Low-code Programming: The Excel of the Future
Low-code programming is in the sweet spot between classic programming and no-code programming: easy to use and extremely powerful.
Excel, the ubiquitous spreadsheet program developed by Microsoft, is so simple that grandmothers use it to track the progress of their gardens and elementary students use it to learn about computers and maybe cheat in math: Put in some numbers, click a button and you have a result.
Yet, Excel is so much more. Every cell has so much potential. Detailed mathematical formulas, pivot tables, and customizable presentations make it a powerful professional-level tool.
Low-code programming platforms, which are designed to quickly and efficiently develop websites and apps, are establishing themselves in that same sweet spot: easy to use and extremely powerful.
Recent trends in technology have led to three basic types of development: classic programming is the original and requires advanced knowledge to create applications and websites from scratch; no-code programming, which is based upon a visual interface, is at the opposite end of the spectrum; and, right in the middle, low-code programming combines both classic programming and no-code simplicity, just like Excel combines a simple interface with many advanced features.
If you have need for a business workflow for internal processes or a comprehensive personal blog or any number of other applications, then what would be best for you?
Here are more details about each:
Classic Programming (High-code programming)
Classic programming requires advanced knowledge and several different types of software for design, development, and deployment. It is like a form of Excel that doesn’t have a grid and you need a lot of education to know where to enter a piece of data so that it is in its proper cell.
A normal app would require expertise with establishing databases, establishing APIs, designing user interfaces, and implementing security.
And, if a team is involved, the classic development process takes time, allocation of staff, patience, and effective in-house project management. Often the broad strokes can be straightforward, but fine-tuning and customization takes time. Testing may produce delays, particularly with customized code. Then, when it is published, ongoing maintenance and scaling require continued attention.
No-code programming simplifies the development process because it does not include the option to customize the business logic. It is like Excel in that it looks good for simple operations, but the high-level mathematical calculations and presentations are available only for certain common usages.
You don’t need years of education to build a website with a no-code platform. Nor do you need any experience with programming. These platforms are based upon a visual interface that enables the user to establish the steps for the processes that they desire. The fact that non-programmers can use no-code platforms to create an app has added a new term to the tech lexicon: “citizen developer”.
The problem is that there are finite numbers of templates and components. If there is not a perfect fit, then there is no recourse for customization.
This simplistic system may work for grandmothers who want a flowchart for their annual crop rotations, but, for companies and organizations that need to eliminate pen-and-paper processes and out-of-date legacy software, there will likely need to be a high level of fine-tuning.
Every business is different, so the business logic built into the operational software needs to fit like hand in glove.
Low-code is right in the middle, taking the best parts from both classic programming and no-code programming. It is faster, better, and more affordable development that allows for customization to a specific business, department, or issue.
Low-code programming is, basically, like Excel: Minimal training is required to use it effectively, but, with a little bit of training, you can tap into the advanced features to add many levels of sophistication.
Like a no-code platform, there is a short learning curve and building blocks quickly establish the data foundations and user interfaces that are common in all websites and apps. Templates and components save time. Deployment to the internet takes one click. A what-you-see-is-what-you-get display provides visuals for the iterations that often provide new ideas for customizations. Novices and junior programmers can jump right in and make something without a lot of training.
Then, the final coating is the important layer where the most valuable elements are defined. C# customization enables the user to fine-tune the business logic so that each individual client has their own bespoke piece of software.
That is the level of detail where the true value lies.