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Getting To Know No-Code and Low-Code, And How To Get Started

Getting To Know No-Code and Low-Code, And How To Get Started

Low-code/no-code development platforms are different options for visual software development environments. These environments allow both enterprise and citizen programmers to drag and drop different application components, integrate them, and thus create mobile or web apps. These platforms are often associated and discussed alongside the development methods they include. 

Both low-code and no-code modular approaches let professional developers quickly create applications by removing the need to write code painstakingly line by line. Low-code and no-code approaches also allow business analysts, office administrators, small-business owners and many other professionals with limited IT knowledge to build and test applications themselves. Since low-code and no-code both offer automated processes for development, people can manipulate them without extensive programming language knowledge.

Whether using low-code or no-code environments, a user will see an easily understandable graphical user interface (GUI). Within the GUI, the user can marry components and third-party application program interfaces (APIs). Application builders can also rearrange and systematically test modules until the app operates as expected. Since skilled software developers are nearly constantly in high demand, low-code and no-code environments offer a workable solution for companies relying on limited development budgets or who are experiencing difficulties finding talented team members.

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How Do Low-Code And No-Code Environments Actually Work? 

As most beginning programmers know, in traditional software development, developers write lines of code to create the actual functionality and features needed for a particular computer program or application. This standard process requires programmers to have in-depth knowledge of specific computer languages (such as Ruby or Python), as well as various development environments, deployment processes and testing protocols (which are often tied to the language being used to write the code itself).

However, low-code and no-code platforms handle all of that work “under the hood”. Users simply visually select and connect reusable components that represent particular tasks or capabilities (within which is the actual code), and then connect them to create the targeted computerized workflow.

Low-code and no-code processes allow users to create applications as if they were creating a flowchart, as opposed to writing code one line at a time for every desired function and capability. These platforms also usually include features that allow users to experiment, prototype, test, and finally deploy. Because of the method for actually creating the finished product through these environments, this type of app development is sometimes referred to as point-and-click development, or even just click development. 

What Is The Difference Between Low-Code And No-Code Development 

As we noted above, low-code and no-code systems both offer users the same fundamental benefits. However, their names indicate the key difference between these two options for application development.

Low-code development, as indicated by the name, requires users to do some level of basic coding -- however, this is still much less than required during traditional application development. Even professional developers and programmers utilize low-code to quickly deliver applications, and to remove the need for commodity programming tasks. This lets them focus their time and effort on more complex and unique work that has a greater impact and more value to the organization or particular piece of software. Likewise, professionals with some programming knowledge but lacking an extensive coding background can also use low-code tools to develop simple apps or expanded functions within an existing app.

Meanwhile, no-code development is geared specifically toward nontechnical users in various business functions who understand business needs and user experience requests, but possess little or no coding experience or programming language knowledge themselves. These so-called citizen developers can utilize no-code to easily and quickly build, test and deploy business apps, as long as the chosen elements align with these commodity functions and capabilities. 

There are also some distinctions in how users actually apply no-code and low-code. No-code is typically used to create more basic apps needed to handle simple functions. Low-code can be used in those cases as well, but low-code additionally offers the ability to create apps that run processes that are essential to a business or organization's core systems.

The line between no-code and low-code isn't always clearly defined. This is also true of the various low-code and no-code platforms themselves. Many tech product analysts consider no-code a subsection of the low-code market, since even the most dynamic platforms require some minimal level of coding for parts of the application development and deployment process. Vendors themselves are responsible for much of the distinction between low-code and no-code platform capabilities, based on how they market their products for different groups of customers and specific development needs.

For one more way to think about it, no-code platforms are a specialized type of low-code cloud platform in which the required visual components are geared toward industry-specific functions, or a specific workflow or branding need. Low-code platforms, in contrast, may require the assistance of an in-house development team or staff member to make small edits to back-end code to help integrate the new app or software with your existing tech stack.

Why Should You Learn To Use No-Code Or Low-Code? 

Now that you know the difference between no-code and low-code, and where the need for these development tools arise, here are the best reasons to consider learning them yourself:

  • Flatten the learning curve -- anyone taking coding classes and learning a particular language (even relatively easier languages like Python, for example) know that learning the fundamentals and syntax can take awhile. No-code and low-code offerings can help you flatten out that learning curve by removing things from your learning list, or by allowing you to progress slowly through learning a language while using the tools for pressing development needs.
  • Enhance your own abilities as a professional -- even if you aren’t sure if you want to fully commit to learning to code, understanding how to use low-code or no-code environments can let you add a valuable skill set that can make you more attractive to potential employers. If two marketing professionals apply for the same job, but one can actually develop software, who do you think gets the edge?
  • Fix small bugs or make software changes on the fly -- instead of having to wait for a developer or your IT team to get back to you, knowing low-code or no-code can make you self-sufficient and avoid having pesky bugs or software delays that can give a negative impression to users or clients.
  • When you eventually learn a programming language, you can build off elements you create with low-code or no-code -- to put it simply, low-code and no-code can serve as your programming “training wheels” - and when you’ve finally mastered something like JavaScript, you can enhance your original development products with your newfound coding skills!

Where Can You Find Low-Code Or No-Code Options To Get Started?   

Here is a list of just a few of the software and development teams offering low-code or no-code solutions for you to learn about and start using:

  • Appian
  • Claris FileMaker
  • DWkit
  • Google AppSheet
  • Looker 7
  • Mendix
  • Microsoft PowerApps
  • OutSystems
  • Robocoder Rintagi
  • Salesforce Lightning
  • Sisense
  • Skyve Foundry
  • Temenos (formerly Kony)
  • SIB Visions VisionX
  • Wix Editor X
  • Yellowfin 9
  • Zoho Creator