What Is Low Code Development and Why Should You Care?
Date: Wednesday, November 23, 2022
Low-code development is not just about efficient app building. It’s a way for organisations to create business-critical software faster and do more with the same resources.
At time of writing there are key resource pressures that we are feeling:
- Full-stack developers are in high demand and price.
- Low-Code tools, including our favourite PowerApps are advancing.
- Rapid change in business environment demands a response to stay competitive.
Low-code is a way to develop business applications while demanding less time from stretched developer resources allowing changes to be made at the pace that the market demands.
They offer a simple ‘drag and drop’ interface that allows you to slot pre-built components into place to define the application. The big selling point is there’s a lot less code to write than with traditional software development – and that makes it much easier and faster to develop business applications.
We are finding this is a benefit to inhouse applications, albeit ones where the transactions are not hugely complicated.
Sounds great. Why am I only hearing about this now?
Low-code development has been around for a decade, but it has only gained traction in the last couple of years. That is due to the boom in digital solutions. Technology is the driving force behind most modern business processes, and there simply are not enough engineers to meet current development needs.
In many ways Low-Code fills a similar space to that which older businesspeople will remember being filled by Microsoft Access, FoxPro or dBase. But structured for the internet age. These tools tried but failed to make the jump.
The side effect is that prices have come down. While low-code platforms were once the preserve of large enterprises with deep pockets, some are now more accessible to smaller businesses with tighter budgets.
How might we use a low-code platform?
You're probably already using a low-code approach to solve business problems without realising it. For example, if you use a service like Mailchimp to create newsletters or surveys, you're using a no-code platform. Here, users with zero coding knowledge can take a basic email template, and then drag and drop components to create a branded, professional-looking email campaign without writing any code.
In fact, with the right low-code platform, companies can build any solution their business needs. Here are a few examples:
- Build a membership check system for a member's club.
- Build a field data collection system for client visits.
- Create a system to gather construction planning data.
- Creating a customer support ticketing system
- Making an internal process or workflow tool
What are the benefits of low-code development?
There are many benefits to using low-code development platforms, including:
Reduced time to market: Low-code development platforms allow you to develop applications faster than traditional methods, and thus put your software to use much sooner.
Works with existing systems: Most low-code development platforms come with pre-built integrations, so you can connect your new application to existing systems quickly and easily. You don't have to start from scratch or worry about compatibility issues.
Scales easily: As your business grows, you can easily scale up your low-code application to meet increased demand. Most low-code platforms are cloud-based and designed to perform at a high level regardless of capacity. Although the expected size might affect choice of platform.
Lower costs: No-code development platforms can save you money as you have no need for expensive development teams; even the office manager can create basic applications. Even with more complex products, developer teams can quickly find the modules they need and do more work in less time – which should translate to lower development costs.
What are the things to look for when choosing a low-code development platform?
Not all low-code development platforms are created equal. If you’re planning to use the platform in-house, then you need to make sure it’s pitched at the right level for your team. Here are some things to consider:
- How user-friendly is the interface? Is it aimed at professional developers or citizen developers?
- Does it have the right built-in templates and components for your needs?
- Does it integrate with the third-party applications your business uses?
- Is it scalable and able to grow with your business?
- Can you high code.
The last point perhaps needs explanation. The benefit of low-code is that you can solve problems that don’t need technical specialists without technical specialists. However, we have found that sometimes there are knotty problems. These can need some ‘real programming’ if that does occur there needs to be a way to do it or the project can get stuck. (You might also need someone to do it, which I guess is a Village Software or similar thing)
Is it a silver bullet?
Of course, there are limits to what Low-Code platforms can achieve. Depending on the platform. We have found that there are limitations. While Power Apps, the system we are expert at, is good for gathering data (what we call CRUD operations) it is harder to deliver more complex interactions, for this we will still use developers to code up these sections and have Power Apps pull together an API.
Low-Code environments are all-in-one packages, they can handle the database, the forms, the reports. However, we would still suggest there is still a place for database design for all but the simplest application. Similarly, there are known good practice areas in web interface design that will become important for higher footfall systems in particular.
Low-code development is a great way to build custom applications potentially without having to write any complicated code yourself. This can save you and your developers a lot of time and hassle when it comes to developing and deploying new business applications.
So, what are you waiting for? Talk to us about getting started with low-code development today. We will help you find the right solution for your needs.