Will Low-Code Development Take Over App Modernization Projects?

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • New low-code app development platforms are leveraging AI to make apps more intuitive by providing recommendations during guided user interactions.
  • New low-code platforms address the application lifecycle, including speeding the process of app development, integrations, and automating workflow controls.

New complex development architectures, a shortage of professional software developers, and the need to modernize customer-facing apps quickly have increased pressure on DevOps development teams to accelerate software delivery. As a result, the concept of low-code application development tools has received heightened attention. New offerings are being rolled out with AI integrations, making the software even more intuitive and providing non-coders with even more clout in helping companies create business-to-consumer (B2C) apps with advanced capabilities.

The concept of visual UI tools and frameworks supports an approach which is more intuitive and addresses enterprises’ top concern for quickly delivering applications which engage and retain customers, leveraging high-value cloud services including machine learning. Low-code application development platforms have refined their technology focus to play a greater role in supporting a DevOps model which is built around the concept of automation for achieving continuous integration, continuous delivery (CI/CD).

This next-generation of low-code platforms holds the promise of being able to address the application lifecycle, including speeding the process of app development, integrations, and automating workflow controls. Application platforms vendors have evolved their services to support microservices and serverless architectures, striving to support mission-critical apps. For the first time, low-code platforms have been equipped to tackle those advanced applications through improved performance, automation, and security technologies.

Low-code platforms allowed non-coders such as business users to write fully functioning apps using pre-built templates and drag-and-drop widgets, but without actually writing source code. New AI innovations, particularly machine learning (ML) technology, have significantly enhanced the experience for low-code users and savvy developers alike. Enhancements are able to predict what an app developer is trying to accomplish and flag short cuts and recommendations. For example, API connectors may be provided for third-party components such as voice-enabled and chatbot services. These shortcuts can significantly reduce the amount of coding typically required to integrate apps with backend systems.

Leading low-code vendors whose model-driven approach accelerates the app development process by enabling collaboration between business and IT stakeholders are poised to disrupt the application platforms market space in coming months. Mature integration, API management, and emergence of automated code development capabilities through AI have enabled the next wave of low-code solutions, originating from best-of-breed leaders Mendix (recently acquired by Siemens), Appian, OutSystems, Microsoft, and Salesforce, as well as newer entrants.

For a closer look into current trends behind low-code app development as they pertain to a DevOps model, comparing six leading vendors’ latest platforms enhanced through AI innovations and highlighting their differentiators, please see AI Promises to Elevate Low-Code to Mission-Critical App Development (August 7, 2019).

Is low-code technology the future in software development? There will always be a place for native software programming within enterprise companies. Low-code solutions are meant to be an attractive option in an IT department’s toolbox for improving response time to numerous app development requests. Low-code vendors have focused heavily on supporting the B2C use case through templates and technologies providing customers with an advanced interactive experience. These low-code app platforms are valuable for these types of use cases and increasingly others as well, but they do not offer the flexibility of mature application platforms which allow professional developers to create customized applications on a very granular level.

Traditional enterprise application development methods must shift in the wake of complex new architectures. High-productivity, low-code tools will play a key role.

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