Low-code app development is an innovative approach to coding that empowers developers to build software and mobile applications rapidly with minimal coding.
Remember when your internet connection took forever to get you online? Or when websites took minutes to load? And how about waiting almost a week to download a movie or that new album from that band you loved? Not that we miss those, erm…good ol’ days, but they do serve to remind us of how lucky we are now to have fast connections and internet speeds that allow us to access online content in milliseconds. In other words, slow just doesn’t cut it anymore, which is probably why we’ve become even more demanding of what our IT-based products can do, how fast and efficiently they can do it, and how soon these innovative products hit the market and fall into our hands. As a result, and thanks to our modern, fast-paced digital landscape, developers and other stakeholders are under increasing pressure to deliver robust, engaging applications quickly and efficiently, which we do, but it’s much more complicated than it sounds…enter low-code app development.
Traditional coding approaches can be highly efficient, and modern developers and coders can still use them to build innovative applications that perform seamlessly. However, they also often involve complex development cycles and extensive hand-coding, which can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. This is where low-code development comes into play.
In this blog article, we at Foonkie will tell you about what low-code development is, its importance for modern app developers, its fundamental principles, and how it is revolutionizing the software and mobile app development process. Here we go!
What is low-code app development?
Low-code development is an approach to software and mobile app development that allows developers to leverage the power of visual development tools and pre-built components to create applications with minimal coding rapidly. This means that, by using low-code development platforms, app developers can harness the power of elements such as drag-and-drop interfaces, pre-built components, point-and-click configuration, pre-built templates, and countless other visual tools and configuration settings to assemble applications quickly and easily and without the need for extensive manual coding. As a result, low-code app development abstracts away most of the intricacies and menial tasks of traditional coding. It streamlines a big part of the development process, allowing developers to focus on more valuable tasks such as visual app design, testing, or enhancing their application’s functionality.
As stated earlier, due to the increasing demand for applications to hit the market faster, modern app developers are under a lot of pressure to respond to said demand by accelerating the rate at which they build and deploy. Unfortunately, traditional coding, with all of its undeniable benefits and perks, was not designed to keep up with this exponential growth in our need for speed. What’s more, not only is traditional coding not cutting it anymore, but the talent pool for coders and developer talent is getting smaller, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for development companies to find skilled workers. And lastly, the visual interface of most low-code platforms is highly user-friendly and easy to use, making them very accessible not only to experienced developers but also to a wide range of individuals, including business owners, non-technical professionals, and other inexperienced workers. Subsequently, the popularity of low-code platforms has grown in the past years, with its market value reaching a whopping $7.61 billion in 2021 and a projected value of $36.43 billion by 2027.
How does low-code app development work?
Low-code app development leverages the use of platforms that facilitate a visual development environment and pre-built components that lead to rapid application development. These environments have vital features such as a visual integrated development environment (IDE), built-in data connectors and APIs, and coding templates, all of which enhance the most time-consuming processes and free up time for innovation. Here’s a general overview of how low-code app development platforms work.
Interface: The first part of the low-code app development process is to get to know the visual interface of your chosen platform. This interface will allow you to design your application visually instead of you having to code. Typically, this interface will allow you to drag and drop components to build your product and seamlessly define how it will look and behave.
Components: Low-code app development platforms typically have a library of pre-built components that you can easily add to your app. These components, which range anywhere from buttons and forms to widgets and menus, can be easily customized to fit your application’s specific needs and requirements. In addition, you can configure the properties of these components so they behave the way you want them to.
Workflows and integrations: Low-code app development platforms also often include visual editors that allow you to define your application’s logic and workflows. With them, you can also design conditional statements, set up rules, and define and design workflows seamlessly without code writing. Moreover, you can integrate your low-code platform of choice with various data sources, external systems, and APIs so you can connect your application to multiple services.
Testing and deployment: Low-code app development platforms usually have very robust and user-friendly built-in testing and debugging tools that allow you to test your application and promptly address any issues your encounter. Additionally, they facilitate your app’s deployment process and will enable you to publish your application on several platforms.
These steps broadly show how low-code app development platforms typically work. Depending on your product, your needs, and your choice of provider, the process might have different or additional elements. Also, it’s worth noting that low-code app development platforms promote collaboration between developers and other stakeholders. They allow for more accessible communication and feedback gathering due to their user-friendly, simple visual nature. They also support iterative development and allow you to make changes and improvements to help your product evolve seamlessly.
What are the benefits of low-code app development?
The fashionableness of low-code app development is primarily due to its myriad of benefits, some of which include:
Faster time-to-market One of the primary benefits of low-code app development is the fact that it helps developers expedite the entire application development process from start to finish. The user-friendly interface, coupled with the visual elements, the drag-and-drop components, and the pre-built templates that low-code app development platforms provide, help developers assemble applications much faster than traditional development practices. As a result, you can build and deploy in a shorter time span, which enables you to reduce your app’s time-to-market, respond to changing business needs more efficiently, and, thus, gain a valuable competitive edge.
Increased flexibility and scalability Low-code app development platforms generally provide highly flexible environments that facilitate and support agile development methodologies. They can be fully compatible with these types of approaches and provide the flexibility we need to iterate and make changes to our applications very quickly. Their modular and reusable components allow developers to not only scale their applications as required but also to keep up with emerging technologies and industry trends, thus, ensuring that all our products remain future-proof and can adapt to evolving technological landscapes. In that sense, by leveraging the power of low-code app development, you can easily modify and enhance your mobile and software applications without a hitch, which will help you respond to evolving requirements and user feedback fast and efficiently. This way, you have the flexibility to ensure that all your low-code applications stay aligned with your users, your clients, and your business needs and can adapt to the rapidly changing market landscape.
Great integration capabilities Low-code app development platforms offer robust built-in integrations with the most common external systems, databases, APIs, and other tools and platforms we often use in our app development processes. These integration capabilities are essential because, first, they simplify the process of connecting applications to all the necessary data sources and services that allow them to function correctly and have all the functionality required to meet user expectations. Second, these seamless integration capabilities allow us developers to leverage the power of our existing frameworks, tools, IT infrastructure, and third-party services, which not only saves costs and time but also enhances the functionality and value of our products.
Cost and time savings Since low-code app development platforms help us reduce the amount of manual coding required to build and deploy mobile and software applications, they significantly reduce the time and costs typically associated with the development process. For one, developers can leverage user-friemdly elements such as visual IDEs, pre-built components, and code templates to accelerate their productivity, minimizing the time they spend on repetitive coding tasks. Development companies and organizations on their part, not only need fewer human and monetary resources to ship IT-based products but can also spend much less time doing so, which helps them allocate resources more efficiently and frees up developers’ time so they can address more valuable business challenges.
Challenges of low-code app development
As you can see, low-code app development has a myriad of benefits that have helped it emerge as a promising solution to accelerate application development practices. However, this new paradigm comes with its unique set of challenges that we must face and address promptly to overcome them effectively. Here are the main ones.
Vendor limitations In low-code app development, you typically choose the platform that better suits your particular project and its needs and stick to it. However, adopting a particular low-code platform may limit what you can do to the elements, components, features, and functionality your vendor offers. What’s more, if, for some reason, you decide to change vendors at any point in your development process, transferring your mobile or software applications to a different platform can be highly challenging and sometimes, impossible. So, before choosing your low-code app development platform, you must perform a careful evaluation of its capabilities, portability options, and long-term support, among others so that you can mitigate any limitations and risks.
Performance limitations Low-code app development platforms do offer some performance benefits and optimizations, but as developers scale their applications, the efficiency of the resulting product may not match that of a hand-coded app. Some unique requirements or special scalability needs can be challenging to address within the constraints of the low-code tools offered by most vendors. Moreover, elements such as customizability or complex workflow design, especially in data-intensive applications, can be challenging in a low-code platform’s environment and may affect the application’s performance if not utilized properly.
Most popular low-code app development vendors
Low-code app development’s increasing popularity has led to the emergence of several platforms that offer very robust low-code tools. Here are some of the most prominent ones.
Appian: Appian is an app development platform that combines low-code development with process automation and AI capabilities, allowing users to build and deploy applications and automate complex processes.
Google AppSheet: Google AppSheet is Google’s low-code app development platform. It allows users to build custom applications using data from various external sources such as spreadsheets and databases.
OutSystems: OutSystems is one of the leading low-code app development vendors in the market right now. It helps companies build robust applications via a user-friendly visual development environment filled with pre-built templates and AI-assisted elements that accelerate application delivery.
Microsoft Power Apps: Microsoft Power Apps is Microsoft’s low-code app development platform. It integrates seamlessly with the Microsoft ecosystem, which allows app developers to build custom applications with seamless integration with existing Microsoft services and tools.
It’s undeniable that low-code app development has emerged as a game-changer in the software and application development landscape. By eliminating the need for extensive, complicated coding, low-code app development platforms help simplify and accelerate the application-building process and empower companies to deliver IT-based products and solutions faster. By providing a simple, user-friendly visual development environment, drag-and-drop components, and pre-built templates, low-code app development platforms help companies, professional developers, and inexperienced users create applications with minimal manual coding. As a result, we can better respond to changing business needs, accelerate application delivery, increase productivity, and bridge the gap between experienced and non-experienced stakeholders. So, by embracing low-code development, we can gain a valuable competitive edge, which can be priceless in the modern and rapidly evolving digital era.
Here at Foonkie Monkey, we always strive to remain at the forefront of modern app development approaches. So, if you have any questions regarding low-code app development or want an experienced team like ours to work on your new app, get in touch! We’re more than happy to help!