Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Top Low Code Platforms

Today’s best low code platforms offer organizations the promise of applications and tools development without the need for complex coding skills. With low code software, there are often template driven graphical approaches to code development, which provide a lower barrier to entry than traditional full code approaches.

Before low code’s current adoption, traditional software development required organizations to employ developers that are trained in a given programming language. Low code software offers an easier way.

A key trend that low code helps to enable is that of the democratization of development. Rather than development solely being the purview of the highly trained, with low code so-called citizen developers and even business users can build out small applications and tools that can help with business process and application needs.

Rather than being an outlier, low code platform are increasingly set to find a place within companies of all sizes. Gartner has forecast that by 2023, over 50% of enterprises will be using some form of low-code application platform to drive digital transformation efforts.

How to Choose a Low Code Solution

There are several criteria to consider when evaluating a low code platform that can help an organization to choose the best tool for a given purpose..

Fit for purpose. As is the case with any development tool, low code or otherwise, different tools are sometimes optimized for specific use cases and even specific platforms. So the first step should be to figure out what you want to do and with what data and then find a platform fit.

Explore templates. Many tools provide pre-built templates for different types of applications, be sure to see what is available to help accelerate the type of development a given project requires.

Extensibility with ‘full’ code. While low code tools can be used to build full applications, there are still often capabilities that might require traditional coding extension. If a larger application is the goal, ensure the platform can generate code that can be used in other tools.

Cost and Licensing. Increasing all forms of software are sold on a subscription model, while some is still sold on more traditional licensed models. Determine which model is the best fit for the use case, it might be more effective to pay for a limited subscription for a small project, rather than pay for a lifetime license.

Try it out. Many platform offers limited trials and it can often be helpful to see how easy (or not) a given technology is to use before actually paying for it.

In this Datamation top companies list, we spotlight the vendors that offer the top low code tools:

Appian

Value proposition for potential buyers: Appian is one of the pioneers of the low code movement and offers users a robust platform that goes beyond just basic scripting to build full, complex applications with complete business logic.

Key values/differentiators

  • A unique aspect of Appian’s platform is the ability to build bots with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to execute automated actions, responses and processes is a core part of the platform.
  • Complex Business Process Management (BPM) workflows can be easily built by non-developers.
  • Appian also integrated artificial intelligence capabilities to help further accelerate and enable low code application development.
  • Included an embedded proprietary Integrated Developer Environment (IDE) which enables extensibility for custom coding when needed.

Betty Blocks

Value proposition for potential buyers: Betty Blocks is a good option for B2B and citizen developers and positions itself as a no-code platform as it doesn’t require any code and is entirely based on a visual interface.

Key values/differentiators

  • A core focus for Betty Blocks is extreme ease of use across the platform with simplified navigation and workflows.
  • The system makes use of building blocks from different web API and services to assemble full applications.
  • Among the core use cases for Betty Blocks is the development of web portals, which are enabled with design templates and the API integration building blocks.
  • Browser based software that will run on any operating system.

Claris FileMaker

Value proposition for potential buyers: A division of Apple Inc. Claris FileMaker takes a template driven approach to help users quickly built data driven applications.

Key values/differentiators

  • Graphical user interface for custom application design layouts for any type of device
  • Customized workflows based on job roles
  • Drag and drop interface for building apps and connecting different components to create application workflows
  • Large third party ecosystem that can be connected and extended with app connectors and claris connect.

Creatio Studio

Vendor graphs Value proposition for potential buyers: Formerly known as BPM online, Creatio is well suit for low code development of Business Process Management (BPM) applications.

Key values/differentiators

  • Creatio has a strong focus on BPM and customer relationship management (CRM) enablement
  • Strong set of data connectors for those enterprise CRM and BPM uses cases.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an embedded part of the platform providing assistance and direction for low code application development.
  • Template driven approach with drag and drop interface for simplified application development.

Microsoft PowerApps

Value proposition for potential buyers: For those that are already using Microsoft tools, including Power BI (business intelligence), PowerApps is an obvious choice for building out low code tools that leverage the Microsoft platform.

Key values/differentiators

  • PowerApps has a workspace that will feel similar to Microsoft Excel users that is easy to use and navigate.
  • Available integrations include Microsoft’s Power Automate for automation and the Common Data Service which can work seamless with Power BI for analytics
  • Template driven artificial intelligence models in AI Builder module enable citizen developers to build complex workflows.
  • Extensibility is a key part of the platform, with the ability to use custom connectors or make use of the the Microsoft Azure Functions service.

Mendix

Value proposition for potential buyers: Mendix is a subsidiary of global conglomerate Siemens and is a solid choice for enterprise developers that use SAP software thanks to deep partnership between the two firms. Mendix is also a good choice for those looking for a service that can work with a private cloud deployment.

Key values/differentiators

  • Integrated collaboration is part of the Mendix platform which can bring together multiple users to help build a low code applications as part of the developer portal.
  • Deep set of tools to help with initial design and goals for a given application.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistant helps to guide developers on the right actions to take to ensure optical application development and deployment.

Outsystems

Value proposition for potential buyers: The Outsystems platform provides a full workflow and testing capabilities that is well suited to teams within organizations to build and operate low-code applications.

Key values/differentiators

  • A key differentiator for Outsystems is its robust impact analysis, testing and staging platform capabilities which enable users to build optimized applications.
  • Another unique attribute is the platforms integrated performance analysis, which enables users to monitor and improve the performance of applications.
  • Collaboration is key part of the platform enabling multiple users to work together.
  • Deployment is also a strong area for Outsystems, as it generates app code that can run in the Outsystems cloud or in any private or public cloud deployment. Additionally, the system provides a simplified approach to package and submit mobile applications to Google Play and the Apple Appstore.

Oracle Application Express (APEX)

Value proposition for potential buyers: For those organizations that are already using Oracle’s database and cloud technologies, APEX is an obvious fit, enabling low code application development for data driven applications and use cases.

Key values/differentiators

  • A key differentiator for APEX is that is its integration with the Oracle database which can enable data and SQL driven applications and functionality such as optimized search.
  • Charting capabilities for data visualization within apps is another area of differentiation for APEX.
  • Beyond just data applications, APEX enables users to built their own REST API that can be used to enable other applications and services.
  • Universal theme user interface development in APEX lets citizen developers easily generate applications that will work across different types of desktop and mobile screens.

Salesforce Lightning

Value proposition for potential buyers: Salesforce Lighting provides a low code environment as part of the Salesforce Platform. It’s a great option for existing Salesforce CRM users and can also benefit those just looking for an easy to use subscription based service.

Key values/differentiators

  • A key differentiator for Salesforce Lightning is the integration with the broader set of functionality and data on the Salesforce Platform, including CRM data and the Salesforce AppExchange.
  • Business logic capabilities are built-in via the the Lighting Flow feature for business process management.
  • All apps built with Salesforce Lighting are also by default also enabled for mobile device deployment as well.
  • For more complex application needs, low-code can be complemented with Salesforce’s Heroku platform-as-a-service which provides traditional programming language support.

Zoho Creator

Value proposition for potential buyers: Zoho Creator provides a very easy to use interface for building both simple and complex applications and can be particularly useful for building multi-device applications.

Key values/differentiators

  • A key differentiator for Zoho Creator is its well-defined user access controls which include audit trails as well as single sign on capabilities.
  • The ability to simply converge data from different sources to create a visual dashboard is a core use case for Zoho Creator.
  • Form digitization is another key feature of the platform with template that help users to build different types of digital forms that can integrate multiple forms of data including barcodes.
  • For more advanced and customized needs, Zoho has its own coding language called deluge that can help with code extensibility.

Vendor Comparison Chart

Vendor

Features

Key Differentiator

Appian

  • Business Process Management workflows
  • Artificial Intelligence 
  • Integrated Developer Environment (IDE) included

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) bot builder

Betty Blocks

  • Modular development with building blocks
  • browser based environment
  • Portal development capabilties

Extreme ease of use

Claris

  • GUI for custom application development on any device
  • Customized workflow based on role
  • Drag and drop development

Large third party ecosystem of integrations

Creatio

  • Template driven approach
  • Data connectors for CRM and BPM
  • Custom machine learning models

Business Process Management enablement.

Mendix

  • Integrated collaboration
  • Application templates for budget, form and task applications.
  • Artificial Intelligence assistant

Application design tooling.

Microsoft PowerApps

  • Integration with PowerBI for building analytics applications
  • Templates for easy application building
  • Extensibility with custom connectors

Tight integration with Microsoft tools

Oracle

  • Full charting and data visualization
  • Universal theme user interface development
  • API development

Integration with Oracle Database

Outsystems

  • Team collaboration for development and workflow
  • Impact analysis of code changes
  • Full testing and staging platform functionality.

Full testing and performance monitoring

Salesforce

  • Extensibility with Heroku PaaS
  • Built-in business logic functionality
  • Ability to connect with Salesforce AppExchange

Deep integration with Salesforce Platform

Zoho Creator

  • Simplified user interface for development
  • Visual dashboard creator
  • Form digitization

Ability to easily converge multiple data sources

 

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