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7 Low-code Platforms Developers Should Know

It often makes business sense to code microservices, customized applications, innovative customer experiences, enterprise workflows, and proprietary databases. But there are also times when the business and technology teams should consider low-code and no-code platforms to accelerate development, provide out-of-the-box technical best practices, simplify devops, and support ongoing enhancements.

7 low-code platforms developers should know


Low-code platforms come in several categories. Some focus on tools for rapidly developing web and mobile user interfaces and workflows. Many data visualization, data integration, and data prep tools are low code, and emerging low-code platforms support machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and IT automations.

I recently shared seven low-code platforms developers should know and how the big public cloud companies are investing in low-code offerings. If you are an IT leader, consider reviewing these lessons from CTOs using low-code platforms.

Low-code platforms should help your organization accelerate application development and make it easier to support enhancements. But this needs to be evaluated against the types of applications you want for end-user experiences, data requirements, workflow capabilities, and other factors.

The target developers should be interested and excited to learn the platform, build applications, and have the time to support ongoing enhancements. Engaging them early in the selection process ensures that they are on board with using the tool in support of business priorities.

I seek door number three. I want platforms that have rabid fans. To have a great low-code platform, the company has to excel at delivering fantastic end-user experiences, wow technologists with its capabilities, and prove short- and longer-term value to executives. Some low-code platforms may be subpar at winning over one of these personas, making it difficult to drive repeatable success using their technologies.

Just about all platforms offer APIs, but what you can do with them, how well they perform, and how vendors support development teams vary considerably. The last thing you want is to develop low-code applications that require complex integrations that need ongoing maintenance.

Some developers cringe at the thought of using low-code platforms that take them outside of their Java, .NET, and JavaScript environments, or separate them from their IDEs, automated test frameworks, and devops platforms. Others have embraced low-code platforms as tools that enable rapid application development, support complex integrations, and deliver mobile user experiences.

But developers should not simply dismiss low-code platforms and their capabilities. Businesses require more application development than most IT teams can deliver or support. IT may not use a low-code platform for everything, but it can help accelerate development and provide additional benefits.

Low-code platforms are far more open and extensible today, and most have APIs and other ways to extend and integrate with the platform. They provide different capabilities around the software development lifecycle from planning applications through deployment and monitoring, and many also interface with automated testing and devops platforms. Low-code platforms have different hosting options, including proprietary managed clouds, public cloud hosting options, and data center deployments. Some low-code platforms are code generators, while others generate models. Some are more SaaS-like and do not expose their configurations.

Low-code platforms also serve different development paradigms. Some target developers and enable rapid development, integration, and automation. Others target both software development professionals and citizen developers with tools to collaborate and rapidly develop applications.

I selected the seven platforms profiled here because many have been delivering low-code solutions for over a decade, growing their customer bases, adding capabilities, and offering expanded integration, hosting, and extensibility options. Many are featured in Forrester, Gartner, and other analyst reports on low-code platforms for developers and citizen development.

I excluded enterprise platforms that offer low-code capabilities, such as Salesforce, SAP, ServiceNow, and Cherwell, and other business process management (BPM) platforms, project management tools, workflow applications, and data visualization platforms. Recently, public clouds have gotten more serious about low-code. I plan to cover the low-code options on AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud in a future article.

From the list below, developers are using low-code to rapidly develop customer-facing applications, engineer data-intensive workflows, and automate integrations. Many of these are sophisticated applications that connect to multiple systems and have a mix of capabilities enabled by the low-code platforms and other capabilities created by software developers via extensions.

Low-code platforms have different capabilities and approaches to support the development lifecycle. Some focus on rapid, simplified development and largely support the full development lifecycle on their platforms. Others take this one step further and offer different experiences and integrated capabilities that enable software development professionals and citizen developers to collaborate on application development. The low-code platforms targeting enterprises offer more integration with devops tools and hosting options.

Last week, I published an article at InfoWorld on 7 low-code platforms developers should know. I find low-code a controversial discussion with some developers who love coding, prefer developing applications from scratch, and view low-code platforms as either a compromise, threat, or yet-another-tool to learn.

Since COVID, I've seen more CIOs and IT leaders take a second look at low-code platforms and capabilities. I used to be one of the few people talking about it conferences like SINC IT Forums, and was sometimes challenged about whether low-code was versatile, productive, and secure. Now, it's more popular to jargon-drop low-code, and many IT leaders still have much to learn about low-code platform capabilities, governance models, and agile delivery approaches.

So I asked low-code platform CTOs why developers should utilize low-code platforms and how it benefits their careers. But their answers are a better read for CIOs and IT leaders exploring opportunities with these platforms.

"For developers, the real benefit of low-code is not just the ability to speed up writing a few lines of code, but the improved communication with business users, who often have difficulty explaining what they really need. Allowing them to build prototypes means they better understand the process and can communicate better about feature requests and updates. The result will not only be an application that more closely meets users' needs, but also a better appreciation for developers and their challenges." - Roland Hörmann, CEO of SIB Visions

"Often, the goal of adopting DevOps within a company is to reduce the tedious manual tasks that monopolize developers' time and lead to IT delivery backlogs. Developers who embrace low-code see it as a way to further reduce the time-consuming process of building an application or tool from the ground up, especially at a time when it's essential to build and deploy such applications in a matter of days and weeks, not months or years. There is a real need for operational agility, especially as businesses need to move quickly and efficiently. In today's environment, low-code allows and empowers companies to quickly find solutions and get back to the future of work." - Jay Jamison, Chief Product & Technology Officer at Quick Base

"Whether they aspire to be in management or a principle engineer, developers should first recognize that low-code empowers them to do less rote work and focus on more interesting and challenging software problems. Moreover, low-code enables developers to take an active role in shaping and driving business initiatives, which are essential to rising within any organization. When business success is directly attributable to developers' contributions, their career opportunities expand immensely." - Nick Ford, VP of product and developer evangelism at Mendix

"In the ever-evolving business landscape, neither traditional coding nor traditional low-code solutions are enough to deliver quality applications at the speed required for success. Developers are overworked and up against constantly increasing demands for new applications or changes to existing ones, battling complexities and time-consuming processes. OutSystems is making it possible for developers to create the apps they need fast, right, and for the future, allowing them to generate the greatest impact and results." - Goncalo Gaiolas VP of Product at OutSystems

As businesses continue to search for more efficient ways to develop applications and manage operations, the emerging trend of no-code and low-code platforms has generated a lot of interest. No-code and low-code platforms are designed to simplify the development process and reduce the amount of coding involved.

According to Gartner forecasts, the no-code/low-code platform market will grow almost 20% in 2023, with low-code application platforms (LCAP) specifically reaching almost $10 billion in revenue. It is even predicted that citizen automation development platforms (CADP) will be the fastest-growing technology in the coming years in the hyper-automation technology segment.

No-code and low-code platforms are a type of application development platform that allows users to create applications without having to write any code. Low-code platforms enable users to create applications using a graphical user interface (GUI) and drag-and-drop tools, while no-code platforms provide users with templates and other tools that allow them to quickly build applications without any coding knowledge. 041b061a72


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