Dev Zone

The Truth about a Career in Low-Code for Professional Developers


There's a common misconception in the developer community that low-code isn’t for professional developers. As a developer myself, I too agree that any technology that promises to empower business users (or citizen developers) to create apps must be simple and limited enough for folks with no technical background to be able to use it — which is not that exciting for us devs. Plus, it’s common sense that automation and productivity equal less control over code.

That’s the paradox of most low-code platforms, at least. They remove the complexity of the development process and accelerate delivery at the expense of developer power, control, and creativity. And what's the point of being fast if you can’t build it right?

What this misconception fails to comprehend is that not all low-code platforms are equal and that there is, indeed, low-code technology catered to professional developers.

Deconstructing the Myth

Developers tend to think they can either have low-code or traditional development, not both. The reality, however, is not that black and white.

A recent survey commissioned by OutSystems shows that 65% of developers that use low-code also use traditional programming languages.

Unlike popular culture suggests, low-code tools fit into the development ecosystem as a complement to traditional development rather than a replacement. Just like in traditional development you will choose a front-end framework that differs from what you choose for the backend, you can use low-code to accelerate the overall development, but are free to extend it with traditional code when faced with very specific or more advanced use cases.

Now, I understand where this misconception that low-code is not for professional developers comes from. The truth is the majority of low-code and no-code tools and platforms in the market fall into this bucket, actually limiting what developers can build and not allowing them to extend the tool capabilities with traditional code.

Simpler solutions that bluntly described themselves as “low-code for business developers” and that cover basic use cases like simple workflows, won’t allow you to extend to infinity and beyond.

But that’s where low-code for professional developers — high-performance low-code platforms like OutSystems — differs.

Breaking the Paradox: Productivity vs. Control and Power

At OutSystems, we have spent the last 20 years overcoming the Productivity / Control Paradox. We are uniquely able to deliver traditional-code levels of flexibility and control while still delivering industry-leading productivity. This is why even the most skeptical developers who begin using the platform fall in love with OutSystems and why we are consistently voted the No. 1 Low-Code Platform by customers.

And we take that role very seriously.

We’ve even built a Development Productivity Model that measures every minute aspect of the development process to remove every possible bit of waste.

outsystems development report productivity model
OutSystems Development Productivity Model.

This way, every aspect of the OutSystems platform is designed to make developers 100x more productive and help organizations innovate. You can read all about it in my article Developer Productivity: An OutSystems Obsession.

If you joined our annual event this year (if not, you can read the recap here), you might have heard our CTO and CPO briefly talking about how we’re putting this model into action and why high-performance low-code is breaking the Productivity / Control Paradox.

Here are just a few examples of what makes OutSystems the low-code tool for professional developers.

1. Full Code Extensibility

Unlike the majority of low-code and no-code platforms, OutSystems high-performance low-code provides full dev control through extensibility at all levels: front-end, back-end, database, and integration. We do this by allowing developers to simply extend the visual models with 3GL developed in standard traditional coding IDEs.

  • You want to import or create your own UI widgets (e.g. React, Angular, Vue or plain Javascript) to be used in low-code? You can do it!
  • You want to tweak the look and feel of your application and extend our smooth animations with custom CSS? You can do it!
  • You want to use your custom native plugins in your Android and iOS mobile apps, built in Cordova, Ionic, Java, Objective-C, or Swift? You can do it!
  • You want to integrate your existing libraries and keep them in traditional coding? You get where I’m going… you can do it!

This way, our developers can take full advantage of their traditional code within their OutSystems apps, having full power and control and never hitting a wall.

2. Largest High-Quality Low-Code Component Repository

Developers that use OutSystems have access to over 4000 open components that they can reuse in multiple projects in all layers of an application: UI, business logic, and database.

The vast majority of these components — that are available in the OutSystems marketplace, the Forge — have been built by our Community of developers, making it the largest repository of low-code components.

You can use these components out-of-box, or extend them with your favorite programming language.

For UI, for example, developers can compose and create really cool user interfaces using existing components available on OutSystems UI Framework, such as web blocks, themes, and web screens. All these components are compliant with high accessibility standards and are built upon the best UX/UI practices. Teams also have access to a Design System that they can use as a starting point and apply their branding guidelines for a consistent experience across multiple apps. On top of this, developers can also create their own components, or work on top of the existing ones.

3. Thriving Community of Highly Skilled Developers

The OutSystems Community is composed of over 713K members worldwide — the same ones that have transformed the Forge into the GitHub of low-code.

A very big part of our users actually come from a technical background and are using OutSystems as a way to remove the complexity of the entire development lifecycle process and maximize their productivity so that they can focus on what they love the most: to innovate.

In fact, 91% of our MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals Program) are technical folks with a 10+ year developer career in other languages, prior to starting with OutSystems. Many have shared their story about how OutSystems has transformed their career, so I invite you to take a look at some of their articles:

You can also take a look at the Low-Code Podcast from ITRAC, a global leader in low-code recruitment. There, you can listen to dozens of stories of successful developers that have embraced low-code to augment their capabilities and take their careers to the next level.

4. AI to Augment Developers Rather Than Replace Them

Another characteristic of OutSystems high-performance low-code is the embedded artificial intelligence capabilities designed to allow developers to do their tasks more efficiently. If you joined us at NextStep, you might have heard about the AI Mentor System.

This system encompasses several tools that maximize developer productivity while improving security, architecture, and performance and reducing technical debt. It's not a question of whether developers can do it or not — we know they can. It is about giving them a boost and accelerating the process of building applications.

The AI Mentor System includes:

  • Code Mentor: AI-assisted development that uses context and developer operations to subtly offer code suggestions and accelerate development.
  • Security Mentor: Scans the code built by developers searching for potential security vulnerabilities and flags developers to address it before it creates risks.
  • Performance Mentor: Looks for patterns in the code where performance bottlenecks have been introduced, such as long-running queries and queries with large data sets.
  • Maintainability Mentor: Scans through the app portfolio to identify potential duplicate code to reduce technical debt and increase agility.
  • Architecture Mentor: Previously known as Architecture Dashboard, looks for architecture that deviates from standard best practices according to OutSystems guidelines or even at an organizational level.

You can think of it as GitHub's CoPilot applied to low code. It’s not designed to replace developers; quite the opposite. It’s catered to developers to help them craft better apps. This way, instead of spending 10 minutes building logic, you can do it in a matter of seconds, sparing you the time to focus on more impactful tasks and, well, improve your work-life balance.

Take a look at the video below, where you can take a sneak peek into OutSystems latest product, revealed during NextStep, ODC (OutSystems Developer Cloud), and see OutSystems in action.

So, Is Low-Code for Professional Developers?

The short answer is “Yes it is, through high-performance low-code”.

Platforms like OutSystems are nothing more than a way to reduce unnecessary development complexity and accelerate what matters the most. They automate time-consuming tasks so that developers can focus on delivering true innovation. This concept of automation and abstraction is not something new, otherwise the majority of developers would still be developing in assembly. At the same time, these platforms also provide developers the power and control so that they never hit a wall.

Now that you’re (hopefully) convinced that low-code can be for professional developers, let’s quickly look at what low-code can mean to your career as a developer:

What do you say? Ready to give high-performance low-code a try? Sign-up for our free edition and prepare to revolutionize your development process.