What is Low-Code? A Quick Introduction to Low-Code Development

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What is low-code development?

Last updated: March 30, 2020

Low-code is a visual development approach to application development. Low-code enables developers of varied experience levels to create applications for web and mobile, using drag-and-drop components and model driven logic through a graphic user interface. Low-code platforms relieve non-technical developers from having to write code while still supporting professional developers by abstracting tedious plumbing and infrastructure tasks required in application development. Working together, developers in the business and IT create, iterate, and release applications in a fraction of the time it takes with traditional methods. This low-code application development enables production of a full range of app types for disparate use cases. These app types range from upgrading legacy applications to IoT-enabled smart apps.

Components of a low-code platform

  • Integration

    Continuous Integration

    DevOps: Out-of-the-box

    Merge model changes into a version control repository upon task completion. Committing changes triggers the automated build system to grab the latest version from the repository, build, test, and validate the master branch before deploying.

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  • Low-Code Re-Usability


    Rome wasn’t built in a day, but your app could be

    Reusability makes it easy for developers to ramp from one project to another with ease, isolate problems and resolve them quickly for all apps using a component and increase application portfolio quality.

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  • Omni-channel App Development

    Build one code base for all devices

    Rather than support independent code and tooling for each incompatible target, developers are looking for ways to unify development activities and serve many targets from a single, modular code base.

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  • Openness and Extensibility

    Fast integrations, complete control

    Responsive development environments support building for any form factor without having to maintain dedicated code or logic. Package and deploy applications in one-click using cloud native architectures and integrated tools for app store publication.

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  • Guaranteed Performance

    Go fast without worrying about risk

    Built-in automated testing, proactive quality monitoring, and real-time performance management.

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  • Smart and Connected

    Access next generation technologies

    Connect to IoT, AI, machine learning, blockchain, and cognitive services without needing to be a domain expert.

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  • Deployment

    Deploy to the cloud of your choice with just one click

    Take advantage of a public cloud that automatically manages application reliability and scalability with simple configuration, reducing cost and effort to maintain infrastructure. Or deploy to a private cloud or on premises for total control.

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What can you create with a low-code platform?

Innovation Apps

Unlock the value from emerging technologies like IoT, AI, machine learning, and blockchain following a test and learn approach. Low-Code makes exploring and integrating next generation technologies accessible for business users and developers with drag and drop ease, enabling them to create functional prototypes and iterate toward their next great application at scale.

Efficiency Apps

Automate manual and paper-based processes to increase accuracy and quality while reducing costs. Low-Code platforms make it easy to create applications for capturing information and include connectors out of the box for integrating your applications to core systems.

Migration Apps

Enhance and modernize your existing applications with the latest advancements in user experience, application architectures like microservices, and continuous deployment. Integrate quality and performance management tools to improve reliability and maintainability throughout the application lifecycle.

The low-code developer continuum: featured tools

  • Mendix Studio

    No code featured tool for citizen and business developers

    Mendix Studio is a web-based, no-code developing environment for business developers. Design and build great apps using an intuitive “What You See is What You Get” page editor in conjunction with Atlas UI, a flexible design system for creating engaging user experiences. Mendix Studio also offers a visual Microflow editor to add business logic to your app without the need for code.

    6 Design Tips and Tricks to Get Started with Atlas UI
  • Mendix Studio Pro

    Low-code featured tool for business and professional developers

    Build sophisticated apps and microservices with a fully integrated development environment. In addition, low-code development makes connecting services and applications as intuitive as possible with reusable modules. By making use of Connector kits, developers can add connectivity to any data source xREST and SOAP consumption configuration, and consumes those services along with OData with ease. In addition, creating REST, SOAP, and OData services is a snap, enabling developers to create versioned APIs in a couple of clicks.

    Learn What You Can Integrate
  • Traditional IDEs to Build & Extend

    Experienced programmers can build anything

    Experienced developers can build applications from scratch and extend their Low-Code platform using third party IDEs and APIs. With Mendix, developers can use Eclipse to code applications using the Model SDK and platform APIs, or use VS Code to build front-end widgets that become accessible through the Desktop Modeler.

    Learn more about developing in Mendix

Mendix’s low-code platform brings app development into the future

Empower a continuum of developers

Empower a continuum of developers

Introduce citizen developers to application development with WYSIWYG tools for creating functional prototypes and productivity applications rapidly. Provide professional developers with an IDE that enhances their productivity and enables them to communicate in an easy to understand visual way.

Promote iterative development

Promote iterative development

Integrated project management, collaboration, and feedback tools share the domain specific knowledge of the business and professional developers to communicate requirements, iterate on applications as a team, and respond to customers with agility.

Create smart experiences

Create smart experiences

Incorporate next generation technologies like IoT, blockchain, and artificial intelligence into applications without needing specialized skills.

Deploy web-scale applications

Deploy web-scale applications

Release applications to the environment you choose with flexible deployment capabilities to the cloud or on premises using Cloud Foundry, or Docker with Kubernetes.

Extended learning

Low-code Evaluation Guide

Start here to discover why Mendix was founded and what comprises the Mendix vision.

Getting Started Guide

Get started with Mendix using expertly created learning paths, so you building apps in days.

Product Demonstrations

Discover 30-minute demostrations that show the Mendix low-code platform in action.

Featured low-code webinars

Build Your Dev Team

Shape Your Team for the Future of App Development.

Fast Track Your Innovation

The Fast Track to Innovation is with Low-code.

Product Video Playlist

Low-code is all about building impactful applications efficiently, in record time. Explore this video web series.

Additional low-code reading

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Low-Code and Agile Development?

    Mendix Low-Code development adapts well to the Agile methodology with a suite of tools to foster collaboration and transparency throughout the application development lifecycle. The Mendix Platform Portal is the central hub for project and story management, communication, and feedback. These elements flow directly into the development environment and the application itself for users to navigate and address items directly and easily. Read the Agile methodology guide for more.

  • Best Low-Code Tools?

    The best Low-Code tools are inclusive of the business and provide them tools to actively contribute and collaborate throughout the application development lifecycle. Mendix integrates collaboration into every facet of the platform, uses intuitive drag-and-drop development environments for creating engaging user interfaces and visual logic, and allows you to implement your own design language for applications to represent your brand.

  • Low-Code vs No Code?

    Low-Code platforms allow developers to extend applications with their own coded enhancements. No-Code platforms apply constraints to the development environment limiting the user’s ability to extend their application beyond the vendor’s supplied solution. The Mendix platform is a governed platform supporting a spectrum of developers. Citizen developers use Mendix Low-Code tools to build productivity applications or start UI development on enterprise apps through a governed experience. Business and professional developers use Mendix Low-Code tools to create enterprise applications, REST APIs, microservices and more. When custom code is necessary, professional developers encapsulate custom code they write into shareable modules for the whole development team to drag-and-drop into their applications. Related Article: Understand No-Code vs. Low-Code Development Tools

  • What is the Low-Code Application Development Process?

    Low-Code lends itself well to the agile methodology of application development. Mendix supports agile development with an integrated project management application in the Platform Portal. Team members add stories to an application which flow into the development environment. While agile sprints result in a culmination of work and feedback over a period of time, Mendix feedback mechanisms promote iterations during sprints increasing development speed and accuracy, and reducing time to value. Related Article: Agile Process: Why You Need Feedback Loops Both During and After Sprints

  • Best Low-Code Platform?

    Mendix formed in 2005 to transform the way lines of business collaborate with IT development teams to deliver applications while making it easier and faster for developers to create applications using a model driven approach. Both Forrester and Gartner have validated our vision with Gartner moving our high productivity application platform as a service (hpaPaas) from a niche player in 2014 to the leaders quadrant for the second consecutive year in 2018.

    As the only application development platform to support the spectrum of developers within the enterprise with purpose built tools, integrated collaboration and cloud native architecture, Mendix leads the way for the rest of the category.

  • Low-Code and Digital Transformation?

    Low-Code is a catalyst for digital transformation in organizations because visual, model driven development presents logic in a language anyone in the application lifecycle can understand. Mendix uses this common language with integrated collaboration tools to help the development team (which includes the business) to reach alignment early and often in the application lifecycle. Developers are more efficient because the tools Mendix provides increase quality and consistency across the development team. The result is application throughput increases, delivered applications accurately drive positive business outcomes and the business is more likely to adopt the solutions because they have a greater investment and understanding of the process.

  • What is visual development/how does it work?

    Visual development is a more intuitive way to build applications. Using model-driven development concepts to visually define the user interface, logic, and data model, Mendix empowers a spectrum of developers from citizen developers to professional developers to develop native mobile applications, web applications, APIs, microservices, and more. Because the development environment is visual and model driven, users gain proficiency in a fraction of the time it takes to master a traditional language. And if hand coding is required, professional developers can encapsulate logic and functionality into modules for the rest of the development team to reuse in their projects. On average, customers realize six to ten times productivity improvement using Mendix over traditional hand coding approaches to application development.

  • How does low-code development compare to terms like high-productivity aPaaS and RAD?

    High productivity application platform as a service (hpaPaaS) is a term popularized by Gartner to categorize platforms that support declarative, model driven design and one-click deployment. hpaPaaS solutions include rapid application development (RAD) capabilities along with application deployment and execution services in the cloud. Both hpaPaaS and Low-Code provide levels of abstraction with an integrated set of tools to accelerate application delivery.

    Rapid application development (RAD) is a concept that products can be developed faster and of higher quality through: Gathering requirements using workshops or focus groups; prototyping and early, reiterative user testing of designs; the re-use of software components and more. Mendix is a Low-Code development platform facilitating the practical implementation of RAD with visual development capabilities to enable rapid, iterative and collaborative application design and development. With Mendix business and IT align on requirements through integrated project management tools modeled after agile, they share prototypes to gather feedback and refine requirements, and reuse models and components to speed development and enable more developers.

  • How to build an app without code?

    Low-Code platforms abstract away application development decisions like what database to use, the language to write the back end, and the front-end framework to create the user interface and experience. Mendix enables anyone – from your most senior developers to business analysts with no programming experience – to build enterprise grade applications at speed, collaborating across the organization with greater transparency, and with control using a governed platform promoting quality and consistency every step of the way. Related Article: How to Rapidly Build Apps Without Coding

  • What’s the business value of low-code development?

    With visual development, one-click deployment, reusable components, and alignment with Agile methodologies, low-code development platforms allow development teams to develop and deploy applications faster. This in turn allows organizations to accelerate their time-to-market speed, increase their IT output, all while optimizing IT productivity. Read the Low Code Value Handbook for more.