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When to use and not to use low-code development?

Vlad Lugovsky
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Vlad Lugovsky
March 18, 2024
When to use and not to use low-code development?

Low-code development platforms are changing the way applications are developed within businesses, as they provide an accelerated, more affordable path to software production. Nonetheless, although these websites offer a quick implementation that is simple to use, they are not a one-fits-all solution and have their own sets of challenges. This article explains under what conditions low-code development excels, and when traditional coding is still a better option to help you make the right choice for your next project.

When to Use Low-Code

Rapid Development

Low-code development platforms perform great when rapid development is essential, as they allow both developers and non-technical users to build applications swiftly through a visual interface with little coding. These platforms are beneficial especially for projects with high time pressure, providing teams with pre-built templates and drag-and-drop feature for easy development. Through speed and agility, low code enables fast application building and deployment, slashing the development time from months to weeks or even days. Adopting this method is best suited for delivering applications that should change in a responsive manner to business needs or market situations, without the intricacies of the classical coding.

Prototyping

Here, in prototyping, low-code development excels, offering a fast and effective way of materializing the ideas. Its visual interface coupled with short code requirement allows teams to build functional prototypes quickly, thus resulting into a quickly feedback and iterative design processes. It reduces enough the prototyping phase whereby one can now try different concepts and user experiences without having to code a lot or use up much technical resources. Through permitting simple modification and improvement of prototypes, low-code platforms foster a dynamic development environment where ideas can be validated and developed really fast. For this reason, the low-code is an ideal prototyping tool. It guarantees a product to be developed with the user feedback and market needs in mind, and this increases the success rate in competitive markets.

Functionality Over Prettiness

The low-code development platforms offer strong solutions in cases where functionality comes before aesthetic design. The focus of such platforms is on the quick building and delivery of custom applications that are functional and effective rather than spending the same amount of time on the intricate design. This concentration on efficiency rather than beauty is especially helpful for back-end systems or applications where speed and utility are paramount. Low-code allows developers to accomplish core functions quickly by using predesigned components and logic while greatly improving development speed and the fact that the application meets its main operational needs. This approach enables the organizations to quickly react to operational needs or market changes, hence, developing highly functional applications that are exactly suited to the business requirements without being stuck in the custom design and aesthetics complexities.

When Not to Use Low-Code

Complex Business Logic

In software development, there are situations where low-code platforms are not very suitable and dealing with complex business logic is one such instance. Low-code environments are great when it comes to simplifying the development process with pre-built templates and visual programming interfaces, but they can sometimes fail to cope with complex custom business logic which needs deep customization or unusual processing capability. The very abstraction layer any low-code platforms provides becomes a limitation in case the applications require advanced algorithms, processing significant amount of data or specialized functionality. The developers may be restricted by the predefined capabilities of the platform, thus compromising the performance, scalability, or accuracy in executing complex business rules.

Further, the operations of most businesses are becoming more complex as they evolve and to manage such systems, flexibility and control above what low-code environments offers are often needed. Instances when the business processes are dynamic and require updating of the logic or the integration of new technologies frequently, the use of low-code platforms would pose a great challenge to adaptation and growth. The demand for specific integrations or complex customizations to support complicated workflows or compliance requirements can trigger the limits of what low-code platforms can provide.

Highly Customized Solutions

Even though low-code platforms are unmatched in terms of speed and productivity in the development of many types of projects, they don’t always work best for creating highly customized solutions. Standard application architectures thrive in such environments with predefined components limiting the level of customization for projects that require particular solutions. The requirement to customize each and every part of an application including its user interface and the underlying functionality is a frequent need and the traditional development practices can offer the agility and power to meet such demands. This level of personalization typically demands direct access to the codebase and the capability to integrate custom components or third-party services smoothly, which is difficult within the bounds of a low-code platform.

In such cases, some low-code platforms may not be the best solution because they lack in functionality compared with the variability of UI/UX designers. In such cases, the flexibility to modify the user interface as well as come up with custom interaction is very important and requires more of a manual coding approach. Custom development is all about implementing of unique features and sophisticated user interactions that may make an application quite memorable in a crowded market.

Performance Requirements

Low-code platforms may not always be an ideal choice if the applications require high performance and efficient resource usage. Such environments although ideal for quick development and deployment, however, can pose constraints in terms of performance tuning and optimization. The overhead introduced by the abstraction layers of the low-code is a major issue for the applications that need to do processing of large volumes of data just in time or that are vital to business operations, such as the financial trading platforms or large-scale ERP systems. In such cases, the constitution of an application to fine-tune its performance at a more granular level, in database query optimizations, memory usage management and customizing caching mechanisms, becomes indispensable.

Technology Lock-In

However, the adoption of low-code development may sometimes result in technology or vendor lock-in, where organizations will be deeply dependent on the ecosystem and constraints of one platform. This dependency is caused because most low-code platforms use proprietary technologies and components which are difficult to export to other environments. Therefore, businesses would find it difficult to move their applications to another platform or technology stack in the future and they would need to undertake extensive redevelopment or interrupt their operations costs. Such lock-in limits not only flexibility in responding to dynamic technological trends but also to the platform provider pricing, updates, and support policies. This involves significant risk, especially for critical business applications that need stability and ability to adapt over a long period. So, though low-code platforms bring many benefits to the organization in terms of fast development, technology lock-in implications should be carefully evaluated before choosing the development strategy.

Examples of low-code use cases

Internal tools

Low-code development platforms provide a lot of advantages to internal tools. They ease the app development process by enabling users to develop applications with minimal coding. This makes it available to many more potential developers within an organization.

Using low-code and no-code tools, internal teams are able to create custom applications rapidly without spending a substantial amount of time and skill of the traditional development approaches. Successful implementation of low-code for internal tool development can be seen in various areas:

Applications of such nature can also be developed with the help of drag and drop editors offered by platforms such as UI Bakery as well as automation facilities which greatly assist in efficient deployment of such business solutions. Low-code platforms enable rapid and agile solution for functionality augmentation, system collaboration support, and application deployment within a single click. This eventually enhances the general development lifecycle and management of these apps in an organization.

Automated workflows (Scheduled Jobs and Webhooks)

Automated workflows, scheduled jobs and webhooks are a key example of low-code development platforms which demonstrate how they can simplify complex operations with few lines of code. Low-code platforms help businesses to create and deploy automated workflows that can initiate actions, synchronize data across the systems, or send notifications at pre-determined times with minimal programming. Scheduled jobs can be made to do repetitive activities like data backups, report generation, or inventory updates to ensure operational efficiency and consistency. Simultaneously, webhooks provide live connection between different applications, through which systems can communicate and react automatically to events that occur, e.g., updating a customer records or processing an order. Low-code tools enable organizations to make quick work of creating and maintaining automated processes, thus, improving productivity and freeing IT staff to focus on more strategic projects.

Vendor Apps

In terms of enabling vendor applications to develop quickly and easily, low-code platforms serve as a middleman between off-the-shelf software and custom business requirements. Such platforms help the organizations to tailor and elongate the functionality of vendor-supplied software, promoting smooth integration with current systems and processes. For instance, a company can use a low code platform to extend custom functionality to CRM system provided by a vendor or to link that system with their own internal systems and applications. This complements the utility of the vendor software and also ensures that it integrates seamlessly into the organization’s ecosystem, improving information flow and operational effectiveness. This is achieved through the visual development environment of low-code platforms, which opens the process of development and integration of vendor applications to both developers and non-developers, allowing them to democratize this process and dramatically accelerate the deployment of specialized solutions.

Customer B2B Apps

Low code platforms are extremely useful for creating B2B applications that are directed towards customers, allowing businesses to quickly build and deploy apps that are customized to the customer’s requirements and desires. They allow to create user friendly interfaces and personalized experiences, what makes customer apps functional and captivating. Customer feedback can be rapidly iterated, which increases user satisfaction and loyalty, and the reduced development time enables quick response time to customer demands and market trends. This philosophy is in line with the requirement of businesses to remain competitive by keep on enhancing and tailoring their digital offerings to their clients.

Use-cases when low-code doesn't work

Social Network

A full-fledged social network is a scenario where low-come platforms may not fit the bill, due to the complexity and scale of such projects. Social networks use complex, scalable architectures, for example, real-time feeds, multimedia content, and messaging. They also require complex delivery algorithms, user interaction, and data analysis, all of which often require extensive customization that low-code environments typically do not accommodate. In addition, the security and privacy protection of user data in a social network is characterized by the compliance with complex requirements that may demand particular coding practices and technologies. Although low-code platforms may speed up some development aspects, the detailed, custom nature of social networks probably needs a traditional, code-intensive development process to meet the subtle requirements of performance, scalability, and security that are inherent in these platforms.

Stock Exchange Trading Bot

A stock exchange trading bot is another situation where low-code platforms may not be sufficient. The bots are required to have highly specialized algorithms that are able to make trades based on the real-time analysis of the market and are often used to execute the trades within microseconds. They require speed of execution and the potential to handle and amass huge volumes of financial data and be able to make cogent decisions. The level of sophistication in the data handling and algorithmic trading requires complex mathematical models, and extreme timing, consequently, the underlying system architecture and code should be highly customized and controlled. Despite low-code platforms providing fast development for many applications, highly specific performance requirements of the trading bot like real-time data processing, security measures for sensitive financial data, and integration with stock exchange APIs, usually either fall outside of the capabilities of low-code solutions, hence, traditional coding methodologies are the best-suited choice.

Apps with Complex UI Animations

Low-code platforms may find it difficult to fully address issues presented by apps with complex UI animations and interactions. Typically, such applications demand a deep level of control and customization of the animations, transitions, and user interaction for a thoroughly engaging and high-quality user experience. Creation of these types of intricate UI elements requires a level of accuracy and customization that is not possible for drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-configured components that are usually found in most low-code environments. Low-code platforms can speed up almost all other aspects of development, however, some of them do not provide precise enough control to produce sophisticated animation effects or to lead well-polished interactions which, for example, users expect in high-end consumer-faced applications. Developers that are aiming to exceed in UI design and create really immersive encounters usually use traditional coding approaches, which enable them to use advanced libraries and frameworks designed specifically for complex animations and interactions.

Embedded Apps

Low-code platforms are not primarily intended to be used for developing software applications, especially embedded applications which are designed to run in non-computer devices such as industrial machines, IoT devices, and smart appliances. Integration with hardware in a tight manner is important, as is the proper use of resources and real time performance, which would be compromised with abstraction layers that are also characteristic of low code environments. To support embedded apps, system operation, memory management and power consumption have to be extremely detailed controlled, to satisfy strict demands the hardware imposes. Considering these particular requirements, embedded applications are usually developed by means of the traditional programming ways, wherein developers can work closely with the hardware of the device with the help of languages and tools meant for low level, high efficiency coding. This also guarantees that the application is more than just a functionality, its optimizations are made to adhere to the limitations and potential of the embedded environment.

Alternatives to Low-Code Development

Traditional Development

Traditional development is the main other option for low-code development where direct coding practice and the use of general purpose programming languages such as Java, C#, or Python. This way the developers have total control over the application, the user interface, the underlying business logic and the database interactions. It allows the development of very specific and complex applications that would need certain performance, security, and scaling requirements. Traditional development is most appropriate in projects where customizing and optimizing is crucial, permitting the team to fine-tune every aspect of the application to their liking. Although this approach demands more advanced technical expertise and often requires longer development cycles as compared to low-code platforms, it offers the agility and control needed to build complex systems, such as enterprise software, high-performance computing applications, and specialized tools where the weaknesses of low-code solutions become apparent.

No-code Development

No-code development platforms are an alternative to low-code solutions which propose even more simplified way of application creation. The difference is that low-code platforms require some amount of technical knowledge and understanding of programming concepts, but no-code platforms are built on the assumption that anyone, even those with no technical background, can build applications. Such democratization of development enables the business users, analysts and other non-technical stakeholders to participate directly in the application building and deployment without writing a line of code. No-code platforms facilitate the quick composition of applications by using visual development environments and drag-and-drop interfaces, with the emphasis placed on simplicity and ease of use. This approach is especially good for small businesses and non-technical people that want to create simple applications or prototypes quickly without spending time for coding or having good knowledge of software development methodologies. No-code solutions may not provide the same level of customization or scalability as either low-code or traditional development, but they allow application development to be accessed by a wider audience, thus, creating room for innovation and flexibility within the organizations.

Examples of Modern Low-Code Platforms

UI Bakery

UI Bakery website

UI Bakery is a low-code platform focusing on the rapid development of applications with the special emphasis on creating visually appealing user interfaces without excessive coding. It comes with a strong graphical editor, which makes everyone, starting from developers to cooperating partners, able to design, personalize and implement web applications faster. UI Bakery comes with many ready-to-use templates and UI components and supports integration with different databases and third-party services, allowing to build applications targeted at a particular business need quickly. This platform is very popular for its user friendly implementation, which enable users to handle front-end development and backend services in a single environment. UI Bakery enables teams to deliver applications faster whilst maintaining high standard of design and user experience as it allows for automation of repetitive development tasks and offers a wide range of customization through a drag-and-drop interface.

Mendix

Mendix website

Mendix is one of the top low-code platforms used by large enterprises to simplify their application development process, providing tools for creating, integrating, and deploying complex applications in a short period and with no or little coding. It is distinguished by its holistic nature, covering the entire application lifecycle from ideation through deployment and beyond. Mendix supports collaboration between business and IT teams and allows quick prototyping, development, and revision of applications. Some of the strong features of its platform are visual development tools, reusable components, advanced security measures, and seamless integration with existing systems and data sources. Besides, Mendix provides cloud-native support, making applications easily scalable, reliable, and suitable for the contours of today’s digital business. Mendix facilitates simplification of application development, and as a result, it is preferred by companies that want to deploy digital transformation quickly but yet want to keep the high-level standards.

Outsystems

OutSystems is a leading low-code development platform developed to enable the fast and easy creation of enterprise level applications. It stands out with its capability of deploying applications, that are scalable, secure, and thus, can be easily integrated with the current systems. OutSystems can be used for many development purposes, starting from mobile and web apps to intricate workflows and/ or business processes. The platform comes with an easy to use, drag-and-drop interface which enables developers of every skill level to rapidly design, develop and deploy applications. Furthermore, it provides powerful tools for controlling the whole lifecycle of application starting from the development, deployment, monitoring, and updating. Also, OutSystems focuses on agility and continuous improvement to help the businesses iterate and improve their applications according to the market demand or customer feedback. Featuring an extensive range of functionality and a focus on fast, high-quality application delivery, OutSystems provides a powerful solution for organizations looking to realize digital transformation and perpetuate competitiveness in the digital age.

Importance of Low-Code Development

Tthe significance of low-code development in today’s digital world is very high. Through a massive simplification of the construction of applications and the time associated with it, low-code platforms permit businesses to react quickly to market fluctuations and customers’ demands. They democratize development process by allowing users of varying technical knowledge to chip into applications creation and innovation. Speed enables faster solution deployment, which in turn makes companies competitive and ready to meet the digital need of their clients and operations. In addition, low-code development eliminates the divide between the IT and business teams, promoting collaboration and fast-tracking digital transformation projects across all sectors.

Final thoughts

Low-code development is an essential instrument in speeding up the process of digital transformation, allowing for rapid application creation with less complexity. It makes the technology democratic and enables a wider range of users to innovate and provide quick responses to changing business requirements. Besides, it promotes collaboration between business and IT teams, thus, emphasizing its instrumental function in the future of digital enterprises.

FAQ

When is it appropriate to use low-code development?

Low-code development is a solution when the timely application delivery, democratization of development, and closing the gap between IT and business needs are among the top priorities.

What are the key factors to consider when deciding to use low-code development?

The factors to be taken into account when opting for low-code development include the project complexity, the necessity to develop and deploy at once, the customization level, scalability and performance requirements, technology lock-in possibility and the technical expertise of the development team.

Are there any situations where low-code development is not recommended?

Yes, low-code development is not advised in applications that require highly customized solutions with complex business logic, applications that have specific performance requirements, scenarios that demand deep integration with legacy systems, or software that has intricate control over security and data privacy measures, because low-code platforms are unable to handle such projects.

How can I determine if low-code development is the best solution for my project?

To see if low-code is right for your project, compare robustness, urgency, customization, and team skill level against low-code capabilities and constraints. Low-code is best for projects that require a fast cycle and a moderate level of customization, such as business applications and workflows. Evaluate whether the project suits low-code benefits, while considering possible disadvantages such as performance and vendor lock-in.

What are the potential drawbacks of using low-code development?

The possible disadvantages of low-code development are restrictions of the options for customization, possible performance challenges in complex applications, reliance on the vendor of the platform (which often leads to technology-lock in), and troubles with the integrations with the legacy systems.

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