Much is heard nowadays about low code platforms and how supposedly amazing they are. While they may provide some value within simpler business models, they are far from replacing development teams on a larger scale. To make this point, we’ll have to review a few definitions.
First, what is quality? Let’s start from the beginning. I look at software, be it web, mobile, desktop or cloud applications, as products. Hence, the real question is, what defines product quality? There are many definitions out there, but to me, products have quality when they successfully fulfill a need.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there isn’t a need for low code, or even no code, tools. My point is that there are multiple needs when it comes to software, which go way beyond cost and implementation practicality. This is a vast topic, and I would need a whole book to properly explore it, but let’s take a look at some of the key variables in this equation.
Soft is key
There is a reason why it’s called “software”. It’s meant to be soft. In other words, it has to be flexible.
Some can argue that low code platforms offer vast arrays of options when it comes to customizations. Sure, I’ll agree with that. However, I will counter-argue that creativity is an infinite potential, and no tool will ever be able to deliver 100% of the ideas we can possibly come up with. For that very reason, a lot of players offer some sort or “premium” tier, giving you the option to work with their team to deliver more personalized use-cases. At this stage, they will ditch the no-code mentality, and will, in fact, write code that works for you – at a cost, of course.
In addition, flexibility is also about extensibility. As business grows, the need for more features arise. How easy will it be to add features that align with your business? This takes me to the next point.
Innovation is complex
Ultimately, one of the roles of a system is to enforce business processes. To accommodate for this need, it has to be able to adapt to the specifics of its business environment. Despite catch-phrases that can be heard here and there, innovation is a very complex thing. It’s not easy to create something new. It’s especially hard to put it into practice and create a business around it.
This is another aspect where low code products come short. They seldom adapt to internal processes in innovative environments. Unless, of course, your business model is as off-the-shelf as the tools being used.
It’s all about the data
It’s very difficult to compete in the digital world without leveraging the power of data in your business decisions. How likely is your customer to buy product B after purchasing A? Am I categorizing my portfolio right? These questions, and many others, can only be answered by looking at the data.
Low code products rarely provide their clients full access to the database driving their app. Some platforms allow limited access, which is fine for simple queries, but not so much for anything more meaningful. If you need customized data models – which you will when business escales, you might have to pay that premium fee discussed before.
Another point of question is data security. If the platform you use is victim of a security breach, is your company data compromised? Are your clients’ data compromised? This can put you and your business in serious trouble.
In the end, it’s not like low code platforms are completely pointless. To be fair, they can be powerful tools for individuals trying to bootstrap a new venture. However, saying they will take over software development is rather far fetched. No low code product will ever be as powerful as systems developed by great teams.
About the Author
Luiz Parente is a senior software engineer who is passionate about systems design and technology. Having started his journey in computer programming at the age of 14, his core expertise is centered in solutions architecture with .NET technologies.
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