Friday, April 19, 2024

What are Low-Code and No-Code Development Platforms?

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Conventional application development methods involved building apps from scratch or buying off-the-shelf applications from vendors. In the last few years, new alternatives have emerged that mark an evolution in software development.

With rapid IT modernization, businesses are eager to adopt effortless application-building processes. Low-Code/No-Code platforms are modular approaches to application development that help users develop custom solutions without writing code line by line. As a result, even non-technical users can build and deploy apps, regardless of their coding experience.

The Low-Code/No-Code market continues to grow exponentially as the platforms enable faster application development with minimum coding and investment. Gartner reports that 70% of new applications will be developed using Low-Code or No-Code technologies by 2025.

If you plan to integrate LC/NC platforms into your teams’ workflows, this guide will help you decide whether LC/NC is the right choice.

What are Low-Code/No-Code Platforms?

While the terms Low-Code and No-Code are often used interchangeably, there are a few key differences between the two.

Low-Code framework is based on Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) that can process simple logic and offer drag-and-drop features. It does not require extensive coding. As it eliminates this bottleneck, users with basic technical aptitude can also design and update apps, reducing the overall coding time, app development cycle, and costs.

No-Code platforms require zero coding experience or technical skills. Any business user can take on application projects using this framework. Using only visual tools, No-Code platforms help create a fully functional app by dragging and dropping software components.

Advantages of LC/NC Platforms

The primary aim of LC/NC platforms is to remove the complexities associated with coding. They effectively address evolving business needs and thus are in high demand. Here are the top benefits of LC/NC platforms:

Less Reliance on Core Development Team

LC/NC tools drastically reduce the dependency on core development teams. Organizations looking to implement digital workflows no longer have to wait for approvals from their developers. With LC/NC tools, business users can rapidly build apps to automate their processes. As a result, the core IT team can focus on larger, contextual business problems and create solutions around them.

Limited Specialized Experience

LC/NC platforms help democratize technology. These tools empower business users and can play a crucial role in overcoming the growing developer shortage. Even a user without coding experience can design applications using the Low-Code/No-Code framework. This is especially beneficial for small and medium-scale businesses looking to digitize their processes on a budget.

Bridge the Gap Between Business and IT

LC/NC platforms create an agile environment that promotes collaboration between business and IT teams. As a result, developers are better equipped to understand the business problem, while non-technical users become more aware of the functionalities they require in their business apps. This clarity allows both teams to ask the right questions and collaborate more effectively to achieve better business outcomes.

Increased Productivity and Efficiency

LC/NC platforms offer pre-configured modules and functionalities that significantly reduce the development effort. This approach also lowers IT infrastructure investments and accelerates the development and launch cycle.

Limitations of LC/NC Platforms

Despite the numerous advantages of LC/NC platforms, they do not necessarily replace core development. Here are a few of the downsides to using these platforms:

Suitable Only for Simple Applications/Proof of Concept

Low-Code or No-Code platforms have built-in templates and components. These can help develop simple applications or Minimum Viable Products (MVP). However, if you need advanced features in your applications or if you need to scale your solution, core development would be necessary.

Limited Functionality/Design Choices

Since LC/NC platforms come with pre-built functionalities and modules, you may not get enough flexibility to customize the application. Plus, depending on your chosen LC/NC platforms, you’ll likely need to settle with available design options.

Security Concerns

When businesses rely on LC/NC platform providers, they also expose their data and systems, raising security concerns. If any security flaws are encountered, non-technical users may be unable to fix the issue on their own.

Top 5 Low-Code/No-Code Platforms

The top five LC/NC platforms each offer strong capabilities for individuals and business users.

Microsoft icon

Microsoft Power Apps

Technical giant Microsoft offers the cloud-based platform Power Apps to help business users build and deploy applications quickly.

Type of Platform
Microsoft Power Apps is a Low-Code platform that accelerates the app-building process. Integrated with Microsoft Dataverse, it links all your data with Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Azure capabilities.

Applications
Microsoft Power Apps help with application modernization, streamlining migration projects, extending existing development capabilities, centralizing data, and automating manual processes.

Special Features
Microsoft Power Apps has a robust set of features that includes:

  • AI copilot for rapid automation
  • Process automation for simplified app building
  • Drag-and-drop user interface
  • Extensive integration with powerful connectors

Pricing
Microsoft Power Apps has pay-as-you-go plans that start at $0.30 per website per month for anonymous users. Subscription plans start at $75 for 500 anonymous users per website. For more details, check the pricing page at https://powerpages.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/

Appian icon

Appian

Appian is an industry-leading software company that helps businesses with process automation and digital innovation.

Type of Platform
Gartner has recognized Appian as a top choice for Low-Code application platforms. It combines intelligent automation and Low-Code development to help businesses in their application-building processes.

Applications
Appian delivers hyper-automation that enables businesses to build and launch smart applications faster. The platform can help in creating native mobile apps as well as enterprise-wide systems. It is suitable for businesses of all sizes.

Special Features
This Low-Code platform is equipped with many features:

  • Integration with native deployment tools like Jenkins
  • End-to-end process automation
  • Faster data design with data fabric
  • Appian guarantee to deliver the first project in eight weeks

Pricing
Appian offers free trial services with a guided learning experience. There are other fully featured plans like Application, Platform, and Unlimited. The Application plan starts at $2 per user per month. The standard usage plan starts at $75. Get the details of different plans at https://appian.com/products/platform/pricing.html

Caspio icon

Caspio

The American software company Caspio helps businesses create sophisticated cloud-based applications through its No-Code platform.

Type of Platform
Caspio offers a platform for No-Code application development with proprietary workflows to address unique business requirements.

Applications
Caspio can accelerate business transformation with minimum efforts and investment. It can also set up app protection and help with online application deployment.

Special Features

  • Extensive integration possibilities with AWS, Paypal, Google Drive, Box, and more
  • Massive scalability with AWS infrastructure
  • Intuitive tools for data visualization and analysis
  • Enterprise-grade security and regulatory compliance

Pricing
Caspio offers free service for light usage. It has other plans, including Explore, Build, Grow, and Corporate. The minimum charge is about $128 per month. You can get pricing plans at https://www.caspio.com/pricing

Mendix icon

Mendix

Siemens is the parent organization of Mendix, which offers a highly productive platform for designing mobile and web applications.

Type of Platform
Mendix is a Low-Code platform that accelerates enterprise app delivery with unmatched expertise. With an intuitive visual User Interface (UI) and drag-and-drop functionalities, it can accelerate the app development lifecycle and also automate the involved processes.

Applications
Mendix helps businesses with application lifecycle management, secure data integration, continuous delivery support, app features extension, and other functionalities.

Special Features
Some of the unique features of the Mendix platform include the following:

  • Model-driven development for reduced human intervention
  • Streamlined digital initiatives for workflow automation
  • Robust version control to work on different app features
  • Collaborative project management with Mendix Developer Portal

Pricing
Mendix pricing is based on the number of apps to be built: One, or Unlimited. It offers free trial versions for both. Basic, Standard, and Premium plans start at about $63 per month for one app. Check pricing details at https://www.mendix.com/pricing/

Zoho Creator icon

Zoho Creator

The multinational technology company Zoho Corporation offers an app-building platform, Zoho Creator. This full-stack product helps businesses create customized applications easily.

Type of Platform
Zoho Creator is a Low-Code application development platform that requires minimal coding. It is user-friendly and has many built-in features and functions.

Applications
Zoho Creator is an excellent choice for developing custom applications quickly from pre-built blocks. Zoho offers multi-platform access as it is also compatible with iOS and Android devices. It also helps create insightful reports to optimize business processes.

Special Features

  • Abstracts 90% of complexities in the application development cycle
  • Drag-and-drop elements for instant app-building
  • Unified data service for centralized management
  • Data-structure visualization with cross-functional analytics

Pricing
Zoho Creators offer a 15-day free trial service. It has monthly and yearly pricing plans that start at $11. It also offers flexible pricing options if you need a tailored plan. Learn more about the pricing here: https://www.zoho.com/creator/pricing.html

Choosing the Right LC/NC Platforms

While both Low-Code and No-Code platforms offer programmers and non-programmers the ability to rapidly build apps and deploy them as a service, choosing between them depends on several factors.

When evaluating the LC/NC platforms, consider the following:

  • Objective: Low-Code platforms are typically preferable for complex use cases and business-critical requirements that demand on-premises or cloud integrations. On the other hand, No-Code platforms are ideal for a narrow set of use cases with limited scalability requirements.
  • Integration Capabilities: LC/NC platforms should offer connectors to integrate external databases and other business applications.
  • Automation: It is critical to evaluate the platforms based on automation capabilities. Look for tools that offer Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning-assisted development to automate repetitive tasks and enhance productivity.
  • Hosting: Your LC/NC vendor must offer flexible hosting options to avoid costly lock-ins. It could be on-premises, on-cloud, or hybrid. Some vendors even allow hosting applications on your public/private cloud. Such an arrangement enables better control over your Continuous Improvement/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipelines.
  • Security: Choosing LC/NC platforms that offer robust security features is critical. When evaluating different platforms, look for vendor certifications such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ISO/IEC 27001, and more.
  • Vendor support: Your vendor should offer comprehensive support to resolve queries quickly. Without good support services, your citizen developers will likely reach out to your core development teams and occupy them with easily avoidable tasks.
  • Cost: When starting out, it is better to evaluate each LC/NC platform through the free tier. Some vendors also offer pay-as-you-go models that will allow you to control your costs based on the frequency of usage.

Low-Code/No-Code movement is accelerating rapidly, allowing organizations to design, build, and ship custom applications quickly and with minimal technical expertise. These platforms drastically reduce the dependency on core developers while empowering business users to innovate faster.

For organizations looking to achieve their digital transformation goals, it is a good time to embrace LC/NC platforms and bolster growth.

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