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September 21, 2017

Why Low-code Development Platforms Are So Much More Than a Beginner's Tool

By Special Guest
Andrew LeCates, director of platform evangelism, FileMaker

As digital transformation becomes a reality across all industries, organizations are realizing the limitations of their legacy software and traditional business processes. Companies need a means of rapid change to accommodate customer demand and remain competitive – without busting the budget.

It’s understandable that low-code and no-code development platforms are experiencing greater adoption. This new class of tools is helping to meet the ever-growing demand for applications in the midst of a developer talent shortage. But as more vendors come to market with low-code platforms, it can be tempting to dismiss these as “dumbed down” or amateur app development.

That would be a mistake, though. Forrester (News - Alert) analysts Clay Richardson and John Rymer identified three false beliefs about low-code platforms: that low-code is synonymous with no code, that it only works for small-scale apps and that it is only used by citizen developers.   

The point is that low-code app development platforms don’t necessarily deliver a fully automated, click-of-a-button type of experience. Rather, they take a visual or declarative or more natural language approach to the development process to achieve results. Still, just because these tools don’t require, say, fluency in Python or C+ doesn’t mean they lack sophistication.

Using a platform like this helps individuals gradually discover what’s possible as they go.

With an easy-to-use platform, users can get comfortable with it while doing simple processes – the more comfortable they get, the more sophisticated they can get with the design itself.

More complex elements are removed from the equation so that once users have

successfully and easily built a custom app, the process becomes less intimidating. From there, the sky is the limit. The more a user experiments with the platform, the more they’ll learn and the more they will be able to do with it.

Further debunking the myth that low-code is only for amateurs, there are modern professional developers using low-code platforms to create much more complex apps. In fact, many of these professional developers once started out as citizen developers themselves. As they’ve advanced into more sophisticated development projects, they’ve kept the low-code platforms as part of their toolboxes. These low-code platforms offer something of a multi-tiered capability – a successful app can be created without knowing coding but, likewise, a successful app of deeper sophistication can be created with code using the same platform.

So, then, low-code platforms do not limit developers; they create greater opportunity. With these high-productivity tools, developers can address smaller, rapid-scale projects that they often can’t address with other kinds of development stacks. This can be for various reasons but most often comes down to affordability. When it comes to smaller projects with a shorter shelf life, it’s not always economical to spend a lot of time and money. Maybe your customer only needs an app for a year, or maybe just a few months. In a situation like this, many professional developers find that a low-code platform is the most appropriate choice.

And consider this: another plus associated with low-code platforms is that they can make it easier to incorporate user feedback into apps during development. This is huge for professional developers working with clients who may not know exactly what they are looking for in a solution. Another advantage has to do with easy integration with the other infrastructure and programs that a client has in place already.

The advantages of a low-code app development tool are lower costs, higher speed and greater productivity. This means developers are getting more done for less expense in a shorter amount of time. And for a busy developer trying to juggle multiple projects of different scale and range, efficiency is key. It makes perfect sense, then, to use different types of development platforms and processes, depending on which is the best fit for each. Low-code platforms, rather than limiting your options, instead open a world of new opportunities for custom apps that will meet the challenge of digital transformation.

About the Author: Andrew LeCates is the director of platform evangelism for FileMaker, Inc., an Apple (News - Alert) subsidiary. He is a 20-year veteran of the company, which develops simply powerful software for easily creating custom apps that work seamlessly across iPad, iPhone (News - Alert), Windows, Mac, and the web.
          




Edited by Mandi Nowitz
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