Low-code Application Development Platform
delivery. Also, learn the key questions to ask when choosing a low-code platform.
Definition of Low-code Development Platforms
Platforms that enable rapid delivery of business applications with a minimum of hand-coding and minimal upfront investment in setup, training, and deployment.
– Source: Forrester in New Development Platforms Emerge For Customer-Facing Applications by Clay Richardson and John R. Rymer
Key characteristics of a Low-code App Development Platform
We could also break the above definition down into the following key characteristics that an application development platform must exhibit to be called a low-code platform.
Visual Development: The fundamental expectation from a low-code app 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 low-code platforms 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 low-code platforms have also started to offer cross-platform mobile app development with access to native mobile device features while abstracting the underlying operating system complexities.
Simplified Integration: 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 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 inside the low-code app development environment.
Instant Deployment: Beyond the need to eliminate or 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 Platforms
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.
Democratization of App Delivery
With the ever-rising demand for applications, enterprises are expanding their internal talent pools, for building noncritical or long tail apps using nontraditional developer talent like technical business users.
Consumer-grade Business Apps
Today, customers and employees expect to access apps from a 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.
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.
4 Questions to ask before choosing a Low-code Platform
Before you choose a low-code app development platform, make sure you ask these questions and discuss with key stakeholders at your organization.
(click on a question to learn more)
While most low-code 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 low-code platform.
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 low-code platform provides ability to build custom software stacks, deploy API-driven microservices based apps and orchestrate IT infrastructure effectively.
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.
Today, APIs are at the front and center of business applications and architecture. Most low-code platforms support APIs an after thought 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.