be made often.

Freelancers are another category who often make use of these tools. Because freelancers frequently have to wear so many different hats, low-code development provides a way for a freelancer to expand their services without requiring years of training.

Even within organizations that have dedicated development teams, low-code tools can still be a valuable resource. All too often, development is a segregated endeavor, with development and IT working in a vacuum. With low-code development tools, however, the business side of an organization—right up to the owner—can have a part in creating the software the company uses. This can be an educational process for all involved, leading to a better understanding of what the various departments bring to the table.

Even dedicated developers can use low-code to free up time and resources, using the tools for simple, straightforward apps, while focusing their programming time on more in-depth software. This is especially true for independent software developers and smaller shops who often use them to help supplement their other development efforts.

The Different Types of Low-Code

Not all low-code development environments are created equal, and there can be significant differences between them.

One of the biggest challenges these kinds of environments have is walking the tightrope between making things simple and offering advanced abilities. On the one hand, it’s important for them to be simple and clear enough for non-developers to use them. On the other hand, they need to offer the ability to plug in custom code to make up for the areas where the environment falls short. Needless to say, some tools do better than others in this regard.

Salesforce App Cloud is a good example of a tool that doesn’t quite manage to walk the tightrope. Although the development tool offers a nearly unrivaled ecosystem and powerful features, it’s handicapped by a complex and confusing UI that makes it difficult for new users to access.

Some of the top-rated environments are Appian, Mendix, Microsoft PowerApps and Google App Maker. Appian and Google App Maker, in particular, are known for focusing on intuitive design and interfaces, making it extremely easy to get up and running. Mendix and Microsoft PowerApps are some of the most powerful options. To some degree, PowerApps suffers from the same issue as Salesforce, but is redeemed by the fact that Microsoft-oriented companies and users will likely feel relatively at home.

When to Use Low-Code

As with all tools in the world of software development, low-code is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Where low-code excels is in data-driven, well-defined applications where the parameters are understood and relatively stable. As a result, it’s an excellent option for internal customer service apps, operational efficiency apps and event-driven applications that fill specific needs.

Think of all the internal apps your company uses on a day-to-day basis in order to conduct business, and it’s likely that many of them could be created with low-code tools. What’s more, such applications can rapidly be improved and added upon as needs change.

For all its benefits, low-code is not good for all kinds of applications. Extremely complex applications, especially those whose workflows are not strictly defined, as well as graphically intensive apps, are not a good fit.

Low-Code: A Powerful Tool For The Right Circumstances

Without a doubt, low-code development tools offer a lot of possibilities for developers and businesses alike. By putting more power in the hands of non-developers, the development cycle can be better informed, with various departments having a greater understanding of each other.

Low-code also provides a quick, efficient way for development teams to free up resources for larger projects by using low-code for appropriate tasks.

As long as low-code is used for what it was intended, it can be a valuable part of your toolbox.

TagsLow-CodeDevelopment
Matt Milano
Technical Writer
Matt is a tech journalist and writer with a background in web and software development.

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DevelopersJune 10, 2020
Low-Code Development: What It Is and When You Should Use It
Low-code development can be a powerful tool when used correctly.

Low-code development has become a popular alternative to traditional software development for many companies. As its popularity has grown, many companies have turned to low-code to rapidly meet their needs, especially for internal applications.

Like all things, however, it has both pros and cons. Understanding what those are can help you decide whether low-code is right for your organization.

What Is Low-Code Development?

Low-code development is a term used to describe creating applications using a type of graphical user interface (GUI) or WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) tool. The tool allows you to drag-and-drop various components, creating a workflow for your app, while the tool generates the code behind-the-scenes.

Low-code development is used in a variety of fields, and for a wide array of applications for the web, as well as desktop and mobile.

The Benefits of Low-Code

The most obvious benefit to low-code development is the relatively low barrier-to-entry. Companies that need a custom application, but lack a full-fledged development team, may find low-code tools especially helpful. Using low-code solutions, a company can quickly design, deploy and maintain the internal applications they rely on for day-to-day operations.

Because of the speed with which these apps can be developed and deployed, low-code is ideal for rapidly changing environments where tweaks and adjustments need to be made often.

Freelancers are another category who often make use of these tools. Because freelancers frequently have to wear so many different hats, low-code development provides a way for a freelancer to expand their services without requiring years of training.

Even within organizations that have dedicated development teams, low-code tools can still be a valuable resource. All too often, development is a segregated endeavor, with development and IT working in a vacuum. With low-code development tools, however, the business side of an organization—right up to the owner—can have a part in creating the software the company uses. This can be an educational process for all involved, leading to a better understanding of what the various departments bring to the table.

Even dedicated developers can use low-code to free up time and resources, using the tools for simple, straightforward apps, while focusing their programming time on more in-depth software. This is especially true for independent software developers and smaller shops who often use them to help supplement their other development efforts.

The Different Types of Low-Code

Not all low-code development environments are created equal, and there can be significant differences between them.

One of the biggest challenges these kinds of environments have is walking the tightrope between making things simple and offering advanced abilities. On the one hand, it’s important for them to be simple and clear enough for non-developers to use them. On the other hand, they need to offer the ability to plug in custom code to make up for the areas where the environment falls short. Needless to say, some tools do better than others in this regard.

Salesforce App Cloud is a good example of a tool that doesn’t quite manage to walk the tightrope. Although the development tool offers a nearly unrivaled ecosystem and powerful features, it’s handicapped by a complex and confusing UI that makes it difficult for new users to access.

Some of the top-rated environments are Appian, Mendix, Microsoft PowerApps and Google App Maker. Appian and Google App Maker, in particular, are known for focusing on intuitive design and interfaces, making it extremely easy to get up and running. Mendix and Microsoft PowerApps are some of the most powerful options. To some degree, PowerApps suffers from the same issue as Salesforce, but is redeemed by the fact that Microsoft-oriented companies and users will likely feel relatively at home.

When to Use Low-Code

As with all tools in the world of software development, low-code is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Where low-code excels is in data-driven, well-defined applications where the parameters are understood and relatively stable. As a result, it’s an excellent option for internal customer service apps, operational efficiency apps and event-driven applications that fill specific needs.

Think of all the internal apps your company uses on a day-to-day basis in order to conduct business, and it’s likely that many of them could be created with low-code tools. What’s more, such applications can rapidly be improved and added upon as needs change.

For all its benefits, low-code is not good for all kinds of applications. Extremely complex applications, especially those whose workflows are not strictly defined, as well as graphically intensive apps, are not a good fit.

Low-Code: A Powerful Tool For The Right Circumstances

Without a doubt, low-code development tools offer a lot of possibilities for developers and businesses alike. By putting more power in the hands of non-developers, the development cycle can be better informed, with various departments having a greater understanding of each other.

Low-code also provides a quick, efficient way for development teams to free up resources for larger projects by using low-code for appropriate tasks.

As long as low-code is used for what it was intended, it can be a valuable part of your toolbox.

Low-Code
Development
About the author
Matt Milano -Technical Writer
Matt is a tech journalist and writer with a background in web and software development.

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