What is the Difference Between No-Code and Low-Code Platforms?

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Low-code vs No-code

If you are reading this article you are likely involved in the development of a new software system for your organization or maybe you are in the process of updating and migrating an older system into the cloud. Regardless of which category you fit into, there are numerous ways to tackle these challenges.

The traditional development approach is to work with your team to gather requirements, develop your plan, and work with a development team to custom code an application to meet those needs. Although this is an absolutely acceptable method, these projects often run over budget or are delayed due to factors such as:

  • Inaccurate estimation
  • Software coding errors
  • Infrastructure delays, or
  • Testing challenges

A traditional development approach also creates the need for a continuous maintenance cycle to keep the custom software application up-to-date and secure.

Alternatively to traditional development, many organizations are opting to  use no-code or low-code platforms to develop business applications, or more importantly, business capabilities. These platforms are quickly gaining popularity and are typically provided to customers in a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering so that users don’t have to deal with setting up the infrastructure and development environments needed to support their applications. Ultimately, these PaaS models minimize the need for formal development processes and even development teams at all, allowing business users to build out their own capabilities. So, what is the difference between no-code and low-code platforms? Let’s dive in!

No-Code Platforms

A true no-code platform is essentially software that writes software. Meaning your business application can be developed without writing one line of code or requiring any programming experience whatsoever. These platforms provide a visual software interface that allows the user to create the application with easy-to-use features such as:

  • Drag and drop modules
  • Picklist selection boxes
  • Spreadsheet imports, etc.

No-code platforms are used most frequently to replace simple business cases, spreadsheets, or manual processes that don’t require connections to 3rd party systems (not to say that this can’t be accomplished with some no-code platforms). They also tend to be driven by specific use cases, such as Airtable, which is a cloud-based tool that functions in a similar fashion to a spreadsheet software package like Microsoft Excel but provides the ability for users to collaborate with each other in a centralized location. Most no-code platforms are deployed exclusively in the public cloud and don’t have the option for on-premises installations. No-code platforms are usually very easy to use but can sometimes create a scenario where you have information stored in more than one place because of the lack of application integration. This is usually fine for smaller organizations and it allows anyone with a good understanding of the needed capability to build it themselves.

Low-Code Platforms

A low-code platform can function in a similar fashion to a no-code platform with a visual integrated development environment (IDE) and similar ease of use, but they tend to be more general purpose in nature than most no-code platforms. Low-code provides a mechanism for developers to create custom code to deploy features not readily available. These platforms are very well-suited for more complex business processes, especially those that integrate with other applications, databases or systems. It also allows more seasoned developers (that learn the paradigms of the platform) the ability to develop an application much faster than they would in a traditional software project. One of the more interesting benefits of a low-code environment is the capability to include non-developers in the development team. These non-developers might be power users that have some basic coding or scripting skills but aren’t fully seasoned developers or they might be a user that has no development experience whatsoever and uses the no-code components exclusively. One example of a platform that leverages both low-code and no-code capabilities is Pegasystems. Pega refers to business stakeholders that aren’t professional developers but are still able to build applications through their tool as “Citizen Developers”. This inclusion of both parties can drastically reduce time to deployment because more activities can be distributed to the entire team. This is where the true value and ROI of a low-code tool can be created.

Takeaways

Both no-code and low-code platforms can help organizations rapidly deploy new capabilities without the same overhead that typical custom software development projects require. There are many factors that play into the decision on whether to use a no-code or low-code platform. They include: size of the project, number of users for the application, timeline for deployment, budget for recurring licensing fees, technical capability of current team or vendors, requirement for integration with other applications or systems, and longevity requirements.

If you would like to discuss which option is best for your organization and the system(s) you need to modernize, please contact Segue Technologies to learn more here.


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About the Author

Ron Novak leads the Commercial and Non-Profit customer verticals as a part of Segue's leadership team with the guiding principles of innovation, exceptional customer support, and customer value. His diverse experience in Information Technology has been formed through a consistent desire to understand the total picture with respect to information exchange, security, and the end-user experience. Ron is currently focused on leading development of Mobile Technologies to help businesses reach their customers in exciting new ways and supporting Non-Profits in better serving their members. Mobile application development is a natural extension of Segue's capabilities in Web development; Ron is applying this Segue experience to rapidly develop exceptional applications at low cost. Under his strategic direction, Segue's Mobile Application Development Team has grown from a small two-person operation to a cohesive development team that is releasing capability-specific mobile apps for Android and iOS platforms. Read more from Ron Novak