What is a Low-Code Platform?
A low-code platform is a software development tool that simplifies or automates some of the coding process to help less technical users create web applications, websites, and mobile applications. It often acts as an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for creating apps using established software engineering tools and design patterns.
Low code platforms are primarily intended for non-technical people who have little to no idea about software development. It helps them focus on the actual problem and leave the designing and implementation work to the automated systems.
Low-code platforms help people design, create, and use built-in mechanisms to fulfill their requirements according to their specifications. Users can easily create general-purpose websites using low-code tools, but if they are looking for specific features or need complex functionalities, some coding or guidance is needed.
Common features of low-code app building platforms
Low-code platforms are intelligent so they can understand the requirements of the user. The user enters details such as the app type they are looking to build, the goal of the app, its target audience, its intended design, its likely content, and so forth. All of the user's entered specifications are analyzed according to a particular scenario, and related tools and algorithms are generated. A few key features of low-code platforms are given below.
1. Computer-Aided Software Engineering (CASE):
Low-code platforms use Computer-Aided Software Engineering (CASE) for component-based development. Since these platforms have almost everything prebuilt in reusable components, you can use them to assemble apps quickly. The platform ensures that the app maintains a minimum level of effectiveness and reliability. You just have to be creative in designing the theme of the website.
2. Drag and Drop Features:
3. Frontend-Backend Integration:
After the user has developed different components, they must then connect those components to one another in order to create a functioning app. This is another step that is handled automatically by low-code. Users who manually integrate their various app components will need to perform validation and system testing, but since low-code exists to provide ease, it automatically handles these steps. All that the user needs to do is to specify how the different pieces should interact.
4. Cloud Hosting:
If you write code manually, you will first need to get a hosting service and then have to commit all the files of code on the server to make it visible on the site. This is a very complex task. Low-code handles all of this and gives you the hosting information immediately. Thus, it is a source of abstraction to a general user.
What are the critical features for low-code platforms for business users?
There are many low-code platforms available in the software market. Since all of these platforms focus on the same problem, i.e., providing non-technical users with the ability to create a website, all of them have many common properties. However, the following features are more essential for business users:
- Simple UI development via drag and drop, menus, headers, labels, etc.
- Full-stack software integration that eliminates the need to configure the backend, frontend code, and middle tier. All of this is handled automatically or by the developers of the particular site.
- Cross-platform development, which means that the code that powers your application will function on all of your devices, such as mobile, web, and desktop. Crowdbotics is leading the way in cross-platform development by utilizing React Native for Web and React Native for Windows + MacOS.
- Business Process Management (BPM) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools to help grow the business in an automated, intelligent way.
- Highly attractive and eye-catching visual templates, which can save business users the cost of paying for custom design.
- Software development cycle management tools, such as task management, project boards, and milestone tracking.
Code editing tools that every low-code platform should offer
A low-code platform should provide a clear advantage over conventional development. This means that it should include built-in features that speed up code generation and testing, such as:
- Automated code compilation
- GitHub integration
- Database management
- Data dictionaries
- Automatically generated API documentation
Practical Priorities of Low-code for Business:
When a user creates software using a low-code platform, all of their non-technical business specifications are translated into technical requirements. For example, if a user wants their website to work properly on both their computer and phone, then the platform should automatically recommend cross-platform code components.
In general, a low-code platform should offer the following practical advantages:
- Efficiency - you should build an app faster using a low-code platform than you would using conventional development
- Maintainability - regular hosting, security, and update needs should be automatically handled by the platform
- Scalability - the platform should offer the option to increase your application's storage and processing capacity as it grows
- Integrity - your app's underlying code should be soundly constructed according to best practices for conventional developers
- Security - the platform should proactively monitor known security risks and protect all of its hosted apps from these vulnerabilities
- Flexibility - the platform should not force users into proprietary code systems or lock them into rigid terms of service
When should non-technical business users use a low-code platform?
They're building a simple app
Non-technical business users should use a low-code platform if they do not require an app with extreme complexity. Complicated applications require continuous maintenance and ongoing development, which can strain the capabilities of many low-code app builders. Thus, these platforms are generally intended for applications that are small, predictable, and simplistic in structure.
They don't need custom visual design
Low-code platforms also tend to be overly templated. To simplify development for non-technical users, they must force those users to select from a limited menu of options. This can result in a frustratingly narrow range of solutions for business users.
They have low-grade security requirements
Business users may also deal with performance and security issues on low-code platforms because most low-code platforms don't offer custom performance and security audits for each app. Due to the large volume of applications that they host, they tend to take a "one size fits all" approach to application maintenance.
They're planning to scale rapidly
If rapid growth is probable in the future, non-technical business users should be wary of low-code app builders that aren't designed for scale. Otherwise, willingly or non-willingly, they may have to migrate to a more detailed and extensive form of application, doubling the cost and time constraints.
The above factors are the major reasons why we've built Crowdbotics to be a full-code platform that can scale up in complexity and performance. By providing enterprise-ready features like real-time code generation, subscription hosting, and on-demand development, Crowdbotics is designed to power real business apps operating in critical contexts.
When should technical business users use low-code platforms?
In contrast to non-technical people, technical business users have in-depth knowledge of low-code platforms' working capabilities. Thus, they have an advantage in decision-making. Similarly, technical business users can provide extensive and detailed requirements and understand code and design frameworks; they have a better chance of getting the best results from any builder.
Technical business users should consider a low-code platform when:
- All of their performance and resource requirements are fulfilled. If the platform can handle the required scope without sacrificing the app's quality, time, cost, and resources, it can be ideal.
- The platform can handle large transactions and interoperability challenges. It should be robust enough to manage basic product operations and speed development time both now and down the line.
- It offers optimized sub-characteristics like consistency, hardware independence, traceability, and error tolerance.
Low-code platform constraints
There are a few general caveats to note when comparing low-code platforms.
It may not possible to achieve all functional requirements for an app using low-code tools. The opposite is also true, in that the platform may automatically add features that interfere with core functionality. For example, increasing security features could reduce the website's performance because more layers will be added to the website.
Real-time data processing
Complex websites that handle constantly increasing real-time data can be a challenge for low-code platforms because of the inherent coding and data manipulation constraints.
Many low-code platforms lock-in a user once they deploy an app. The user may not be able to change certain functionalities and attributes after creation. Thus, in the long run, the business will not be able to migrate from one cloud-based environment to another.
Crowdbotics Features for Low-Code Development
Although Crowdbotics is not strictly a low-code platform, it provides low-code development services to both non-technical and technical users. Crowdbotics utilizes principles of low-code development to speed up app creation while still offering the full customization capability of a traditional IDE.
For instance, low-code principles are visible in how Crowdbotics has designed its Storyboard tool. This tool helps users create a screen-by-screen outline of what a user will see while using an app. Users can see and customize how end users will use their app. What this specific button will do? What screens are necessary for the user to get their desired destination? This ideation process is assisted by Crowdbotics.
Similarly, the Crowdbotics Visual Editor allows you to customize the appearance, location, and content elements in your apps’s user interface. Even after creation, the user can further customize the underlying code; thus, the modification process can continue until a perfectly customized app emerges.
Since business applications often manage sensitive data, many vulnerabilities and threats can occur. Crowdbotics solves this problem by hosting apps using secure hosting options so the user can focus on their business rather than emergent security threats.
In this article, we have discussed the features and attributes of low-code platforms in detail. We hope this helps business users make better decisions before selecting a low-code platform.
Looking for a low-code platform that is actually built for businesses? Start building with Crowdbotics for free!