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.
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:
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.
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!