The rising demand for IT modernization and automation is creating challenges for enterprises, including a limited pool of qualified developers, inefficient business operations, and slow time-to-market (TTM).
A survey from Appian shows that 82% of companies struggle to attract and retain the software engineers they need. Developers engaged by companies are also finding it challenging to meet deadlines. In one study, 47% of software engineers who responded said they lacked the tools to build apps and products quickly enough to meet their deadlines.
Low-Code and No-Code (LC/NC) development enables businesses to address these challenges more efficiently. These innovative application development approaches help generate automated code using Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) like drag-and-drop features and pull-down menu interfaces to make it possible for enterprises to speed up app development by a factor of 10.
Enterprises with no or limited technical resources can leverage LC/NC to create, modify, and deploy applications faster. While the terms Low-Code and No-Code are often used interchangeably, the two approaches have key differences. If you’re planning to integrate LC/NC in your development processes, it’s essential to understand these differences to identify the development approach that will best meet your specific project requirements.
What is Low-Code?
Low-Code is a middle path between manual coding and no coding. Low-Code developers can add their own code over automatically generated code, which helps them customize and integrate their applications.
Pros of Low-Code
- Helps businesses develop applications by depending less on Information Technology (IT) teams.
- Allows faster delivery of software solutions by reducing the time and effort of manual coding.
- Helps solve the market limitations of talented developers by facilitating development by people with little-to-no coding ability.
- Empowers digital transformation and innovation by allowing quick development, testing, and deployment of applications that leverage such next-generation technologies as cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), data analytics, and the Internet of Behaviors (IoB).
Cons of Low-Code
- Can promote “Shadow IT,” the unauthorized development and deployment of applications and IT services beyond those recognized by an enterprise.
- Can limit application customization due to the constraints of features and libraries.
- Proprietary Low-Code platforms, or those that are incompatible with other platforms, can lead to vendor lock-in and portability issues.
- Platforms require frequent updates and audits.
- Applications must be properly tested and verified to prevent security and compliance risks.
What is No-Code?
As the name implies, No-Code is a software development approach that requires zero coding skills to build applications quickly. In other words, it is a hands-off approach that depends solely on visual tools.
Pros of No-Code
- Cost-effective; it allows businesses to build applications without the need to hire developers or outsource software development projects.
- Eliminates the time and effort of manual coding and testing.
- Applications are easily customizable, as users can easily change and update using such simple visual tools as drag-and-drop.
- Easily accessible, regardless of a user’s coding skills or background.
Cons of No-Code
- Functionality is dependent on platform capabilities and, in most cases, offers limited functionality and doesn’t support specific IT requirements.
- May not comply with industry standards or regulations and may expose sensitive data, causing security issues.
- Lacks flexibility and is difficult to integrate with other platforms or systems.
- Restricts users from easily migrating or exporting applications.
- Can affect the reliability and speed of applications with code bloat, leading to poor performance.
Low-Code vs. No-Code: Differences and Similarities
- Low-Code: Platforms have easy-to-use GUIs that let users automate codes. Therefore, they can easily customize applications by adding their logic to auto-generated code.
- No-Code: Development approach solely depends on GUIs, which enables users to build applications without coding. It restricts the users from adding their own code over auto-generated code.
- Low-Code: Suited for people with minimal coding skills who want to accelerate their application development process. It is also the best fit for enterprises that want to build customized applications without depending on highly skilled coders or developers.
- No-Code: Allows people with no coding skills to easily build simple, standalone applications. Businesses that want to build self-service applications and dashboards can also take this approach.
System (Open or Closed)
- Low-Code: Has an open system that allows users to access and modify the underlying code. Low-Code applications or platforms can be easily integrated with existing systems and external plugins.
- No-Code: Has a closed system that doesn’t allow users to access and modify the underlying code. No-Code applications or platforms can offer only limited integration with existing systems and external plugins.
When to Use Low Code vs. No Code
Here are the four major use cases for Low-Code development platforms:
With minimal coding by using GUIs, people can use Low-Code methodology to create engaging User Interfaces (UIs) that go well with multiple devices, platforms, and Operating Systems.
Low-Code platforms can help anyone create Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for both legacy and new applications by analyzing existing application code and auto-generating API code.
Low-Code platforms help users create engaging User Experience (UX) through an enterprise’s products and services, such as web portals, mobile applications, or Progressive Web Apps (PWAs).
Low-Code platforms let users speed up the development and deployment of containerized applications to multiple environments like the public cloud. Low-Code applications can easily integrate with open-source containerized application deployment and management systems like Kubernetes.
Here are the four major use cases for the No-Code development approach:
Business Intelligence (BI) Reporting
No-Code platforms help BI analysts and developers create reporting tools that transform raw data into meaningful insights by using GUIs and pre-built templates.
No-Code empowers developers to automate such repetitive tasks as data entry and invoice processing without the need for coding.
Interactive Web Portals
No-Code platforms let companies create interactive web portals that offer self-service solutions to customers, such as submitting claims, paying bills, or generating quotes by using interactive themes and layouts and integrating with other platforms.
The Future of Low-Code and No-Code
Three major trends and predictions that show the future is bright for LC/NC approaches: widespread adoption, the rise of amateur programmers, and convergence with other innovative technologies.
Gartner estimates that by 2026, developers outside of conventional IT teams will make up 80% of users of Low-Code tools, up from 60% in 2021. That means more non-technical people will start building applications using these technologies. These amateur programmers are also known as “citizen developers.”
Low-Code and No-Code technologies are already getting integrated with such innovative technologies as AI, blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR).
This convergence will lead to more innovation and interactive applications. For example, bringing Low-Code or No-Code together with AI can automate tasks, provide recommendations, generate code, and enhance UX.
However, the LC/NC movement also comes with a few challenges or limitations, such as security, scalability, customization, and integration. While these approaches may not solve every software development problem, they successfully demonstrate how several development phases can be simplified.
In the future, more enterprises and individuals will embrace Low-Code and No-Code tools as they become more widely available and their benefits become more apparent within the community of developers and IT leaders.