Low-Code Plat­forms The New-born Chil­dren of Ab­strac­tion

The driv­ing force for most new in­ven­tions is need – the need to sim­plify things. Peo­ple say tech­nol­ogy is evolv­ing at a rapid pace. It is this need to sim­plify things that is fu­elling the evo­lu­tion of tech­nol­ogy.

OpenSource For You - - Advertorial - By Adith Mathiala­gan The au­thor is a mar­ket­ing an­a­lyst at ZOHO. He can be reached at adith.m@zo­ho­corp.com

We are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to keep up with our grow­ing needs, though the growth in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy has helped us a lot to stay in the race. To­day, there is a soft­ware ap­pli­ca­tion that can meet, and at times even ex­ceed, ev­ery need. But what hap­pens when the need changes?

This ques­tion has led to the in­cep­tion of low-code de­vel­op­ment plat­forms. These com­bine the sim­plic­ity of in­ter­face-driven ap­pli­ca­tion soft­ware with the power of an in­te­grated de­vel­op­ment en­vi­ron­ment. They al­low you to mod­ify and re­con­fig­ure a live ap­pli­ca­tion with­out any sys­tem out­ages.

Scope of app-build­ing plat­forms

Right now, there are three types of app-build­ing plat­forms in use:

No-code plat­forms

Low-code plat­forms

IDEs (in­te­grated de­vel­op­ment en­vi­ron­ments)

Each of these plat­forms is fo­cused on a dif­fer­ent tar­get au­di­ence and serves dif­fer­ent pur­poses. Web­site builders, blog­ging web­sites and process au­to­ma­tion tools are some ex­am­ples of a no-code de­vel­op­ment plat­form. The so­lu­tions built out of these plat­forms are mainly util­ity soft­ware that sat­isfy an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s in­ter­nal re­quire­ments, pri­mar­ily substituting forms and spread­sheets.

IDEs, on the other hand, cater to en­ter­prise ap­pli­ca­tions that work around com­plex busi­ness logic. Plat­forms like Vis­ual Stu­dio, Eclipse, etc, are clas­sic ex­am­ples of an in­te­grated de­vel­op­ment en­vi­ron­ment. IDEs re­quire in-depth pro­gram­ming ex­per­tise to build con­sum­able ap­pli­ca­tions.

The evo­lu­tion of low-code plat­forms

Tra­di­tion­ally, an ap­pli­ca­tion-build­ing process has three core lay­ers. The first layer is the user in­ter­face layer via which a user or a cus­tomer in­ter­acts with the ap­pli­ca­tion. The sec­ond layer is the un­der­ly­ing busi­ness logic, which is the spinal cord that con­trols how an ap­pli­ca­tion works. Fi­nally, there is the back­end data­base, which holds all the data.

The in­fras­truc­ture comes in only once the core lay­ers are in or­der. We need to de­cide on where and how the ap­pli­ca­tion is go­ing to be de­ployed. How se­cure is the data? Is the ap­pli­ca­tion scal­able enough to meet the grow­ing needs of the client? The com­pat­i­bil­ity of the ap­pli­ca­tion is also a ma­jor con­cern, like the sup­ported op­er­at­ing sys­tems, se­cure net­work con­nec­tions, set-up and main­te­nance of servers, etc.

Evolv­ing from high-level pro­gram­ming lan­guages, low-code plat­forms have sig­nif­i­cantly ab­stracted the amount of code needed to cre­ate ap­pli­ca­tion soft­ware, with the in­fras­truc­ture layer in­tact. De­ploy­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion is as sim­ple as click­ing a but­ton when built us­ing low-code plat­forms. Server host­ing and main­te­nance, the un­der­ly­ing data­base struc­ture and the back­end frame­work are com­pletely man­aged by low-code plat­form ven­dors.

This model of rapid ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment has given users a sim­ple in­ter­face to build pow­er­ful ap­pli­ca­tions. It has brought to­gether two dis­tant cousins — IT and the busi­ness stake­hold­ers, en­abling faster de­vel­op­ment of a soft­ware prod­uct with im­proved ef­fi­ciency and stream­lined process man­age­ment.

The fu­ture

Low-code plat­forms are now evolv­ing to­wards greater power and sim­plic­ity. While of­fer­ing users the power of a high-level script­ing lan­guage to de­velop en­ter­prise grade so­lu­tions, they also main­tain the sim­plic­ity of a no-code plat­form so that even peo­ple with less cod­ing ex­po­sure can build amaz­ing busi­ness apps. The best part is that these low-code plat­forms are plat­form-in­de­pen­dent, which means you can build and con­fig­ure an ap­pli­ca­tion us­ing the Web browser in­ter­face and de­ploy the ap­pli­ca­tion across the Web, as well as on An­droid, iOS or Win­dows plat­forms, with min­i­mal ef­fort.

Gart­ner Inc. has pre­dicted that the mar­ket of low-code de­vel­op­ment plat­forms will earn rev­enues of over US$ 10 bil­lion by 2019. If the cur­rent trends in this field are any­thing to go by, the in­ter­faces of these plat­forms will em­power users with in­creas­ing sim­plic­ity. The low-code plat­forms of to­day are be­com­ing more in­tu­itive with each re­lease, be­cause the ma­chine learn­ing field it­self is grow­ing. The evo­lu­tion is so rapid that in less than five years, we can ex­pect to see plat­forms that build apps on voice com­mands. Imag­ine Siri or Google As­sis­tant as­sem­bling mod­ules to make an app for you!

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