Low Code is one of the fastest growing areas in application development today. KPMG research shows that 26% of top executives are investing in low code/no code.
But what exactly is low code? How did it evolve, how powerful is it right now, what are its contours, and is it right for your business? We dive into some of these aspects in this blog.
What is Low Code & What Problems Does it Solve?
When people hear “code,” they conjure up visions of programmers sitting in front of laptops writing reams of code in arcane languages such as Java or C++.
But low code looks nothing like that. If you have ever used a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, uploaded a web page on WordPress, or created an online survey on the web, you have already used something similar to a low code platform yourself!
The idea behind low code platforms is to allow you to visualize your logic through a drag-and-drop interface. The platform takes care of writing the code needed to implement that logic in the backend.
Here are some reasons why low code is rapidly replacing traditional coding.
- Visual coding: Rather than writing reams of code, it uses a drag and drop interface based on pre-built components to create applications.
- Quicker development: Since it is visual drag-and-drop, almost anyone can do the basic stuff like building a user interface. It allows for rapid prototyping.
- Lesser maintenance: It uses pre-built templates to code, which developers have extensively tested in various scenarios, making them less likely to have bugs.
- Integrate legacy applications easily: You don’t have to get stuck in build or buy debates. Low code lets you integrate your legacy applications using built-in data connectors and APIs.
- Multi-platform: You don’t need to create the same application separately for web and mobile; low code enables multi-platform development.
- Lower Costs: As you use more low code development, you reduce your dependence on a large IT team and avoid having to buy and customize expensive off-the-shelf applications.
A Brief History of Low Code
Let’s trace some of the key events in the history of low code.
1985: The launch of Microsoft Excel, one of the most widely used computer applications in the history of computers. Excel is a forerunner of low code.
1991: the launch of the first internet browser on the world wide web created the need for coding platforms that could work on multiple types of devices.
1997: Cloud computing came into being. Most low code and no code applications today are built on cloud-based platforms, unlike traditional software applications.
1997- 2007: Many application platforms emerged that challenged the need for line-by-line coding to build applications.
Outsystems began in 2001 with its full-stack low code platform. SAP was helping build line-of-business applications through visual interfaces even before this. 2003 marked the launch of WordPress, a completely no-code platform for creating web pages.
2007: Launch of the iPhone, and with it, the App market, which democratized app development. Android launched in 2008 as well. Low code app development platforms such as Xcode and Android Studio helped satisfy the burgeoning demand for apps on mobile devices.
2014: Forrester coined the term “Low Code” for applications that could speed up the development of user interfaces. By this time, low code had already begun to be recognized in the tech industry as key new technology.
2021: Gartner came out with the Gartner Magic Quadrant for low code / no code platforms. This was the first major categorization of the low code industry and identified the major players, putting them into leaders, challengers, niche players, and visionaries.
Where Low Code is Today
Today, you can divide the Low Code industry into broadly two segments:
Full Stack Low Code Development Platforms
These platforms let you build any kind of business application through their drag-and-drop, visual approach along with a middleware layer that lets you connect application and data integration APIs to interact with other applications.
In most cases, these platforms are a bit more complex, require some coding expertise, and therefore need organizational IT teams’ involvement in creating and maintaining applications.
Some key examples of this type are Outsystems, Quickbase, and Mendix. Vahana Cloud is also a similar platform for full stack development.
Application Specific Low Code Development Platforms
Apart from full stack development platforms, many applications emerged that were helping solve specific problems in specific fields or industries.
For example, Salesforce CRM is a powerful low code platform that helps build salesforce automation-related applications through a visual interface.
Pega and Appian are powerful low code platforms for creating workflow automation applications and intelligent decision-making.
Neptune software helps you build low code-based business applications that rely on an underlying SAP platform.
Application-specific low code platforms typically take a much more visual-only, near-zero code approach and enable citizen developers to build applications after little training. They involve minimal coding.
What is the Future of Low Code?
Till now, the low code industry has focused on automating application development, and many consider it the future of all application development.
But beyond that, new trends are emerging in Low Code. For example, can low code help automate design by studying machine interactions to understand human needs?
Another area where low code applications are venturing is predictive application development. Integrating AI and low code can open up a whole new universe where your computer will design and deploy applications without you telling it to do anything!
Lastly, low code development today focuses on web and mobile experiences, but wearables and VR are other areas where low code can bring immense value.
Low code is changing the face of application development today. If you have taken the time to read this guide to low code, you have taken your first step in the journey to a faster and better way to build applications.