Low-code development has become a real alternative to building custom software and services. Low-code platforms promise to offer faster and more cost-effective software development.
In this post, we’ll take a look at how you can cash in on the promise of faster development and meeting even demanding schedules. Spoiler alert: it all boils down to being prepared and accumulating new knowledge and resources with each project you complete.
While we develop low-code solutions with both OutSystems and Microsoft Power Platform, this post focuses on the OutSystems solution. Solita and OutSystems, the global market leader in low-code application development, have engaged in cooperation since 2019.
So, here are our tips for making your low-code projects efficient!
#1: Plan ahead and understand what you’re trying to achieve
OutSystems can be run as PaaS in AWS, or it can be installed per your choice as a cloud or on-premises environment. While it’s quick to get started, there are several things that you’ll want to plan ahead. The following things have an effect on how you set up your processes and configure your low-code development environments.
Which development environments do you need? Are development + testing + production environments enough for you or is a pre-production environment needed, too?
What kind of integrations do you need? Even though OutSystems excels in integrating to REST, SOAP, SAP, and many other interfaces at the software level, building actual network connections to services, such as setting up VPN connections, requires the same amount of time and effort as always. Make sure you include this in your project plan and schedules.
What kind of release pipeline do you need? OutSystems provides a good basis for continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) and can easily be extended by integrating into industry-standard CI/CD tools. You should match your release pipeline needs against OutSystems’ out-of-the-box capabilities to see if such integrations are necessary.
How will end users and developers be authenticated? Depending on the customer’s security policies, do you need integrations to Suomi.fi, company AD, or some other identity provider?
Who will manage the platform? The OutSystems platform requires maintenance, too. Make sure that someone is responsible for software updates, as well as handling operational issues and potential security incidents. This can be outsourced to us, but a good option is to have your IT department handle this after appropriate training.
#2: Educate your team
Low-code development makes prototyping and development phases more efficient and helps in the software maintenance phase, too. However, while the overall manual development effort decreases, you still need a full development team with a versatile skill set: service and UI/UX designers, a software architect, developers, testers and a release manager.
The learning curve for low-code development is considerably flatter than with traditional development, which is clearly seen with career changers jumping onto the low-code bandwagon. Even so, training is needed. OutSystems offers good training materials, well-thought-out learning paths and useful certifications.
We recommend that everyone in the development team should take at least the Associate Reactive Developer certification. Note that the Architecture Specialist certification is not only for Architects – developers will greatly benefit from this course as well. Other useful certifications include Security Specialist, Associate Tech Lead, Mobile Specialist, and many more – check out what OutSystems has to offer.
#3: Figure out the components you need
As OutSystems comes with a rich set of built-in software components, a lot of what you need will be available out of the box. However, in some cases, you’ll need to get additional components to speed up your project.
The go-to place for additional components is Forge, OutSystems’ component marketplace. While most components are free and distributed under an open source license, you can also find commercially licensed components that you need to pay for.
When evaluating components, check out the component download figures and reviews. See also if the component is endorsed by OutSystems or even developed by the company itself. It’s also highly recommended to carefully examine the code of all third-party components.
Remember to also keep third-party components up-to-date! Service Studio, the desktop tool that developers use, gives notifications on pending component updates, including those downloaded from Forge.
Despite all the built-in components and what you can source from the marketplace, you’ll most likely need to develop some in-house code, too. Examples of these are certain logging features, some aspects of user management, integration APIs and data pipelines and managing your internal API call authentication – your particular needs will vary.
The good news is that you can reuse much of what you build here in future projects. Try to encapsulate everything you code as in-house components that are easy to use by your team or other teams in the future.
#4 Prepare for some housekeeping work
OutSystems environment requires a certain amount of gardening – keeping the database tidy, removing old module versions, in general taking out the development time trash. There are powerful tools for these tasks, and dedicated team members should be granted permission to these tools.
These tasks are handled by the development team, not by IT department.
#5 Document learnings and share best practices
Low-code development and utilising OutSystems is a train that really picks up speed as it gets going. Starting from your very first low-code project, the things your team learns, the integrations you build and the software components you select will all make future work increasingly efficient.
So, do take time to document your learnings and share best practices between experts and teams – it will pay off and help to deliver on the promise of more efficient and faster development with low-code solutions.
We’ve been partners with OutSystems since 2019. If you want to learn more about how low-code development could benefit your company, read more about our low-code services.