As its name suggests, low-code development is a process of developing software or web applications requiring little-to-no coding knowledge. This practice is often carried out through low-code development platforms, typically cloud-based. With these platforms, users do very little manual coding but, instead, use intuitive interfaces with visual representations and drag-and-drop functions to create their products. The most popular applications of low-code development are simple web pages, as you might see with a landing page, simple games, or simple app development. However, apps built can be powerful pieces of bespoke technology to streamline processes, cutting through the noise of many mass-market pieces of productivity software.
Low-Code development was created to keep up with the rising demand for business technology despite the current scarcity of skilled software developers. It has created lower barriers of entry for those without the coding expertise to develop their own software, putting valuable tools in the hands of startups and nontechnical businesses. But even professional developers utilize these tools as well — sometimes, it is more efficient to use a low-code tool than a fully developed and proprietary code base. Let’s dive into some of the best benefits and detrimental drawbacks of low-code development. As with most pieces of software, there are pros and cons and even the pros vary widely between brands and versions.
Pros of LowCode
Code on Your Own
Low-Code platforms make coding capabilities accessible to anyone! These platforms allow businesses to complete projects autonomously, without a need for outside coders or contractors. This is a great way for individuals to show a proof of concept or a simple brochure website, without the expectation of handling a multitude of visitors, concurrently, or handling complex operations like eCommerce. Often, a low-code application or platform can even be set up professionally but then maintained by employees whose training is not in coding. Applications can be built for specific purposes and workflows without having a company build a sophisticated, whitelabeled product for you.
Complete Projects Quickly
Software development can be a complicated and lengthy process. By using Low-Code methodologies, you can create multiple iterations of a project and present it to investors or executives in a comparably short amount of time. Many platforms also offer prebuilt functionalities, plugins, apps, and services that reduce development time, allowing businesses to get their products to market quickly.
Save Time & Money
Outsourcing your software development services to professionals can be a significant investment for small businesses or start ups. Quality code takes time, with iterative testing, planning, and architecture. Low-Code platforms are typically capable of less, and are therefore less time-consuming and thus cheaper to build than traditional development methods. This is ideal for some projects. By doing the work yourself, you will get only what you need and can dispense with the detailed explanation of your workflow to an outside team.
Low-Code allows for easy experimentation. Someone with less technical prowess can now discover new solutions on their own and without the learning curve. By saving time through the streamlined creation process, users can focus more time on ideation and fulfillment. In many cases, adjustments can be made easily without incurring an additional version or cost from a developer.
Cons of LowCode
Inability to Create Complex Systems
Many low-code systems offer limited functionalities, made for the widest number of applications as possible. Differentiating modern software applications requires unique features. Before selecting a low-code vendor, ensure their customization options meet your specific and anticipated, future needs. Many companies start with low-code development projects but, as they scale, want more complex functions that are not available–or if they are, require professional coding knowledge to achieve. If complex systems become vital for your business, you should consider all of the perks that come with hiring a professional development agency.
If you develop an application or website through a low-code platform, it is nearly impossible to migrate it if you choose to change vendors. Your website or software will have to remain on your vendor’s platform, unless you choose to rebuild it entirely. This is still not a bad option so long as businesses and teams are aware of the ultimate obsolescence or limitations of their low-code projects and appreciate its nature as a stop-gap or introductory product. That being said, utilizing platforms that keep their core codes updated and add features can remain viable for your needs to, unlike a custom-built or mass-market piece of software whose version will likely remain static without an investment in updates.
Lack of Control
When utilizing low-code methodologies, you won’t have full access or ownership of the source code. This means you can’t pull the source code out and work on it independently or eventually transfer it to in-house tech support processes if the need arises. You remain at the mercy of the platforms service department, which may diminish in responsiveness over time. In most cases, what you see is what you get: the features are created to meet the needs of the most people possible but dilutes the ability to create new elements and customization. In some cases, you will have no choice but to have your software forever co-branded with the software creators’ name and reputation–a potential downside.
Standalone development technologies offer more dependable security protocols. With low-code systems, you don’t have full control over your source code or data. If a security breach occurs your sensitive data could be at risk, making low-code a lesser choice for industries with medical, financial, or sensitive information about its users. Low-code platforms must also maintain their vulnerabilities and update their core code to account for advancements in technology, devices, and intentional piracy cyber security needs. Good platforms can be even more responsive to new threats than custom software, but if not continually supported, will leave you exposed. This is where choosing the right company to work with is crucial.
Some low-code platforms provide limited features, illogical flows, and limited visual elements. Despite their namesake, many platforms also require extensive onboarding and training. Before working with a low-code system, ensure that it is a high-quality, feature-rich, and intuitive platform. While no one can predict the future, untested names in the low-code creative space may not have the backing or fortitude to stay current or solvent. As mentioned above, many advantages to low-code can be ruined if the company does not actually deliver on the promise.
Lack of Custom Integrations
Seamless integrations are now expected across software applications. Although some low-code platforms offer integration options with some of the leading names in interconnected software, not all are available–those that are also happen to be the more-expensive options, which may preclude a low-code user from considering the integration anyway, since you would need to have a license to each linked service. If you are in need of a specific integration to run your business processes, it’s important to ensure your selected low-code vendor provides the integration before the development process. When exploring, ask companies how open and often they incorporate new integrations.
Is Low Code Development right for me?
Depending on your timing, resources, needs, and technical expertise, low-code development may be a viable option for your business needs. There are certainly both advantages and detractions to both professional and low-code development. Consider your expectations for your software’s functionalities, desired level of control, expected turnaround times, important security considerations, and essential integrations when making your software development decisions.
Work With Us
Low-Code development tools are convenient and sure to foster innovation for nontechnical companies for many years to come. However, if you want advanced functionalities and custom software applications, consider outsourcing your web and app development to an agency. These agencies can create complex software systems that provide you with complete ownership, advanced security, and custom integrations. If you are set on using low-code editing platforms, agencies can also help you research and leverage them in the best way possible. At Fahrenheit, we have an extremely skilled team of web developers who have experience in a multitude of programming languages. Reach out today to schedule a consultation and grow your business.