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A Complete Guide to Low Code Development

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Toluwani Folayan

December 08, 2023


Coding isn't the only way to build apps. Try low-code development!

Jobs are changing fast, and many now need some coding skills. But don't let that scare you! You don't need to be a coding expert to build apps. Low-code development is a new way to create apps with less coding. It's like having a middle ground between no coding and traditional coding. This is great news because the demand for software developers is growing quickly.  For instance, did you know the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the need for software developers will increase 24% from 2016 to 2026? That's much faster than the average for all other professions!

Low-code platforms use visual tools, templates, and pre-built parts to make app building easier. This means you don't need to write as much code. But if you do know some coding, you can still add custom code to your apps.

Low-code development can help you build apps faster and with more control. So, if you're looking to get into app building, low-code is a great option to try. It could be just what you need to land that dream job! This article will be the perfect guide to the basics of low code, so let’s get started!


Outline

What is Low Code Development?

Low Code Software Features

Types of Low Code Development

Benefits of Low Code Development

How to Get Started Low Code Development

Who should use low-code development?


What is Low Code Development?  

Low-code development is a software development approach that minimizes the manual coding required to build applications. It utilizes visual tools, templates, and pre-built components to simplify the development process, making it accessible to a wider range of users, including those with limited or no coding experience. Low-code platforms balance no-code and traditional coding, offering the flexibility to incorporate custom code when needed.

Essentially, Low Code development empowers users of varying technical expertise, including those with limited or no coding experience, to create applications and processes more quickly and efficiently. This democratization of software development enables businesses to innovate rapidly and adapt to changing needs without relying solely on professional developers.


Low Code Software Features  

Low-code platforms offer a range of features that make them an attractive option for app development, including:

1. Visual modeling:  

Low-code platforms provide visual modeling tools that allow users to drag and drop components and connect them to create the logic of their applications. This makes it easy to understand and modify applications without writing code.

2. Pre-built components:  

Low-code platforms come with a library of pre-built components, such as forms, tables, and charts. These components can be reused to quickly build applications without writing code from scratch.

3. Declarative programming:  

Low-code platforms use declarative programming, which means that users describe what they want to happen rather than how it should happen. This makes it easier to write code that is correct and maintainable.

4. Model-driven development:  

Low-code platforms use model-driven development (MDM), meaning that the application's structure is defined in a model. This model is then used to generate the application code, making it easier to maintain and update.

5. Cross-platform compatibility:  

Low-code platforms can generate applications running on multiple platforms, such as web, mobile, and desktop. This makes it easy to deploy applications to a wide range of devices.

6. Security:  

Low-code platforms typically include built-in security features, such as role-based access control (RBAC) and data encryption. This helps to protect applications from unauthorized access and data breaches.

7. Scalability:  

Low-code platforms can be scaled to support many users and transactions. This makes them suitable for developing enterprise applications.


Types of Low Code Development  

Low-code development can be categorized into five main types based on their specific use cases and target users:

1. General-purpose low-code platforms:

These platforms provide a comprehensive suite of tools for building various applications, including web applications, mobile apps, and business process automation (BPA) tools. They are suitable for both business users and developers.

Examples: Mendix, OutSystems, Microsoft Power Apps

2. Process automation low-code platforms:

These platforms are designed to automate business processes and workflows. They provide drag-and-drop tools for creating workflows, connecting with existing systems, and managing data. They are primarily used by business users and process experts.

Examples: Kissflow, Nintex, Salesforce Lightning

3. Mobile app development low-code platforms (MADPs):

These platforms focus on building native mobile applications for iOS and Android devices. They provide visual tools for designing user interfaces, integrating with APIs, and managing app deployment. They are suitable for both business users and developers.

Examples: Microsoft Power Apps, Google AppSheet, Quickbase

4. Database-centric low-code platforms:

These platforms are designed to work closely with existing databases and provide tools for building data-driven applications. They offer features for data modeling, data manipulation, and data visualization. They are suitable for developers and data analysts.

Examples: Claris FileMaker, Retool, Dgraph 

5. Request-handling low-code platforms:

These platforms are specifically designed for building applications that handle customer requests, support tickets, and other forms of customer interactions. They provide tools for creating forms, managing workflows, and tracking customer interactions. They are suitable for both business users and IT professionals.

Examples: ServiceNow, Salesforce Service Cloud, Zendesk Suite


Benefits of Low Code Development  

The global low-code development platform market is anticipated to generate a staggering $187.0 billion in revenue by 2030, soaring from $10.3 billion in 2019. This remarkable growth, projected at a rapid 31.1% CAGR during the forecast period (2020-2030), underscores the surging demand for low-code development solutions. This trend is further fueled by the belief among 80% of respondents in a recent survey that adopting low-code development can free up developers' time, allowing them to tackle high-value projects.

Whether your primary goal is implementing an app development platform or a comprehensive solution that unifies enterprise processes, low-code development offers many benefits to organizations. Here are the major benefits of low code development:

1. Flexibility and Scalability: Designed for scalability and flexibility, low-code platforms seamlessly adapt to evolving business needs and accommodate growth without significant development effort.

2. Reduced Development Costs: Low-code development substantially lowers development expenses by minimizing manual coding and streamlining workflows. Businesses can effectively allocate resources, maximizing their return on investment (ROI).

3. Improved Collaboration: Business stakeholders can actively participate in app development, ensuring the final product meets their requirements. This collaborative approach fosters innovation and streamlines the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

4. Innovation and Digital Transformation: Low-code development empowers businesses to embark on digital transformation journeys by swiftly creating innovative solutions. It enables companies to adapt intelligently to the evolving technology landscape and market.

5. Enhanced Productivity: Low-code development facilitates the rapid development of more applications. As a result, with low-code development, time is no longer a barrier to real innovation.

6. Enhanced Agility: Low-code development fosters rapid design and deployment of new applications, even without extensive programming expertise. This empowers companies to respond swiftly and nimbly to changing market demands.

7. Accelerated Development: Low-code platforms expedite application development, enabling developers to swiftly reduce backlogs and bring apps to market.

8. Engaging UI/UX: Developers can effortlessly design solutions from scratch, leveraging built-in templates to craft appealing UIs, all while ensuring uncompromising performance and functionality.

9. Simplified Updates and Maintenance: Low-code applications are typically easier to maintain and update.

How to Get Started Low Code Development  

1. Define Your Goals and Objectives

Before diving into the technical aspects, take a moment to clearly define your goals and objectives for using low-code development. This involves asking questions like what problem are you trying to solve? What process do you want to automate? What specific application do you want to build? Understanding your specific needs will guide you in choosing the right low-code platform and approach.

2. Explore and Evaluate Low-Code Platforms

With many low-code platforms available, selecting the one that aligns with your needs and skill level is crucial. Conduct thorough research and evaluate various platforms based on factors such as target applications, technical expertise, integration capabilities, ease of use, features and functionality, pricing structure, and support and resources.

3. Choose a Learning Path

Once you've selected your low-code platform, choose the most effective approach to learn its fundamentals. Many platforms offer comprehensive learning resources, including guided tutorials, online courses, documentation, and community forums and resources. Consider your preferred learning style and choose the method that best suits your needs.

4. Start with Small, Manageable Projects

Begin your low-code development journey with small, achievable projects that allow you to gain hands-on experience without feeling overwhelmed. Start by building simple applications that address specific tasks or automate basic workflows. As you gain confidence and familiarity with the platform, gradually tackle more complex projects.

5. Leverage Pre-built Components and Templates

Low-code platforms provide a wealth of pre-built components and templates that can significantly accelerate your development process. Utilize these pre-built elements to streamline the creation of common elements like forms, tables, charts, and user interfaces. This can save you time and effort, especially when building repetitive components.

6. Embrace Experimentation and Iteration

Low-code development is an iterative process. Don't be afraid to experiment with different approaches, features, and design elements. As you build and test your applications, you'll gain valuable insights and refine your skills. Embrace the learning process and be open to feedback from others.

7. Seek Help and Collaboration

When you encounter challenges or need guidance, don't hesitate to seek help. Most low-code platforms have active communities, forums, and support resources. Engage with other developers and experts to get assistance, learn from their experiences, and collaborate on projects.

8. Continuous Learning and Improvement

The low-code landscape constantly evolves, with new features, platforms, and trends emerging. Stay informed about the latest advancements and explore how they can enhance your low-code development capabilities. Continuous learning and improvement will ensure you remain at the forefront of the low-code development revolution.


Who should use low-code development?  

Low-code development is a great option for anyone who wants to build apps, even if they don't have a lot of coding experience. This includes:

  • Business users: Business users can use low-code platforms to build apps that solve their business problems.
  • Citizens developers: Citizen developers are non-IT professionals who build apps for their departments or teams.
  • IT professionals: IT professionals can use low-code platforms to build apps faster and with fewer resources.

Low-code is a great option to try if you're looking to get into app building. Numerous low-code platforms are available, each catering to specific needs and preferences. For instance, Mendix, a robust platform, is widely used by businesses to build enterprise-grade applications. OutSystems, renowned for its ease of use and powerful capabilities, is another popular choice. Microsoft Power Apps, integrated into the Microsoft Power Platform suite, also offers cloud-based low-code development. Let’s not forget Google AppSheet, which caters to business users with no coding experience, while Quickbase, with its drag-and-drop interface and pre-built templates, simplifies app creation. These platforms represent just a fraction of the extensive low-code landscape, enabling individuals to find the perfect tool to embark on their app-building journey. 


Conclusion

Low-code development has emerged as a transformative force in the software development landscape, empowering individuals and organizations to build applications and streamline processes without the need for extensive coding expertise. By leveraging pre-built components, visual modeling tools, and declarative programming, low-code platforms democratize application development, making it accessible to a wider range of users. This further empowers businesses to innovate rapidly, adapt to changing needs, and achieve their digital transformation goals.

 

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