The world is facing a problem. There's an ever-increasing need for programs, apps, widgets, and sites, but there aren't enough people to build them. Programmers are in short supply, and the need for their expertise won't likely go away in the future—it's obvious something has to give.
Low-code and no-code programming platforms are the most obvious answer, and they're gaining popularity. In many cases simple apps can be developed and maintained without needing to involve an actual programmer, which is great for taking the burden off the shoulders of the experts.
The low-code/no-code movement: what is it?
Abstraction is the name of the game in low-code development. Low- and no-code suites like QuickBase act as a GUI that allows drag-and-drop placement of form fields, buttons, and other basic program elements without actual programming knowledge.
SEE: Stack Overflow surveyed 56,000 developers and you won't believe the results (Tech Pro Research)
QuickBase can be operated by those "who have the necessary skillset to use Excel," said John Carione of QuickBase. The idea is to build "citizen developers" who can accomplish basic tasks, freeing up programmers to work on the backend.
Will low-code/no-code apps really work?
Both Carione and Clay Richardson, an analyst at Forrester, agree that low- and no-code app platforms are getting things done for businesses. "We expect the demand for new apps will drive the low-code platforms market to grow at 50-60% YoY for the next three to four years," Richardson said, which is indicative of its popularity and success.
The apps created by low- and no-code platforms are mostly hosted on the web and fill roles in ecommerce, sales, digital form filling, and other basic computing needs. There isn't going to be a new breakout gaming hit developed in a no-code environment, but that's not the point: it's designed to fulfill business needs.
How low- and no-code development will bridge business gaps
Anyone who's worked in IT knows that a certain level of resentment can build up between tech professionals and business units. Business people don't always understand what goes into the backend of the business, and in many cases they don't want to: they just want what they want now.
SEE: Low Code, High Impact: How to Achieve 260% ROI With Low-Code Apps (TechRepublic)
Conversely, IT people don't always know exactly what a business unit needs to accomplish its goals. That leads to redoing work, wasted time, and frustration all around. "Low-code platforms can help bridge the gap between business unit requirements and IT delivery capabilities," Richardson said. Anyone in business or IT will feel relief at that prospect.
Low- and no-code app development helps both sides: business units can develop apps they need in exactly the way they want, and the IT team can make any coding repairs that are needed behind the scenes, all without the business unit noticing changes in how an app functions.
"We want true citizen development," Carione said, "which means that everyone is utilizing their strengths and accomplishing things that they're best at." Slapping a GUI on the front of an app development platform is a simple, practical, and proven successful way to do just that.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Low- and no-code platforms allow business units to develop apps in a GUI. They create a freedom for workers to design things exactly to their specifications.
- Low- and no-code platforms free up IT resources to work in areas they need to: the backend.
- Platforms like QuickBase have the potential to bridge the gap between business units and tech teams—something everyone can benefit from.
- 'Citizen developers' are ready to fill the gaps in enterprise applications (TechRepublic)
- The future of apps: How Salesforce is using low code development (ZDNet)
- The advent of the citizen developer (ZDNet)
- Low code development is coming: Welcome to the future (ZDNet)
- How Companies Are Developing More Apps With Fewer Developers (Fortune)
Brandon Vigliarolo has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.