Low-Code Development Guide

Low-code is not just about accelerated app development. It’s about creating and managing innovative, business-critical software more efficiently.

What Is Low-Code?

Low-code is a software development approach where developers develop applications in a graphical interface.

Rather than writing thousands of lines of complex code and syntax, low-code developers drag and drop visual models to create complete applications with modern user interfaces, integrations, data, and logic. The result? Organizations get apps into production much faster.

What’s a Low-Code Platform Like?

A low-code platform removes the repetitive and tedious tasks like dependency management, code validation, and complicated builds by automating them and other mundane aspects of development.

Developers can focus on the creative extra mile that makes a difference in their applications and to the business instead of just keeping the lights on.

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“By 2025, 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code technologies, up from less than 25% in 2020.”
— Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms

A typical low-code platform includes:

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A visual IDE

Drag and drop UIs, workflows, and data models for an application onto a graphical canvas and, where necessary, add hand-written code.

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Connectors to various back-ends or services

Easily add connections to data structures, storage, and retrieval.

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Application lifecycle manager

Building, debugging, deploying, and maintaining the application in test, staging, and production are automated.

Why Is Low-Code So Popular?

Thanks to increasing customer expectations and the rapid digital transformation in the past few years, development teams are under pressure. They are expected to deliver much more sophisticated applications in increasingly shorter timelines while maintaining, managing, and evolving the existing app portfolio at the same time.

Companies are also struggling to hire new developer talent, as there aren’t enough engineers to fulfill the current development needs.

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“The global shortage of full-time developers will increase from 1.4 million in 2021 to 4.0 million in 2025, which means that the full-time developer labor force will perform 90.8% capacity in 2021 and 84.9% capacity in 2025.”
— IDC, Quantifying the Worldwide Shortage of Full-Time Developers

Low-code app development provides the capabilities that allow organizations to close this gap. Here’s how:

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Automation

Low-code provides the necessary automation to boost developer productivity and help dev teams defeat those increasing backlogs.

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Reusability

With low-code programming, dev teams don’t need to build every solution from scratch. Instead, they can reuse pre-built components and modules built in house or sourced elsewhere in different applications.

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Democratization and cross-functional teams

By boosting developer productivity, organizations–no matter their size–are able to do more with the same resources. In addition, some low-code programming tools also empower business technologists or citizen developers to create their own applications. Others promote collaboration between business and IT, enabling organizations to capitalize on developer knowledge and business expertise.

Who Are the Low-Code Developers?

Not all low-code platforms are equal. A crucial difference between low-code providers is who they’re targeting.

Low-Code for Business Developers
(or Citizen Developers)

  • Address departmental-level needs.
  • User doesn’t need a development background or programming knowledge.
  • Limited integration as mostly integrates with enterprise apps used by business users.
  • May include governance capabilities for IT to sanction security and compliance.
  • Associated with no-code platforms.
  • Low-code technology examples: Betty Blocks, AppSheet, Quickbase.
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Low-Code for Professional Developers

  • Cover a much broader range of use-cases, including enterprise and business-critical apps.
  • Provide advanced capabilities, such as AI automation and automated testing, to make the development process more efficient.
  • Integrate with existing technology stacks (you can read more about low-code integrations in this blog post).
  • Promotes collaboration between business and IT.
  • Promotes modern development practices, like DevOps and cloud app development.
  • Low-code technology examples: OutSystems, Mendix, Appian.
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OutSystems Named an Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms Leader

Get the latest Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms and compare the top low-code vendors.
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Low-Code Use Cases

With the right low-code platform, organizations can build any solution their business needs. Here are a few examples:

Transform Your CX

VÍS Launches Innovative Telematic Car Insurance Policy

Read the Story
Deliver Innovative Employee Experiences

Integrated Security Provider Certis Deploys Mobile-First Service Delivery System to 16,000 Staff

Read the Story
Modernize Your Legacy Systems

Green Cargo Drives Incremental Cloud Migration on OutSystems

Read the Story
Automate Your Processes

Wisconsin Department of Corrections Energizes its Team with OutSystems

Read the Story

Frequently Asked Questions

High-code relies on highly skilled developers to write and deploy code. It allows organizations to excel in the implementation of advanced calculation algorithms and customized connectors between systems, but this usually comes at the cost of highly specialized and highly skilled developers as well as long lead times. Low-code empowers pro-developers–and in some cases, citizen developers–to create applications faster thanks to its visual IDE, automation, and promotion of reusability. To learn more about this difference, read the blog post High-Code, Low-Code, No-Code, or COTS.

Low-code mobile development is the use of low-code technology to build mobile apps. In the case of OutSystems, mobile apps delivered with the platform are ready to be installed and run on iOS and Android devices, and they adapt to different form-factors using a single code base. Read all about it in the OutSystems Evaluation Guide.

Look at your digital transformation strategy and identify where low-code falls. This requires an understanding of all the things low-code can address. Read more in How to Choose Your First Low-Code Project and Starting Strong: A Guide to a Successful Initiation of Your Low-Code Project.

The more advanced low-code platforms offer you the freedom to deploy your applications on-premises or in the cloud (public, hybrid or private). Low-code can also support entire cloud journeys. According to a recent study by IDC, the higher the cloud maturity level, the higher the number of net-new apps created in low-code. Read more about it in the Cloud Application Development Guide.

The ROI of low-code varies from platform to platform. In the case of the OutSystems high-performance low-code platform, a recent study showed it paid for itself in less than six months and delivered a 506 percent return on investment over three years. You can read more about it in The Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) of OutSystems, by Forrester Consulting.

Why Not Give Low-Code a Try?

OutSystems is a leading low-code platform. Users consistently rate it as one of the best.