The development of mobile and web applications is becoming more accessible for non-technical users. Now, almost anyone can build a workable and simple app on specialized platforms. It has become possible with the low-code technology.
The low code development approach isn’t limited to amateurs. Many app developers also use low-code for building their apps. Gartner forecasts that more than 65% of all app features will be built in low code by 2024 with 66% of big companies utilizing at least four different low code building platforms.
What is so special about the low code approach and why is it rising in popularity so fast? In this article, we dive into the world of low-coding and explain:
- What is low-code?
- Why is low-code on the rise?
- What are low-code benefits and downsides?
- What to expect from a low-code in the future?
Traditional app development is usually time-consuming, can be quite expensive, and practically unavailable to non-specialists. To speed things up and make the development processes cheaper software developers invented a low-code development approach.
This approach involves building apps on specialized low-code development platforms (LCDP). They use visual interfaces, simple business logic, automatic code generation, and handy drag-and-drop features to build low-code and no-code applications. All of these tools allow “citizen developers” (non-professional developers) and professionals to create a variety of apps, starting from mobile ending to enterprise apps.
Why is Low-Code on the Rise?
The concept of low-code first appeared in 2014. It started as a set of standard features that accelerated and partly automated the software development process and later was transformed into full-fledged visual programming.
The popularity of low-code is determined by two main factors:
- Development speed. In average, it takes half a year or more for a team of professionals to build an app. Some companies need quick solutions so they turn to low-code development services.
- General availability. Any business can develop their own app without referring to professional developers. It can be an optimal solution for those companies that are short of the budget or don’t need to develop complex software.
The low-code technology inspires innovation in app development as more users have access to building software and can present their development ideas. Citizen developers can experiment with app building, bringing a new perspective to the well-established programming standards which, in turn, leads to innovative outcomes.
Benefits and Downsides of Low-Code
As with any concept, low-code has its benefits and drawbacks. Let’s have a closer look at this software development model from different angles.
- Low entry barrier. There is no need to be a development expert to build a viable app. Specialists from other areas can create an app well-suited to their customers’ needs. For example, an accountant can build an app that will calculate salaries for employees based on the inner company’s benefits policy.
- Low development cost. Low-code platform users don’t need to spend a fortune and years on self-education to develop their own apps. It’ll take several weeks to learn how to make full use of low-code platforms.
- Short development time. Any app on low-code platforms is built by adding ready-made code blocks to each other. Therefore, developers don’t need to write, test, and troubleshoot their code lines, as everything is already tested and automated.
- Easy maintenance. Due to the standardized code-blocks provided by low-code platforms, it’s easier to test, integrate, and update developed apps.
- Increased productivity in teams. Professional developers have more knowledge that it’s required for low-code platform utilization. Therefore, even if a developer has none to little development experience, he can still develop effective apps.
- Quick prototyping. Before building complex and full-fledged solutions app developers often create app prototypes to check how app ideas will work in real life. Low-code platforms are ideal for prototyping as it can be done within several hours.
- Fast MVP development. Sometimes time-to-market is a determining factor for an app’s success in the market. Therefore, software developers can use low-code platforms to quickly build and present their MVPs to end-users so that they can evaluate the idea and share their feedback.
Low-code programming has a vast number of benefits. But does it mean that businesses don’t need to hire IT specialists for mobile and web application development services anymore? The answer is negative. With low-code platforms, non-IT businesses can develop simple and standardized solutions. For more complex and tailored business apps they will still need to refer to professional developers.
Here is the list of low-code platform drawbacks that can limit the development of apps suitable for particular business needs.
- Standardized and basic apps. With low-code platforms, non-IT businesses can develop simple and standardized solutions. For more complex and tailored business apps they will still need to refer to professional developers.
- Code-block non-transparency. Low-code platforms provide their users with ready-made code packages that can be joined together. It’s very handy but for professional developers, it is a certain drawback as they don’t see which code lines are inside each block. As a result, it’s hard to trace code logic and fully understand how an app performs different functions.
- No project control. As low-code platforms don’t allow access to the code inside the blocks, app developers can’t fix any bugs easily, find solutions by sharing part of code and asking other developers, or change any tools or libraries.
- Vendor dependence. Each low-code platform has its own logic and code blocks, therefore, it’s hard to migrate your code or fully download your app from the platform without rewriting code parts.
- Platform dependence. Apps developed on low-code platforms completely depend on them as their code base stays on these platforms. In case a low-code platform is closed, a business can lose its application without possibility to restore.
Into a Low-Code Future
Together with Gartner, Forrester Research also predicts a bright future for low-code programming. It states that the low-code market is expected to reach $21.2 billion by 2022 in comparison to $3.8 billion in 2017.
Many IT market leaders already show great interest in low-code programming. For example, this year Google has acquired AppSheet – a mobile app development platform – to help businesses create their own apps without the necessity to write code manually.
Another example is the merger of the three major competitors Appy Pie, Infinite Monkeys, and AppMakr into one no-code platform for building mobile apps. Now, as they’ve united their forces they expect to attract over 10 million end-users on their Appy Pie platform.
All the facts above indicate that low-code platforms will continue to develop and diversify, making their tools and code-blocks even more flexible and tailored for building various digital solutions. At the same time, low-code programming will become even more simplified and popular among citizen developers, attracting more users to build their own apps.
Low-code app development is a newly-emerged technology that allows anyone to try their hand at building own apps. Although these apps can’t fully substitute complex business applications and provide more standardized solutions, experts predict a quick growth and massive development of the technology. Therefore, it’s expected that in the near future there will appear more low-code solutions with the features more tailored to business and customer needs.