No-Code, Low-Code, Pro-Code
The future of software development no longer consists of strictly labor-intensive conventional coding. Simpler methods of building software have been emerging into the spotlight and picking up steam. The addition of no-/low-code software development has created a spectrum of options which offer more variety (and power) in tools that can be used to drive efficiency and meet the needs of your users.
The big question now is this: Which level of code is best for the needs of your application?
What Is “No-Code”?
Essentially, no-code development is a form of declarative programming in which applications are created using drag-and-drop user interfaces as opposed to hand coding. This approach is intended for speed and efficiency where extensive and intricate coding is not necessary; simple, repetitive applications based on common use patterns can be created very effectively with typical no-code platforms.Â
This is the primary reason for the rise of no-code development: reaching the desired destination as simply as possible.Â Â If you were able to travel the gravel path instead of theÂ one littered withÂ growth andÂ wildlife,Â you’dÂ choose the gravel to get to where you were goingÂ â€“ thatâ€™s exactly what no-code developers are doing.Â
Where Do Organizations Use No-code Development?
No-code development, like most things, is only useful when it is applied to the right situation.Â Â You wouldn’t use a fork to open a can and likewise, use of no-code tools for highly specialized software needed to meet huge scale is not a winning approach. Â
No-codeÂ isÂ typicallyÂ best suited for straightforwardÂ andÂ conventional solutionsÂ that follow highly common uses cases.Â Â ItÂ isÂ often used to helpÂ knowledge workersÂ whoÂ aren’tÂ schooled orÂ fluentÂ with formalÂ programming languages butÂ are highly analytical andÂ need to developÂ an application for a specific use.Â Â Even when full professional software developers are availableÂ within an organization,Â theÂ business mayÂ optÂ to save money by avoiding use ofÂ aÂ full programing team to build their application.Â
A prime example of â€œcitizen developersâ€ using no-codeÂ is the use ofÂ Microsoft FormsÂ to create aÂ surveyÂ and a simpleÂ Power AutomateÂ Flow to route form submissionsÂ based on simple logic.Â Â NeitherÂ no-code elementÂ usesÂ traditional time-consumingÂ coding, just simple drag and drop softwareÂ to achieve the business need.Â
GoogleÂ gets in the no-code game withÂ AppSheet,Â aÂ no-codeÂ development platform thatÂ allows users to create mobile, tablet and web applications.Â Â It can beÂ employed forÂ aÂ rangeÂ of business casesÂ including project management, customer relationship management, field inspections and personalized reporting.Â Â
While once a niche, there are now a plethora of no-code platforms.Â The following are a collection of leaders in the space:Â
- OutSystems:Â AÂ low-code platform which provides the tools for companies to develop, deploy and manage omnichannel enterprise applications.
- Airtable:Â AÂ spreadsheet-database hybridÂ forÂ building collaborative apps, highly flexible andÂ chock full of popular integrations.Â
- MicrosoftÂ Power Platform: Empowers knowledge workers to easily build apps that leverage a large selection of connectors including Microsoft Office cloud ecosystem.Â
- Appian:Â AÂ cloud computing and enterprise software companyÂ that sells a platform as aÂ service forÂ business process managementÂ and case management.Â
- BettyBlocks: A platform for users to develop their own web applicationsÂ and a laser focus on the citizen developer.Â
Pros of “No-Code”
No-codeÂ is being used where traditional software developmentÂ used to beÂ andÂ has become a popular method of software development forÂ severalÂ reasons:Â
- Reduced Cost:Â UsingÂ no-code, users can bypass the expense ofÂ a team of developersÂ
- Increased Productivity:Â WithÂ no-code, apps are built at a much faster pace, which means less people waiting for work to be doneÂ
- Simple to Change:Â WithÂ professionalÂ codingÂ youÂ can’tÂ independentlyÂ change aÂ softwareÂ feature; withÂ no-code you can simplyÂ implement new logic and be done in a matter of hoursÂ
Cons of “No-Code”
Though no-codeÂ isÂ oftenÂ more efficientÂ and much simpler than traditional software development, it also hasÂ it’sÂ weaknesses:Â
- Pre-DefinedÂ Templates:Â No-code platformsÂ offerÂ a range ofÂ templates to their usersÂ but barring professional immersion, thisÂ canÂ limitÂ the boundaries of your applicationÂ
- Security Issues:Â Control over your application isÂ now shared between knowledge workers and theÂ no-code providers;Â lack ofÂ enterpriseÂ compliance is lost andÂ canÂ lead toÂ security riskÂ
- Clear Understanding ofÂ Requirements:Â As eachÂ no-code platformÂ comes with aÂ uniqueÂ set ofÂ limitations,Â users must determine if their needs fit the constraints of theÂ particularÂ toolÂ
Low-Code Software Development
No-code is not the only option when it comes toÂ simpler and more efficient software development.Â Â Low-code software developmentÂ reduces costÂ as well asÂ development time spanÂ but keep in mind:Â low-codeÂ raises the price of entry.Â
What Is “Low-Code”?
Low-codeÂ platforms, likeÂ no-code platforms, also use a graphical interfaceÂ for building an applicationÂ butÂ opens upÂ possibilities for â€œlightâ€ coding additions.Â Â SinceÂ low-codeÂ approachesÂ require minimal hand coding, developers can focus on creatingÂ the 10% that makes theirÂ application differentÂ while leaving theÂ standardÂ pieces toÂ no-code-like packagedÂ pieces.Â Â Saving time and money,Â while alsoÂ providing the power toÂ tailor to your requirements,Â low-codeÂ may beÂ best methodÂ for yourÂ application.Â
Low-Code vs. No-Code
Though they may be similarÂ in regard toÂ theirÂ efficiency, graphical interfaces and minimal hand-coding,Â low-code andÂ no-code are not the same.Â Â Low-code allowsÂ greaterÂ customizationÂ and isÂ superiorÂ forÂ developing standalone mobile and web applications; no-code is generally superiorÂ forÂ use-casesÂ that extendÂ systemsÂ that the userÂ alreadyÂ touches and sees, such as a new screen within an intranet or CRM system.Â
UnlikeÂ no-code,Â low-code still requires some knowledge of codingÂ soÂ IT departments need to ensure that theyÂ can trust thatÂ those developingÂ theirÂ applications will do so properly.Â Creators of low-code solutions are more likely to haveÂ somewhatÂ of aÂ backgroundÂ in programmingÂ and thus will be able to use theÂ platforms to develop software that is a bit more critical to a businessâ€™s core functions.Â
Pro-Code Software Development
All the way atÂ theÂ other end of the spectrum we haveÂ professional, or â€œpro-codeâ€,Â software development.Â Â As theÂ conventional professional form of software developmentÂ form, it isÂ veryÂ differentÂ in nature and complexityÂ than no/low code.Â Â Pro-code costsÂ more andÂ is typicallyÂ much more time consumingÂ than the lower-code approaches, but itÂ provides an incrediblyÂ higher level of customization,Â securityÂ and scale.Â
As a custom software development agency we are definitely very â€œproâ€ on â€œpro-codeâ€ (you canÂ learn moreÂ here) but there are solidly many cases where we recommend or implement lower-code solutions for clients.Â Â No-/low-codeÂ hasÂ become so popular and useful becauseÂ professional developers are inÂ veryÂ high demand.Â Â
Where Is “Pro-Code” Essential?
Pro-code is superiorÂ to no-/low-codeÂ with itsÂ strengthÂ inÂ handlingÂ complex workflowsÂ and becomes essential when developingÂ systems that literallyÂ powerÂ a companyâ€™sÂ operations and/orÂ require massiveÂ scale.Â Â As an example, use of pro-codeÂ is essential to powerÂ complicatedÂ pricing computations, trackÂ vast quantities and varietiesÂ ofÂ productsÂ and perform real-time routing and fulfillment of ordersÂ toÂ an assortment of customers.Â Â While no-/low-codeÂ applications wouldÂ have the ability to handle small pieces of such a system, they doÂ not have theÂ complexity to handle such an expansiveÂ workflowÂ andÂ therefore pro-code would be the superior choice.Â
Pro-, low-Â and no-codeÂ are all different forms of software development which create a spectrum ofÂ optionsÂ for users and programmers alike.Â Â No-code and low-code may be simpler and less costly, but thisÂ doesn’tÂ always mean they’re the best choice for every application; usersÂ have the responsibility ofÂ deciding which form works best for their individual needs and limitations.Â Â
- â€ŒHealey, Declan. â€œWhat Is No Code? The Pros and Cons of No Code for Software Development.â€Â Codebots, 16 Jan. 2020, codebots.com/low-code/what-is-no-code-the-pros-and-cons-of-no-code-for-software-development.Â
- â€œLow-Code and No-Code: Whatâ€™s the Difference and When to Use What?â€ Www.outsystems.com, www.outsystems.com/blog/posts/low-code-vs-no-code/.Â
- â€Œâ€œLow-Code vs No-Code: What Are the Key Differences?â€ Decode – a Publication byÂ ZohoÂ Creator, 30 July 2020, www.zoho.com/creator/decode/low-code-vs-no-code/. Accessed 16 June 2021.Â
- â€Œâ€œWhat Is No-Code? | a Full Guide to No-Code Development .â€Â Kissflow, 21 Apr. 2021, kissflow.com/low-code/no-code/no-code-overview/. Accessed 16 June 2021.Â
- â€Œâ€œWhen to Use Low-Code vs. Pro-Code.â€Â CrowdboticsÂ Blog, 18 Sept. 2020, blog.crowdbotics.com/when-to-use-low-code-vs-pro-code/#:~:text=Pro-code%20is%20the%20term%20we%27re%20using%20to%20refer. Accessed 16 June 2021.Â
- Mobile,Â PowWow. â€œLow Code vs pro Code â€“ Whatâ€™s the Difference?â€Â PowWowÂ Mobile, 4 Feb. 2020, www.powwowmobile.com/low-code-vs-pro-code-whats-the-difference/. Accessed 16 June 2021.Â
- Â â€ŒHughes, Karl. â€œUsing Low-Code Tools to Iterate Products Faster.â€ Stack Overflow Blog, 9 June 2021,Â stackoverflow.blog/2021/06/09/using-low-code-tools-to-iterate-products-faster/. Accessed 16 June 2021.Â
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