Automated software development gains more and more popularity. However, before catching the last bus, it is better to figure out what is low-code/no-code approach, what are the odds, and if it is worth even considering.
First of all, let’s briefly examine what automated software development is. Obviously, it means that some software development processes have automation capabilities. It may vary, depending on the needs and capacities within the software project. One of the most popular examples of such a process is coding automation. This means, that the process of coding itself can be partly or fully computerized. Thus, these options are usually divided and known as low-code/no-code, depending on the approach.
Frankly, the name speaks for itself. For instance, the no-code principle is based on code-free interfaces, meaning that the developer doesn’t have to anyhow deal with the code samples. Both no-code and low-code software development options are provided as a service from a development platform. What is a development platform? It is similar to the constructors, run by the third-parties, where users can combine a wide variety of standalone user interface elements, and UI design patterns, or simply use templates.
On the one hand, it is a great feature, that helps to greatly increase the development speed, compared to the traditional approach. As a matter of fact, code automation is also known as Rapid Application Development, or simply RAD. However, if you will look closer, you will find out that this key feature becomes a huge drawback. To make it simple, it narrows down your possibilities. All your extra app functionality is limited only to those, which are provided by a platform or a service. Therefore, in case you need some specific or rare features and elements, most likely, you won’t find them on each platform.
What is even more concerning - is the fact that in the case of such an approach, it becomes unreal to make any changes or adjustments within the system. In other words, it is impossible to work directly with the code elements. In fact, the developer becomes dependent on the platform creators. So, even if you know the direct weaknesses of the application, you can’t fix them by yourself. Instead, you will have to write a report to the service providers and wait, until they fix the bug, update the software, etc.
However, no-code is a great solution if you are looking for a fast way to develop a simple application or website, create a demo of a future software product, or simply use it for educational purposes. The overall simplicity, no requirements of background knowledge, and mainly the charge-free nature of such products make these platforms the ultimate solution for many use cases.
Contrary to the no-code method, low-code supports minor code sample implementation. As a result, developers are able to slightly adjust some elements or user interface components. However, it is a very simplified development process. As a result, software engineers' possibilities are still minimal.
To tell the truth, the low-code approach can be considered a modified version of the no-code principle. Therefore, on the one hand, it gives more freedom for the developers, allowing them to create their own presets or components, add custom-made actions, etc. On the flip side, it can be a little harder for those, who have no software development experience or enough competence. Additionally, the low-code method mainly suffers from the same issues as the no-code.
Thus, if we will compare both approaches, both have their own advantages and almost similar drawbacks. As was mentioned before, the major difference narrows down to the developer’s experience and requirements. So, if you do not know about software development, it is better to choose the no-code. Yet, if you have previous experience in coding, the low-code approach may be a better choice for you.
Despite the convenience of using these approaches, as well as the high speed of development, we strongly recommend you avoid using any of these methods. To prove our statement, we have gathered all the possible drawbacks, which are common to both methods. So, unless any of these are somehow crucial for you and your project, you can feel free to use any of the preceding techniques.
Let’s start with the most obvious yet essential weakness - dependency on the service provider. According to the above-stated, both solutions are provided as a service, giving almost no access to the code for the developers. As a result, all the technical elements and changes can be implemented by the service owners only.
So, if there are any bugs or issues, you are obliged to wait for the provider to fix them. The only way to somehow speed up the bug-hunting process is to contact support. Yet, this does not guarantee you anything. And if you strongly believe, that bugs are not an issue, we are sorry to tell you that you are wrong.
Clearly, not all bugs impact the performance of an app. To say some more, some of them can be easily changed into a unique feature of your application. Still, despite there being some “handy” bugs, some of them may be critical issues for an app.
The next essential issue with these methods follows from the previous one. Due to the fact, that these approaches are services, they are based on the software versions, chosen by the provider. Unfortunately, commonly the tech stack is regularly outdated. The reason for overdue updates is simple - developers try their best to keep the service as stable as possible. Clearly, each update brings new terms and changes in working conditions, which require additional optimization of the product. Actually, even a single software update can result in numerous changes and invalidations of working principles.
Thus, to avoid constant changes in code samples, skipping updates already become a constant practice in the field of Software-as-a-Service. Sadly, it can bring multiple issues and vulnerabilities, leaving security exploits unfixed, or simply postponing the extra app functionality implementations, based on software version.
Low-code/no-code approaches are mainly distributed as constructors or drag-and-drop interfaces. In other words, they are template-oriented. So, such software understands the overall working principles and logic of combination and communication between the accessible components. Nevertheless, no one can tell you exactly how will this software behave in case you will create unobvious combinations of various elements.
Additionally, this type of development is not the best option for scalable projects. So, if you are planning to implement extra app functionality in the future, it is better to choose other approaches. The more complex RAD becomes, the harder it is to predict how it will perform.
No matter what would you choose between no-code vs low-code, in both cases the performance results of your application are out of control. Even if low-code examples allow you code implementations, it won’t save you from poor application optimization. Performance control and optimization regularly rely on code improvements and one of the most common pieces of advice on how to boost performance is to keep the code clean.
Yet, once again, in both scenarios, developers have almost no instruments to somehow impact the code basis. Hence, the application’s performance becomes as unpredictable as bugs or unobvious component combinations. For instance, even small and simple applications may have time to time struggle with such issues, no need to tell what is going to happen with complex and scalable projects.
Eventually, most security measures and protocols are taken care of by the service providers. When it comes to other types of SaaS like cloud computing, it is undoubtedly a great advantage. For example, Amazon web services are supplied with AWS Security instruments and extensions. However, the major difference between RAD and, let’s say, AWS, is the fact, that AWS works as an implementation and supports custom code.
At the same time, there are no no-code or low-code examples, where you can easily find out what security measures were used, not to mention the absence of custom code support. Summing up the foregoing, all that is left for the developers when it comes to security aspects - is to fully rely on the skills of the provider.
Frankly, despite all the drawbacks and issues, both No-code and Low-code development platforms are great solutions. Yet, the ideal use cases or purposes are very limited. To cut the long story short, no matter what to choose when comparing no-code vs low-code, both are great for newcomers with very little knowledge of the IT industry. Alternatively, these are ideal for the development of simple or very standard applications with limited functionality. Using these technologies, you can easily create your own website in no time.
However, these are the most appropriate use cases for such software. If you are considering the creation of a complex or scalable project, or one, which requires a high level of security, or it is very specific, requiring very rare or concrete features and functionality - forget about low-code/no-code. Instead, it is better to choose a standard approach, using traditional software tools like programming languages, libraries, and frameworks.
If you are not qualified enough to use these by yourself - you can simply hire a dedicated team. Still, before doing so, check the case studies in order to figure out whether they are capable of embodying your ideas.
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