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Minal Mehta for ToolJet

Posted on • Originally published at blog.tooljet.com

Understanding the low-code vs no-code debate

Most of us, at times, are unable to understand or differentiate between low-code & no-code. At times some of the users describe them in a similar way. Does this matter? What are the real differences between them and how can they be used independently?

Both the low-code & no-code principles of application development abstract away from ‘code’ to bring forth the advantages of ‘visual modelling’. However, the difference remains fundamentally in the scale and type of application that needs to be built via applying one of the two approaches. Let's explore more as we advance further in this article.

Low-code vs no-code: What are the similarities to begin with?

The low-code and no-code development platforms bring forth the methods of building software applications without coding or with less coding. So how do these principles work? These development principles take the visual approach to application development. Hence app development becomes accessible to a higher volume of individuals, especially tech-savvy natives working in the line of business.

The low-code and no-code principles of development support the professional as well as the citizen developers alike. It is possible to develop applications with greater efficiency while adhering to these novel approaches of development. This can heighten productivity. This is pretty much where the similarities end!

Low-code & its use cases

Low-code platforms are sort of a ’middle ground’ between the full-on manual coding and absolute no-coding. They are more malleable. The low-code platforms can be very visually driven coming with elements of ‘drag & drop’. They are quite open and extendable. They also have room for manual coding, giving developers the joy of both worlds! Here it is possible to increase the speed of development and there may not be any need to constantly replicate the basic code.

Low-code development principles also permit for the scalable architecture, open API that can be reused & come with the flexibility of being ‘on-cloud’ or with onsite adaptability. The developers can additionally exercise control over the application quality, testing and performance tooling.

Additionally, with low-code principles of developing, the potential for the developers to extend the capabilities of the platform with the application of their own code can be multiplied. They are at the same time empowered to modify or build complex and sophisticated applications that may otherwise need more manpower deployment or may need some specific skills.

The low-code platforms are able to handle more user cases because of their generic purpose nature.

Let us have a look at some of the pros of low–code platforms:

Next-gen technologies with the applicability of innovative use cases: A host of Low-Code platforms come with a comprehensive library of components that are built by the technology leaders. They also permit you to draw upon the third party smart services on offer in the cloud-like Machine Learning, AI, Blockchain, Facial & Voice Recognition services and the likes.

The Customer Experience Applications: These are available for mobile, leveraging the previously – built interface templates that are designed in such a way to support the developers optimise the user-friendliness and uptake of any application. They also come to ensure consistency in corporate branding.

The Legacy System Modernization comes along with the current architecture along with microservices. These support component-based development where they are able to use containers. These come with continuous deployment opportunities for the existing mission-critical applications.

No-code & its uses

No-code platforms or principles of development can be safely considered to be the simplest. These are visual-based, drag & drop platforms that allow us to function with basic applications. We may not be overhauling the legacy systems here as we did in the Low-Code Platforms. At the same time, we may not be able to scale it very well and may be limited in our approach towards the integration capabilities. This approach to development is best suited to teams that have specific needs that fall within a limited scope.

The No-code Platforms come with simplicity of use However this can also be one of its downfalls. With most of its framework being determined by the ones who developed it, the real ability to customize it boils down to low or no at all! This may possibly lead to loopholes for security and compliance-related issues. Also, the ability to work out the application into a more wide organizational architecture becomes limited. This principle of development may lack the oversight and the consideration that comes straight from a developer-driven application. The No-Code apps are also known to end up contributing to the presence of shadow IT.

It may seem somewhat blurry that if these principles of development are limited in their capabilities, why have they at all been able to hang around for as long as they have done? We can answer by saying that this application is safe to use by people with no – coding knowledge or experience. Especially by the ones who can’t wait for an IT team to build something for them. No-code applications are also a great way for non-technical people to build prototypes for what they want before they bring them forth to their IT teams.

At the first glance, the simplicity and ease along with the rigidity that comes with No-code development principles may work at a basic departmental level, however, scaling to the organizational level may pose certain challenges like:

Architectural considerations: There can be instances of monolith application architecture solely due to the inexperience of the developer with application architecture patterns. Most of the no-code platforms may require deployment to their affiliated public cloud and they may not come with the flexibility of deploying to a private cloud or onsite application.

Low extensibility: the No-code platforms lean more towards the operational efficiency use cases. They do not have the bandwidth to focus on the User Experience or are not able to extend to the legacy systems We may not be able to create custom solutions for third–party or homegrown requirements.

Inefficient data governance: Because of the stand-alone nature of the apps built using the no-code, platform data governance is likely to be a primary challenge

Where does Tooljet stand in the no-code / low-code space?

We may very well use the Tooljet platform for no-code application development, where it really makes a mark in the low–code space. Tooljet allows rapid application development with pre-built components to suit the end-users. By minimizing the coding needs and taking away the grunt work, Tooljet is able to gain ground when it comes to keeping updated the ageing legacy systems and improving customer experiences brick by brick among its other benefits.

Ending Note: With the ongoing debate when deciding upon which principles to route for, we may end by insisting that the no-code platforms are quite simplistic when it comes to supporting the complex use cases while the low-code principles come across as too complex for non-professional developers to use. To compound this challenge let us observe that while implementing a no-code principle to development, one may be seen as shadowing IT to the larger IT space. Also, once your application grows beyond, what are you going to do? All the cost-saving and efficiency may go out of the window as your choices get limited. On the other hand, if we deploy the low-code principles to development it may expand your horizon and you may be able to add more customizations to your application. Larger more complex and sophisticated applications can be built with a low-code platform and this is not the case for the no-code principles.

Looking for a low-code platform to build your next internal tool? We would love you to check out ToolJet on GitHub.

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