Now everyone can build their own apps! That’s the promise of low-code and no-code platforms.
Low-code and no-code development allows everyone to digitise their processes and build their own apps for their needs or businesses, all with very little or no code. So there is no need for specialised programmers and lengthy development cycles to build and then change the apps the end users need.
No-code development platforms allows users to create usable application software using graphical user interfaces and configuration instead of traditional computer programming. The interface abstracts the lower level programming details so users don’t have to work at the lower level.
No-code development platforms are closely related to their cousins low-code development platforms. However unlike Low-code Development Platforms, No-code Development Platforms require no code at all. The desired app can be built through configuring and piecing together pre-built modules to emulate the desired workflow or app.
With no code platforms, all the fundamental and supporting pieces are already in place. Pieces such as a database to store information, access control to enforce security, a frontend to view and interact with the database, etc., are available to customise to build the desired workflow.
That’s not to say that coding is forbidden on No Code Platforms. On some platforms like airtable, they allow for some scripting that gives more custom functionality besides what’s available. So for certain circumstances that require highly customised workflow or logic, some programming may be required.
Low code and no code platforms are highly visual and graphical in nature. Functionality can be built, features can be changed, all without doing any actual coding. The experience is similar to using a drag-and-drop or web application.
Many of the out-of-the-box features built by the platform itself and are cross-platform by nature. So business users don’t have to think about how achieve some low-level functionality like writing the SQL statement to save data into a database or worry about whether the interface they just built will work on Windows or Mac or IOS or Android device.
This is a huge advantage for the business especially in terms of speed and agility.
The immediate impact is that it saves time for the business. A desired workflow that is required is up in a matter of days or weeks, not months. This time-saving is of course translated to cost-savings as well, not just in terms of the cost of employees times, but also technical resources such as the cost of upkeeping IT hardware and software.
Due to the flexible and easily configurable nature of no code platforms, small changes can also be made, tested and deployed quickly, and used once it is communicated with the team. No more waiting for lengthy approvals from gatekeepers, long turnaround from the development and testing teams or problematic, erroneous code deployments.
While users do need to cautious about making changes to their no code solutions, they will also be pleased to know that a lot of these platforms keep versions of the configuration changes. This makes rolling back changes easy in the event of an undesired outcome or pure mistake.
However low-code and no-code platforms are not without their disadvantages.
Firstly is the issue of using an online shared service and storing sensitive information there. Any data stored on any of these platforms are hosted on servers owned by the platform themselves outside of the businesses home country or jurisdiction. This may be not be permitted in certain industry such as the financial or medical industries.
The benefits of the user-friendliness and built-in features also pose as much as a disadvantage as they do pose the advantages above. The simplicity of the user interface may translate to technical debt down the road and the ability to make certain features really powerful. Because much of the application stack is controlled by the platform, there is also no ability to fine-tune certain features to the business needs if such a situation arises.
Although low-code platforms promises less coding, they can also be fairly technical too with a lot of concepts and practices borrowed from the normal full stack software development realm. The technical skill required to build a solution on the platform may be well beyond the typical business person who has not done any coding or learned to code in the past. So a dedicated person or team will be required to do the low-coding, very much similar to normal software development teams.
This raises the issue of a “shadow IT” team where a group of users can change a business’ processes on the fly. While this is desired to remain competitive, there may be no “maker-and-checker” system to ensure proper standards are met. It may also be an audit and compliance issue because of industry regulatory requirements.
In conclusion, the low code and no code movement is a dynamic force in the IT industry that opens up a whole new world of possibilities to users and businesses reliant on digital tools to do everyday work. While they have their pros and cons, business are pressed to embrace such tools to remain competitive in an increasingly digital world.
Here in Baseweave, we help our clients improve their productivity using tools like airtable, Make (Integromat) and Stacker, so if you are in the need of such a solution, or simply have questions, do contact us so we can start a conversation about how to help you.