Dispelling Five Myths of Low-Code App Development

5 min read

Debunking myths around low-code app development

According to Forrester, more and more enterprises are adopting low-code development platforms to speed software delivery. Beyond the need for speed, there are various other benefits of low-code development, but many are still skeptical. There are five main reasons why organizations choose to disregard low-code development; however, these reasons are merely myths that can be easily debunked. In this article, we will dispel the five myths of low-code app development.

Myth 1: Low-code platforms are only for citizen developers

Many software engineers are skeptical of low-code and believe this type of development is only for citizen developers. However, building enterprise-ready applications at speed and scale requires a continuum of developers—a cross-functional team that can participate in the development process. This team includes the software engineer.

Low-code platforms use visual modeling tools to represent logic and abstract away from the underlying code to a visual level that can be understood by both developer and business users alike. This creates a common ground upon which ideas, experiences, and business logic can be articulated for maximum effect, providing a collaborative environment where all team members (at varying levels of development abilities) can participate and contribute effectively to the development process.

User experience, logic, integrations, and complete apps can be built and shared instantly in the cloud with built-in DevOps. Visual modeling enables screens and logic to be shared much earlier in the design process, bringing forward valuable feedback to help speed development and increase accuracy. It is this enterprise-wide collaboration that is the key ingredient to building valuable applications at speed.

Myth 2: Low-code development is only suitable for small departmental applications

Many are skeptical that low-code means small-scale development. But, according to a Forrester survey, enterprise applications are complex, large, and critical to business operations—and they’re being built on low-code platforms. Customers involved in the survey reported that most applications built via low-code are enterprise-wide or scaled for multiple departments, while platform adoption spans across the entire enterprise. Nearly all business-developer respondents said at least two departments in their enterprise had adopted low-code platforms, and roughly one-third of them said the entire enterprise had adopted the platform.

Myth 3: Low-code development is only about the build phase

Despite their name, low-code development platforms don’t focus only on the build phase; they provide a single integrated platform that supports the entire app delivery lifecycle: design, build, deploy, manage, and iterate.

As such, in addition to visual development tools, they typically include capabilities like social collaboration, agile project management, one-click deployment, application governance tools, end-user feedback loops, etc. The time-to-market advantage of visual development (over hand-coding) is mitigated if there’s not a seamless way to move apps along the lifecycle, particularly in terms of deployment. A platform with a cloud-native environment enables you to deploy and operate in the cloud of your choice, resulting in a seamless experience managing the full application lifecycle.

Myth 4: Low-code will just create another form of shadow IT

The rise of low-code platforms has put increasing power and flexibility into a new kind of developer: the business developer. There are skeptics who believe these platforms are just another form of user-productivity tools that will cause shadow IT, the proverbial app running unmanaged, ungoverned, and of questionable quality.

The reality is that low-code platforms discourage the siloed approach to development and provide an environment for business developers and IT to collaborate, enabling the business to be involved but allowing IT to maintain control of the development. Low-code platforms can shield citizen developers from unnecessary complexity while offering DevOps teams and professional developers full transparency, openness, governance, and control they require.

Look for a low-code platform that applies appropriate governance without compromising time-to-value, including tools to automate testing and monitor quality and performance. Some low-code platforms will provide logging and controls out-of-the-box to ensure compliance and quality across your entire portfolio of apps.

The right low-code platform will support both the professional developer and the business developer with tailored development environments for each user, like a desktop modeler and a web modeler that easily integrate and enable instant feedback and collaboration in real-time.

Myth 5: With low-code development, there is no ability to custom code

The idea behind low-code development is to achieve as much as possible without code, but this does not mean that software engineers can’t extend the functionality with code if they desire. There may be times when what’s needed by the business falls outside the skill set of the business developer and the scope and capabilities of the platform, but this doesn’t mean you will hit a brick wall. Software engineers can use code to develop reusable code extensions.

By leveraging client and server-side APIs, engineers can build, package, and distribute new functionalities, such as connectors to external services like machine learning and AI, integrations to internal systems of record, native mobile widgets, and reusable UI components. With this capability, software engineers can extend the reach of other developers on the team, enabling them to push beyond the boundaries of the core platform to build better solutions even faster by extending the native features of the platform with code.

In conclusion, low-code platforms offer the necessary tools for both the business and IT to collaborate and build valuable enterprise apps at speed while maintaining control over the entire application lifecycle.

Learn about IBM’s low-code platform by Mendix here.

This article was originally published on Mendix.

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