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Low code application platforms

Matthew Weaver
Matthew Weaver
Matthew WeaverIT Consultancy Director | Agile, Scrum advocate | Software Development Strategist | Transformation Manager | Bid Leader

Choosing the right development platform may not be as obvious as it seems. Low code application platforms accelerate app delivery by dramatically reducing the amount of hand coding required. Faster delivery is the primary benefit of these application platforms; they also help firms respond more quickly to customer feedback after initial software releases. While to benefits are clear - this does not mean they are always the best choice for your business. Equally, it should not always be an either/or choice between one platform or another. These slides describe some of the things to consider when choosing a development platform. Please get in touch if you would like an unbiased discussion on how to choose the best platform for your needs.

Low code application platforms

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Digital Transformation Specialists
Low-code application platforms
Making the right choice may not be as obvious as it seems
© 2019 Objectivity Ltd
What is bespoke software?
Bespoke - made for a particular customer or user. [Oxford online
dictionary]
Bespoke software is developed for a specific reason. As such, it can be
contrasted with the use of software packages developed for the mass
market, such as commercial off-the-shelf software, or existing free
software [Wikipedia.com].
Bespoke software is custom or tailor-made software. The value of
bespoke software over off-the-shelf software is that it can be designed
specifically for key business or legislative objectives. [Techopedia.com]
Bespoke is a term used in the United Kingdom and elsewhere for an
individually - or custom-made product or service. Traditionally applied to
custom-tailored clothing, the term has been extended to information
technology, especially for software consulting services.
[whatis.techtarget.com]
Custom software development is the process of designing, creating,
deploying and maintaining software for a specific set of users, functions
or organisations. In contrast to commercial off-the-shelf software
(COTS), custom software development aims at a narrowly defined set of
requirements. [IBM]
Bespoke systems are tailored to the exact requirements of a company.
They can be built to accommodate business growth or downsizing. They
are generally designed with the long term IT plans of a company in mind.
[Chartered Institute for IT]
© 2019 Objectivity Ltd
What is low-code?
Low-code application platforms accelerate app delivery by dramatically
reducing the amount of hand-coding required. Faster delivery is the
primary benefit of these application platforms; they also help firms
respond more quickly to customer feedback after initial software
releases. [Forrester]
Low-code is a visual development approach to application development.
Low-code enables developers of varied experience levels to create
applications for web and mobile, using drag-and-drop components and
model driven logic through a graphical user interface. [Mendix]
Low-code is a way to design and develop software applications fast and
with minimal hand-coding. It enables skilled people to deliver value more
quickly and more reliably. Using visual modeling in a graphical interface
to assemble and configure applications. [outsystems]
A low-code application platform (LCAP) is an application platform that
supports rapid application development, one-step deployment, execution
and management using declarative, high-level programming
abstractions, such as model-driven and metadata-based programming
languages. They support the development of user interfaces, business
logic and data services, and improve productivity at the expense of
portability across vendors, as compared with conventional application
platforms. [Gartner]
“
© 2019 Objectivity Ltd
How does it all fit together? The differences between no-
code and low-code platforms
are converging over time.
Robust governance & workflow
capabilities are essential as
these platforms continue to
replace the need for manual
coding.
Lower level languages may
continue to satisfy
requirements in terms of
especially high performance or
high complexity needs.
AI will play an increasing role in
helping to accelerate the
capabilities of no-code & low-
code platforms.
The diagram shows how COTS, no-code, low-code and manual coding complement
each other in terms of their general capabilities. The users, citizen developers &
professional coders, is not as clear cut as the diagram suggests. The nature of the
business challenges they are addressing will determine who does what.
Enterprise grade application are being built using low-code platforms. For this nature of
application, good design, governance & working practices are essential.
© 2019 Objectivity Ltd
Low-code or manual programming
 It shouldn’t have to be an either/or decision. In a complex
application landscape, there may be many tools and technologies,
working together, to provide business benefits.
 Where there are mature and efficient development practices, it’s
important to balance investment against return against risk.
 For new, or less mature development environments, low-code may
provide a significantly streamlined process.
 For real-time, high performing systems, manual coding may
provide a more efficient approach. Low-code is often a good
choice for legacy re-engineering.
 Selecting a low-code platform for core functionality may be
appropriate. Custom code can be added for performance critical,
and highly complex requirements.
 Webhooks and API support simplify integration between systems -
regardless of the technologies they utilise.
 Low-code platforms can be extended with hand-crafted code.
Java, .NET and many other languages are supported.
Of course, different platforms and technologies require people with
different skillsets and experiences to manage them. Consolidation
may happen over time but not immediately.
© 2019 Objectivity Ltd
Low-code and no-code
 Low-code and no-code have similar capabilities and goals. Both
use visual modelers and templates to automate processes without
(ideally) writing any code. The difference is becoming more to do
with who the users are.
 No-code is generally the domain of citizen developers building
simple and more limited applications. Ideally without coding.
 Low-code focuses on professional developers creating enterprise
class applications. Ideally without coding.
 Both of these approaches are supported by a number of related
products.
 If this trend continues, it is likely that the distinction between low-
code & no-code will disappear.
 This means less enterprise development and bespoke coders.
Ironically, coders will still have a role to play in creating the low-
code platforms and thereby accelerating the need for manual
coding.
The possible resistance of IT departments should be considered
when adopting low-code & no-code platforms. Whilst the future is
uncertain, the need for professional development expertise will be
around for a long time to come.

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Low code application platforms

  • 1. Digital Transformation Specialists Low-code application platforms Making the right choice may not be as obvious as it seems
  • 2. © 2019 Objectivity Ltd What is bespoke software? Bespoke - made for a particular customer or user. [Oxford online dictionary] Bespoke software is developed for a specific reason. As such, it can be contrasted with the use of software packages developed for the mass market, such as commercial off-the-shelf software, or existing free software [Wikipedia.com]. Bespoke software is custom or tailor-made software. The value of bespoke software over off-the-shelf software is that it can be designed specifically for key business or legislative objectives. [Techopedia.com] Bespoke is a term used in the United Kingdom and elsewhere for an individually - or custom-made product or service. Traditionally applied to custom-tailored clothing, the term has been extended to information technology, especially for software consulting services. [whatis.techtarget.com] Custom software development is the process of designing, creating, deploying and maintaining software for a specific set of users, functions or organisations. In contrast to commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS), custom software development aims at a narrowly defined set of requirements. [IBM] Bespoke systems are tailored to the exact requirements of a company. They can be built to accommodate business growth or downsizing. They are generally designed with the long term IT plans of a company in mind. [Chartered Institute for IT]
  • 3. © 2019 Objectivity Ltd What is low-code? Low-code application platforms accelerate app delivery by dramatically reducing the amount of hand-coding required. Faster delivery is the primary benefit of these application platforms; they also help firms respond more quickly to customer feedback after initial software releases. [Forrester] Low-code is a visual development approach to application development. Low-code enables developers of varied experience levels to create applications for web and mobile, using drag-and-drop components and model driven logic through a graphical user interface. [Mendix] Low-code is a way to design and develop software applications fast and with minimal hand-coding. It enables skilled people to deliver value more quickly and more reliably. Using visual modeling in a graphical interface to assemble and configure applications. [outsystems] A low-code application platform (LCAP) is an application platform that supports rapid application development, one-step deployment, execution and management using declarative, high-level programming abstractions, such as model-driven and metadata-based programming languages. They support the development of user interfaces, business logic and data services, and improve productivity at the expense of portability across vendors, as compared with conventional application platforms. [Gartner]
  • 4. “ © 2019 Objectivity Ltd How does it all fit together? The differences between no- code and low-code platforms are converging over time. Robust governance & workflow capabilities are essential as these platforms continue to replace the need for manual coding. Lower level languages may continue to satisfy requirements in terms of especially high performance or high complexity needs. AI will play an increasing role in helping to accelerate the capabilities of no-code & low- code platforms. The diagram shows how COTS, no-code, low-code and manual coding complement each other in terms of their general capabilities. The users, citizen developers & professional coders, is not as clear cut as the diagram suggests. The nature of the business challenges they are addressing will determine who does what. Enterprise grade application are being built using low-code platforms. For this nature of application, good design, governance & working practices are essential.
  • 5. © 2019 Objectivity Ltd Low-code or manual programming  It shouldn’t have to be an either/or decision. In a complex application landscape, there may be many tools and technologies, working together, to provide business benefits.  Where there are mature and efficient development practices, it’s important to balance investment against return against risk.  For new, or less mature development environments, low-code may provide a significantly streamlined process.  For real-time, high performing systems, manual coding may provide a more efficient approach. Low-code is often a good choice for legacy re-engineering.  Selecting a low-code platform for core functionality may be appropriate. Custom code can be added for performance critical, and highly complex requirements.  Webhooks and API support simplify integration between systems - regardless of the technologies they utilise.  Low-code platforms can be extended with hand-crafted code. Java, .NET and many other languages are supported. Of course, different platforms and technologies require people with different skillsets and experiences to manage them. Consolidation may happen over time but not immediately.
  • 6. © 2019 Objectivity Ltd Low-code and no-code  Low-code and no-code have similar capabilities and goals. Both use visual modelers and templates to automate processes without (ideally) writing any code. The difference is becoming more to do with who the users are.  No-code is generally the domain of citizen developers building simple and more limited applications. Ideally without coding.  Low-code focuses on professional developers creating enterprise class applications. Ideally without coding.  Both of these approaches are supported by a number of related products.  If this trend continues, it is likely that the distinction between low- code & no-code will disappear.  This means less enterprise development and bespoke coders. Ironically, coders will still have a role to play in creating the low- code platforms and thereby accelerating the need for manual coding. The possible resistance of IT departments should be considered when adopting low-code & no-code platforms. Whilst the future is uncertain, the need for professional development expertise will be around for a long time to come.
  • 7. © 2019 Objectivity Ltd Gartner magic quadrant and Forrester Wave for low-code
  • 8. © 2019 Objectivity Ltd What are the analysts predicting?  By 2024, three quarters of large enterprises will be using at least four low-code development tools for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives. [Gartner]  By 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of all application development activity. [Gartner]  By 2020, at least 50 percent of all new business applications will be created with high-productivity toolsets, such as low- code and no-code application development platforms. [Gartner]  The global Low-Code Development Platform Market is Set to Reach USD 53.0 billion by 2024, Observing a CAGR of 80.0% during 2019–2024. [VynZ Research]  Through 2021, market demand for app development will grow at least five times faster than the IT capacity to deliver it. [Gartner]
  • 9. © 2019 Objectivity Ltd Potential low code benefits  Low-code platforms may significantly speed up software development. Leading to faster ROI and increased productivity.  Low-code platforms can be self-documenting. They provide a graphical representation of the processes they are performing. This can substantially reduce the need for external documentation.  Low code reduces testing. Templates and components are pre- tested and used by many companies, in many scenarios.  Tooling includes visual modelers, pre-built modules and templates typically supported by drag and drop environments.  One click application delivery. Simplified and accelerated deployment.  Support for several third-generation languages for customisation beyond a platform’s existing capabilities.  Ability for citizen developers to create (simple) applications without coding. But be mindful: low-code does not always mean ‘fit for non-technical’ users.  Built in governance controls for IT to protect an organisation's data, processes and operational integrity.  A high level of platform independence across mobile, web and desktop applications. Please note that some low code platforms will not include all the benefits or drawbacks listed in this slide and the next.
  • 10. © 2019 Objectivity Ltd Potential low code drawbacks  Vendor lock-in may present significant problems depending on your situation. Portability across platforms can be difficult or impossible without a full rewrite.  Pricing models can be complex and opaque. None of the vendors in the Forrester Wave scored highly in this regard.  Visual components and model driven logic trade ease of use and speed of development. This may currently be less flexible than code-based platforms although the gap is closing as low-code platforms evolve.  Technical knowledge is still required to some degree. The happy path may be easier but when things go wrong, fixing them often requires an experienced programmer.  Professional developers may be harder to find for work on low-code platforms – often preferring to use different toolsets.  Platform selection is likely to be more critical than with high code platforms. Consider your needs carefully and hope that your chosen platform handles your future needs. This is especially important due to vendor lock-in.  Low-code may promote shadow IT without effective governance and support from your IT team. However, the risks can be reduced and managed if they are consolidated to a single platform.Please note that some low code platforms will not include all the benefits or drawbacks listed in this slide and the next.
  • 11. “ © 2019 Objectivity Ltd Selecting the right development platform Selecting the right tool stack for your development needs is especially important with low-code platforms. There are many factors to consider. Their relative importance depends heavily on what you already have and what you are trying to achieve. Initially, making a plan of what matters most will help you to select the right tools and design effective working processes. The list provided here is not exhaustive but it contains some key points for consideration. • Your business goals & related requirements. • The people at your disposal, the experience and KSAs. Should the platform(s) cater for professional coders, citizen developers or both? • The level of cross platform support you need. • The ability to extend capabilities with multi- language support for manual coding. • The ability to port automated workflows to other platforms. Is vendor lock-in an issue? • The level of UI & UX generated from your chosen platforms. • Mobile support • The need for a cloud based platform. • The level of customisation and integration that is possible. • Vendor & community support. • Security and the level of control & visibility the platform provides. • Availability and the need to scale (both up and down). • The support for source, control, versioning and automated deployment. • Appropriate pricing models and how affect you both now and for projected growth scenarios.
  • 12. © 2019 Objectivity Ltd How can we help? In any organisation, there will be unique challenges to address. Where tailored, digital solutions are necessary, selecting the right tools, platforms and approaches will make a significant difference to your outcomes. Objectivity has leveraged technology to deliver business value for almost 30 years. We understand the importance of well-designed, high-quality software. We know how to integrate different systems that contain a multitude of technologies and data structures. By working together, we will learn what your key requirements and constraints are. We can then help you to find the right tools, expertise and process to address your own unique business needs. Because when it comes to delivering valuable, digital services – HOW you do things is just as important as WHAT you are doing.
  • 13. © 2019 Objectivity Ltd Classification Matthew Weaver Consultancy Director Email: mweaver@objectivity.co.uk Mobile: +44 (0)781 552 0068 LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewweaver/ Objectivity Ltd 9 Westwood House, Westwood Business Park Coventry, CV4 8HS, United Kingdom www.objectivity.co.uk Thank you! Doing the right thing While technology continues to advance at an astonishing rate – the focus must remain on business outcomes. Preparation, platform evaluation, success criteria and well-defined goals are just as important as ever. The tools for development are changing but many of the implementation processes and practices will continue to add value and reduce risks. These are disciplies that we have used and continually improved upon for almost 30 years.

Editor's Notes

  1. Bespoke software development Taken from lexico.com (Oxford online dictionary). http://bit.ly/2mpbLFH Taken from wikipedia.com. http://bit.ly/2mysiHd Taken from techopedia.com. http://bit.ly/2nov4im Taken from whatis.techtarget.com. http://bit.ly/2lVC2Ls Taken from IBM. https://ibm.co/2myRehO Taken from the Chartered Institute for IT. http://bit.ly/2mp4OV7 Additional notes (to be considered as a separate slide) Why doesn’t every company have bespoke software? The cost can be (but may not be always) much higher than off the shelf solutions. The time to market and associated manpower can be high. Often, the nature of tailored software means it cannot used (sold on) to address other’s needs. Established product based systems generally have more expertise available should you need it. Established product based systems have generally been tested to a greater extent over a longer period of time.
  2. Low code Taken from Forrester. http://bit.ly/2nuZuiM Taken from Mendix. http://bit.ly/2o6mcOL Taken from outsystems. http://bit.ly/2nvQs57 Taken from Gartner. https://gtnr.it/2mzB7AA
  3. Bespoke development includes manual coding, product extensions & no-code/low-code solutions. The tools are different but the capabilities are (broadly) the same. No-code tends to be aligned more to citizen developers. Low-code tends to be aligned more to professional engineers. Neither of the previous two points are set in stone. The objective of each is to build functionality without manual coding. Platforms generally have multi-language support for integrating hand-written code.  Equally, hand-written services and solutions can communicate with our solutions.
  4. Link to Forrester Wave reference. http://bit.ly/2mzxlXX
  5. Be careful what you are comparing The amount of benefits that low-code platforms provide depend on many factors: The size and complexity of development. The maturity of processes for programming based development Automated build and deploy workflows Continuous integration and delivery Automated testing and test tools System architecture and integration support Platform compatibility for example HTML/Cordoba single development strategies …
  6. Accenture explainable AI: https://accntu.re/2STGVRm Forrester article – AI is hard work: http://bit.ly/2YghgI8 Gartner says meaningful AI developments are just starting to take place: https://gtnr.it/2Mw93IT