60 percent of all apps are developed outside IT departments. And by 2025, 70 percent of all applications will be created by no code or low code. This trend is not surprising: The technology enables companies to develop websites and apps with little programming effort - an attractive alternative in times of scarce and costly IT resources.
How "coding" has changed is also shown by the development of the related job title. Thus, originally, those who created computer programs were called "programmers." This term was coined in the early days of computer science, when computers were used primarily for scientific calculations and military purposes. Programmers were highly skilled professionals with a strong mathematical background who wrote code in a specific programming language to solve problems.
As technology advanced and software became more complex, the term "software developer" became more popular. Software developers were no longer limited to writing code, but were also involved in the entire software development process. More recently, the term "developer" has become established as a general term for developers in various technical fields, not just software development. Most recently, the term "Citizen Developer" emerged.
"Citizen developers" are people without formal computer science training who can build simple applications using low-code or no-code platforms.
In our article we are dedicated to low code tools. We explain in detail how they work, what their advantages and disadvantages are and for whom they are suitable. In addition, we show which questions you need to ask yourself in order to choose the right low code platform for your project.
This article was written in German, automatically translated into other languages and editorially reviewed. We welcome feedback at the end of the article.
Low Code Definition
Low code refers to a software development method that uses visual development tools to create applications with minimal manual programming effort. Developers use a user-friendly graphical interface to design processes, databases and user interfaces (UI).
With low code, companies can develop and customize applications faster because they have to write less code manually.
This enables people without in-depth programming knowledge to create simple applications. Above all, they can make use of prefabricated modules and templates to speed up the development process.
The advantages of the technology are accelerated time to market, lower development costs and the ability to implement iterative changes quickly. However, companies cannot implement complex performance and security requirements with low code tools.
Low Code Features
In order for companies to efficiently develop applications using the low-code approach, platforms usually come with these features:
Developers can create applications through a graphical user interface instead of writing code manually. This facilitates collaboration between developers and business experts and speeds up development.
A low-coding development platform provides a variety of pre-built components that companies can reuse in different applications. This not only makes development faster, but also makes programs more consistent.
The platforms support collaboration among multiple developers and other stakeholders by providing features such as versioning, comments, and release mechanisms.
Low-code platforms enable applications to be deployed on scalable infrastructures to keep pace with increasing demand and ensure optimal performance.
The platforms provide capabilities to seamlessly integrate data from multiple sources to ensure a consistent database for applications.
Application lifecycle management
Low-code tools support the entire application lifecycle - from development and testing to deployment and maintenance.
Lowcode vs. Nocode
Lowcode and Nocode are two approaches in software development that aim to speed up application development and reduce complexity.
Low Coding enables professionals to create applications with minimal hand coding. Here, visual tools and pre-built components are used to speed up the development process. Developers can draw on existing building blocks and customize them with just a few clicks. This requires some programming knowledge, but much less than traditional methods.
No code - also called zero code - goes one step further, as no programming knowledge is required here. It's aimed at business people and users without a technical background. With user-friendly drag-and-drop tools and visual interfaces, they can create applications without writing a single line of code. This enables faster implementation of ideas and requirements, since the technical barrier is practically eliminated.
While Low Code offers more flexibility and customization by giving developers the freedom to work at the code level, Zero Code is better suited for less complex projects and non-developers who want to work independently without technical expertise.
Both approaches have their pros and cons, but they have undoubtedly revolutionized the way applications are developed by speeding up the process, increasing productivity, and improving collaboration between technical and non-technical teams.
Low Code vs. High Code
Unlike low code, high code requires detailed programming from scratch. Developers write every aspect of an application manually. High code - also known as pro code - thus allows for greater control and fine-tuning, but is also more time-consuming and technically complex.
Low coding is most suitable for prototypical projects or fast-paced environments.
High Code is the first choice for complex, customized solutions that must meet specific requirements.
Although low code speeds up development, high code can provide better performance and scalability. When deciding between the two approaches, consider project requirements, team expertise, and long-term goals. A hybrid approach that combines the strengths of both methods may also be a suitable solution to optimize the development process.
Low Code Advantages
Companies benefit from these low code advantages:
Companies can create applications faster because they rely on visual elements and prefabricated modules. In practice, this means less programming effort, lower development costs and a shorter time-to-market.
The tools enable easier collaboration between developers, business users and IT teams because the platform provides a common visual language.
Applications can be adapted and iteratively improved more quickly to meet changing business needs.
The digital applications can be easily scaled as needed to meet growing user numbers.
Better error detection
The visual nature of a low-code platform allows developers to identify and fix potential bugs early.
By relieving developers of time-consuming tasks, they can focus their energy on innovative solutions and functions.
Low Code Disadvantages
Whether the technology is suitable for a project depends on the specific requirements. Companies should take these possible disadvantages into account:
The tools are limited in their flexibility. They therefore do not allow companies the same fine-tuning as High Code.
Because platforms often use many pre-built modules and components, security vulnerabilities in these elements can lead to vulnerabilities in the application.
Another low code criticism is performance bottlenecks. Automating code generation can produce inefficient or unoptimized code, depending on the platform chosen. This can have a negative impact on the performance of an application.
Companies may be tied to the specific low-code provider. They may therefore have difficulty migrating their application to another platform.
Although low-code reduces the complexity of development, users still need to learn the platform. This costs time and effort.
Dependence on updates
Changes or updates in on platforms could have unexpected effects on existing applications, requiring constant monitoring and adjustment.
For whom Low Code is suitable
Low-code solutions are aimed primarily at this target group:
Low-code programming enables professional developers to create, test and deploy complex applications faster. Because: You need less time for manual coding.
Citizen developers have a basic understanding of programming to create applications with low-code tools. The technology therefore makes application development accessible to non-professionals.
A low-code development platform enables IT managers to respond quickly to increasing demand for applications without having to hire additional staff or development resources.
Startups and entrepreneurs
Low-code provides a cost-effective way to create prototypes and MVPs to quickly validate innovative ideas.
Legacy system owners
Organizations with existing legacy applications can use low-code apps to modernize systems and extend their functionality.
Companies can use their IT resources more efficiently and optimize their business processes - without high costs for customized solutions.
5 common Use Cases
In practice, the 5 use cases for the technology include the following:
Database application development
Companies can use low-code programming to create database-driven applications without having to write extensive manual code. Example: A retailer needs an internal inventory tracking system to manage stock. With low-code, the development team can create a custom application to track products, inventory, and shipments without having to write complex database queries.
Companies can create more efficient workflows and automate manual tasks. Example: An insurance company wants to speed up the application process for insurance policies. Using low-code tools, the company can develop a workflow application that automatically verifies customer data and expedites approvals without having to manually intervene at every step.
Companies can create user-friendly customer portals that allow customers to access relevant information and services. For example, a bank wants to provide its customers with a personalized online banking platform. Using low-code development, the bank can develop a customer portal that makes transaction history, account statements, and financial planning tools accessible.
Tools enable rapid development of mobile apps for different platforms. Example: A logistics company wants to create a mobile app for its drivers to track deliveries more efficiently. With technology, the company can easily develop a cross-platform app that optimizes routes and provides live tracking capabilities.
Business intelligence dashboards
Companies can use the technology to create custom dashboards for visualizing business data. For example, an e-commerce retailer needs a dashboard to monitor sales trends, inventory levels, and revenue trends. With Low-Code, the retailer can develop an interactive dashboard that aggregates real-time data from multiple sources and displays it in a visually appealing way.
How Companies choose the right Low Code Platform
Companies can choose from over 300 low-code tools on the market. So how can you choose the right provider? Basically, you should use the tool that will help you meet an increasing demand for a new software solution at any time. What features should a tool have for this?
Check whether the platform offers a collaborative integrated development environment (IDE). This allows developers to work on projects simultaneously. Ask yourself:
- Does the platform support simultaneous collaboration between multiple developers?
- Are there features to manage version control and code merging?
Ensure the platform enables seamless integrations with existing data sources and APIs. Ask yourself:
- Can the platform integrate data from different sources?
- Does it support bidirectional data transfer between applications and external systems?
Application lifecycle management
Review how the platform supports the entire lifecycle of an application. Ask yourself:
- Does the platform provide capabilities for requirements analysis, design, development, testing, and deployment of applications?
- Are there tools for tracking and troubleshooting?
Make sure you can create engaging applications with a world-class user experience. Ask yourself:
- Can user interfaces be created easily and intuitively?
- Does the platform support the development of responsive applications for different devices?
Make sure the platform increases developer productivity. Ask yourself:
- Does it provide templates and prefabricated components?
- Does it have automatic code generation capabilities?
Check if the platform offers cloud support to ensure scalability and flexibility. Ask yourself:
- Can the platform host digital applications in the cloud?
- Does it support different cloud providers?
Konfuzio as Low-Code Document Automation Specialist
Konfuzio has established itself as an expert in the automatic processing of incoming documents. Companies can thus automate large parts of their document management. In doing so, they can automate every single step: from document creation and receipt to the readout and information processing - with artificial intelligence can be taken over. The artificial intelligence acts in a self-learning manner and can be integrated quickly and easily into existing IT landscapes with just a few lines of code. Konfuzio is available both as a SAAS and as a on Premise - whatever fits companies better.
Low-code is a software development method that uses visual elements and drag-and-drop features to reduce programming effort and build applications faster. Developers use low-code tools to automate business processes and create applications with minimal hand coding.
Low-code has existed since the late 2000s. It was developed to speed up and simplify application programming. Companies use the tools to create custom apps with fewer handwritten lines of code.
Low-code platforms enable rapid development of applications with minimal programming effort. Some well-known platforms include Appian, Mendix, OutSystems, Microsoft Power Apps, Salesforce Lightning, and Zoho Creator. These tools provide a visual development environment that allows non-developers to create websites and apps.