Low-code is an application development method that elevates coding from textual to visual.

Rather than a technical coding environment, low-code operates in a model-driven, drag-and-drop interface. All development skill levels — professional developers, novice developers, subject matter experts, business stakeholders, and decision makers — can use low-code to build value-driven enterprise business applications.

 

Low-code application development platforms (LCAPs) abstract and automate every step of the application lifecycle.

Development is more accessible to users without technical expertise, with features that accelerate the development process.

Visual modeling

Drag-and-drop functionality and an intuitive visual UI make it possible for professional developers to increase their productivity and for citizen developers to build all types of apps. Model-driven development lets you visualize how the app works as it’s being built with the ability to launch with one-click deployment.

What is model-driven development?

Benefits

  • Utilize existing talent to build and deliver apps faster
  • Empower departments outside of IT to participate in development
  • Develop a variety of solutions without incurring heavy costs
  • Better collaboration and decision making among cross-functional teams
  • Free up specialized developers to work on bigger, more complex tasks

Reusable components

Build cross-platform apps with pre-configured modules, logic, templates, connectors, and more. Components of a low-code app can be customized and extended by skilled developers.

Benefits

  • Fast-track development with greater efficiency
  • Rely on reusable elements that are pre-tested for performance and security
  • Build apps with greater consistency and scalability
  • Extend app features quickly as needed

Collaboration tools

Develop collaboratively with built-in tools for feedback loops, revision tracking, user stories, messaging, and more. The visual nature of low-code keeps everyone speaking the same development language.

Benefits

  • Breakdown silos to foster a stronger business-IT partnership
  • Promote better organizational communication
  • Streamline development and reduce rework

Scalable environments

Deploy new apps and augment existing apps quickly as customer demands and business needs change. A cloud-based low-code platform provides flexibility, support for continuous delivery, and run-time and dev-time scalability on demand.

Benefits

  • Build maintainable solutions that are easy to scale on cloud-native architecture
  • Facilitate immediate changes when necessary
  • Deliver continuous improvements to end-users with engaging web, mobile, conversational, or immersive experiences
  • Keep your organization agile in the face of disruption

Data integration

Securely integrate data and logic from any source, system, or service — including your core legacy systems. Build apps using pre-configured APIs and connectors, or empower your skilled developers to build a custom integration.

Benefits

  • Reclaim more than 30% of your developers’ time
  • Build and manage systems at a larger scale
  • Effortlessly discover and share data across projects and teams
  • Create reusable components and microservices faster with seamless access to enterprise data

Application lifecycle management

Low-code supports all phases of the app development lifecycle with tools to streamline project management, requirements management, version control, testing, deployment, and more. Holistic low-code platforms incorporate Agile development practices and DevOps tools.

Explore the low-code application development lifecycle

Benefits

  • Seamlessly move apps through each lifecycle phase: Ideation, development, testing, deployment, and operations
  • Accelerate all phases for faster delivery utilizing automation and abstraction
  • Enable your teams to work iteratively and autonomously

What is the difference between low-code and…

No-code
development

No-code development is ideal for people with no coding knowledge or experience. With this development technique, you can build basic apps with a limited scope, without involving IT.

Features of no-code:

  • Simple, visual development environment
  • Limited customizations and integrations
  • Not suited for legacy system overhauls

 

High-code (traditional)
development

High-code, or traditional development, involves manual coding in multiple languages with various technologies. You can build any solution, but you’ll be heavily reliant on professional developer resources.

Features of high-code:

  • Specialized skillsets with a small talent pool
  • Time-intensive and costly
  • Need to develop separately for mobile, web, and various operating systems/devices

 

 

Low-code development combines the best of both worlds in a single platform where both non-technical users and professional developers can apply their skillsets, collaborate, and co-develop solutions.

With separate integrated development environments (IDEs) catered to both business users and professional developers, anyone with an idea can use low-code to tackle today’s business challenges.

Professional
Developers

Low-code provides developers with a dedicated IDE and a sophisticated toolbox tailored to support client-side, server-side, and integration development.

With low-code, professional developers can extend apps with custom code, integrate data from multiple sources, build mobile apps, leverage microservices, and translate business needs into custom solutions.

 

Business
developers

Rather than wait for IT, non-technical business users can use low-code’s simplified development environment to build their own apps.

Governance cuts down on shadow IT and empowers anyone to build basic apps while IT still maintains visibility and control of the organization’s app landscape.

 

 

How do you choose the right low-code development platform when there are more than 300 vendors in the market?

At its foundation, your low-code platform should be equipped to help you meet the ever-increasing demand for software solutions. But what about the details?

Every low-code development platform is different. Use the evaluation criteria below as you’re vetting your options.

Collaborative IDEs

To empower your entire workforce to co-create solutions, make sure the platform you use has separate IDEs for both professional and citizen developers.

The platform should have built-in tools to facilitate real-time collaboration between business and IT throughout the application lifecycle.

Key Questions to Consider

  • How can business stakeholders provide feedback throughout the development process to minimize rework?
  • How do multiple developers work on the same project?
  • How does the work transfer between professional and citizen developers?
  • How is conflict resolution handled across different developers’ work?

Data integration

Organizations have vast amounts of data across various teams. The platform should have the ability to integrate with any system and data source.

Your low-code platform should make it easy for developers to find, understand, and use data from any internal or external source — without compromising data security.

Key Questions to Consider

  • Is there out-of-the-box connectivity to external data and services?
  • How secure is it to integrate data?
  • Does the data consumption make it easy to build a microservices-based solution? How?

Application lifecycle management

Your low-code platform should have an integrated set of tools and services for continuous support throughout the application development lifecycle — from ideation and requirements gathering to deployment and performance management.

This support eliminates the traditional bottlenecks, costs, and risks associated with app delivery while increasing quality and providing a better development experience for all stakeholders involved.

Key Questions to Consider

  • How does the platform support developers from app ideation to deployment without leaving the IDE?
  • How does the platform handle versioning, source control, and consistency checks?
  • Can testing and quality automation be included in application delivery pipelines?
    How does the platform support DevOps?

User experience

End-users expect frictionless experiences across their various devices.

Your low-code platform should offer development and operational support for web, mobile, immersive, and conversational experiences to optimize UX.

Key Questions to Consider

  • What kind of support does the platform provide for native mobile, progressive web apps (PWAs), and responsive web apps?
  • How easily can developers add an additional UX to an existing application?
  • How much reuse can be achieved when a use case must utilize more than one modality?

Productivity

To support developers of all skillsets, the platform should offer a no-code IDE with drag-and-drop widgets, reusable components, and real-time collaboration tools to enhance citizen development productivity.

The platform should also include a sophisticated low-code IDE with flexible integration and extensibility, as well as out-of-the-box DevOps tools to help professional developers build complex apps and systems faster.

Key Questions to Consider

  • How does the platform support industry-standard interfaces and protocols (REST, JDBC, and OData)?
  • Is the platform open and extensible with custom code and APIs?
  • How do developers build, share, and create an enterprise-wide library of reusable components on the platform?
  • Does the platform provide full stack delivery for novice developers?
  • What capabilities does the platform offer around workflow automation and data integration?

Cloud support

Your low-code platform should support the scalable development of cloud-native apps with the option to deploy on public, private, or hybrid clouds, as well as on-premise.

Key Questions to Consider

  • Does the platform guarantee maximum uptime with mission-critical resiliency? How?
  • If business needs change, how easy is it to move applications from one cloud to another?
  • What is required for scaling as application data and utilization grows or shrinks?
    How does the platform ensure app security?

 

And don’t forget to check…

Use cases

What type of applications do you need to deliver? If you’re looking to build simple productivity apps and web forms, no-code features will get the job done. But if your goal is to deliver mission-critical apps, modernize core systems, and offer sophisticated user experiences, invest in an enterprise-grade low-code platform.

See what you can build

The vendor’s vision

What is the low-code vendor’s strategic vision for the platform? Work with a vendor that has a strong customer-centric focus on the future of the platform, with an ecosystem of delivery partners, developer communities, marketplaces, and training resources.

Learn how to avoid vendor lock-in

 

From a departmental level to the entire enterprise, low-code is helping organizations across the globe revolutionize the way they solve business problems.

Push your digital strategies forward by building and innovating solutions quickly that drive unprecedented business value.

Low-code is the future of application development— and it has the reputation to prove it.

 

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.