In recent years, several low-code/no-code development platforms and tools have been launched to enable developers to implement software systems by writing less code. The idea of low-code/no-code platforms is not new, with the first ones having made an appearance back in the ’50s. However, with the increased use of applications in enterprises, their popularity has grown and so has the introduction of new platforms. These platforms not only accelerate the existing enterprise software development processes and also help save effort and costs.
State-of-the-art low-code and no-code technologies offer several key benefits, including fast and easy prototyping, simplified IT support, and improved productivity for developers. For instance, no-code development platforms enable developers to develop software without implementing low-level code or even without writing code at all. Moreover, the use of low-code platforms provides significant value in cases of complex enterprise software systems that are usually developed or evolved over multiple years and involve heavy customization. Nevertheless, despite their benefits, the use of low-code/no-code platforms also carries some disadvantages.
There are several benefits to using low-code/no-code development platforms. First and foremost, with these platforms, developers can implement a system faster, reduce costs and minimize learning curves for new technologies. Specifically, low-code platforms allow organizations to customize their applications easily and quickly. This is particularly beneficial when an organization wants to launch a new product or service quickly without building it from scratch or hiring expensive specialists.
Developers can use no-code or low-code platforms as both a toolkit and a framework to build applications. These platforms are designed to support software development methodologies that emphasize rapid and agile application development. In this direction, low-cost and no-code platforms integrate visual editors that allow business users to create functional apps based on minimal coding or without writing code.
Another benefit of no-code platforms is that they minimize the time and effort needed by teams to get acquainted with new technologies. There was a time when developers needed a lot of hands-on experience before they became productive with new software technology. Nowadays, using low-code/no-code platforms enables developers to become productive much faster while simultaneously reducing the number of specialists needed to code a complex software system.
A no-code development platform does not require programming knowledge to implement, so developers don’t have to spend time learning how to use code editors or other tools unrelated to their work. This helps save time and effort that would have to be spent on training. In many cases, one can deliver the application with minimal additional team training. Overall, a no-Code development platform helps minimize the learning curve for teams with regard to new technologies. This is especially important for organizations that have recently switched to new technologies like cloud computing and mobile application development.
However, the use of no-code platforms is associated with some challenges as well. One challenge relates to the maturity of available low-code platforms and tools. For example, before one decides to use an open-source low-code/no-code platform, one must ensure that they have enough time and resources to thoroughly test it before implementing it. Otherwise, there is a risk of introducing bugs in the production environment. Another challenge is that no-code platforms don’t provide access to the source code during the development and testing phases, which makes it hard for developers to debug problems when they occur. As a result, it may become almost impossible to locate and fix a bug due to some problem or inefficiency of the low-code platform itself.
While no-code and low-code platforms have made it easier for non-technical employees to build applications, their use still requires the user to have some knowledge of programming concepts. Thus, it is important not to overestimate the capabilities and utility of such platforms. It is unrealistic to expect programming illiterate employees to become productive with them.
No-code platforms are incredibly efficient in developing simple solutions but fall short when it comes to developing and programming sophisticated applications. These platforms lack the ability to develop complex application logic and might need the support of an experienced developer at some point in time.
Developers who learn to work frequently with no-code tools can become attached and dependent on them. This often makes it difficult to repurpose these employees to work on other technologies and projects. For example, a developer who uses an application platform to create a customer relationship management (CRM) application will most likely use it again for other CRM projects or other types of applications. This will eventually weaken the developer’s flexibility and independence.
It is also essential to know how low-code and no-code platforms relate to each other. Low-code development platforms are better suited for building complex applications by giving users more flexibility in their design choices compared to no-code platforms. This makes low-code development a more effective solution than no-code development because it allows users to create custom business processes without requiring coding skills.
Given the advantages of low-code solutions for small businesses and the growing availability of such solutions, more businesses are expected to adopt such solutions in the future. However, understanding their capabilities and tools may be challenging, especially for small companies that might use no-code platforms for the first time. In the long term, low-code/no-code app development platforms will offer developer-friendly drag-and-drop interfaces and no-code app builders to help organizations build their applications in less time and with fewer resources. These tools will provide out-of-the-box capabilities, which will make it easier to build basic functionalities. Hence, they will be increasingly considered as an alternative or an addition to traditional approaches. Nevertheless, organizations must bear in mind that these tools will never be able to compete with customized software development. This should be seriously considered by enterprises when shaping their software development strategies.
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