Can Low-Code or No-Code Development Platforms and Software Developers Peacefully Coexist?

Low-code development platforms are designed to help businesses innovate more quickly, but will this come at a cost to software developers?

Are your customers frustrated that they can’t innovate fast enough?  Low-code development platforms may be the solution. They automate some of the tasks and workflows associated with coding, helping to develop applications faster. But will this faster development come at a cost to your business?

What are Low-Code Platforms?

Generally, low-code development platforms allow you to use prebuilt components and middleware services. You don’t need to code everything from scratch; some of the work is already done for you. Low-code development platforms often use visual composition, enabling the user to drag and drop the components and use plain language to define characteristics. They’re also designed so apps can be deployed on any device, whether a PC, tablet, smartphone, or mobile computer, without additional coding.

There are different types of low-code offerings. “Low-Code Platform as a Service” provides you with a low-code platform as a hosted service that lets you develop in the cloud. “Low-Code Application Platform as a Service” also allow developers to build and license apps for its customers. These services can include multitenancy features that allow all users to use the same code with their own secure databases.

Low-Code vs. No-Code

There are also platforms that are designed to be “no-code.” An example is Salesforce’s Lightning Platform, touted as “the only platform that lets you build powerful enterprise applications without writing a line of code.” You drag-and-drop components into an app builder, enabling users to automate repetitive processes and quickly build apps. When customization is needed, the Lightning Platform allows users to customize apps by writing code with Salesforce’s proprietary Apex programing language.

Democratizing Development

Salesforce points out that enterprises are challenged to innovate quickly to keep up with customer expectations and competitive pressures. However, there aren’t enough skilled developers to meet the current demand. Tools such as no-code platforms enable non-developers to handle some of the workload as well as let them build the apps they need themselves — after all, who knows better how the app should work than the people in department that will be using it?

Low-Code Platform as a Service provider Appian  lists benefits low-code development offers to enterprises, including:

  • Agility: Organizations can develop and make changes faster.
  • Lower costs: Development time and costs are decreased, and enterprises won’t need to hire as many developers.
  • Risk management: As regulations change, enterprises can quickly make adjustments to stay compliance.
  • Better Cx: Businesses can adapt to customer needs more responsively.
Low-Code’s Potential Downside

Although there are some fairly obvious pros, critics also point out there may be some cons to low-code development platforms — the biggest of which is probably security. If you use a preconfigured module, you won’t be able to enforce your own security standards. Furthermore, with a low-code or no-code platform, you will have to rely on the vendor to mitigate risks and fix vulnerabilities, and you may have to change your schedule for updates to align with the vendor’s.

Building applications on a low-code development platform may also limit integration options. This could be a significant challenge for businesses with legacy systems that are vital to their operations.

The Future of Development?

There is plenty of debate about whether low-code or no-code will prevail over traditional development in the future, but coders probably aren’t out of a job. Application platform provider Mendix points out low-code platforms aren’t aiming to eliminate the need for your skills. They’re meant to equip all members of a collaborative team, both developers and non-developers, with tools they can use. When the platform can’t meet the business’ requirements, it will take your programming skills to add needed functionality.

This is definitely a trend to watch. MarketsandMarkets estimates the low-code development platform market will grow from $3.20 billion in 2016 to $27.23 billion by 2022, a 44.49% CAGR. How will it impact your future? 

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Mike Monocello
The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of DevPro Journal.