The No-Code and Low-Code Movement: Revolution or Limitation?

While the idea of minimal coding or not needing to code at all sounds like a dream for fast-tracked projects and development of all kinds, is it really the best choice for every development project?
January 7, 2022
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The mobile app market size had an estimated value of around $106.27 billion in 2018, and the mind-blowing numbers keep getting higher as experts expect it to reach $407.31 billion by 2026. The rapid rise in the market size of mobile apps is mainly due to the ever-increasing number of people that rely on them to do their day-to-day tasks. 

This calls for faster development and deployment of mobile apps. Several tech companies have already built platforms that require low or even no code while building apps to speed up the app development process. However, the “no-code and low-code movement” has limitations that make it practically impossible to build certain apps using this approach.  

Building an application from scratch may take more resources, but it has several advantages that make it a better approach over the no-code and low-code approaches. Many proponents of this movement view it as some sort of “coding revolution” to improve the development process. However, it doesn’t really work like that.

The advantages of no-code and low-code platforms include:

  • They make application development faster
  • Both options lower the overall costs of application development
  • Anyone with basic computer skills can use them to develop an application
  • Each platform reduces the time required to turn your idea into a working application
  • They enhance rapid prototyping and testing ideas

What Does No-Code Mean? 

No-code development is the approach of building applications without traditional coding. No-code platforms have several templates that give users the ability to build their apps without writing a single line of code. Some of the popular no-code platforms include Microsoft Power Apps, QuickBase, and Zoho Creator.  

These platforms enable people with no programming skills to build their applications, saving them money and sometimes time. No-code platforms also offer a wide range of templates that users can choose from depending on the type of application they are trying to develop. 

What is Low-Code Development?

Low-code is the approach of building applications without writing code for every section of the app from scratch. Low-code platforms are for people with a certain level of programming knowledge because they require writing a couple of lines of code to streamline and customize the application. Some examples of low-code platforms include Salesforce Lighting, OutSystems, and Mendix. 

Limitations of the No-Code and Low-Code Movement 

Despite the many advantages of the no-code and low-code approach, each type of platform has several limitations that affect the overall experience of end users of the applications built using this approach. Some of these limitations include:  

1. Limited customization – No-code and low-code platforms offer templates that developers can customize to create unique apps. However, there is always a limit on how further you can personalize a template to make it suit the intended purpose of the in-progress app. Therefore, developers have to rely on the functionalities built within the templates.
This means the no-code and low-code platforms have to imagine all the possible use scenarios for building an application, which is generally impossible. This limits the creativity of developers. 

2. Challenges with integrations – There aren’t so many apps that have the ability to run independently without communicating with other applications on the web. For instance, an app like Uber can’t play its role without getting data from Google Maps. With no-code and low-code platforms, platform vendors predetermine the integrations in each template.
Users can’t integrate any API or external app that wasn’t considered by the platform vendor while creating a given app template. That means developers have to wait for the no-code and low-code platform provider to add the integrations into the templates before working them into their apps. This limits the functionality of the apps created with this approach. 

3. Endorses inexperienced and unprofessional development – No-code and low-code platforms are for people with limited to no computer programming skills. It’s also true that there are some professional developers who use these platforms to speed up their development process.

However, most people who use them are usually ordinary people with no programming skills. This results in low-quality results as most of these ordinary people (citizen developers) don’t have a good understanding of the minimum standards for building certain apps.  

4. Low security – Choosing to use a no-code or low-code platform to build an application may lead to many security loopholes. It isn’t an easy job to create a very secure template used for building thousands of apps.

If security is something the dev team, client, and users really value, creating an app using no-code and low-code platforms shouldn’t be an option. Having the freedom to build an app from the ground up gives developers a chance to add security features to both the front-end and back-end of the application.

5. High levels of inefficiency – An application built with a template doesn’t allow the developer to fully customize how the application uses resources. Apps created with the no-code and low-code approach usually consume more computing resources (RAM and CPU) and energy than those built from scratch.

If someone wants to build apps having many functionalities but with limited computing demands, using no-code and low-code platforms shouldn’t be an option.

Not a Revolution – Yet?

There are, without a doubt, several positives to using the no-code and low-code approaches to create apps. However, these positives come at the expense of functionality, user experience, and security of the apps, which are obviously major things for consideration. These platforms may save money and time required to create an app but the negative effects they create down the road make this approach ineffective in the long run.  

With that said, the no-code and low-code approaches are ideal for simple apps with basic functionality and no security risks. For example, they are great for creating a simple offline calculator app. However, if the intention is to build a sophisticated app with several functionalities and security threats, creating it from scratch is the way to go. 

It’s safe to say that the no-code and low-code movement is really just getting started, though. The world has yet to see what will come of these platforms and just how they will change the development of the future. As for now, only time will tell.

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