Time for Low-code Revolution – PCQuest
The term ‘low-code’ was originally coined by Forrester and it describes low-code platforms as “platforms that enable rapid delivery of business applications with a minimum of hand-coding and minimal upfront investment in setup, training, and deployment.” They are popular because you do not need extensive coding experience to work with such platforms.
In fact, as per Forrester projections, the low-code development market which is currently estimated to be worth $3.8 billion is poised to increase to over $15 billion by 2020. The reasons are pretty simple. Jinen Dedhia, co-founder & MD, DronaHQ says, “Challenges with rapid application development (RAD) could be a delay in building APIs on existing applications, the time taken to develop quality and high functionality apps and update such apps, DevOps and Maintenance workload for managing different versions of each app.
Another key challenge is to find skilled resources – developers for iOS, Android, Windows10, Smart devices, Voice Assistants, etc.” Yes, it is true that hiring good developers is a challenging task, as the demand often exceeds the supply. Hence, businesses are looking for ways to free up developers for more strategic business objectives.
Low code platforms can be a big help in such scenarios, as applications can be developed quickly with minimal coding as the platforms provide base-level code, scripts, and integrations to build applications without even getting into a complex development scenario. They provide less functionality than a fully integrated development environment (IDE) but also allow for a greater level of functionality with customized code rather than a drag-and-drop interface.
Both developers and non-developers can use these tools for RAD with customized workflows and functionality. Deepak Anupalli, Head of Product at WaveMaker, says, “Yes, the dominant narrative in the low-code space today is that it is meant for business users and not for the IDE lovers.
This is not true. Developers inside large enterprises are constantly under pressure to develop apps at pace but key considerations like app scalability, cross-screen availability slow them down. Low-code platforms handle all these burdens under-the-hood and help developers to create something functional in the shortest time.”
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Eliminates the need for coding: Low-code platforms are typically used to build apps that work across divisions, internal core systems, web portals, mobile channels, and non-native external applications and they often require a more advanced build. A fair amount of coding is needed to facilitate more complicated system and data integrations, user interfaces, etc.
Custom programming is difficult: The idea behind low-code development is to achieve much with less code, but this does not mean that there’s no scope for custom coding. Every low code platform today comes equipped with inbuilt code editors that allow developers to tweak every minute detail if required. For limited-scope apps only: Many believe that low code platforms cannot support large and growing user bases and application portfolios. In reality, there are use cases of low-code platforms serving business needs for high-scale, highly complex business applications. Prototyping and small scope experiments are a good start to use low code platforms but they are capable of much more.
Can disrupt software architectures: Low code platforms enable developing apps in a distributed way, making use of APIs and microservices. However, this is not disruptive as such because writing code combining other layers of code has been the way programming always worked – mainframe programs do rely on underlying OS software.
Things to keep in mind while choosing low-code RAD: Fastest time-to-market is the promise of low-code RAD platforms, but when and where do businesses really need it? Anupalli shares a checklist for the organizations:
- Know your zones: Business needs to precisely identify which initiatives require app development done the RAD way. Unlike the earlier RAD platforms, the platforms of today can help tackle even broader IT initiatives like transformation and automation. The widened scope doesn’t mean manual coding effort is not required, it just means manual coding is required only in places where it is absolutely necessary (e.g.: write custom business logic) and the rest is taken care by the RAD platform. This perspective is necessary when deciding on RAD fitment.
- RAD vendor evaluation: Sometimes, RAD platform evaluations are done in isolation. For large IT initiatives, RAD’s interplay with other tooling and legacy ecosystem is critical. Most businesses look for a checklist of integrations that RAD platforms offer out-of-the-box, but in reality, this checklist is only a start and most businesses will require custom integrations to be built over and above this. Does your RAD platform of choice offer custom IT services too? If yes, then how good is their service expertise? Do they have a track record? Asking these questions is crucial.
- Platform customization: Integrations in the RAD platform are one half of the problem. Sometimes businesses will want to customize a specific module of the platform itself to suit their needs. It’s important to choose a platform that gives businesses that breathing space else they are only repeating what’s true of the ERP era – change the business as per the tool.
- Standard app process: Businesses often enforce regular app development process rigour on RAD based developments too. This could derail the whole purpose of adopting a RAD platform which is to lower the whole IT dependency to create apps. This doesn’t mean RAD development needs to happen in a silo. The audit and enforcement can happen at the data layer. Central IT can streamline what data and by who can it be viewed and edited via APIs.
RAD teams can consume such APIs to develop apps. This way the apps are secure enough because the APIs they use are already filtered for sensitive information. “Enterprises need to choose platforms that secure existing investments in mobility/digitization (existing apps, licenses, team, etc). Better UI/UX impacts overall app usage. Hence, one should choose a platform that aids in building intuitive designs and suggestions, that offers quick connectors to enterprise security policies and a platform with future in mind (VR, AR, chatbots, AI, voice assistants, etc.),” suggests Dedhia.
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