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If you work in a digital space, you’ve likely heard the phrases “low-code” and “no-code” circulating lately in discussions about application development.
So, what do these terms mean, and how will they shape the future of app and software development — especially for business leaders with less software development knowledge? No code has helped me create internal applications without code or SQL. I’ve found that more non-technical managers like myself can self-service different technical use cases using these tools without putting a burden on engineers.
Defining Low-Code And No-Code
Low-code and no-code platforms promise to make app and software development accessible to more people. These platforms typically aim to help organizations build and deploy apps without relying on a development or engineering team.
Although the terms “low-code” and “no-code” are often used interchangeably, they aren’t the same.
No-code platforms are exactly what they sound like — platforms that don’t require you to use any coding to develop applications. That means you can know absolutely nothing about how to code and still create an app. They typically work like other no-code tools, such as Shopify and WordPress.
Low-code platforms require some coding, but not as much as traditional platforms. You’ll need to be at least a little familiar with code and how it works to access these and use them to build an app.
These platforms aren’t necessarily out-of-the-box solutions. In my experience, you’ll still need to invest some time into training your team to use them, which means you might not want to say goodbye to your development team just yet. Plus, they often have limitations when it comes to customizations. The drag-and-drop approach uses templates and boilerplate code to help users develop apps quickly. Those who need a more customized solution might still need to use traditional high-code platforms.
Pros And Cons Of Low-Code And No-Code Platforms
Gartner predicts that the low-code technology market will grow 23% globally in 2021. This could represent a significant shift in app development for businesses across industries. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks.
Pros Of Low-Code And No-Code Platforms
The primary benefit I’ve seen from using low-code and no-code platforms is that organizations no longer need to rely on a team of developers or engineers to develop and deploy applications. This can make app development faster — once an organization gets trained on how to use their new LCAP.
Another benefit is that LCAPs can propel small businesses forward much faster than ever before. These platforms can make app and software development much more accessible for small businesses and organizations that don’t have the budget to hire engineers and developers.
Lastly, I’ve found that it’s much faster and easier to make changes using a low-code or no-code platform than using traditional methods. If there’s a mission-critical situation, organizations won’t need to rely on a development team that could take longer to fix the complex code.
Cons Of Low-Code And No-Code Platforms
Like all changes, I’ve experienced some challenges when transitioning to a low-code or no-code platform.
First, there are concerns that these platforms are going to put developers out of a job. Why hire an experienced developer when an intern can build and deploy an app just as quickly? This, of course, is a valid concern for developers and engineers. However, developers will often still have plenty of opportunities to work on more sophisticated platforms to develop more complex applications.
Second, we have to talk about the limitations of these types of platforms. While they’re easy to use, they don’t always leave a ton of room for unique customizations. How will businesses differentiate themselves in a sea of apps created by non-developers who are using boilerplate code and pre-built templates? This could be a challenge going forward.
Finally, there’s the cost. While it might cost less to replace an in-house development team with an LCAP in the long run, these platforms aren’t always cheap. Small businesses may still face a significant hurdle to access these platforms and start using them to build apps in-house.
Low-code and no-code platforms will likely never replace traditional development fully. I believe there will continue to be a need for skilled developers who can deploy more complex applications than what is available through LCAPs.
However, for organizations that want quick solutions or for those who want to develop an app for testing, like a video streaming app, no-code and low-code platforms could be a viable way forward.