Low-code is visual and automation assisted software development. Developing with low-code can significantly shorten the development time for tailored business software and digital services and thus shortening the time to market as well. In 2019 Gartner predicted that by 2024 low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65 % of application development activity.
Low-code is all about solving business issues and reducing the lead time for software development. This is achieved by automating as much as possible of software development. In 2014 Forrester Research introduced the term low-code, which refers to the low amount of code developers need to write. Low-code is not a self-explanatory term and that is why some low-code platform vendors have started talking about modern application development instead.
The benefits of low-code
It is the total package that makes the low-code platforms powerful. Within one platform you can have everything from development tools to hosted environments for running the software. An advanced low-code platform supports or includes:
- Visual design tools for the user interface
- Flow diagrams for building the application logic
- Automatic creation of common database calls
- Automatic integrations based on API descriptions
- Automatic code creation for web and mobile applications
- Limitless extendibility through APIs
- Development, test and production environments
In the best case your complete deployment pipeline is up and running within hours instead of days or weeks and they don’t have to be created separately for every project. Our experience is that in typical cases the development speed is at minimum two times faster than with traditional development and when it comes to simple apps, the difference just amplifies.
As low-code development is much more visual than traditional development, it is easier for non-technical people to follow and contribute. Picture your business rep working with the developer in building the UI and co-creating the application logic flow. This really cuts lead time and shortens feedback loops.
What is the sweet spot for low-code?
- Digitalisation of business processes
- Tailored internal business systems
- Modern user interfaces on top of legacy systems
- Digital services and forms
- Customer portals
- Mobile applications
- Fast prototyping with working software in real environment
The multiple flavours of low-code
Low-code packs a lot of different products and platforms under one umbrella. Some of the familiar names in this space are OutSystems, Microsoft Power Platform, Salesforce Lightning, and Dell Boomi Flow, just to mention a few. Some platforms are more suitable for light development by citizen developers, while others are full-blown system development environments. Some platforms, like OutSystems, are standalone and industry agnostic, while others are more tied to specific industries, use cases or come as extensions to other platforms. An example is Boomi Flow, which Dell acquired and introduced as part of their Boomi integration platform.
The low-code mentality of modelling rather than creating code manually is also becoming more common in other areas than software development. Solita has developed Agile Data Engine (ADE), which utilises similar concepts for data modelling and transformations. Semarchy has similar concepts for its data management platform. While both examples stretch the common notion of low-code, it is worth remembering that low-code is not a precise term with a precise meaning. It is quite different to develop with Microsoft Power Platform compared to OutSystems and they require different skills from the developers.
How about Gartner’s prediction about low-code adoption – does it hold? If you think about low-code as a concept rather than development in specific platforms, I expect it’s probably not far off.
Solita has been an OutSystems partner since 2019 and Dell Boomi partner since 2017. If you want to learn more about how low-code development could benefit your company, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or +358 401 602 130.