What does low code mean? A simple overview in 500 words



By 2024, 65% of application development activity will involve low-code development, according to Gartner.

Low code, as the name suggests, is about creating IT solutions without in-depth coding knowledge. With COVID-19, the use of low-code based platforms and tools is only set to rise.

But what does low code mean? Here’s a simple overview.


Low code solutions

Low code is a visual programming approach that doesn’t require extensive coding knowledge to build applications. It involves using visual user interfaces, not complicated coding languages.

Both professional developers and ‘citizen developers’ can (and do) make use of low-code platforms.

Citizen developers: People with little-to-no coding experience that build applications using low-code platforms

Low-code tools, such as automation software or low-code development platforms (LCDPs) typically use a drag-and-drop approach. These platforms are useful to users with some (albeit limited) development experience, as well as professional developers that need to build an app quickly or supplement their other work.

The platforms may focus on design and development of databases, business processes, or user interfaces such as web applications.


How do they work?

There are three core components behind a low-code development platform. These are:

  1. A graphical user interface (GUI): A visual user interface that, in the case of low-code platforms, most commonly takes the form of drag-and-drop. (Allowing users to build applications using blocks of pre-defined code.)
  2. Integrations: The ability to link to back-end systems, databases, web services, or APIs.
  3. An application manager: to help with monitoring and maintenance of the created applications.

In other words, low code works by using a visual interface — clickable building blocks, instead of complicated code.


Strengths of low code

So, what are the strengths of low code?

For a start, low code enables a wider range of people to create applications or automated processes. It’s more intuitive and easier to pick up compared to full-on coding know-how. This means that those people with the best knowledge of business needs aren’t shut out from the creation process by a lack of technical knowledge.

This also translates into low code being useful for getting apps to market or processes up and running quickly.

For professional developers, low-code tools can help to boost traditional coding efforts. Plus, it provides a way to reuse useful sections of code, without reinventing the wheel over and over.


Weaknesses?

Compared to traditional coding, low code can prove restrictive — there’s less flexibility with fixed building blocks than with writing your own code. There may also be a potential for integration limitations — particularly when it comes to integrating legacy systems.

Although limited, low-code platforms and tools still require users to have some coding knowledge.

For team members that aren’t at all technically inclined, this can act as a barrier to entry.


TL;DR: What does low code mean?

So, what does low code mean? Simply, a platform that requires only a limited amount of coding knowledge to use effectively.

With low-code options available, it’s now easier than ever to construct applications and functionality.

There will always be a need for a professional programmer’s skills. But low code is good for low-complexity development projects. It’s great for making complicated systems accessible to people with different skill sets.


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