The low-code/no-code explainer for non-technical people, and the risk and reward of using them – Digital Journal

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You’re here because you’ve heard about low-code and no-code development platforms and want to understand what they do and whether they’re right for your business. You’re also here because you don’t want a bunch of jargon and complicated technical language.

So let’s dig in and see what low-code/no-code platforms are, who they’re suitable for, and what risks are associated with using them.

What the heck is low code, no code anyway?

Simply put, low-code/no-code platforms were created to give non-developers ways to easily build apps and tools. These platforms are easier to use than building custom software, so many companies are experimenting with them to drive innovation faster, implement a needed tool, or fix a process that needs improvement.

What is low code?

This method allows users to design and develop applications using preconfigured tools, visual interfaces, and feature templates. Low-code development simplifies the experience so users can start building apps quickly with plug-and-play functionality. While most low-code platforms come with templates, they also offer the ability for more technical users to tweak functionality or plug things in with some basic scripting. A really simple comparison would be a spreadsheet – they allow you to perform basic functions, and if you’re familiar with scripting, you can add more functions.

What is no code?

No-code platforms are similar to low-code platforms in that they allow users to build apps using tools, but they don’t require any coding knowledge. With no-code development platforms, users will typically drag and drop application components into a visual interface to build functionality.

How is low-code/no-code programming different from typical programming?

At Vog, our developers write lines of code to build functionality within the software and apps we build. Writing code requires deep knowledge of coding languages ​​(there are many), architecture, user experience, different deployment environments, testing, and deployment process.

Low-code/no-code platforms offer visual interfaces and provide users with containers for functions or processes. The actual code is implemented behind the scenes.

When should you consider using a low-code/no-code platform?

Speed, ease of use, affordability, and accessibility are the main drivers behind low-code and no-code platforms. They also democratize access to and use of technology by eliminating the need to hire specialists, and can increase productivity by enabling more people to build business applications.

If you’re a small business owner, business or financial analyst, or leader who wants an app with basic functionality but doesn’t have the programming skills to build it, low-code/no-code platforms let you get started without any technical hurdles. Many also offer user-friendly interfaces that allow users to connect to third-party application program interfaces (APIs).

There are many use cases for low-code/no-code, and we can act as a consultant to your company if you’re not sure where to start.

If you want to implement low-code/no-code platforms within your organization, we recommend that planning control and oversight reside with the IT department.

Alternatively (or in addition), your company should document how you are using low-code/no-code platforms, which platforms are being used for specific features or use cases, and keep that information with department heads and managers so that feedback can be distributed. knowledge. .

We found that an internal technical team is best suited to select the low-code/no-code tools to be used by the organization, and that team should be provided with documentation so that anyone can grasp and understand what is being used and why in the future.

And if things go wrong, the IT team is more likely to be able to resolve the issues.

Another tactic to consider from a risk management perspective is to allow teams to test simple basic low-code/no-code platforms, or basic GUI tools to share a prototype internally. That prototype can be used to capture intent and deliver it to a developer who can advance it with low-code options, or take it off a ready-made platform and put it into a custom development environment. whether the business case makes sense.

Low-code/no-code platforms offer a number of advantages for companies trying to deliver innovation or streamline processes. Like most things in business, all it takes is planning and it’s important to assess the risks and rewards before you start.

When you should avoid low-code/no-code solutions

While there are a number of benefits to using low-code/no-code platforms, there are also a number of precautions. Here are some of the things that can go wrong when using low-code/no-code platforms:

Scalability may be limited

One of the biggest challenges of using low-code/no-code platforms is that the app or tool you create may not scale well. It might work for a dozen users or a hundred users, but if your app takes off or is used in a way it wasn’t designed for, you may run into scalability issues that lead to downtime. That being said, low-code/no-code platforms are still quite early, so we expect scalability to improve over time.

Employees who leave the company take knowledge with them

When employees outside of IT develop apps and then leave your company, the rest of the team can’t support or update functionality. In software development, coding is important, but so is documentation. If applications or tools are created by non-technical people and the rest of the organization does not know how they were designed, what they do, or how to fix them, considerable liability is created when the designer of that tool or solution leaves the company.

Templates can be restrictive

Many basic low-code/no-code platforms come with templates. More complex use cases often don’t fit into a template created by someone else.

Also, drag and drop functionality with beautiful user interfaces makes it easy to use these platforms, but that ease of use has restrictions:

  • The template may not exactly match your use case
  • The template may be missing features
  • The template may be designed for specific environments that limit usage
  • The template has not been thoroughly tested for the scenario you have

In any of these cases, the problem of missing features is exacerbated if your team doesn’t realize it until they are well down the road of building a tool or app.

It can be a very expensive endeavor to have an in-house person (or a team) build something only to find out at the last minute that a key feature is missing or that something will prevent it from being usable. It’s even more expensive if that missing feature simply can’t be coded, requiring a complete platform switch or code rewrite.

You could be limited as to where you take your data

If intellectual property and property rights are important to your business, low-code/no-code solutions may not be suitable. Because the platforms were created by someone else, your company will not own the source code.

Also, the low-code/no-code platform will often decide where the data resides, how it is accessed, and how portable it is. If you don’t have a say in the architecture, you could face future challenges if you need to move your application to another platform.

Security or compliance concerns

If a low-code/no-code platform were hacked, guess what that means for the app you build on that platform? It is not a good result.

Also, if you work in an industry that has strict or specific compliance regulations, how you store data on a low-code/no-code platform or how it works can become an issue. Laws differ by region, so a low-code/no-code platform built in Europe may work very well for EU laws, but fail to meet critical Canadian regulatory requirements, for example.

Short-term gain can mean long-term financial pain

There are plenty of cheap low-code/no-code platforms out there, and that can be a big draw compared to the cost of hiring a developer. But in many cases, the cost of maintaining low-code or no-code solutions, or the need to replace them if they don’t age well or scale, can far outweigh the cost of bringing in a developer in the first place.

Still have questions? Get in touch and we can discuss your specific use case and whether low-code/no-code is the appropriate option.

This article originally appeared on Vog App Developers as part of his series on digital product development. To talk about custom apps and mobile apps, contact Vog app developers.

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