The opportunity to develop apps in a simpler way is always inviting, but often the complex needs for the final product make it impossible to opt for easy options. However, as time goes on, No Code/Low Code (NCLC) platforms get better and better, offering more and more ways to get things done fast and easily. Uptime’s CTO Raimo Seero said that LCNC can never completely replace writing code, but here and there it can be an effective option for building smaller, simpler, or very specific types of applications.
“A few years ago, NCLC was mainly only suitable for the most elementary or simplest things – for example, building simple landing pages with drag and drop editors. Today, the picture has changed quite a bit, and platforms such as Microsoft PowerApps, Zapier, Appian, and many others have made it possible to create quite complex products,” he explains.
According to research, the share of NCLC applications of all new applications created could rise to more than half in the coming year, making it unreasonable to ignore the simpler alternatives in appropriate circumstances. However, Uptime’s CTO stresses that for more complex business logic, there is usually no real way out of programming, and rather NCLC works as a tool for creating one small part out of something bigger.
What is no code/low code?
As the name suggests, NCLC is an alternative to usual programming. Rather than writing lines of code on a blank page, a developer or a regular user can use a visual editor to put together different blocks, connect them in a way they want, define the appropriate logic, and if everything goes as planned, the result is a well-functioning web or mobile app.
For most people, the NCLC solutions are most familiar from simple website creation tools, but Seero says it’s possible to create much bigger and much smaller things without code as well. For example, with Zapier, the NCLC approach can be used to automate certain tasks, even inside larger, purpose-built applications. However, it is also possible to create quite large and complex applications, such as e-commerce solutions or even financial tools, using PowerApps or Appian. The creation of APIs is also a field where NCLC shines.
“NCLC is a good way to create simpler and smaller applications faster or to solve some of the annoying little things in larger applications that would previously have required building custom solutions. Whereas in the past you had to build automation by hand, today Zapier, for example, can carry a lot of the weight with some configuration,” said Seero.
The No Code approach is typically used to create the simplest types of applications, while Low Code applications can be much more complex – for example, it can be used to create solutions that manage business-critical processes, such as certain integrations.
What can’t be done without code?
Uptime’s CTO noted that while many of the larger and more powerful NCLC platforms promise to do great things, they can only ever do what the platform creator intended. “If the platform was designed to build a website or automate something, it’s pretty much impossible to turn it into warehouse software. Obviously, you can find a platform somewhere that allows you to do that, but usually, any platform will still only do one main thing,” he explains.
It should also be noted, he says, that integrating different NCLC solutions usually requires more technical expertise than just connecting boxes. So, it is possible to build different applications and logics separately, but if you need to make them talk to each other – and there is no ‘integrate’ button built into the platform – you need to create custom connections and interfaces, which usually involve writing code.
In addition to all this, Seero also advises that when creating visual solutions with the support of NCLC platforms, you must work within the limits set by the platform. “Sometimes it’s possible to create visuals that look completely unique, but at the end of the day, boxes are boxes and buttons are buttons. If you want something completely different, there’s usually a small textbox somewhere to put your line of code into, but if you can’t write that line, you must accept what you’re given,” he said.
Things are evolving
“NCLC is a very welcome trend. It allows simple things to be done really easily and developers to focus on more complex and challenging tasks. In the hands of a skilled developer, a task that used to take hours can be completed in minutes with the support of NCLC platforms, while a regular person might be able to complete something at least slightly workable in a couple of days of tinkering.” said Seero.
While the NCLC still has its limitations at the moment, there is no doubt that new opportunities will open over time. “Looking at the world of sci-fi, the end goal is to explain to an AI what you want and get a working application in return. We won’t get there in the foreseeable future, but certainly different platforms will become more user-friendly and more functional – the more easy things can be done easily, the more resources will be left to build complex and business-critical applications,” he added.