What is low code or codeless programming?
The no code or low code movement is a digital philosophy that allows anyone to create applications and programmes without needing to know programming. It is what is known as "programming without code" or "visual programming". In other words, development that dispenses with coding languages to make creation a simpler and more intuitive process. No code and low code technologies are gaining importance in the artificial intelligence sector, a trend that will allow more people to use and understand AI.
For almost two decades now, platforms such as Wordpress have allowed anyone to create a blog or a website without any programming knowledge whatsoever. Open source tools that started the way to make web design more accessible to the average user. In a society with an increasingly intense digital activity and a greater dependence on mobile applications, low code has meant a step forward with no return in this sense. Low-code development and codeless programming solves the need for many citizens, employers and employees to place their own content in different environments autonomously and without a huge investment of time and money.
WHAT IS LOW CODE?
The concept of low code was coined around 2014 by the market research agency Forrester Research in a report on new user-oriented application development platforms. Low-code development was emerging strongly in the face of the progressive simplification of technological tools, the demand for ever cheaper web solutions and the scarce supply of qualified programmers with specific digital skills.
Low code allows users to create, develop and maintain applications on a wide variety of devices and digital media in the most efficient way possible: automatically. Most of these "no code" tools are online platforms, so we don't even need to install any software on our devices to use them, just access them from a web browser. In addition, low code allows for constant updating of the application to meet changing consumer demands.
As a rule, these are highly visual and very intuitive interfaces. They are based on a modular principle in which entire structures can be dragged with the mouse - the so-called "drag and drop" - and with a number of ready-made components in the form of templates. This facilitates the construction of information flows, the presentation of data in an attractive way or the automation of actions.
ADVANTAGES AND BENEFITS
While traditional computing is and will continue to be essential for digital transformation and global economic and social progress, the progressive access to development for non-specialised users through low code has countless advantages and benefits. Despite offering a limited level of customisation and flexibility, these tools democratise computing and have the added bonus of bringing Artificial Intelligence to more people.
Thanks to low/no code, the time to market for small and medium-sized web products is greatly reduced. By saving the whole code development part, on some platforms such as Shopify, for example, you can save whole days of work and develop an e-commerce in less than a week. Similarly, application maintenance and update times are also reduced.
A key benefit of using these platforms is that users do not require an IT expert or programmer to deliver a quality product. Low code encompasses predefined and standardised functionality and models that previously required the intervention of development staff, giving users autonomy and allowing developers time to focus on other tasks such as enhancing the software or devising new web solutions.
Due to the independence of web development experts, working with low-code and no-code tools requires minimal initial investment in configuration, training and implementation. There are different rates for the use of these online platforms depending on the need and the volume of data and information requested by each client, but many offer a free trial period and even a free basic plan.
The accessibility of low-code platforms for the staff of any department of a company facilitates the participation of all of them in the creation of a web application that meets the needs of all. These tools thus represent significant improvements in terms of collaboration, agility and team productivity, preferably always guided or supported by "traditional" programming professionals.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LOW CODE AND NO CODE
Low-code and no-code platforms share a common philosophy: reduce ad hoc code to make programming more accessible. However, depending on the option chosen, the scope for customisation, complexity and autonomy when developing an application varies.
These are platforms designed for users who have no programming knowledge, so they do not require any code. They are useful for creating applications with a short lifespan, in simple business cases or manual processes that do not require connections to third-party systems, among other.
These are platforms with a low code content, which with very basic notions of manual programming allow some customisation of the functionalities, models and pre-configured templates offered by the tool. They are used to generate applications with a longer life cycle, solutions that have to be integrated with more complex corporate systems or the creation of Minimum Viable Products (MVP), for example.
MOST POPULAR LOW CODE PLATFORMS
We highlight five low-code platforms that can facilitate the digital transformation of any organisation by offering a kind of DIY (Do It Yourself) for coding web solutions and applications without code.
Wordpress. Born in 2003, it is a content management system that became very popular in the creation of blogs, to later become one of the main tools for the creation of commercial websites. According to data from Simplifier, one out of every 3 websites is currently managed through Wordpress.
Honeycode. Amazon launched its own los code platform in 2020, where applications for up to 20 users can be designed and built for free by assembling modules of various types.
Appsheet. Google provides this codeless development platform for application software, which allows users to create mobile, tablet and web applications using data sources such as Google Drive, DropBox, Office 365 and other cloud-based platforms.
PowerApps. Microsoft has created a development environment for agile creation of business applications tailored to the needs of each organisation. With Power Apps, applications can be created that connect to business data stored in the underlying data platform (Microsoft Dataverse) or in various local and online data sources.
Figma. In 2015, this start-up wanted to launch the first design tool that combined the accessibility of the web with the functionality of a native application. A free tool for anyone to start and encourage collaborative work.