What is low-code app development? Is low-code the future of mobile app development?

Enterprises increasingly employ low code app development practices and tools to increase the productivity of professional developers and business users. Expect vendors, including major cloud providers, to expand low-capabilities code’s in the near future. Experts predict that low-code will improve not only application development but also IT management in general.

The present condition of low-code

Low-code development is a modular approach to software development that selects and connects code blocks to create an application, website, or functionality. No-code development extends this paradigm with an entirely drag-and-drop procedure that requires almost no knowledge of coding.

The primary advantages of low-code development are that it accelerates the design and delivery of applications compared to conventional development and that it expands the app development pool to include less-skilled developers or line-of-business employees. Low code assists enterprise developers with larger tasks such as app re-platforming and back-end integration. In the meantime, business users are granted the authority to conduct more product experiments and to optimize particular business processes.

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John Bratincevic, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, asserts, based on recent Forrester surveys and data, that roughly half of all businesses use a low-code platform. Typically, these platforms are general-purpose, but a survey conducted by Forrester in early 2020 revealed the most common initiatives to be:

-business process and workflow software;

-website or mobile front ends;

-customer-facing mobile and/or web applications

Component customization is a common feature of many low-code app development use cases. For instance, developers can begin with a component library for common functions such as create, retrieve, update, and delete (CRUD) functions, operations, validations, file handling, email notifications, security, and workflows. Then, they can devote additional time to customizing this code at the edge. These components can also accelerate application modernization through the use of primitives that facilitate teams’ transition to microservices or serverless applications.

Additionally, developers can utilize prebuilt components for common applications in vertical industries such as insurance and finance. These consist of business logic and common integrations for a variety of use cases, which accelerates development. Some business components are geared toward service management, budget applications, employee onboarding, and environmental health and safety. Others can assist business users in developing event-driven workflows and processes.

Low-code constraints and difficulties

According to Yugal Joshi, vice president of IT advisory firm Everest Group, low code no code app development may result in the creation of a new layer of shadow IT, posing a significant obstacle for businesses seeking to adopt the methodology. To ensure availability, security, scalability, and dependability to meet service-level agreements, enterprise-level low-code tools necessitate time and money.

Furthermore, vendor lock-in is a concern. There may be specific ways to enable custom functions with certain low-code tools, such as the addition of buttons or search filters. In other situations, users may find such customization challenging or impossible. In the meantime, cloud vendors are integrating low-code capabilities into their platforms to increase their enterprise customer retention. Any potential transition from one low-code platform to another is hampered by the need to retrain developers and manage the complexity of governing applications across platforms.

Low-code systems and applications

Low-code app development is frequently equated with the tools and platforms that streamline certain coding steps or make them completely invisible to users.

Gartner forecasts that low-code technology sales will increase from $9.1 billion in 2019 to $13.8 billion in 2021 and then to $29 billion by 2025. Pandemic disruptions, hyper-automation, and the rise of more modular and resilient business strategies are driving this expansion.

Gartner includes a number of related categories under the low-code umbrella, but the largest category comprises low-code platforms that are designed for advanced users, such as professional developers and business analysts. (According to Gartner, no-code app development is a subcategory of low-code because it only requires text-based interactions.) These low-code tools offer extensive customization options, and applications built with them typically follow traditional development, test, and deploy lifecycles, according to Jason Wong, vice president at Gartner.

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Four factors influencing the future of low-code

Experts predict that the use of low-code will continue to grow for enterprise-wide initiatives and specific projects within business units, and will involve more professional developers and line-of-business (LOB) employees. In addition to expanding potential use cases, enhancements to low-code application platform capabilities will aid businesses in moving more work to the cloud.

Enterprises embrace and extend low-code. With the creation of various components for technical and business users, low code exemplifies a paradigm shift in enterprise productivity. In the next five years, improvements in the management and use of these components will shift between 55 and 65 percent of traditional app development to low-code, according to Ashish Varerkar, head of cloud practice at India-based digital transformation consultancy Larsen & Toubro Infotech.

Some professional developers who prefer to manually code have opposed low-code development, but this is changing as they realize that low code app development is faster and eliminates drudgery, which creates direct value for them, according to Forrester’s Bratincevic.

Enterprises will use low-code to decentralize technology stacks and ecosystems, which will aid in reengineering how enterprises implement technology, according to Gaurav Shekhar, program director of The University of Texas at Dallas’ graduate business analytics program. This will expedite software development and reduce the cost of IT maintenance.

Low code app development skills will become standard for all business users, similar to spreadsheets and presentations, according to Shekhar. Employers desire to use low-code tools to reduce training time for LOB employees.

The expansion of low-code providers into the cloud. Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, the leading public cloud service providers, are making substantial investments in low-code platforms. Microsoft Power Platform and Salesforce Lightning, along with the continued adoption of traditional low-code vendors such as OutSystems, Mendix, Appian, and others, are expected to become the most popular platforms, according to Varerkar.

Long-term, many enterprise customers will gravitate toward large enterprise platform providers because their low-code tools will easily integrate with the cloud stacks of these vendors and offer superior UI customization, integration, and reusability capabilities, according to Varerkar. Smaller vendors will continue to emphasize their capacity to migrate monolithic applications to microservices, implement serverless architectures, modernize legacy systems, and perform real-time monitoring.

Tools enhance governance and AI capacities. Currently, the capabilities of low-code platforms to automate intelligent governance at scale are immature, according to Bratincevic. He believes that there is room for improvement and that such efforts are currently underway.

Bratincevic and Wong of Gartner expect vendors to enhance the AI capabilities of low-code platforms. Expect these enhancements to assist users in automating some application design decisions and testing procedures, thereby improving the overall app quality. Bratincevic stated that low-code platforms will play a larger role in democratizing AI in app development, allowing businesses to offer simple AI services as a feature.

Low-code and conventional development each have their place. Bratincevic stated that according to Forrester, 75% of development firms will use low-code platforms by the end of 2021, primarily to build tertiary applications rather than core ones. Only 18% of low-code shops identified core apps as a primary use case for low-code, but it will become the method of choice for custom core apps over time, he added.

Bratincevic stated that low-code is currently becoming the standard for rapid application development. In the past year, many businesses have relied on it to help them adapt to COVID-19-related scenarios, such as employee contract tracking applications. Advanced companies will make low-code and citizen development a major focus over the next several years and the default option for the majority of custom app development, despite the fact that governance and cultural shifts will remain obstacles.

Eventually, low-code tools could not only supplement but also replace tasks currently performed by tools such as Excel, providing a shared platform for collaborative development and continuous improvement between IT development teams and businesspeople, according to Bratincevic.

Traditional application development will continue to exist. Businesses will continue to justify its use for applications that require optimization and control, such as deployment to particular architectures or environments.

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