No matter how versed you are in computer programming languages, or how adept your IT team is, at some point in the coming years you are going to be using a product that has been created using a low code or no code approach.
Gartner believes that the low/no code industry is going to be so disruptive and transformative that it recently got a magic quadrant report all of its own.
In this, Gartner defines a low-code application platform: “one-step [software] deployment, execution and management using declarative, high-level programming abstractions.”
Simply put, low/no code automates aspects of the developer’s role and creates highly visual tools to build software or applications by users that have limited or non-existent coding knowledge.
Low code or no code?
Nick Ford, Chief Technology Evangelist at Mendix told us that: “Both (low/no code platforms) provide the means to develop software without the need for traditional procedural computer programming knowledge, yet low-code gives slightly more flexibility in terms of integrating new capabilities on top of what has been built through no-code.”
When using a low-code platform developers and IT departments will still have some coding to undertake and some knowledge of computer language is required to build any application or web service. While a user engaging with a no-code platform doesn’t need any prior experience, because, as the name implies, no coding knowledge is required at all.
Chris Obdam, CEO of Betty Blocks told us that with no-code he found “the business is far more involved or the business is even leading the software development. That’s a big difference between no and low-code. With low-code the IT department is always still building that application.”
The technological approach is similar, both automate the traditional process of coding and Obdam admits that you can build the same application with no or low code: “but you build it with a different type of development.”
With no-code the department that the application is being created for can be highly involved in every stage of the development process; this can lead to greater level of responsibilities over the project and reduce developer overhead.
Nick Ford notes that: “The issue is that often businesses will want to roll out a successful app across the organisation, and it might not be easily scalable if the no-code platform used has limited capabilities. On the other hand, low-code can be used to build sophisticated applications and can handle much more use-cases, but it can be slightly more difficult to use for non-technical employees.”
“For businesses deciding which route to take, there’s more to it than just the technology, it’s also about the role the IT team will play in the development, and how much business users will contribute to the project. What’s important is to choose a platform that doesn’t create governance, architectural or extensibility issues later on.”
Both a low code and no code approach are advantageous to organisations that want to keep costs down by not entering into a lengthy development process. IT teams can reuse elements that work and reduce the project’s delivery time by not needing to write new lines of code.
Interestingly both Betty Blocks and Mendix see their platforms as a way to break down the barriers between an organisation and its IT departments.
Users, the idea is, will see a much more collaborative development process, rather than one in which an idea is conceived, drawn up and then handed off to dedicated application development team, often working out-of-house, who return – in some scenarios -a finished product that is a distorted or pale imitation of the initial idea.
Ford told us that: “Low-code breaks down the barriers between IT and the wider business through giving visibility into the development cycle. Low-code allows collaboration across the entire development cycle, so issues can be nipped in the bud before effecting other elements of the app.”
Chris and Betty Blocks also see no-code as a way to bring down the barriers between IT and business, but sees it as more of a radical change in how enterprises will approach software development. Removing the need to have any coding knowledge opens up the software development process so the business can engage in a substantial way at a core level.
Chris states that: “For enterprises, it’s really interesting to have a look at low code and especially no code because you can radically change your approach towards innovation and make sure that the business end of an organization is involved with solving the problems they have.”