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What is a low-code development platform?

With the rise of digital transformation, a low-code development platform—which anyone can use to rapidly develop new applications—is a major way your company can adapt and prosper.

The benefits of a low-code development platform

Low-code development platforms make businesses more productive and agile by delivering:

While low-code platforms can empower your employees who don’t have technical app building skills, they can be a great option for professional developers, too. Many low-code platforms are extensible and offer building blocks that are intended for developers to use, which makes these platforms a smart choice for just about any kind of user.

Unlike professional developers, citizen developers such as these might not know much about hand-coding and don’t typically have formal training in programming, but they can still build applications using low-code platforms. Because low code simplifies the app-building process, citizen developers don’t need to be coding experts to build efficient apps. Using citizen developers also frees up your IT and development resources so they can focus on more complex projects.

Low-code platforms also help your business and developers address the growing need for top-of-the-line internal workflow applications, timesaving automations, better customer experiences, and seamless integrations. It can also help your professional developers build apps faster and avoid writing code line by line.

Because all low-code platforms don’t function the same way, choosing the right one for your business is critical for success. For example, you’ll want a platform that’s flexible enough to handle your unique business challenges and is still easy to use so that anyone in your company can quickly create professional, user-first apps.

Low code and no code

Low-code development platforms make businesses more productive and agile by delivering:

  • Efficiency. You don’t need to wait for developers to have openings in their schedules. With a low-code development platform, your other teams can simultaneously develop apps for multiple platforms and rapidly provide working examples. When developers are available to work on apps, they’ll benefit from intuitive features like drag-and-drop functionality and user-friendly APIs.
  • Flexibility. With low-code development, citizen developers can create flexible apps that accomplish specific tasks. That flexibility is also critical if your business must scale and extend apps to quickly finish projects.
  • Responsiveness. Sometimes your business must pivot to accommodate roller-coaster market shifts, and how better to do that than with new digital initiatives? With low code, you can quickly deliver and change a full-stack application.
  • Iterability. Your company can also provide customers with a positive experience every time they interact with your brand. Online, this means providing a consistent, frictionless experience, and prebuilt templates and chatbots are a great way to approach this.

However, there are some clear differentiators between these two types of application platforms. While a low-code development platform needs minimal hand-coding and generally involves moving existing code into a workflow to build apps, no-code solutions are designed for developers who might not be familiar with programming at all. No code uses declarative programming with a focus on “what,” not “how.” In other words, you tell the system what you want, and it builds the app.

Because no-code platforms don’t require much training, anyone in your company without a technical background can quickly create business apps.

Low code

Low code and no code might seem similar, and they do share some things in common. They both allow users to create apps using visual modeling software, and both were created as an alternative to traditional software development, which can be time-consuming and costly. In contrast, low-code and no-code platforms are fast, affordable, and accessible.

However, there are some clear differentiators between these two types of application platforms. While a low-code development platform needs minimal hand-coding and generally involves moving existing code into a workflow to build apps, no-code solutions are designed for developers who might not be familiar with programming at all. No code uses declarative programming with a focus on “what,” not “how.” In other words, you tell the system what you want, and it builds the app.

Because no-code platforms don’t require much training, anyone in your company without a technical background can quickly create business apps.

Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of low-code versus no-code development.

No code

Benefits

Anyone with moderate computer skills can develop apps with little training.

Everything the user needs is already built into the tool.

Creating a new app is very fast thanks to premade tools and templates.

Limitations

The apps can be difficult to customise.

It’s intended to solve only one business challenge.

You’re tied to the platform you use. Whatever changes they make to their business or their products could negatively affect you.

What you can build with no-code and low-code platforms

Benefits

Anyone with moderate computer skills can develop apps with little training.

Everything the user needs is already built into the tool.

Creating a new app is very fast thanks to premade tools and templates.

Limitations

The apps can be difficult to customize.

It’s intended to solve only one business challenge.

You’re tied to the platform you use. Whatever changes they make to their business or their products could negatively affect you.

When to go low code or no code

Both kinds of app development software can help you build apps that your business needs in a shorter time frame than with traditional development. But how do you know which one is right for you?

  • Conference apps for event attendees. Building an event-specific app is a great way to keep attendees engaged. An app can make it easy for guests to view daily agendas, learn about speakers, find local transit options, or even provide session feedback.
  • Streamlined procurement processes. Instead of using email or physical documents to request items, you can build an app to house and manage employee purchase requests and to simplify, or even automate, approvals. You could create similar apps for tracking time off or travel requests, too.
  • Employee onboarding. Apps can make it easier to quickly bring new employees up to speed. You could also create an app to assign, track, and manage employee training exercises, in-house tutorials, and other important hiring documentation.
  • Food delivery management. You could build an app to keep track of when food is made, when it’s sent for delivery, and how long it takes for a driver to drop an order off. You could even add GPS functionality that gives delivery drivers the fastest route to their destinations.

Take the next step

Both kinds of app development software can help you build apps that your business needs in a shorter time frame than with traditional development. But how do you know which one is right for you?

It depends on what you’re hoping to achieve and what resources you have available. If speed is your biggest concern, you only want to create apps that accomplish simple tasks, or you don’t have anyone on staff with coding skills, no code is probably your best choice.

But if you want the speed of no code but don’t want to compromise on customizability or scalability—and both professional developers and citizen developers will use the apps—then low code is the way to go. Whatever the size of your business, low-code platforms give both technical and non-technical users the power to build apps they need to do their jobs more efficiently. Going low code means you can save money, save time, and be more productive.

Take the next step

When you opt for a low-code development platform, you can build the apps that your business needs in next to no time. With Microsoft Power Apps, you’ll empower your teams to easily and rapidly build low-code apps that modernize processes, solve tough business challenges, and make your company more agile.