Today’s businesses need to be agile, adaptive, and competitive to stay ahead in this digital era. To deliver business value, an organization should adapt to new technologies, stay ahead in the market, and provide simple, intuitive, and better customer solutions. For organizations that still dwell on traditional software development methodologies, this may be challenging.
Low-code development platforms provide a way for businesses to develop and deploy applications with little or no coding. This software development tutorial presents an overview on low-code development and how it can benefit your business.
What is Low-Code?
The COVID-19 pandemic has fostered the need for businesses to automate processes and emphasized the necessity of digital transformation to provide better, simpler, more intuitive solutions. Low-code platforms can fulfil this demand by enabling the streamlining of workflows and the acceleration of automation initiatives in an organization.
Low-code development platforms can help you quickly create and deploy applications with minimal coding, reduce the overall cost of developing and deploying applications, and fast development. In addition, low-code development platforms can provide a more user-friendly interface for non-technical users, making it easier for them to create and modify applications.
Low code is an approach towards building applications with enhanced creativity, better productivity, and lower development costs. It facilitates faster delivery of applications by adopting a visual approach towards software development with minimal coding.
A typical low-code development platform comprises the following components:
- A Visual IDE – This is a visual tool for defining the data models and workflows of your application
- Connectors to the backend components or services – This is used to manage storage and retrieval of data
- Application Life Cycle Manager – This comprises tools for building, deploying, and managing applications in staging and production environments
The graphical user interface of a low-code platform and its drag-and-drop capabilities can automate elements of the development process, stripping away the reliance on conventional programming methodologies.
Here’s a list of Low-Code enterprise application development principles that would help you to improve your agility, flexibility, and cost efficiency while delivering business value with continuity.
- Accelerate time to value
- Design for impact
- Embrace co-creation
- Organize around small, Agile teams
- Adopt user-centered design
What are Low-Code Microservices?
Microservices relieve developers from constraints like technology stacks, monolithic architecture, and so on. Low Code Microservices enhance this further by adding intelligence. Low-code might help you save development time considerably for microservices-based applications as long as your application is simple, clean with fewer integration points. If your microservices-based application doesn’t need integration with other databases or your application uses its database, you’re good to go.
You can learn more about Microservices in our overview: An Introduction to Microservices.
When should you NOT use Low-Code Microservices?
A low-code approach to developing microservices is not ideal when developing a large-scale application built on microservices. The reason is that your application might require data and information exchange in real-time, database integration, messaging, or any customization features you would typically need in an enterprise-level application. Testing low-code microservices-based applications is another challenge.
Why Do We Need a Low-Code Development Platform?
The low-code development platform provides several benefits, such as:
- Multilevel Reusability: Low code microservices provide more layers on top of the code reusability provided by the microservices architecture. Developers can search and use intelligent libraries and select from a list of app features that can be added with a simple drag and drop.
- Fast Time to Market: Low-Code can provide the lowest time to market for your applications thanks to its multilevel reusability. The automation capabilities of the platform enable apps to be built quickly. A microservice that might have taken you a lot of time to build can now be created at the drop of a hat.
- Improved Customer Experience – Low-code development promotes better customer experience. Organizations that rely on traditional development methodologies may find this challenging.
- Custom Microservices: Regular Microservices are relatively constrained in terms of the data they can work with and the results they can provide. On the other hand, the Low-Code platform provides more specialized microservices that may be tailored to your requirements.
What Do You Need to Get Started with Low-code Development?
If you are interested in getting started with low-code development, you will need a few things. First, you will need a low-code development platform. There are many options for you to select the right platform for you. You should analyze your requirements and explore all such options before choosing one.
Several different options are available, so you should explore them to find one that meets your requirements. Once you have chosen a platform, you will need to learn how to use it. This may require some training or reading documentation. Finally, you will need some ideas for what you want to build. You are now ready to start low-code development.
Need help finding a good low-code platform or system? Check out our round-up of the Best Low-Code Development Platforms.
What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Low-Code for Enterprise Applications
The benefits of using a Low-Code platform for software development include:
- Faster time to market – Low-code development platforms enable developers to get started quickly and generate functioning prototypes without code from the ground up. It is possible to create new applications using pre-created templates rapidly.
- Reduced Technical Debt – Low-code development enables businesses to reduce waste, simplify and shorten development, and accelerate deployment, hence avoiding technical debt.
- Easy Updates – Low-code development makes it simple to change applications and adjust them to fulfil new requirements. Low-code development avoids the need for complex coding, which allows for quick updates when needed.
- Higher Productivity – Since low-code development enables more applications to be produced in less time, it promotes fast development and release cycles. When you develop low-code applications, you are no longer limited by time, i.e., it is no longer an impediment.
- Reduced Costs – Low-code software development provides organizations with a less expensive and more straightforward approach to designing business processes and workflows tailored to their specific requirements. It enables enterprises lessen their need of additional developers, hence lowering expenses.
- Increased Agility – The most obvious benefit of implementing low-code development is that it saves time. Low code development is meant for fast and easy updates. Most applications have pre-built user interfaces that allow you to create workflows and business models based on existing logic.
Here are some of the downsides of using Low-Code platforms for software development:
- Lack of Customization – Even though the pre-built modules of the low-code platforms are incredibly handy to work with, you can’t customize your application with them. You can customize low-code platforms but only to a limited extent. In most cases, low-code components are generic and if you want to customize your app you should invest time and effort in custom app development.
- Limited Integration – Due to the inherent restrictions of low-code platforms, it is sometimes not viable to integrate them with specific systems.
- Vendor Lock-in – Low-code systems are prone to vendor lock-in. There are some vendors that produce clean, standardized code making it simple to use applications in the platform. However, many are proprietary systems that either prevent code migration or create unreadable, non-reusable code. This makes porting the application to another platform difficult, resulting in vendor lock-in.
- Security and Reliability – If you’re using a low-code platform, you’ll have to depend largely on third-party applications and services. Since developers don’t have complete control, it might pose a security risk. The built-in security features of low-code platforms are inadequate.
Use Cases of Low-Code Development
Below are some use cases where a software development team or an organization might use a low-code development platform:
- Proof of Concept (POC): Since low-code platforms allow you to develop apps more quickly, they are ideal for prototyping. For example, you can take advantage of low code to create an application that solves a business problem and then develop the final version of the application using a traditional development approach.
- Rapid Application Development: If your project is not that complicated or extensive, you can leverage low-code platforms to deliver applications at a fast pace. Applications built using this approach might have constraints, risks, and limitations, but you can address them later.
- Modular web applications: You can take advantage of low code microservices to build modular web applications. Enterprises can take advantage of low code microservices to create a suite of micro-applications.
- API Generation: You can take advantage of low-code API generators to automatically build APIs from your existing source code.
- Containerization: Low code microservices can run inside containers as well. You can leverage the container orchestration capabilities of Kubernetes if your low-code platform is integrated with it.
Final Thoughts on Low-Code Software Development
As organizations strive to keep up with digitization demands while cutting IT budgets, low-code adoption will grow in the years to come. Enterprise innovation and business agility will drive low-code development, but traditional application development isn’t going away anytime soon.