Not too long ago, software development was strictly for professionals who had a deep knowledge of technology and often the education and experience to back it up. But now, there are numerous pathways that allow people with myriad skills and backgrounds to create increasingly complex, high-performing products.
Today, even laypeople can build software and websites with little knowledge of the intricacies of the development process. One way they do this is through low-code development.
What, exactly, does low-code mean? How does it differ from pro-code? And which is the best approach for your project? Let’s take a look.
What Is Pro-Code?
Pro-code is probably what most people think of when it comes to software development. It’s also known as traditional code, and it’s just that — the original way most platforms have been programmed.
This is the sometimes long, involved process of building products like websites and software essentially from scratch. Developers tap into resources, such as frameworks and libraries, to help, but the product itself is in no way prepped by others. It must be coded, tested, modified, and deployed.
- Developers can create more complex products.
- Qualities like security, performance, and scalability are often enhanced.
- Developers can more easily perform fixes on the product.
- The product, overall, may be more polished in the end.
- It’s time-consuming.
- It requires the hand of experienced, qualified experts.
- It can be expensive.
What Is Low-Code?
Low-code is a newer approach to software development. This method means that developers have already done much of the legwork by creating a platform that enables laypeople to build a website, app, or other product on their own, so to speak. Think tools like Zoho Creator and Appian.
While there are different models for low-code platforms, usually, they have a drag-and-drop interface that allows users to access visual tools to move pieces around to build their product. This is a much simpler and easier approach to development for users of all types.
Bear in mind that low-code isn’t the same thing as no-code. Users can use code, depending on their knowledge of programming, to modify the platform as needed. No-code, on the other hand, doesn’t involve code at all, as you can probably guess. Still, low-code involves far less knowledge of programming than a pro-code model.
- People with very limited development knowledge can access this approach.
- The development process is much quicker than it is when using a pro-code model.
- The process is less costly than the traditional method is.
- Businesses and individuals can create a higher volume of products.
- There are fewer options for building products and less flexibility to customize.
- Support is relatively limited.
- Businesses and individuals have less control over aspects of the product like performance, security, and more.
When to Use Pro-Code vs. Low-Code
Pro-code is sometimes the best choice for your business and projects. When you’re looking to create a large-scale product with an abundance of complex features, pro-code is probably the best option.
Sometimes, you need the hand of skilled developers to accomplish what you may not be able to on your own. Not only can these professionals build your product in a shorter amount of time than you could on your own using a low-code platform, but they will also be able to tap into resources that will streamline development.
So, if you want a scalable, high-performance, customized, and customizable quality website or app, chances are pro-code is probably the way to go. Moreover, if you’re in a time crunch and need a sophisticated product fast, this is also the better choice.
Remember, too, that when you turn to a skilled, experienced team to create your product, they will also be able to resolve issues down the road, fixing bugs and scaling your software as needed.
As low-code platforms are becoming increasingly sophisticated, more and more individuals and businesses are turning to them to build a variety of products, from simple apps to self-service tools to online portfolios. Some are even replacing outdated or otherwise inferior software with platforms they’ve built themselves.
While these platforms do apply to a wide range of scenarios, they are best used for less intricate tools that don’t demand significant upkeep. They’re also a solid option if you want to turn around your product relatively quickly since the solution doesn’t require a huge amount of time.
OutSystems’ State of Application Development Report, 2019/2020 found that 41% of businesses were using low-code or no-code platforms, 7% more than those in the previous year. Many are leveraging the tools to facilitate digital transformation within their organizations, believing that they are the key to realizing change quickly and efficiently.
But the low-code platforms aren’t limited to internal operations. They can be instrumental in creating consumer-facing products, too. They’re also proving instrumental to businesses and organizations that have limited IT staff.
A Combination of Low-Code and Pro-Code
It’s relatively impossible to imagine a world without pro-code development, at least for the foreseeable future. Even low-code platforms require the infrastructure of pro-code development.
There may be some cases in which it’s optimal to use a combination of the 2 approaches, perhaps designing the project, for example, before having a professional firm come in to improve it by adding additional security and functionality. Or, you might create a product that’s suitable for a given time period before deciding that you want an outside firm to scale it to reach new audiences.
Today, businesses and individuals have many tools at their disposal when it comes to optimizing digital transformation, streamlining operations, and building forward-facing products. So, when it comes to choosing the approach for your next project, consider your priorities, timeline, and goals. Often, you may find yourself turning to pro-code and low-code on various occasions, as your needs evolve.