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

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The Low-Code Guide

Raise your low-code expectations

This isn’t just about streamlining development, it’s about developing solutions that move the needle for the business.

What is Low-Code Development?

Low-code is a visual approach to software development. With low-code, you can abstract and automate every step of the application lifecycle to streamline delivery of a variety of solutions. By breaking down traditional silos of business and IT (promoting continuous collaboration), your organization can develop solutions that meets the needs of your business.

Gartner Predicts:

“By 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity.”

Benefits of low-code development

Achieve unparalleled time-to-value

  • Rapidly deliver apps that your business needs with the existing talent
  • Improve developer productivity with low-code attributes, such as a development toolkit (based on developer experience), a visual user interface, reusable components, and more
  • Enable faster decision making among cross-functional teams with baked-in collaboration tools

Build more at scale

  • Develop a variety of solutions ranging from process automation apps to mission-critical systems modernization, without incurring heavy costs
  • Deliver continuous improvements to end-users with engaging web, mobile, conversational, or immersive experiences
  • Build maintainable solutions that are easy to scale on cloud-native architecture

Shape a new way of developing

  • Break down silos to foster a strong business-IT partnership
  • Empower more developers throughout the organization to build applications and contribute
  • Stay agile to respond quickly to changing business and customer needs

All-in-one Low-code Platform

Create better software faster by abstracting and automating the development process with Mendix, the all-in-one low-code platform.

Who can build on low-code?

Anyone with an idea can use low-code to build applications. With dedicated development environments for business users and professional developers, low-code is designed to augment and synchronize the work of multiple developers.

Professional Developers

A recent Gartner survey states that 66% of low-code development platform users are professional developers from an enterprise IT department. At their core, professional developers want to build creative software solutions to solve complex problems. Low-code provides developers with a dedicated IDE and a sophisticated toolbox that is tailored to meet their development needs. Then be that to extend apps with custom code, consume data from multiple sources, build mobile apps, or leverage microservice architecture.

“As I saw the capability of creating an entire database front-end, middle tier was no longer needed and the speed of development went from 10x to 20x to 30x faster every time I did an enhancement. Now, Mendix (low-code) is the only platform I develop in.”

— Evan Gagnier, software engineer application manager at Granite Telecommunications

Learn more about low-code for professional developers

Citizen Developers

According to a recent Gartner report, 61% of organizations either have or plan to have active citizen development initiatives. Rather than waiting for IT, business users prefer to build their own apps. Instead of risking shadow IT, business and IT can partner together to build a formal citizen development initiative on a low-code platform. Low-code’s simplified development environment for business users — a nocode IDE — allows them to build basic productivity apps, while IT still has the visibility into the company’s app landscape.

“That (low-code) was really the first time I had built a program from beginning to end, I had never coded one before. I was like, ’Wow, I can actually do this without having a deep coding background.‘”

— Imran Kasam, EXP Realty

Learn more about low-code for citizen developers

Low-Code Use Cases

Your imagination is truly the limit to what you can create with low-code. But to make it easy, here are some examples of what you can build:

  • Customer portals

    Enable self-service for easy customer interaction

  • New core system application

    Deliver mission-critical apps in record time

  • Mobile app for customer engagement

    Delight your customers with new digital experiences

Low-code by the numbers

The Value of Low-Code Development

Great software solutions create immense value for the business. They can help organizations drive new revenue, enhance customer satisfaction, mitigate risks, cut costs, and more. But constantly delivering impactful solutions is hard.


Perception

95% of business and IT stakeholders agree IT involvement adds value

Reality

61% of business stakeholders say less than half of their IT ideas are implemented

Solution

99% of IT and business stakeholders agree their organization would benefit from the capabilities offered by low-code platforms

Delivered Outcome

£4M new annual revenue delivered by a UK-based waste management company via an eCommerce portal built on low-code

Source: Digital Disconnect: A Study of Business and IT Alignment in 2019

The Low-Code Manifesto

Low-code solves the fundamental disconnect between what the business needs and what software was delivered. But like any technology, companies need to use it correctly to get value out of it. So, we defined the following nine Principles of Low-Code Application Development to maximize business impact.

The 9 principles of low-code development

  • Visual development model

    Model-Driven Development

  • Cloud with lightning bolt

    IT-Business Collaboration

  • Lightbulb

    Agility

  • Team members in circle

    The Cloud

  • Hand with coding characters in palm

    Openness

  • Fingerprint and lock

    Multi-User Development

  • Finger swiping right

    Experimentation & Innovation

  • Governance & Control

  • Speech bubbles

    Community

Low-Code Resources

  • Podcast

    A podcast about the low-code shift and the makers bringing ideas to life.

    Listen to the podcast

  • Low-code evaluation guide

    A deep dive into Mendix and our vision for low-code.

    Read the guide

  • Low-code demos

    Watch demos of the Mendix low-code platform in action.

    See the demos

Low-Code Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I build an app without coding?

    You can build software applications without any coding skills by using a low-code development platform. Low-code enables anyone — from your most senior developers to business analysts with no programming experience — to build enterprise-grade applications with speed and ease. Low-code platforms enable collaboration across the organization with greater transparency and with control to promote quality and consistency every step of the way.

    Read more on how to build apps without coding.

  • What is low-code application development?

    Low-code application development is a visual, model-driven way to build and deploy software applications. Business users and professional developers of all skill levels can build anything from process automation applications to core systems in a low-code environment, enabling organizations to stay agile, break down departmental silos, and improve overall productivity.

    Read more in the low-code manifesto.

  • What is visual software development and how does it work?

    Visual software development is an intuitive way to build custom applications. Low-code application platforms make this possible with model-driven development concepts to visually define user interfaces, logic, and data models.

    With visual development, anyone from citizen developers to professional developers can build 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 development 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.

  • How does low-code accelerate digital transformation?

    Low-code is a catalyst for digital transformation because it’s faster and more intuitive than traditional development. Low-code platforms provide integrated collaboration tools to help the development team (which includes the business) reach alignment early and often in the application lifecycle. The visual, model-driven development environments present logic in a common language anyone in the application lifecycle can understand.

    Developers of all skill levels are more efficient because low-code tools increase quality and consistency. 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.

    Read more about digital transformation through low-code.

  • What is the difference between low-code and no code?

    Both low-code and no-code development platforms make it possible for anyone from citizen developers to professional developers to build custom applications. 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 the application beyond the vendor’s supplied solution.

    Low-code platforms support a spectrum of developers. Citizen developers use low-code tools to build productivity applications or start UI development on enterprise apps through a governed experience. Business and professional developers use low-code tools to create enterprise applications, REST APIs, microservices and more. When custom code is necessary, professional developers encapsulate the code they write into shareable modules for the whole development team to drag-and-drop into their applications.

    Read more about low-code vs. no-code.

  • How does low-code work with Agile development?

    Low-code lends itself well to the Agile methodology of application development by offering a suite of tools to foster collaboration and transparency throughout the application development lifecycle.

    Low-code platforms include a 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 easily.

    Read more about how low-code works with Agile methodology.

  • How does low-code development compare to high-productivity aPaaS (hpaPaaS) and rapid application development (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.

    Low-code development platforms facilitate the practical implementation of RAD with visual development capabilities to enable rapid, iterative, and collaborative application design. Business and IT are able to align on requirements through integrated project management tools modeled after Agile. Users can share prototypes to gather feedback and refine requirements, and reuse models and components.

  • What are the best low-code development tools?

    The best low-code development tools are inclusive of the business and provide features for active contribution and communication throughout the application development lifecycle.

    Low-code development tools integrate collaboration into every facet of the platform. Intuitive drag-and-drop development environments are used to create engaging user interfaces and visual logic, and you can also implement your own design language to represent your brand.

  • What is the best low-code development platform?

    The best low-code development platforms make it easier and faster for users to create software applications. Using a visual, model-driven approach, low-code platforms eliminate the need for coding expertise and transform the way lines of business collaborate with IT development teams to deliver applications.

    In your search for a low-code development platform, make sure you choose one that supports a spectrum of developers within the enterprise with purpose-built tools, integrated collaboration, and cloud-native architecture.

    Read More: How to Evaluate Low-Code Platforms

  • What is 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 build and deploy applications faster. This allows organizations to accelerate their time-to-market and increase IT output, all while optimizing IT productivity and increasing ROI.

    Read the Low-Code Value Handbook for more.