The era of Low-code/No-code platforms: What you should know?
We all are witnessing the growth and evolution of low-code/no-code platforms. Few might still be confused about what this is all about. Don’t feel intimidated, you are not alone, many people are unfamiliar with these terms.
This blog will give a gist of it to understand the current revolution of low-code and no-code platforms/tools. We can see more in detail about the history, features, merits, and demerits and how can you adapt and start using them in your organizations.
“No-code is an ecosystem of tools and platforms that use a completely drag-and-drop, visual interface to create reusable software without actually writing any code. No code has taken complicated, software-related tasks and made them accessible to the 99 percent.” – Vlad Magdalin, Co-Founder and CEO of Webflow
Table Of Contents
What is no-code?
When a platform helps you to achieve your desired actions without writing a single line of code. This is mostly performed as drag and drop options, building in the canvas with the existing blocks, utilizing the available integrations and the inbuilt features. So the programming language experience is not needed.
What is low-code?
In this case, the application offers some basic functionality without writing a code, but to achieve a certain level of needs you might require to write a few lines of code.
These tools/platforms help the organization in terms of agility, scalability, and speed of delivery. By now, you have a basic understanding of the terms: No-code and Low-code (LC/NC).
While we are writing lines of code for building an application, developing a website, and a few other use-cases, how a few tools are making a revolution to go code-free? Have you ever wondered how much engineering, and thought process is behind the development of these tools? What are they trying to achieve? Are they going to replace the engineers? What are the features they offer? Let’s take this slowly and continue further to decode more on this topic.
History of loco/noco:
Based on the Forrester report the term “low-code” is used since 2011. And in 2014 they announced it officially in their report with the definition “Low-code platforms enable rapid delivery of business applications with a minimum of hand-coding and minimal upfront investment in setup, training, and deployment”.
Initially, the development tools are made with some inbuild options to speed up the process. This gives a rapid improvement in the speed and pace of the delivery. Initially, it started with building small applications and then extended to a few other services. We can integrate multiple applications in less than a minute.
Right now many test automation tools help the functional testers to get started with the automation testing which saves their effort and time. With time they are also growing together with constant research and upgrades.
How does it work?
“The no-code movement opens up the ability to create software to dramatically more people. It enables entrepreneurs, designers, and non-coding employees to solve valuable real-world problems with software – from product prototypes to workflow automation. The no-code movement will become an important catalyst of economic growth over the next decade.” – Vlad Magdalin, Co-Founder and CEO of Webflow
For every application, there should be particular repetitive actions performed. While writing the code, we use various strategies to avoid multiple lines of code by using reusable methods/functions, variables, etc. Same way, the application is inbuilt with the IDE, integrations, features, or options required for developing specific applications.
This setup varies based on the purpose. If you need to build a website, you will have certain options like your URL, pages, and payment integrations if available. But when it comes to building a chatbot, the requirements vary and based on it the UI/UX options, and third-party/API integrations of the low-code/no-code tools are built.
All the options, which can be achieved via code, are now done via simple UI options available. This can be done with people who have less coding experience or ones without coding experience, which can be referred to as a term called Citizen developers.
The tools provide well-defined, documented tutorials which are helpful to get started with the platform at any minute. Hence you can build, test and deploy your applications at a fast pace. In our times, when most organizations follow the agile sprint model, these tools help to build and deliver the expected features in every sprint.
“No-code tools allow you to create apps and processes, such as really complex and sophisticated surveys and forms, without writing any code. They use a drag-drop-point-click format to design what you want, then you tell it what to do in English as opposed to some coded language.” – Nile Frater, Founder of NoCode.Tech
Are you pondering what could you achieve without writing lines of code? We heard you. You will be amazed to hear what potential options they offer. Based on the evolution of various applications, you can almost do anything with the LC/NC tools. Just to throw a few, please read below.
- Building an organizational/personal website
- Personal wiki page/portfolio
- Creating a Marketplace
- Building a Human resources management platform
- Building a Chatbots or virtual assistants
- Developing the Chrome extensions
- Creating a Resource directory
- Creating Wireframes
- Building your own/team journal
- Building a tracker
- Developing own mobile applications
- Creating a Database
- Test Automation applications/frameworks
- Robotic Process automation
- Workflow Automation
And this list goes on.
Isn’t it amazing? These tools let you do your stuff/turn your aspirations into reality in a jiffy. Also, many tools offer extended support. Few tools provide every other option in the free version and few require an upgrade for using certain plans and options.
“No-code tools empower everyone, everywhere to be able to drive meaningful change. They enable people to work more effectively, innovate faster, and deliver better outcomes. It’s a toolset that gives confidence to the average employee to really leverage technology to be more successful, without needing technical skills or knowing how to write code.” – Tara Reed, Founder of Apps Without Code
Certainly, by now you will have a bigger picture of how this works and should be knowing the perks of using these platforms/tools in your project or organization. This is profitable for multiple stakeholders in the projects starting with business, developers, and QA Engineers. Let’s learn in detail how these tools are helping us in various aspects.
1. Fast Pace: Entire development is done faster due to the quick initial setup time.
2. Better Unit Testing: These tools or platforms will undergo extensive unit testing, which makes them efficient and stable.
3. Increasing productivity: Since these tools avoid coding or external library dependencies, it improves team productivity. Hence minimal resource allocation can be planned.
4. Future-proof applications: Applications or any other development done using the LC/NC platforms require low maintenance and are highly scalable. Adding and deletion of new features doesn’t take a long time. The entire framework or the application built is easy to maintain for future changes.
5. Third-party Integrations: Most of the third-party integrations required are provided inbuilt into the platform which makes the development easy.
6. Delivering multiple features in a short time: With the help of these tools, multiple basic features can be clubbed and delivered early.
7. Continuous evolvement: To excel in the market, based on their research all the Low code/No-Code tools continue to provide innovative solutions. They are constantly evolving based on the industry experts’ opinions.
8. Developers to perform Unit Testing: Most of the Test Automation and process automation tools help the developers to perform quick and robust unit tests.
9. Easier to use: Due to the well-defined, user-friendly interface, these tools can be easily used by anyone. Getting acquainted with the tool doesn’t require a long time.
10. Usage of AI: Many Low-code/No-code tools use AI for efficient development and usage. Also, many tools help users to build AI-driven applications.
11. CI/CD pipelines: Many tools provide seamless integration in the CI/CD pipeline. So you can develop, deploy and track the progress from the same place.
12. Cost Management: Due to the speed or faster development, the cost and effort is saved. Also, it reduces the risk by accommodating the newer changes in a short period.
13. Democratization: Low-code/No-code tools lead to democratization, which extends the development opportunity to the non-developers and other technical users (Citizen developers).
14. Cross-platform support: Most of these tools support multiple platforms and browsers. With a single click, the applications built can be tested/deployed on mobile, desktop etc.
What’s the relationship between these tools with Software Testing?
Applications built via low-code/no-code platforms have lesser functionality-related bugs. This is because these tools already went through intensive unit testing and a few other types of testing. This is helpful to the software testers to focus on the other testing aspects like Security, Performance, etc.
Also, there is a wide variety of low code/no code test automation tools available in the market to test the web, mobile, desktop, and APIs. These tools are helpful to the testers who are new to coding and who don’t want to learn to code but are interested in automation testing. This is a life-saver for short-term projects and also easier for the new Testers to maintain.
Also, the business users can execute these Automation scripts from their end during the UAT phase. Many tools are looking for open source contribution which helps software testers who love to code. In that way, they can contribute back to the testing community and stay in touch with coding if it’s their passion.
Testsigma, a no-code test automation tool is also now open source and is open for contribution.
Similar to the drawbacks of the traditional coding approach, these low-code/no-code platforms have certain limitations or shortcomings:
- Fewer options: Sometimes, we are bound to fewer choices and templates. Few applications support customizations, and few don’t.
- Unless it’s open-source, we cannot view or own the source code. This leaves us blindfolded in certain situations.
- Not enough support with the free versions, which requires an upgrade. Currently, many tools are building a stronger community that serves the purpose.
- Security might be at stake since all your client-related data is going to be hosted on their servers. Deep analysis and approvals are required before proceeding with the sensitive data.
Low-Code vs. No-Code:
We know the difference between the low-code and no-code. But when it comes to the selection part few factors should be considered. For simple applications, no-code can be a better choice. When you are trying to build a complex system then low-code is helpful with the short hand-written coding. But both the tools aim to deliver the software at a faster pace.
So it’s advisable to do your own PoC before proceeding with the particular tool. Many of these tools offer a good demo and feel free to go for it. Here is an article that details when and when not to use Low-code/No code test automation tools
I hope now you understood the basics and realize that these tools are here to make our work efficient and aid in the faster software delivery process. The human brain can never be replaced.
“Only the human brain can deliberately change perceptions, change patterns, invent concepts and tolerate ambiguity.” – Edward de Bono
Many experts are advocating low-code/no-code platforms. This is more of a mindset. We should be able to understand the roots, benefits, and limitations. As predicted, the low-code/no-code economy will continue to rise. With the help of these, it’s not only developers (who already work with code) who can build the applications, technical users without coding experience can also develop and deliver the applications.
So, let’s try to explore the tools and provide valuable suggestions to them to make our work efficient and elegant. There’s still more to come. A report by Gartner forecasts that the low-code adoption will be so widespread that around 50% of the software solutions will be built with low-code/no-code platforms by 2023. Additionally, there will be 65% adoption by 2024 making the market worth $52 billion.
“No-code is more of a mindset than specific techniques and practices. It has one objective: find a way to get the most work done and deliver the most value and functionality with the smallest time investment. This mindset is why no-code is relevant to any business and entrepreneur.” – Monika Ben, Head of Marketing at involve.me
If you are still not confident or convinced to use these tools, please make sure that this economy keeps growing, and down the road, you can expect more surprises.
Good luck with your own exploration and research with low-code/no-code platforms.
1. Role of No-code/Low-code testing tools for Modern Agile QA teams
2. Scriptless Automated Testing is not the same as Record and Playback