The Ultimate Low Code Development Platform Guide
Over the last few years, companies have invested a lot of time and energy in software development. Agile working methods such as Kanban and Scrum have gone a long way to make the process of app development a smoother ride, yet developers still face the challenge of meeting their customers’ and/or stakeholders’ demands quickly and easily.
Enter “low code” platforms, which promise to bring projects to fruition more quickly and incorporate client feedback into the agile software development from the get-go. But what is low code, and is it all that it’s cracked up to be?
If you’re asking yourself these or related questions and want the lowdown on low code, you’ve come to the right place. This article will provide you with everything you need to know – and maybe even a little more.
Definition: What is Low Code and What Does it Mean?
Low code platforms are still a fairly new phenomenon. The term itself dates to 2014, when Forrester Research coined it to describe this particular form of software development.
In a nutshell, low-code development platforms (LCDPs) are alternatives to traditional object-oriented computer programming that enable application software to be created through graphical user interfaces and configuration.
The benefits should be obvious: low-code platforms allow developers to create applications at more or less lightning speed. At the same time, they require significantly less source code than old-school software development techniques.
The creation of the user interface, the data model and the business logic all happen via visual design tools, i.e. an interface. Software developers also have the ability to supplement business logic with hand-written code. With the mere click of a button, applications can be deployed into a public or private cloud environment.
While, as already mentioned, the term “low-code app development” is a recent coinage, the concept behind it is not new.
There’s long been a notion in companies of the “power user” or “citizen developer.” These nomenclatures denote business users who see an opportunity to optimize a process and take it upon themselves to create their own apps.
To do so, they used technologies such as Microsoft Access, Excel, and or Visual Basic. Low-code tools are inspired by and build on such users’ intentions. The philosophy behind them predicates a world in which everyone – from the tech-savviest of workers to a tech-savvy employee who sees a business problem or process that a simple app could optimize and solve, and sets out to build it themselves.
Sounds like the kind of world you want to live in? If so, keep reading and watch this world take form.
Low Code Platforms as High Productivity Application PaaS (hpaPaaS) and Rapid Application Development Tools
According to Gartner, high-productivity aPaaS (hpaPaaS) provides rapid application development (RAD) features in the cloud for development, deployment, and execution.
While Forrester coined the term “low code development” and as such was instrumental in propagating the technology, Gartner refined its niche by classifying all low code vendors as part of the hpaPaaS category in its Magic Quadrant.
Low code platforms, one can argue, form a sub-category of hpaPaaS.
Low code has an obvious affinity with such rapid application development tools of the 1990s as Access, Power Builder, Oracle Forms. One could also call low code the next step in the development of RAD tools. It could also evolve into the standard means of development.
In contrast to RAD tools, a number of low code platforms are suitable for use by trained employees from specialty fields. These “citizen developers,” as it were, open up new possibilities the implementation of software projects – and also expose new risks.
The hpaPaaS developer experience focuses on no-code and low-code capabilities:
- No-code users include citizen developers and will utilize graphical modeling experiences.
- Low-code users have more development skills and augment graphical development tooling with scripting or more sophisticated model types such as entity relationship diagrams, business process model and notation, and decision model and notation.
Only vendors providing “enterprise” hpaPaaS — as a public cloud service — are considered in this Magic Quadrant. Some of these platforms are aligned closely with particular SaaS solutions, but this Magic Quadrant focuses on general application development tasks where extending SaaS is just one of six common use-case types considered.
Magic Quadrant for Enterprise High-Productivity Application Platform as a Service
Magic Quadrant – Source: https://www.gartner.com
What about VisionX?
Though Gartner’s report does not yet include VisionX, the platform enables users to visually build entire applications without relying on software developers. Applications created with VisionX use Java open- source frameworks only and therefore avoid vendor lock-in.
VisionX combines the simplicity of low code with the flexibility of Java to allow easy, efficient software development.
VisionX is well suited both for small operations and as an enterprise application for use by many large teams. Development can start small, with just a handful of users, and scale quickly to thousands of concurrent users in an high-availability environment.
VisionX’s source code can be accessed at any time – for instance, in order to use Eclipse to change the code or develop visual code with VisionX. This can be done either one at a time or simultaneously.
Low Code in Software Development: More Than Just a Trend
Low code is not a mere side niche. Analysts from Forrester view it as one of the most important emerging technologies to watch through 2020. The low code industry is exploding before our eyes. Analysts predict that it will grow from $4.32 billion in 2015 to $24.23 billion by 2022.
To put these developments in perspective, it’s important to remember what makes low code special.
What is its USP?
Low code lets business professionals create applications that are customized to their organization’s needs – in a much higher speed than usual development processes.
Another main benefit is the strong focus on visual development, which makes it easier to use also for professionals with no strong background in IT. It does this while requiring minimal spending on infrastructure, deployment, and maintenance.
There are more benefits, however. Low-code development tools can also help enterprises improve customer experiences and fuel operational efficiencies.
In addition to the above advantages, low-code platforms offer the benefits of speed, the flexibility to meet customers halfway, and the ability to streamline business processes.
The low code ecosystem continues to expand and thrive, and has seen many new developments in recent months. One of the more high-profile of these was Siemens’s acquisition of Mendix.
Furthermore, the following recent events illustrate the growing market demand for low code development:
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