The new trend emerging in software development is called “no-code” or “low-code” software development, making it possible to create full-stack, web-based applications with no or minimal coding. Instead, applications are “configured” by selecting options on standard objects, rather than writing code. In fact, no-code development environments can empower a single configurator – versus an entire team of front-end, middleware, and backend developers – to create cloud-based, database-driven applications with both web and mobile interfaces. Startups needing to rapidly and economically create an MVP are using no-code application development platforms today, as are large enterprises which want to create a new competitive edge for their businesses through digital transformation of their internal processes.
I predict that in less than 10 years the majority of applications will be designed, developed, deployed, and maintained using no-code environments.
The first response to hearing about no-code or low-code software is often, “Oh, yes, we’ve all heard of that in the past, but it never worked.” It’s true that earlier attempts created bloated code and the platforms were not very extendable. You could spend a lot of your time programming around the problems of the platform, losing any gain in overall productivity. But now, new solutions have emerged from a variety of vendors that provide a more comprehensive, cloud-enabled platform to rapidly build full-stack web applications for the majority of the application, without writing and debugging lines of code. These frameworks also provide full flexibility for you to extend upon the base, while ensuring any custom code you write is wrapped in APIs to sufficiently make the new code become part of the corps of re-usable, configurable objects. This includes the ability to easily extend the platform for specific uses by integrating and leveraging reusable code libraries from previous projects.
IT’s struggle to keep up with the demand for different types of applications is felt most profoundly by rapidly growing companies in periods of fast expansion with evolving business processes. Compounding this issue is that true digital transformation requires connecting disparate islands of applications with silos of data. This is critical to ensure that the application can enable stakeholders with actionable insights based on accurate, real-time data across different departments and geographies to drive better decision-making.
Companies are awash in ad hoc workflows and processes spread across departments that have evolved from diverse IT systems installed at different times, and these systems often exist in different data clouds that don’t talk with each other. Furthermore, valuable day-to-day information is resident in spreadsheets and, all too often, email accounts. Businesses are demanding a way to approach digital transformation to connect disparate islands of applications with silos of data – easily and quickly.
If one adopts the approach of “fail fast and iterate rapidly,” how does one quickly create a web application to test out an idea without hiring a team of full-stack software developers with an array of specialized talent – front end developers, middleware, and backend database gurus – each required to have highly specific coding experience? Additionally, creating web applications rapidly now means doing so in hours to days, not weeks that drag into months.
No-code development platform tools are run on industry-standard cloud infrastructure and provide self-service and instant provisioning, auto-scaling, plus security, compliance, and management features. No-code application development tools provide a way for you – someone who does not write code but is uniquely familiar with the intricacies of your internal business processes – to easily create an application without writing a detailed specification. Instead of spending weeks, if not months, carefully defining every aspect of an application in advance, you are now able to test out the general idea over a short period of time and determine the potential value of a new application – before spending too much of your IT budget.
One specific example of this kind of toolset is the BILDR framework which has been in use by Concepture.com on hundreds of web-based applications over the last 10 years. Using a drag-and-drop interface, the BILDR framework automatically builds the tables, columns, dependencies, schemas, web services, and all other foundational items for your custom web application. BILDR connects to any third-party data and legacy systems using the framework’s automatic API builder, further reducing the need for writing and debugging custom code solutions every time.
Concepture.com plans to make BILDR available in early 2017 so that any startup or large enterprise can benefit from using no-code application development processes in their IT departments or as a stand-alone development tool.
At this point in the conversation, the question often arises: “What happens to traditional programmers?” The answer is that they will be needed as much as ever. The need for programmers is increasing, not decreasing, as non-coders begin to create applications as well. Programmers with deep full-stack development expertise will be needed to code new reusable objects for no-code configurators to use. With no-code tools becoming more sophisticated and easier to use by removing the need to learn to code syntax, programmers can think about problem-solving from a higher level of abstraction. In addition, programmers will be able to share or sell their existing code libraries to non-coders, who will use those unique libraries as they configure in a no-code environment.
The more we explore the impact of this no-code trend, we see how programmers will benefit from increased opportunities to work with less-experienced configurators using no-code development platforms. We see this being the way of the future, and it means that everyone benefits.
Tom Parish, VP Marketing. Availability of BILDR is expected in early 2017, for companies from large enterprises to startups, offering them the most advanced, no-code application development framework in the industry.