A Complete Guide To Low-code Development

A Complete Guide To Low-code Development

Are you looking for an easier and faster way to build applications and processes? Well, low-code development is the answer. This blog lets us find more about low-code, its benefits, features, and more.

What Is Low-code?

Low-code is a software development approach that enables the building of applications and processes with little or  no coding – it is a visual approach to software development . In this approach, simple logic and drag-drop features are used in visual interfaces instead of extensive coding languages. The idea is simple – Help people with little or no exposure to programming languages to develop customized applications and software.

Low-code is an agile  alternative to traditional software development. Professionals and non-professionals can develop complex applications  to meet business needs such as process automation and digital transformation acceleration.

What Is Low-code Development?

Low-code development is a visual, model-driven way to build and deploy software applications. Using this approach, business users and professionals of all skill levels can create solutions which can add value to the business, from process automation apps to core systems. An easier and faster approach enables organizations to stay agile, break down isolated working situations and improve overall productivity.

Key Features Of Low-code Development Platforms

Here are 9 key features that make low-code development platforms stand out.

Visual Modeling Tools

Low-code platforms are powered with visual modeling capabilities that enable the faster building of apps when compared to traditional methods using codes. In addition, these platforms use built-in components to represent information understandably.

Out-of-the-box Functionality

This feature eliminates the need to build core modules for apps from scratch. For example, some leading low-code platforms include modules for data management or modules for customer-facing apps like service management and sales process management.

Drag-drop Interfaces

This is one of the most valuable and essential features that enable an easy development process. It provides convenience and ease when creating apps for both citizen and professional developers.

Reusability

Low-code developments out-of-the-box functionality uses pre-configured modules and functionality for apps. These modules have standard core functions needed for several apps, thus enabling the reuse of modules for developing different solutions, making developing apps quicker and easier.

Cross-platform Accessibility

Multi-device compatibility is a great and valuable feature of low-code platforms. In addition to running on different operating systems, low-code platforms also have cross-platform compatibility, allowing users to build apps that run on various platforms and devices.

Security

A tool must be highly secure for it to be a great solution. Therefore, ensuring that the low-code platforms we use are safe is crucial to protect the apps we build using these platforms.

Scalability

As your business grows, you must be able to reform your apps as well, and therefore, low-code platforms must be scalable to create apps that can be advanced.

Reporting And Monitoring

Low-code platforms enable monitoring of workflows of apps that are being developed, helping to keep track of its processes and effectiveness. Monitoring the performance of other apps is also available in low-code and is helpful for analysis purposes.

Application Lifecycle Management

Low-code tools simplify and streamline several stages of the software development lifecycle like debugging, testing and deployment. In addition, users can get access to information about apps they have created and their developments and can also revert to previous versions if required.

Types Of Low-code Platforms

All low-code platforms are not the same and are not built to serve one type of user. Low-code platforms can be categorized based on their usage and user.

Low-Code Platforms Classified by Use Case

General-purpose 

These platforms can create any application virtually. As a result, this platform is used to create apps that serve various needs.

Process

These platforms mainly focus on apps that run business processes, including forms, workflows, and integration with other systems. Process-based platforms are ideal for companies that want to go paperless.

Request-handling

These platforms are similar to process-based media but are less capable as they can only handle processing requests for fixed processes.

Database

These platforms are only used to retrieve data from databases programmed inside the system. Database low-code platforms are great if you have large amounts of data to be collected and fed into the system in lesser periods and effort.

Mobile Application Development Platform (MADP)

These platforms help developers code, test, and launch mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. You can write code for one platform and port the app to different mobile platforms using these platforms.

Low-Code Platforms Classified by Different Users

Low-Code Platforms for Business Users

These platforms are designed to fulfill most of the requirements citizen developers have with as little code as possible. Here, business users can create apps even if they do not have any technical knowledge or experience in coding and app development. However, there may be cases in which they need assistance from professional developers to create and deploy some required functionalities.

Low-Code Platforms for Developers

The main aim of low-code platforms for developers is to reduce the time they spend working on an app compared to traditional hand-coding. By using visual interfaces and drag-drop models, the effort and time taken by developers to build apps are reduced to a great extent.

Benefits of Low-code Platforms

Here are the top 3 benefits of using low-code platforms.

Achieve Exceptional Time-to-value

  • Use existing talents to rapidly build apps that your business needs
  • Improve developer productivity with low-code attributes like toolkits, visual interfaces, reusable components, etc.
  • Enable faster decision-making among cross-functional teams with inbuilt collaboration tools.

Build more at scale

  • Develop a variety of solutions that come under different categories
  • Deliver continuous improvements to end-users
  • Build maintainable solutions that are easy to scale on cloud-native architecture. 

Shape a new way of developing

  • Break down silos to build a solid business-IT partnership
  • Empower more developers throughout the organization to build apps and provide contributions
  • Stay agile to respond quickly to changing business and customer needs

Difference Between Low-code And No-code Platforms

The terms ‘low-code’ and ‘no-code’ are often mentioned together because they are similar. Both platforms use visual interfaces to enable users to create business solutions without extensive coding requirements.

The main difference between the two lies in their names themselves. As the name ‘low-code’ suggests, this platform requires lower coding requirements, meaning they still have some coding. ‘No-code,’ on the other hand, does not require coding at all.

No-code platforms are essentially made for citizen developers. On the other hand, since they have more coding requirements, low-code media can create more comprehensive and complex solutions that can also cater to professional developers’ needs. Furthermore, by deploying platforms that combine low-code and no-code technologies, businesses can have better flexibility and control over their development cycle.

Difference Between Low-code And Business Process Management

Business process management (BPM) refers to how a company creates, edits and analyzes the predictable processes that make up the core of the business. They are designed to systematically improve each business process and subsequently improve the organization’s efficiency. BPM suites have made it easier to automate, model, monitor, and streamline everyday business processes. 

Low-code development platforms are not replacements of BPM but rather a technological approach that changes how BPM services are deployed. Below are the significant differences between low-code and BPM.

  • Low-code platforms are easy to set up and are primarily cloud-based. BPMs can take more extended periods upto 6 months and more.
  • Low-code platforms are much cheaper when compared to traditional BPM.
  • Regular employees with minimal training can develop a range of BPM solutions, whereas traditional solutions will need formal training and coding.
  • Low-code solutions can be integrated to 3rd party SaaS solutions, thus beating the range of functionality of traditional BPMs.

How To Choose A Low-code Platform?

Low-code platforms come in several categories. Each platform has different capabilities, and to choose a low-code platform that caters to your business requirements, you must follow specific steps.

  • Identify and evaluate multiple use cases
  • Specify the developer for the app – professional or citizen
  • Research customer happiness and support
  • Define usage requirements and estimate pricing
  • Investigate and prioritize integration requirements
  • Review hosting, devops, and governance options
  • Understand compliance and security requirements

Microsoft As A Low-code Powerhouse

Microsoft has introduced all the pieces required for an enterprise to deliver low-code solutions. However, when it comes to low-code, they have an expansive view that encompasses everything from data entry by an accountant to data retrieval by a software engineer.

Microsoft realizes that the challenge with scaling low-code lies in deployment and monitoring of apps rather than coding them and is pretty determined in solving this challenge.

Microsoft has built or acquired the following low-code components to create business solutions.

  • Microsoft Dataverse – A data storage solution
  • Microsoft Logic Apps – A platform for creating and running automated workflows that integrate and transform various elements
  • Microsoft Power Apps – A rapid development environment to build custom apps
  • Microsoft Power BI – An interactive data visualization software for creating business insights
  • Microsoft Power Automate – A robotic process automation solution
  • Azure Cognitive Services Form Recognizer – A data extraction solution

Along with the above powerful components, Microsoft has recently introduced PowerFX, a general-purpose programming language used to create a link between all the features. Enterprises can deploy low-code apps using their existing CI/CD processes and governance framework through this new platform. This will give Microsoft a significant advantage over their low-code competitors because it will make Microsoft’s low code solution the safe choice for CIOs. 

Microsoft’s overall strategy combines CI/CD components used in professional software development with low-code and RPA products with a standard programming language (PowerFX) that facilitates good governance of data and applications.

What Can Be Built With Low-code

Low-code platforms provide visual interfaces with easy-to-use drag-drop capabilities that allow users to build apps for different business tasks. Here are a few practical examples.

Customer Engagement Apps

Build enterprise-grade apps for different business tasks that range from customer-facing apps to complex business processes for more effective and personalized customer engagement.

Operation Efficiency Optimization Apps

Create apps that automate processes to increase the efficiency of operations. These apps benefit businesses by reducing time, cost and risk of error.

Business Processes

Build processes and define workflows for different business tasks to automate operations within several departments.

UI, Data Model And Business Logic

Define and structure data models, business logic and user interface for web apps and mobile devices.

AI-based Solutions

Build apps that use AI and machine learning algorithms to process data effectively to reduce manual workload and increase efficiency.

Top Low-code Development Platforms In The Market 2022

Below are the top 5 low-code development tools available in the market.

Oracle APEX

Oracle application express has more than five lakh customers worldwide in a wide range of individuals to multinational companies. It enables developers to create enterprise softwares with enhanced features that can be applied everywhere and can also be used to develop softwares that can compute real-time problems and provide solutions instantly.

OutSystems

This is a low-code platform that enables rapid development and deployment of softwares. To use this platform, developers require basic knowledge regarding programming language and relational database theories to create softwares. In addition, this tool gives the ability to track and locate the effect of changes done through all the app layers and automatically correct errors or notify developers to manually make changes. 

Mendix

This platform provides developers with tools to increase the speed of development, testing, deployment and iterating software. In addition, it has an added feature to improve the quality of the software even after constant releasing. 

Mendix is the most expensive on this list but also has a free version which is enough to create software for personal and small business uses.

Appian

This low-code tool can be integrated to perform recording, data submission, and automation tasks. Appian’s BPM tool improves the efficiency of organization data flow, and with its integrated development platform, software development is rapid. Appian also has a tool named CRM which is one of the best tools to create business software.

Creatio

This low-code development platform is written in C# and JavaScript. It is an entirely cloud-based and highly flexible platform during its development stages. Creatio mainly focuses on CRM and process management.

Kissflow

This is a premium low-code development platform created by OrangeScape technologies India. Kissflow is mainly used to develop business enterprise softwares with its business automation processes and performance tracking. Businesses of all sizes can utilize KiSSFLOW to create software to track requests, data, and pending works and perform all the software-related tasks without using any other tools.

Microsoft PowerApps

The application of this platform is gathering several data resources and placing them in a single area. Microsoft PowerApps is one of the best Low-Code Development platforms available. It is easily learnable as most of the tool’s interface is similar to other Microsoft platforms.

Zoho Creator

This is a cloud-based tool developed by Zoho for low-code app development. The apps created using Zoho creator have a high approval rating for UI/UX and enable the creation of softwares that increases the productivity of their employees.

To Conclude

Low-code platforms are revolutionizing the way apps are being  developed. and are likely to be the essential software delivery platform in the future. It reduces the amount of time and effort a developer needs to build an app and enables citizen developers without coding knowledge to build apps quickly. 

With more products and services being digitized, the demand for business apps is increasing, and the low-code platform enables the easy creation of apps within a lesser period. Therefore, we can easily say that now is the best time to invest in low-code platforms and embrace technology as an essential part of the organization.

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