Why we need ‘no code’ or ‘low code’ development tools
By Stephen McNulty September 1, 2015
- Devs are stretched thin supporting existing apps, no time to build new apps
- Giving non-developers tools allows devs to tackle more challenging problems
AS the demand for enterprise applications continues to increase, there is greater emphasis on application development within organisations.
With this we have witnessed the emergence of low or no-code development that equips non-developers to take up software creation, freeing up the already overburdened IT resources and allowing organisations to keep pace with the rapidly growing demand for these applications.
Here are the key reasons driving the need for no code or low code application development tools:
1) Too many apps, too little time
The years of legacy technology, increasing user expectations and competitive pressures mean many organisations require new and agile enterprise software solutions for a variety of business functions.
In fact, Gartner has reported that the Asia Pacific Enterprise Software Application market grew by 6.5% in 2013 to reach US$12.6 billion.
However, developers are stretched thin supporting the existing apps and have little capacity available to devote to building new apps.
To move forward, organisations need to use every tool at their disposal. This means enabling developers to be more productive, but it also means tapping into other resources at hand – even off-the-shelf apps and apps created by non-coders.
A Rapid Application Development (RAD) tool – or ‘low code/no code’ solution – is simply one more tool in an organisation’s arsenal, because such tools enable them to leverage non-developer resources when their developers are too busy.
2) Technology belongs to everyone
Not very long ago, IT departments regularly banned Macs from the network, and mandated employees use company-owned BlackBerrys. In fact, whatever technology existed in the organisation was fully controlled and prescribed by the IT department – they were the gatekeepers as well as the bottleneck.
But over the past few years, we’ve seen the role of IT dramatically evolve from being ‘prescriptive’ to ‘predictive.’
Developers are beginning to experience a similar shift. Users are becoming increasingly tech-savvy and using software to find ways to move forward, with or without the development team’s blessing.
3) Programming can be boring
Which brings us to the next point: Most of the code we write can be categorised as basic and perhaps dull. There is a lot of boilerplate code required to do relatively simple things (for example, fetching some data and displaying it in a list).
From the very beginning of computing, we’ve looked for ways to abstract away the tedious ZEROs and ONEs understood by computers and instead shift towards human-friendly instructions. Each time our techniques and abstractions improve, programmers become freer to focus on bigger and more interesting challenges.
Modern day computing advancements sit squarely on abstractions from the past. And getting more people involved inevitably leads to innovations and progress.
The trick, however, is to equip non-developers with tools that empower them, while simultaneously generating results that enable developers to tackle the more interesting, more challenging problems.
Like it or not, it’s happening
At an executive level, organisations are facing immense pressure (from advent of newer technologies, competitors and so on) to modernise their apps. Doing so requires more work than the average development team has time for.
To tackle the challenge, organisations have to maximise every resource at their disposal.
In this scenario, organisations will end up implementing solutions without any involvement (or blessing) from the development team. And like it or not, developers will encounter the consequences of decisions they had nothing to do with.
Still, developers can be called upon to assist when non-coders are up against the tools’ limitations. This can be a nightmare for coders when tools that don’t focus on developer productivity are being used.
As such, even with these tools the focus should remain on developer productivity. Development tools should ensure that the code no-code solutions generate is high-quality and easy for dev teams to inherit.
In this way, organisations can be enabled to build the apps they need, when they need them, with the resources they already have.
Stephen McNulty is Asia Pacific and Japan managing director at Progress Software.
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