What is Low-code?
Low-code development can be defined as the process of building enterprise-grade applications with minimal coding and almost half the investment in training, development and set up. Low-code development platforms drive innovation, involving business and technical teams to work together towards digital transformation. Most low-code platforms have a similar set of building blocks that together enable enterprise developers to create applications faster and with less code.
Low-code, RAD, aPaaS, BPM… Are they all the same?
RAD or Rapid Application Development is a more of a software development methodology that uses tools and techniques to speed up the application development process. It relies on prototyping and rapid cycles of iterative development to release applications faster and elicit early feedback from business users. Using low-code platform as one such tool, RAD has been instrumental in reducing the friction points in delivering successful enterprise applications. As RAD technology transformed to meet the more sophisticated needs of developers, it became interchangeable with low-code development – a visual approach to creating apps that enable greater developer efficiency.
Those services available in the cloud that primarily offer application development and deployment are referred to as Application Platform as a Service or aPaaS (e.g. WaveMaker RAD Platform). According to Gartner, Application Platform as a Service (aPaaS) is a cloud service that offers development and deployment environments for application services. An aPaaS platform provides that ability to – build applications iteratively; provision application software instantly; scale applications on-demand; and integrate applications with other services.
Gartner further categorized aPass into hpaPaaS – High Productivity Platform as a Service. According to their definition, hpaPaaS refers to rapid application development platform that supports everything from building innovative applications to re-platforming legacy systems. It provides developers RAD features for development, deployment and execution in the cloud.
Business process management (BPM) software suites, in its prime time, served as a solution to many business problems. BPM software increased the efficiency of the organization by making it easy to automate, monitor, model and streamline business processes. C-level executives readily adopted BPM software as it took care of efficiency optimization, governance, compliance and risk mitigation. But when applied to complex business processes, BPMS was not the ideal solution. It required training the in-house staff or consultants to use BPM software and often needed the involvement of coders to customize applications.
Modern BPM platforms could bring value for non-process driven business applications, but you cannot build enterprise grade application for every business need. This is where Low-code platform proved better than BPM. With these platforms, developers could build applications with a single/few use cases without complex customization needs. It can automate a wide range of processes with minimal low-code capabilities along with supporting integration and partner ecosystems. Forrester in its Rapid Application Delivery Report of 2019 has clarified the differences between such platforms by segmenting the market based on use cases.
Low-code vs No-code: What is right for you?
Low-code platforms involve a more intuitive visual approach to application development, allowing developers to drag and drop components onto a canvas and then integrate the components using popup dialogs and plain language. The simplified interface leads many to believe that building applications using LCP requires little or no knowledge of hand coding. So low-code became synonymous with no code. But at times, these drag and drop components need to be extended by coding to build customized applications.
For example, your developer might want to place a specific widget on the app page, which is not a part of the default widget library of the platform. In this scenario, LCP’s like WaveMaker, allows you to extend the platform capabilities by letting you build such a widget and make it available as a drag-n-drop component for future projects. However, what if the company employed a team of developers who built a UI widget library based on the company’s approved design template and is made available in the platform itself? Then app building becomes a no-code experience.
LCP’s allow citizen developers to create apps without any hand coding and are also capable of letting professional developers create complex applications with a reduced amount of coding. While no-code platforms let citizen developers create basic apps, they are of no use to professional developers.
WaveMaker, as a low-code AD&D platform, enables enterprise IT to create modern complex applications with a variety of integration options and advanced data management capabilities and a broad partner ecosystem. These platforms can be used to customize and modernize apps, including user experience focused-customer facing applications and also have basic process automation capabilities.
Low-code Development: How it Works
The fundamental expectation from a low-code development platform is to offer a WYSIWYG development environment where developers can drag and drop components to design responsive user interfaces that adapt to a device’s screen resolution. Some LCP’s go so far as to offer out-of-the-box templates for commonly used layouts and screens such as dashboards. The demand for enterprise mobile apps has meant that LCP’s have also started to offer cross-platform mobile app development with access to native mobile device features.
Virtually every business application depends on data to create a meaningful application. But data is available from disparate systems ranging from proprietary enterprise systems to APIs from external entities and everything in between. Hence, data integration consumes an inordinate amount of time and resources during enterprise application development. A low-code development platform is expected to provide a visual approach for developers to connect to these data sources and embed data elements directly into the application. Some platforms also allow professional developers to design data models and configure business logic directly.
Beyond the need to reduce application coding, low-code platforms are expected to streamline and speed up the application delivery process itself. One key characteristic is the ability to instantly deploy an application with zero DevOps. Such platforms also offer a single point of control for app maintenance and updates. While other low-code app development platforms extend the capabilities to security, governance, version control, infrastructure autoscaling and more.
Benefits of Low-code development
Business IT Alignment
Low-code app development platforms enable close collaboration between developers, business analysts and subject matter experts. This greatly benefits enterprises as rework is greatly reduced and cost overrun is avoid to a large extent.
Clear IT Backlog
The linear approach of conventional software development models presents significant opportunities to reduce waste and fast-forward delivery. Low-code Platforms streamline and speed up the development and delivery process, achieving substantial reduction of the IT backlog.
Competitive advantage lies with companies that focus the most on ‘Systems of Innovation’. Low-code Platforms are ideal for such systems that require the most experimentation and experience the highest rate of change.
Consumer-grade Business Apps:
Today, customers and employees expect to access apps from various devices, putting additional pressure on developers. Low-code Platforms with modern frameworks can provide consumer-grade applications using enterprise-grade technology at a fraction of the cost.
Cost and Effort
Do more with less is a philosophy that CIOs have to live with these days. But, with low code platforms, CIOs come closer to achieving that. Enterprises can have the best of both worlds where they can build enterprise grade apps of the highest quality in a matter of days to weeks as compared to months in traditional approach to development.
Repurpose & Reuse Resources
Whenever enterprises have a mandate to modernize, CIOs have a big dilemma in handling existing resources with legacy technical skills but with knowledge of the core business process. But with low code platforms, with their unique visual development approach, CIOs get an opportunity to reuse their existing resources and modernizing legacy projects without much issues.
Low-code vs Traditional Application Development: The Benefits are Real
Effective and faster Application Development and Delivery (AD&D) has been a very tricky problem to solve for organizations. Conventional methods of app development and delivery – which is complex, cost-ineffective and time consuming – has not been able to keep up with the needs of the new age customer.
In the age of the customer, the demands on modern applications are unprecedented. Modern applications need to be customer focused, multichannel, engaging, interconnected and secure. In addition, all of these demands have to be delivered in a short time. Forrester, in one of its publications, put it simply as “do more with less — and fast”.
In this whitepaper, we will talk about how WaveMaker RAD platform, with its unique rapid application development and delivery methodology, can help fix application delivery with fewer resources and in a shorter time span.
Low-code Use Cases
Build modern business applications that streamline digital operations. Rapidly integrate existing enterprise systems and create engaging customer experience in half the time.
Modernize legacy applications without disruption or risk by quickly face-lifting existing applications, extending existing systems using APIs or rewriting applications.
Scale your business from delivering point solutions to delivering custom solutions twice as fast. Transform your solution into a platform and build an ecosystem to seize new market opportunities.
Paving the Way for Modern Enterprise Application Delivery
The emergence of low-code platform took place when traditional application delivery methods could not keep up with the demands of the digital age. In the face of this struggle, low-code development platforms came up as the key enabler to innovation by simplifying the development and deployment of custom enterprise apps. Read our detailed ebook here to know about the new trends impacting enterprise application delivery.
Best Low-code Platforms
Choosing the right Low-code Platform
As the market is flooded with various LCP’s offering unique application development and delivery methodology, it is difficult to choose the right platform to serve your purpose. Here are certain criteria to make your selection is easy –
- Is the application built on open standards? While most low-code app builder platforms claim ‘no vendor lock-in’, the reality is that most of them use proprietary technologies and application stack. Applications developed on the WaveMaker RAD Platform are based on proven open source technologies that are trusted by millions of developers and users around the world. More importantly, the WaveMaker RAD Platform uses best-of-breed application stack for developing full stack applications – ensuring an open and extensible LCP.
- Is it scalable? Ensure that low-code platform vendors don’t get away with merely providing a hosting and release management solution. Check for the ability to scale applications and handle private cloud needs. For instance, WaveMaker provides a Private Cloud environment that supports deploying applications into Docker-based lightweight containers, allowing for rapid and continuous provisioning, deployment, instant scalability and maximum utilization of resources. WaveMaker LCP provides ability to build custom software stacks, deploy API-driven microservices based apps and orchestrate IT infrastructure effectively.
- Is simple external integration possible? While most vendors offer decent visual development capabilities, it is extremely important to look for features that ease external integration of data and services as most business data is stored in disparate, proprietary systems. For instance, WaveMaker provides a host of out-of-the-box integrations to instantly add powerful functionality to your apps. You can also create custom integrations, called Prefabs, and reuse them across apps.
- Is it easy to create, share and consume APIs ? Today, APIs are at the front and centre of business applications and architecture. Most LCP’s support APIs as an afterthought at best. However, one must choose a platform that takes an API-first approach to application delivery. For instance, using WaveMaker low-code platform, developers can simultaneously create both applications and APIs. APIs can easily be imported from any service and their data can be seamlessly bound to UI components. WaveMaker also supports auto-publishing of REST APIs for the application business logic.
- Is it easy to maintain the code generated? With most low-code platforms, even the most experienced developer would not understand the code generated by the platform. Maintainability is a critical aspect of application delivery and is overlooked by many of these platforms. Verify that the code generated follows design patterns, is well-organized, uses standard naming conventions and generates documentation that developers can understand and maintain.
WaveMaker: The Open Low-code Platform
WaveMaker as a Low-code Application Development Platform combines the speed of low-code with the power of custom code, thereby creating an ‘Open Low-Code Platform’ supported by features like open source runtime and proven frameworks for complete vendor independence. WaveMaker also generates high-quality open standards-based code with complete freedom to extend the code outside the platform along with the most modern front and back-end technology stacks. Watch WaveMaker 360°product overview video or try all these features for free.
WaveMaker vs Outsystems vs Mendix
Like WaveMaker, both Mendix and OutSystems are Rapid Application Development / LowCode Development tools, enabling enterprises to create web and mobile applications using a visual development environment. But that is where the similarities end. Before diving into a feature-by-feature comparison, beware of these critical shortcomings of Mendix and OutSystems, which rule them out as a true partner for digital transformation, application development and IT modernization.
How WaveMaker outpaces its competitors?
|No Vendor Lockin|
|API Driven Development|
|Container based cloud environment|
|Developer based Pricing|
|No predatory pricing|
|Micro-service Architected Apps|
|Support for multiple VCS vendors|