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In a fast-paced world, professional developers are constantly looking for ways to make coding easy and well, quicker. This gave rise to the low code movement. Common people who do not have a clue about coding can now create apps with it.

In this article, we will discuss the basics of low-code platforms in the development of apps and everything revolving open source low-code platforms.

What is an open-source low code platform?

Users can build applications through a graphic user interface (UI) on low code platforms. These platforms expect practically zero codings. Applications are delivered faster with the minimal hand-coding. Users can focus on things that are more important because difficult and time-consuming manuals tasks are easily automated.

Origin of low code

In the 1980s, the “Fourth-Generation Languages” (4GL) was developed as the fourth era of computer programming languages. 4GL’s goal was to have the option to compose applications with minimal coding. During this time, the idea of low code evolved.

The Forrester Research, an industry analyst, introduced the term “low code” in June 2014. In the USA, it has become more and more popular with more companies adopting it.

Today, many professional and non-professional developers give credit for their success to low code.

Features of a low-code platform

Low-code platforms have many essential features to build useful applications.

  • Visual modelling tools: Unlike traditional ways, written codes are not used in low code. Users can easily understand the application design because there is hardly any coding.
  • Drag and drop tools: There are many available ready-made components. For example, templates with drag and drop features make development easier.
  • App lifecycle support: Users can streamline their updates with any business changes.
  • Mobility: Low-code apps can be accessed across various devices such as mobile phones, desktops, tablets, etc.
  • Easy scalability: Low code provides both security and several prototypes for easy scalability.

Principles of low-code development

A very popular low-code platform called Mendix introduced the “Low-Code Manifesto” that contains the 9 essential principles of low-code. They are:

  • Model-driven development: Ideas become applications. The applications deliver value through extracting, automating, and openness.
  • Collaboration: A similar visual language is present between business domain experts and developers supports the exchange of information.
  • Agility: Agile work streams manage the full development lifecycle. This eliminates bottlenecks, supports interactive delivery, and achieves the shortest time-to-value.
  • The Cloud: Cloud helps meet customer demand through easy and speedy application deployments.
  • Openness: No limitation on what can be built.
  • Multi-user development: Support and synchronization of work streams so that many developers can work on an app at the same time.
  • Experimentation & Innovation: Innovators can experiment and explore with affordable development tools.
  • Governance: Governance and control protocols
  • Sense of community: A sense of community is important for every kind of platform.

Reasons to use a low-code platform

Low-code platforms make the developer’s life easy with its many benefits. Reasons to use low code are:

  • Faster market time and accelerated app delivery: Business transformation needs are changing faster than ever. Ready-to-use code snippets, templates, and visual builders help in meeting those needs.
  • Reduced cost: The IT gap is closed because there is less involvement of IT. This cuts the backlog and reduces the need for costly resources.
  • Improved Customer Experience: Flexibility to adapt to customer needs when required.
  • Uncompromising security: Low-code systems have security features like admin tools, access control, and threat assessments. Using these tools, configuration and monitoring can be easily done.
  • Cutting of shadow IT: With less IT involvement, the user does not have to employ risky third-party apps and share sensitive data.
  • Business and IT collaboration: Businesses can create any complex apps because everyone speaks the same development language.
  • Digital transformation: Low code platforms boost the digital transformation of organizations by providing core technologies.

Factors to consider when choosing a low code framework

To select the right development framework, one needs to consider a few key criteria. They are:

  • Data centricity: Low-code systems put a spotlight on the information. Designers can coordinate with the information with ease.
  • Cloud-based architecture: Provides services that power the business logic, security, authentication, etc. in easy formats.
  • Cross-platform support: Businesses need solutions across different platforms to stay competitive across various kinds of media.
  • Drag and drop tools: The gap between app design and the everyday user is reduced. Users can control their development GUI with just a click of a button.
  • Flexibility: For the framework extension, all possible programming languages should be supported. This includes Java, Ruby, Python, PHP, etc. The framework should also include built-in services like analytics.

How are low-code platforms used?

From improving customer experience to building data models, there are several uses to low-code platforms.

  • Customer engagement apps: Businesses can build enterprise-grade apps for different tasks. These apps can be anything from customer-facing apps to personalized customer engagement processes.
  • Operational efficiency optimization apps: Operations efficiency is increased through automated apps. The benefits include reduced costs and risk or error.
  • Businesses processes: Operations can be automated across departments through workflows and process building.
  • Data Models & Business logic: Businesses can define data models and business logic for both web and mobile applications.

Low-code and Digital Transformation

An organization’s digital transformation goals can be achieved by low code platforms. Some of the ways are:

  • Improve employee performance: Employees do not have to rely on IT to meet their business requirements during app development. Real-time changes can also be made after feedback. This way, users get more freedom to increase their productivity and efficiency.
  • Enhance team collaboration: Users, IT, and other stakeholders can collaborate on creating optimized applications through an easy interface. They have a full view of the development stages because all parties can collaborate between cross-functional teams.
  • Increase market speed: Businesses meet increasing market needs. Low code’s prebuilt functionalities make this possible. Users create custom-built apps to win new markets.
  • Improve customer experience: Businesses can track their app performance. They can optimize them, and scale them to meet customer’s requirements. They can also be distributed across different channels. There is always a possibility for continuous innovation.
  • Improve data and information use: Businesses access enterprise-level data and insights through dashboard applications.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Building applications become a cost-effective solution due to reduced development costs.

What are the top low code platforms?

Several websites compare the available low-code platforms. Few of the top ones are:

G Suite

G Suite includes popular tools like Gmail (email for businesses), Google Docs (word processing tool), Google Drive (storage), Google Calendar (calendar), Google Meet (conference calls), etc. With these tools, users can collaborate from anywhere.

Features:

  • Hangouts Chats allows teams to connect to conference calls from anywhere
  • Response analytics with automatic summaries
  • Professional surveys
  • Mobile device syncing and management
  • Smart chatbots
  • Google Calendar allows easily scheduling

OpenXava

OpenXava is a web development framework for business applications. It contains options for generalizing reports and creating flexible business applications. These include warehouse management, customer relationship, invoicing, etc.

Features:

  • Short learning curve and easy to use
  • Flexible
  • Supports all application servers (Tomcat, JBoss, WebSphere, etc.)
  • Easy report integration with Jasper Reports
  • Multilingual labels and messages

AgilePoint

AgilePoint is an enterprise-class platform with features to visually develop e-forms, workflows, and business apps. It incorporates existing systems and data. AgilePoint NX is responsible for the digital transformation of enterprises in twenty-eight countries. By improving an organization’s internal process, it helps in modeling, automating, measuring, and refining processes.

Features:

  • Extensible and scalable
  • Single codebase
  • Unlimited integration
  • Great business value
  • Drag and drop interface
  • Accessible across multiple platforms

Skyve

Skyve works with all common database types. It provides a low code platform for all the technology-specific areas required for enterprise applications.

Features :

  • Best enterprise-grade security
  • User and role-based authentication management
  • A powerhouse of functionality for users focused on efficiency. System personalization options for repeated tasks.
  • Responsive screens. Routing options to personalize user experiences.
  • In-built spatial and mapping capabilities
  • Bulk communication

Convertigo

Convertigo is an open-source low-code and no-code web and mobile app development platform. It is used by both professional and citizen developers (non-professional developers).

Features:

  • Convertigo mobile builder: Professional builders build pixel perfect applications
  • A wide range of connectors such as SQP. API creation from Mainframe or HTML applications
  • Apps can run on multiple devices (iOS, Android, Windows phone)
  • Build, optimize, and share new processes
  • Push notifications for users for business-driven events even in standby mode
  • Offline data

Mendix

Mendix leads the market by giving companies an impressive business value. It offers integrated collaboration and extensibility. Mendix also assists in customer engagement through multi-experience features.

Features:

  • Atlas UI framework to build responsive designs.
  • Pre-built connectors to extend Mendix solutions
  • Highly visual, model-driven development environment
  • Parties can access the app components in on the app store
  • Single-click deployment
  • First-ever built-in artificial intelligence (AI) assistant

Joget

Joget combines process automation, workflow management with rapid application development.

Features:

  • Drag and drop visual tools
  • Smooth app installations from Joget Marketplace
  • Powerful form elements including spreadsheets, signatures, grids, etc.
  • Reporting tools like Jasper Reports provide dashboards, reports, and charts
  • Plugin architecture
  • Works with several cloud platforms, application servers, databases, and operating systems
  • Built-in app performance management

Rintagi

Rintagi is the only low code platform with unlimited extension and rejuvenation. 99% of the code is generated for a critical system.

Features:

  • Integrated application experience
  • Connectivity with third-party services
  • Custom codes to extend applications
  • More than 200+ features
  • Intuitive and responsive user interfaces
  • Front-end and back-end data architecture for real-time data sharing

Low code vs No code platforms

The key differences between low code and no-code platforms.

FEATURE LOW-CODE NO-CODE
Who uses it? Professional developers & citizen developers (non-professional) Businesses
Primary Goal Speed of deployment Ease
Coding Minimal coding No coding
Customization Total customization Only pre-built templates are customizable
Lock-in Can move between platforms Can be locked into one platform
End-to-end development End-to-end development Limited capabilities
Purpose Rapid application development (RAD) for experienced developers Self-service application for businesses
App complexity Complex apps can be built Simple apps can be built
Cost-effectiveness For companies with an existing developers’ team For companies with a backlogged IT team demanding requirement

Disadvantages of low code

Even with all the various benefits, low code platforms have a few disadvantages. Some of them are:

  • Maintenance of old systems is difficult. Improvement requests are constantly coming. Extra features are possible beyond the architectural structure of old systems. So, they cannot be easily added.
  • There are the same tools for all users which can become monotonous and boring.
  • There are not many things that users can change, customize, or code.
  • Sometimes, coding is easier than configuration.
  • Can be inefficient at times.
  • There is a risk of getting locked in into the same platform.

Low code platforms – Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP)

Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) is a script language set in HTML. It manages powerful content and databases. Many e-commerce sites are also built by PHP.

OroPlatform

OroPlatform is an open-source platform for rapid application development (RAD). It is built using PHP.

Features:

  • Pre-built components
  • Rapid application development (RAD)
  • Flexible and easy-to-use. Can be extended.

Laravel

Laravel is a PHP framework. Complex deployment tasks like authentication and routing become easy with Laravel. Large application tools are made more accessible.

The elements of the Laravel Ecosystem are:

  • Laravel Vapor: Amazon Web Services (AWS) powers Laravel Vapor which is a serverless platform. Vapor helps in restoring serverless databases directly from the dashboard. Easy cloud storage with built-in JavaScript utilities is also available.
  • Laravel Forge: Provision of unlimited PHP apps on Digital Ocean, Vultr, Amazon, etc. is done by Laravel Forge. It assists in collaboration, powerful API, security, database backups, etc.
  • Laravel Envoyer: Integrated chat notifications, multiple server deployments, and customizations is done by Laravel Envoyer.
  • Laravel Nova: Laravel has an administration panel called Laravel Nova. Resource management, custom fields, and tools, etc. is provided by Nova.
  • Laravel Scout: A full-text search is done by Laravel Scout which is a simple driver-based solution. It is simple and free to write customer drivers.

Low code platforms – Java

Java is a high-level computer programming language. Java programs are interpreted by the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

OpenXava

Commercial ready to use applications are created by OpenXava. Only a simple domain class using a plain Java is essential.

Features:

  • Free to create commercial apps
  • 250,000+ downloads since 2005
  • Millions of Java developers can be accessed
  • Writing JavaScript or HTML is not required. Automatic provision of user interfaces
  • Mobile user interface
  • Multilingual messages

iPLAss

iPLAss is a platform based on Java. System efficiency is improved by iPLAss.

Features:

  • Automatic generation of user interfaces.
  • Generated UI have data entry
  • Consumer site pages are customized to show data
  • Available utility function like authentication and workflow

Wrapping Up

In the past few years, programming has become simple for anyone looking to build apps. Many people do not have the time to spend their time learning how to code. The “low code” trends are one of the most adapted tools today.

The low-code platforms have changed the app development game. Not everyone needs to be a coding genius of a programming master to create simple apps.

Users do not have to write code lines which do not seem to end, any type of developer can create their applications.


I am Ruchitha, working as a content writer for MindMajix technologies. My writings focus on the latest technical software, tutorials, and innovations. I am also into research about AI and Neuromarketing. I am a media post-graduate from BCU – Birmingham, UK. Before, my writings focused on business articles on digital marketing and social media. You can connect with me on LinkedIn.

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