Free as a bird: Avoiding vendor lock-in in low code

Free as a bird: Avoiding vendor lock-in in low code
Free as a bird: Avoiding vendor lock-in in low code

iTunes is often said to have revolutionized the way we listen to music. Fair enough, but if you used Apple’s service in the early days, you will remember that once you’d purchased a song you couldn’t just share it with your friends. Unless they had the iTunes app or an iPod, you were unable to show them your new favorite tune because it wouldn’t play on their PC or laptop. Robbie Williams, Destiny’s Child and whoever else was featured in your music library were all locked in there. As were you – into the iTunes app and into Apple products in general. A textbook case of vendor lock-in.


Caged up

A broad definition of vendor lock-in is that, typically due to the use of proprietary technologies that are incompatible with those of the competitors, you as a customer can’t replace a service or product with an equivalent solution from a different vendor. This is as serious a concern in low-code development as it is in any other sector. And the easiest way you can avoid it is by choosing a low-code vendor whose platform is open and puts the code at your disposal. The trouble is most low-code providers offer closed systems with proprietary formats.

At first glance, this may not seem like a bad thing as it makes life easier for citizen developers, i.e. business users with no professional coding skills: they don’t really want to see the code anyway. But what if something goes wrong and you need to have a look at the code to find out the problem? Well, you can’t. It’s a lot like wanting to get under the hood of your car when it breaks down on the highway, but you can’t find the release button in the cabin – you simply won’t be able to check the engine or the battery or the radiator… How are you supposed to fix anything if you can’t see it?

Or you might find that you need features or functionalities for your development project that your current vendor doesn’t offer. Like when you want to add a turbocharger to your car. Even if you have the skill to build one yourself, it’s no use if you can’t hook it up to the engine – you can’t open the hood, remember? It’s the same with an app: since it’s written in a proprietary format, you cannot just write something in pro code and plug it in.

So then you would want to switch to a different platform, right? It seems simple enough, but the trouble is, without the vendor’s platform you can’t run the app you have built. Since it’s based on a vendor-specific format, there is no standard code that you can just take out and run elsewhere. You simply don’t own the code. So, instead of moving on, you end up stuck, having to continue to pay the monthly subscription indefinitely to be able to use the app you have developed – the app that might not even serve a purpose anymore, since it no longer fulfills your particular requirements.

How can you get out of this predicament? Singing along to the Queen classic “I Want to Break Free” – another song in your iTunes library – is an option, but that alone won’t do the trick. And if we’re being honest, we must admit that we’re at a loss to give you any advice. Which is why, as suggested above, we recommend avoiding this quandary altogether by making sure you choose an open low-code platform for your app development.


Open road

Put simply, using such a platform guarantees that you own your code and can use it anytime and any way you want. And it doesn’t matter whether you built the app visually or in code as a pro developer, or a citizen developer created it and needs your help. The code is available on your local machine for you to see, and whenever you detect a problem, you can use your favorite debugging tool to test, troubleshoot, and correct it. When you have finished, all the code changes are visible and easy to track, enabling citizen developers to stay in control. You have the ability to create any functionality in pro code and easily interface it. In this way you are in total control, and are free to create apps with absolutely no limits.

Open low-code platforms – and our VisionX is one – encourages the cooperation between citizen and professional developers. Whenever a pro steps in to help out a business user or add any desired new features in code, the changes they make are reflected back in the visual development environment, allowing non-professional developers to keep track. In fact, VisionX syncs instantly between visual development and code, so it’s possible to go back and forth between the two modes.

You can achieve 100% vendor independence because in VisionX…

  • all applications only use open source frameworks
  • you own the source code and can run it independent of VisionX
  • the code can be edited in any Java integrated development environment and extended with any Java libraries
  • there is no runtime licensing, i.e., no limit to the number of apps or users

George Michael managed to hold on to his freedom, and when it comes to developing apps, you don’t need to give up yours either.

Get a free demo today to find out more about how VisionX helps you avoid vendor lock-in.


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