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Examine low-code development platform options

Nontechnical users can now build applications with little or no coding experience. However, there are many factors to consider before you jump in.

Speed to market is the key to application development. No-code and low-code development platforms enable enterprises to create apps with minimal programming. These platforms use a visual approach with GUIs and prebuilt models that enable users to drag and drop components.

Enterprises need to make a lot of decisions before they adopt a no-code or low-code development platform. Follow these best practices to get started.

Cloud-native low-code platforms rival third-party options

One of the first decisions an enterprise will have to make is whether to select a cloud-native offering or a third-party vendor. Cloud-native platforms make management and monitoring easier since everything is under one provider. And, if you already use a particular cloud and build your own full dev environments, you can potentially reduce cost and complexity with a low-code approach. Google App Maker and Microsoft PowerApps are popular offerings. However, there are vendor lock-in risks that could affect future multi-cloud deployment plans.

On the other hand, third-party options give enterprises the flexibility to deploy software on any public cloud. If an organization plans to develop more specific applications -- such as customer relationship management (CRM) apps -- third-party options are a better choice because of their customization capabilities. Popular no-code and low-code third-party vendors include Appian, Zoho and OutSystems.

Open source low-code platforms extend app dev capabilities

Open source low-code platforms further reduce vendor lock-in risks and enable even more customization than proprietary products. Enterprises can benefit from vendor and community support, as well as training. There are multiple offerings to choose from, but the following are three most popular:

  • Skyve is aimed at multiple user types and works with most common databases, browsers and hardware devices. It automatically suggests layouts, actions, security and more to ease application development. Additionally, Skyve combines and integrates a range of open source libraries and frameworks.
  • VisionX can create desktop, web and mobile apps for cloud and on-premises deployments. It uses Java open source frameworks and libraries. VisionX supports all major databases and provides app performance monitoring, automatic GUI testing and more.
  • Rintagi is used to build CRM systems, ERP platforms and other types of products. As technologies advance, Ringtagi automatically performs updates to the platform weekly to fit an enterprise's needs.

Don't dwell on the nuances of low-code vs. no-code

Both platform types need some level of expertise.

When enterprises are caught between a low-code or no-code development platform, they have to consider their employees' skill sets. Low-code's purpose is to speed development, while no-code is aimed at nontechnical users. However, the differences between the two approaches are getting smaller and smaller.

Both platform types need some level of expertise. While there is little or no coding needed, users need to configure application functionally, which requires some IT knowledge. For nondevelopers, there are training courses that teach coding skills. As more enterprises adopt DevOps processes, the roles between IT admins and developers blur. As a result, employees need to build up their skills to meet the enterprise's needs.

Mitigate low-code and no-code platform security risks

No-code and low-code development platforms continue to grow, but they still have their own set of security challenges, partially because of the lack of coding needed and inexperienced developers. These platforms rely on prebuilt models, which are developed outside the organization and make policy enforcement difficult. Also, enterprises don't control updates, and they must rely on vendors to fix any security vulnerabilities in a timely manner.

While no-code and low-code development platforms create apps quicker, enterprises should never sacrifice security for speed. Take a close look at vendors' security features, and if they are lacking, see if custom security features can be added. Also, even though these platforms enable nonexperienced users to create apps, consider hiring skilled developers to supervise the process.

This was last published in February 2019

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