The Low-Code Development Guide

Low-code is all about changing the way companies deliver enterprise applications so they can truly innovate. This ultimate guide tells you how.

What is Low-Code?

Low-code is a software development approach that enables the delivery of applications faster and with minimal hand-coding.

Low-code platforms are a collection of tools that enable the visual development of applications through modeling and a graphical interface. Low-code enables developers to skip hand-coding, speeding up the process of getting an application to production.

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According to Gartner, low-code will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity by 2024 and the pressure to deliver digital solutions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this adoption.

To comprehend the increasing popularity of this development approach, it’s important to understand the concept of low-code, the composition of low-code platforms, and what problems low-code solves.

What Is a Low-Code Platform?

A low-code platform is a family of tools that enables the development and delivery of complete applications visually. A drag-and-drop interface is at the core of low-code platforms.

Rather than writing thousands of lines of complex code and syntax, you can use low-code to build complete applications with modern user interfaces, integrations, data, and logic quickly and visually. Applications are delivered faster and with minimal hand-coding. You can learn more about the benefits of low-code in this article.

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Here’s what a typical low-code development platform looks like:

A visual IDE

An environment for visually defining the UIs, workflows, and data models of your application and, where necessary, adding hand-written code

Connectors to various back-ends or services

Automatically handles data structures, storage, and retrieval

Application lifecycle manager

Automated tools for building, debugging, deploying, and maintaining the application in test, staging, and production those basics, no two low-code tools are exactly alike. Some are quite limite

Beyond those basics, no two low-code tools are exactly alike

Some are quite limited and more akin to a visual database front-end, like FoxPro in the 90s. Some focus on niche business needs, like case management. Others have adopted the low-code term to describe a purpose-built tool that has little to do with actual application development. No-code tools are also in the mix, although they cater more to business users and citizen developers.

What Can You Build with Low-Code?

Leading companies are delivering innovative software solutions across industries - from fintech solutions, to agile workplace innovation and massive legacy migration projects, low-code can address a wide range of use cases.

What Problem Does Low-Code Solve?

The pressure on IT organizations to deliver innovative solutions keeps magnifying. However, only a small group of top-tier companies have the financial and human resources to meet the market demand for speed with traditional development.

Most companies are buried under enormous backlogs, struggling to hire sufficiently qualified staff, and they are continuously asked to do more with less. In addition, if there’s one thing the pandemic taught us it’s that the agility to adapt to new and unpredictable demands is crucial for business survival.

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Most companies are buried under enormous backlogs, struggling to hire sufficiently qualified staff, and they are continuously asked to do more with less. In addition, if there’s one thing the pandemic taught us it’s that the agility to adapt to new and unpredictable demands is crucial for business survival.

With low-code, a UI/UX designer can do front-end development and a back-end developer can try prototyping a consumer app.

Put more simply, low-code is a way for developers to get more done. With low-code, they can spend more time creating and building and less time on repetitive work. Sure, it’s fun to learn the latest faddish JavaScript framework or play with a cutting-edge NoSQL data store, but while you’re spending time debugging unfamiliar code, your competitor has an MVP in front of customers.

What Is Low-Code Like to Work With?

Building software with low-code is the same as building software any other way.

Unless you’re writing everything from scratch in machine code—and, no, assembly language doesn’t count—then you’re already taking shortcuts built on the work of others. Building software with low-code is the same as building software any other way. Unless you’re writing everything from scratch in machine code—and, no, assembly language doesn’t count—then you’re already taking shortcuts built on the work of others.

Let’s compare creating an application using a common web framework to creating it using low-code.

Traditional Application Development Process vs Low-Code Development Process

Traditional Application Development Process

Whether you’re working with .NET MVC, Spring Boot, or Ruby on Rails, you (and your team) go through roughly the same steps:

The Low-Code Development Process

With low-code, it would look more like this

Low-Code Development Process - 7 Steps Instead of 16

Most of the time spent hand-writing code in web and mobile apps is pretty much wheel spinning. Why should we tread the same path each time we start a new project if we don’t have to? Low-code lets us create applications visually using battle-tested fundamentals. Our focus becomes delivering something valuable to the world.