The future of software development: Low-code vs no-code

 Person at a laptop,.
Person at a laptop,.

Low-code is an emerging alternative to traditional software development that moves away from full-code alternatives where software engineers are tasked with building, changing, and developing full applications independently. Low-code leverages application APIs, drag-and-drop capabilities (such as website builders), code templates, and other tools requiring minimal code abilities. Not only do low-code solutions assist businesses in quickly delivering new software, but it also enables them to meet modern automated process demands.

Gartner predicts that worldwide low-code development will be driven by hyper-automation in the next two years - signaling a significant assist from AI to drive forward this level of coding. Total revenue from low-code development technologies is expected to reach just under $32 trillion in 2024, which is a rapid increase from $18.4 trillion in 2021.

No-code development, on the other hand, allows people with little to no coding knowledge to build software or web applications and take a concept to production quickly, with minimal time and resources. Like low-code tools, this process can work with an organization’s current infrastructure and existing workflows or software.

With 70% of new web and software applications expected to use low-code or no-code development platforms by 2025, a key turning point can be identified.

No-code, no hassle?

Put simply, no-code allows people with varying IT skills to develop platforms, applications, and visual interfaces across the internet or through internal channels. Among the benefits, some issues using no-code methods can occur. It can often be difficult to ensure cohesive brand infrastructure, digital presence, and visual consistency which can impact the strength of an organization’s presence in the market. Developers within an organization should therefore ensure they work closely with branding, marketing, and communications teams to ensure consistency.

Given no-code solutions have low barriers to entry, anyone within the organization with mid to basic IT knowledge can develop a customer-facing platform - causing operational issues and duplication. Given the bureaucracy present within organizations, the marketing, branding, communication, and IT teams might not be considered in the decision-making process of additional platforms, harming the legitimacy and strength of the organization's branding and key messages.

While the name ‘no-code’ implies there is no code involved within the process, the term is misleading as each element of drag-and-drop capability relies heavily on sophisticated coding language. However, this code is hidden from the citizen developer and instead, is done so in the background automatically by the web hosting service.

No-code platforms can open the barrier to new users developing and creating their websites, applications, landing pages, and more, helping to promote creative thinking within organizations and providing cost-effective, quick, and easy applications.

Decoding low-code

The future of software development is largely dependent on coding, with high (or full) code still considered the primary method to leverage the most amount of control across the organization. To develop outcomes suitable for scalable online infrastructure, low-code provides a middle ground relying heavily on APIs for application integration. With that in mind, it can help relieve the ‘backlog’ faced by developers, reducing the production stage of software development.

Over $1 trillion is expected to have been spent on enterprise software, with $32 billion forecast to be from low-code development platforms in 2024. Whilst its popularity is increasing, there is an issue with opting for a low-code method as basic knowledge of coding is still needed. This means training for staff members is required and can increase business operational costs.

How to harness low-code, no-code

For SMEs, low-code, no-code solutions can be used when full-code isn’t an option. Employing low-code, no-code solutions allows employees to become in-house developers dedicated to scaling the business.

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Low-code solutions can lighten the workload for coders and software developers. It provides a quick and easy way to achieve desired results without extension points of knowledge needed to further a company's website, application, or suite of software platforms. Low-code solutions bridge the gap between sophisticated, experienced developers, and civilian developers just beginning their journey into software development.

The future of coding: Summary

Whilst low-code, no-code will not replace traditional software development or eliminate the demand for skilled coders, it does help more people across businesses get involved in web or mobile application projects, helping to close the digital, and departmental skills gap.

It is predicted that low-code, no-code will equate to over 65% of software development in the future, emphasizing the role it will play in digital transformation. Low code, no-code solutions give companies the ability to create well-developed, visually consistent, and easy-to-navigate websites, e-commerce stores, applications, and more at a lower, more accessible cost and help them stand out from the crowd, and maintain a competitive edge.

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