By Cassandra Balentine
No code and low code are terms often used interchangeably, but they are in fact two different development methods.
No code development is tailored to citizen developers, enabling them to more easily participate in the creation and changing of basic departmental applications (apps)—often in a compliant and limited way, shares Jennifer Gill, senior director, technology product marketing, Pega.
One main differentiator of no code tools is that they are all visual, point and click, and easy to use. “It has to be to empower developers to create sophisticated solutions. These tools need to have great designer interfaces and enable visual modeling of the app you’re trying to create, and they include prebuilt connectors to integrate with other systems,” says Alain Gentilhomme, CTO, Nintex.
Lori McKellar, senior director, product marketing, AppWorks at OpenText, equates the primary difference between no code and low code is the level of sophistication of the app. “Low code platforms allow businesses to collaborate with professional developers in a meaningful way by providing early input, using drag-and-drop modeling tools to outline desired processes and prototyping the app interface using pre-built components. Low code development can be used to develop a range of apps including complex, enterprise-grade apps. On the other hand, no-code tools are simpler in function and targeted to less technical users wanting to solve basic—often departmental—use cases. No-code platforms enable many simple apps to be developed by non-technical users and are ideal for organizations looking to automate many simple processes.
Gill explains that low code is tailored to IT and professional developers with the caveat that while the majority of the work is done without code, they are able to extend the solution where needed with code. “In some platforms, developers are still forced to write code for technical app development activities like data management, integration, DevOps, and to extend across devices and channels—although we don’t believe that is always necessary.”
Low-code is similar in that it’s also very visual. However, it enables the use of small amounts of code to allow for specific functions or to connect features when it can’t be done through point-and-click or isn’t provided by the platform, explains Gentilhomme.
“To me, the perfect platform combines the best of low code and no code—one that provides tools for technical developers to rapidly build security, data management, and testing components, while allowing business users to actively participate in the app development process by defining workflows and screens, collaborating in a single environment and reusing common components through drag and drop,” says Gill.
Steve Wood, chief product officer, Dell Boomi, points out that many cloud vendors come out with a no code approach and small businesses can also operate without having to write code. However, a lot of organizations require slight modifications to apps so they meet compliance, governance, and other requirements. “With low code, businesses have the chance to get exactly what they need with only minimum code development,” he shares.
Anyone from traditional developers to savvy business engineers might use a low code platform; it is suitable for a broad set of users. “In an effort to simplify software development, customizations, integrations, and extensibility are found within low code platforms that aren’t available in an equivalent no code platform,” offers Sheryl Koenigsberg, head of global product and solutions marketing, Mendix.
App development on a no-code platform is truly more citizen-developer focused, and the resulting apps are definitely less customizable than apps built on low-code platforms. Miguel Valdes Faura, CEO/co-founder, Bonitasoft, says low code platforms typically include coding options for the experienced developer to do something other than select the options offered through the graphical or make-a-choice interface. “Where no-code offers the advantage of masking complexity for those who don’t need it, low code offers the advantages of developers being able to bypass the simple interface and tinker under the hood,” he adds.
While no code and low code development offer similar benefits, the exact user and capabilities differ.
Nov2019, Software Magazine