As time progressed, programming methods became simpler so that applications can be developed and delivered fast. This led to the popularity of low-code and later no-code approach to application development. Both low-code and no-code take a drag-and-drop visual approach to build business applications more efficiently. The idea is to reduce or replace complicated coding with a configuration approach. This allows citizen developers to build and test applications quickly.
Decoding the low-code platform
Low-code platforms began when developers started replacing traditional hand-coding with tools – pre-built modules, graphical interfaces - to create applications. These platforms came into existence as auto-code generation tools. Later, they evolved into enterprise-grade app development platforms and now it covers the entire app delivery cycle. Let’s look at how low-code platforms optimize the app delivery cycle:
- By replacing coding with simple drag-and-drop UI components, developers can build the end-user experience right from the start
- Services like database, SOAP and REST APIs, CRM, security, and other external services are integrated into the application visually
- Front-end, back-end codes are automatically generated based on standard best practices
- The continuous deployment and integration process is simplified as low-code platforms enable one-click deployment
- It enables automatic maintenance and scalability of the deployed app with the help of containers
These features, though, were not enough for some developers. The fact that certain implementations required coding made developers apprehensive of using low-code development tools. This is when no-code development approach came into the picture.
Low-code vs no-code platforms
We know that low-code development approach ironed out many difficulties of using traditional methods to create apps. It allows users to build apps using predefined out-of-the-box components. But sometimes, there are features that require customization. For example, a developer may want to input a widget on the app screen which is not part of the default widget library of the platform. A low-code platform allows for developers to build such a widget and make it available as a drag-and-drop component for future projects.
This may solve the problem but there can be another solution. A team of developers hired by the company can build a UI widget library based on the company’s requirement and make it available out-of-the-box in the platform itself. App building then becomes a no-code experience.
No-code platforms evolved as a specialized type of low-code cloud platform to address industry-specific functions. In such scenarios, the coding extensions are taken care of by providing out-of-the-box visual components. There are many advanced software tools in the market that allow developers to extend the capabilities of no-code platforms - nested data, automatically generated database, offline use and more - without compromising on any functionality. This capability can be extended to handle more complex requirements as well.
In other words, no-code platforms can be great for business users wanting to build small applications for use by a single department. But the problem with these apps are that they don’t scale well and integration capabilities are often limited.
How to choose between the two?
In deciding any strategy for application development, there’s more to it than just the technology. It depends on what kind of apps you want to create. No-code platform is likely to be a good fit for building line-of-business apps when you have limited IT resources. Low-code development platforms are a good choice for professional developers wanting to create long-term custom applications that are critical to the business.
When considering either of the platforms, make sure it meets the following requirements for best results:
- What does your solution do to facilitate business?
- Do you need to integrate or add functionalities to the solution?
- How does it support citizen and professional developers to create applications?
- Can the solution be enhanced to deliver customized functions?
- Where you want to host your solution
Both the platforms improve app-building efficiency for faster time-to-value. Based on your needs, choose the platform that helps to speed up the app development process and helps your business scale.