Low-Code vs. No-Code: How Do You Choose?

Jun 15, 2017
11 Min Read
Low Code vs No Code: How to Choose?

Low Code vs No Code: How to Choose?


Competition among businesses today is fierce and everyone is in it to win. Requests for new business applications that can help the workforce do everything from getting more work done faster to delivering an outstanding customer experience have been pouring into IT. But for many, the pace of traditional IT development coupled with big backlogs, means delivery time frames that are just too slow to do much good.

For those who “need it now” low-code and no-code app building platforms are providing an empowering alternative. Because these development vehicles don’t require a conventional coding background, anyone—from central and business unit IT teams to line-of-business professionals—can create and update a wide range of apps in a fraction of the time.


Decoding the chatter about low-code and no-code

As is the case with many up and coming technology trends, there are many misconceptions about what low-code and no-code platforms really are, and what kind of development projects are best served by each. Below we offer information and advice to help you make the right choices for your team or business.


What kind of builder are you?

According to the Quick Base 2016 State of Citizen Development Report, 98% of all Quick Base application builders have Microsoft Excel expertise while 44% also have front or back end scripting skills such as VBScript, JavaScript, Node.js, Python and Ruby. Why is this important? It’s because your skill set plays a key role in defining what development platform (low-code or no-code) will be most effective in helping you achieve your app-building goals.


As a general rule:

  • No-code platforms offer a visual, step-by-step process that enables business professionals with basic spreadsheet skills to act as “builders” who can quickly create simple to complex business applications. No-code platforms feature wizards or menus; point and click or drag and drop tools; and auto-generated user interfaces and deployment to simplify the entire process.
  • Low-code platforms use declarative, visual modeling tools to lessen the amount of coding needed to build architecturally complex, enterprise-grade apps. They also help speed app building by making it faster and easier to assemble and reuse components. Professional coders as well as “power builders” with scripting, business analysis and process modeling skills can leverage low-code platforms to make the traditional app development process more efficient.


What kind of app do you want to build, and who will use it?

Are you a line-of-business professional and have some great ideas about how to solve challenges and optimize day-to-day operations for yourself and your team—but you have limited access to professional IT development resources to make it happen quickly?

You want a simple way to create and deploy easy-to-use business apps on your own—ones that will enable your team to securely access data, seamlessly collaborate, quickly accomplish tasks and create and disseminate targeted reports with speed and ease. And you definitely need the ability to update those apps frequently and in real-time to keep pace with rapidly changing business and customer requirements.

If these are some of your goals, a no-code platform is likely a good fit.   


No-code platform at-a-glance

Typical no-code app profile: • Apps used for capture, tracking, reporting and processing

• Apps that are evolving or encompass innovative processes

• Apps that can be standalone or integrated with core business systems

• Apps can be mission critical or not

• Apps with a life cycle that spans from months to years

Common no-code app building functionality: • Features a self-service dev environment encompassing app creation, reporting, integration, updates, etc.

• Supports self-service user access permissions

• Facilitates self-service app deployment

• Enables mobile-responsive apps

• Features an auto-generated user interface

• Supports real-time updates

• Includes self-service platform setup


“If you want to have your entire organization building solutions and solving their own challenges, regardless of what skills they have or don’t have, then you need a no-code platform.”

-- Mark Levitt, Senior Marketing Manager, Quick Base


What if you need to build unique, large scale apps that require high stability?

Are you a professional developer or power builder who wants an easier way to create long-term, custom applications that are often critical to the business and/or work across internal and external groups and systems? Projects falling under the low-code umbrella might include everything from core transaction processing and business process management solutions to customer, partner, or supplier portals used by many users.

If this is your mission, a low-code platform is likely your best choice.


Low-code platform at-a-glance

Typical low-code app profile • Architecturally complex apps that require infrequent updates

• Apps that track core business processes

• Apps that are part of core business systems

• Apps that are established and have defined processes

• Apps can be mission-critical or not

• Apps with a 5+ year life cycle

Common low-code app-building functionality • Features a high-control dev environment with a choice of programming frameworks, databases, application lifecycle management tools, etc.

• Entails high-control data permissions

• Involves high-control app deployment

• Supports native mobile app development

• Facilitates a pixel-perfect user interface

• Supports business process modeling

• Requires professional services platform implementation


“Low-code platforms take the traditional development process and streamline it, making it faster for skilled developers who would otherwise have to take a longer and more resource intensive route.”

-- Mark Levitt, Senior Marketing Manager, Quick Base, Inc.


Both low-code and no-code platforms can be employed by IT departments to quickly draw down project backlogs and more rapidly address business app requests. These platforms have also been successful in optimizing help desk and IT project management activities.


What else do you need to consider?

If you’re in a hurry to solve a problem, no-code platforms are a great way to address it fast. They are more likely to have a wide choice of pre-built apps that you can customize to your needs, but also enable you to easily build from scratch. One way is by simply uploading a spreadsheet.

Low-code platforms typically have fewer templates and pre-built components to choose from. Although visual development tools speed up the process, these platforms tend to leave much of the decision making, such as where and how an app will be deployed or integrated, up to the person coding the app. Typically, they require more technical expertise to build than the average no-code platform.

You’ll also want to consider where the platform will be hosted and by whom. Low-code platforms are offered both as on-premises and web-based solutions. Most no-code platforms are offered as in-the-cloud database solutions. Cloud-based solutions give app builders (especially those using a no-code platform) the flexibility to start small. From there, they can roll out any number of problem-solving solutions—all within one scalable, integrated ecosystem that shares the same secure data pool.

A development platform in the cloud also means the service provider is responsible for managing the health, security, and expansion of the infrastructure. This not only saves on procurement and management costs but also leaves app builders more time for other responsibilities, including building innovative new solutions.  


Collaboration enabled

Whatever platform you choose, the ability to collaborate across platforms makes it possible to extend native functionality through scripting and coding. For example, a builder can work with a power builder to extend the user interface on a no-code app to make it more customizable. A power builder may look to a professional coder to help them tap into a non-native API.

A platform vendor’s app-building partners are also potential options for assisting builders and power builders in creating complex solutions to address various challenges.   


Summing it all up

Although no-code and low-code platforms contribute in different ways, the mission of both is to improve app building efficiency for faster time-to-value. Today, non-traditional developers have the power to take on and solve their own challenges, joining the ranks of professional developers for the benefit of the entire enterprise.


Where do you need to accelerate innovation the most, and what app development platform will you choose to mobilize it?

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