Everything You Need to Know About No-code Application Development

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Last updated on May 22nd, 2024

The emergence of cloud platforms has meant that the demand for software products and applications has exploded across industry domains. IDC estimates that by the year 2023, over 500 million applications and services will be deployed, which is equal to the number of applications developed over the last 40 years.

To develop these apps, business enterprises can no longer depend on hiring ever-growing numbers of software developers or utilizing “traditional” programming skills to meet this growing demand. Further, the business demands that the people who will be using the apps, i.e. the business users must be heard in the process of app development.

This is where Low-code/ no-code development platforms look set to transform the field of application development. Simply stated, low- or no-code platforms allow enterprises to build reliable apps using a visual tool with drag-and-drop functionality. 

This blog focuses on no-code application development, including its benefits and challenges. 

What is No-code Application Development?

No-code application development is a method of creating software applications without writing any code. It leverages visual development tools, drag-and-drop interfaces, and pre-built templates to allow users to design and deploy applications quickly and efficiently. This approach democratizes software development, enabling individuals without technical expertise to build and customize applications.

How No-code App Development Differs from Low-code App Development?

As said by Gartner, the term “no-code” is used to “imply tools for non-professional developers.” Gartner adds that ‘no-code implies no programming language is used, but even some visual modeling tools require technical expertise.” However, the reality is that no-code applications do contain software code that does much of the heavy lifting, but they are hidden.

On the other end, low-code platforms require development, even though they needn’t have extensive coding knowledge. They can create an entire application or automate a business process without much coding.

When Is No-Code Development Preferred Over Low-Code Development?

No-code development is preferred over low-code development when simplicity, speed, and accessibility are paramount. It allows non-technical users to build applications without any coding knowledge, making it ideal for small to medium-sized projects or for creating simple applications quickly. No-code platforms are particularly useful for business users looking to automate tasks, create prototypes, or develop custom solutions without relying on IT departments. This approach empowers more users within an organization, fostering innovation and reducing development costs.

  • Ease of Use: Enables non-technical users to create applications without any coding.

  • Speed: Facilitates rapid development and deployment of applications.

  • Accessibility: Opens up app development to a wider range of users within an organization.

  • Ideal for Simple Projects: Best suited for small to medium-sized projects or straightforward applications.

  • Cost-Effective: Reduces reliance on specialized IT staff, lowering development costs.

  • Prototyping: Useful for quickly creating prototypes or temporary solutions

While no-code development is often used for reporting and tracking apps, low-code development is more typically used for slightly more complex applications with a longer product lifecycle.

No-code App Development Vs Low-code App Development

FeatureNo-code App DevelopmentLow-code App Development
Target UsersNon-technical users, business usersDevelopers, IT professionals, and advanced business users
Skill RequirementNo programming skills requiredBasic to intermediate programming knowledge required
Customization LevelLimited to predefined templates and modulesMore flexibility with custom code integration
Development SpeedVery fast, drag-and-drop interfaceFast, with some manual coding involved
Complexity HandlingBest for simple to moderately complex appsSuitable for more complex applications
ScalabilityMay face limitations as app complexity increasesBetter scalability for larger, more complex apps
Integration CapabilityLimited integration optionsExtensive integration capabilities with external systems
Learning CurveVery low, intuitive interfacesModerate, requires some understanding of coding
Use CasesInternal business tools, simple customer appsEnterprise-level applications, sophisticated workflows
CostGenerally lower cost due to simplicityCan be higher due to additional features and flexibility
MaintenanceEasier to maintain due to simplicityRequires ongoing maintenance, potentially more complex
Examples of PlatformsBubble, Adalo, GlideOutSystems, Mendix, Microsoft Power Apps

Benefits of No-code application development

Besides easy product or app development, the no-code development approach offers numerous benefits including the following:

Reduced Time-to-Market

With the traditional product programming, developers often end up compromising on features and functionality in return for speed. That need not be the case for no-code development. A simple functional app can be developed super fast. Reports are that even enterprise software could take only a few weeks to build and deploy.

This, in turn, reduces the time-to-market in delivering software products to customers and gaining a competitive edge.

Decreases Development Costs

With large enterprise products, development companies need to maintain a large codebase and, often, legacy systems to store them. This type of maintenance can drain IT budgets and increase overall costs. Adding to that, companies need to hire experienced developers at high costs to develop and maintain legacy products.

With no-code development, companies can significantly cut down development costs and still build quality applications without the need to maintain a large codebase.

Provides Flexibility in Product Development

With legacy approaches and inflexible data models, traditional modes of development require integration with third-party tools and constant software updates in the future.

No-code development platforms use a JSON document in place of a data model, which can load faster data and allows developers to start building applications immediately.

Easy to Update and Maintain

Due to extensive coding, “traditional” software products could contain software bugs that need to be constantly fixed. The same is true while adding new product features. This restriction is less applicable to the no-code development approach. Be it a new feature or an update, they can be quickly deployed while the application is in production.

Future Scope

According to Gartner, 75% of large enterprises are likely to use low-code/ no-code development platforms by 2024. This means that this development approach is here to stay and is not merely a “temporary fad.” Enterprises are attracted to the opening for business users to contribute more to app development. With more enterprises leveraging such benefits, more no-code tools will likely be released for faster application development. 

Challenges with No-code application development

While no-code platforms do offer great benefits, the approach has its share of challenges that adopters must be aware of, including the following:

Limited scalability

As no-code development is considered a short-term solution for businesses, they are limited in terms of the long-term scalability that most enterprise solutions demand in today’s changing market. Companies need to have a clear understanding of future demands before adopting the no-code development approach.

Inefficient applications and products

Thanks to the ease of development, non-technical professionals can create unsanctioned apps (also known as Shadow IT) that are not tested for performance and efficiency. This could eventually lead to slow or inefficient apps being released. These apps could also be limited in scope, constrained by the capabilities of the no-code platform being used. 

Limited security

IT executives have pointed out no-code platforms as limited on the security aspect. Non-development specialists are not skilled in detecting and resolving product vulnerabilities or flaws as experienced programmers. With growing security-related risks, development platforms must be able to build security measures right into the products, which is something that no-code platforms cannot guarantee. Unlike traditional developers, no-code professionals do not possess the required insight into app security protocols.

Conclusion

While the no-code development approach is unlikely to replace programming-based development, enterprises can no longer ignore the immense benefits. As Gartner has predicted, both no-code and low-code platforms are projected to get established in the application development field in the next few years.

With its expertise in product and application development, Forgeahead has been instrumental in enabling its customers to release high-quality apps and products with a faster time to market. For those looking for more information, here is a blog that talks about how low-code and no-code can change software product development.

Explore how we can help your business grow to the next level? Let’s talk.

FAQ

Who can benefit from using no-code development platforms?

No-code development platforms are particularly beneficial for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and non-technical professionals who need to create custom applications quickly and without the high costs associated with hiring developers. Additionally, organizations looking to prototype and test new ideas rapidly, or those seeking to empower their employees to solve business problems independently, can significantly benefit from no-code tools.

What types of applications can be built using no-code platforms?

A wide variety of applications can be built using no-code platforms, including business process management apps, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, e-commerce sites, mobile apps, internal tools for data management, project management tools, and more. The versatility of no-code platforms allows for customization to meet specific business needs across different industries.

Are there any limitations to no-code development?

While no-code platforms offer many advantages, they do have some limitations. These can include less flexibility compared to traditional coding, potential scalability issues for very large applications, and reliance on the features provided by the platform. Additionally, complex applications requiring intricate logic and highly customized functionality might not be fully achievable with no-code solutions alone.

How do no-code platforms handle integration with other software systems?

No-code platforms typically offer built-in integrations with popular software systems and services, allowing for seamless data exchange and functionality extension. They often include APIs, webhooks, and connectors that facilitate integration with third-party applications such as CRMs, ERPs, payment gateways, and other tools essential for business operations.

Can no-code development scale with business growth?

The scalability of no-code applications depends on the platform used and the complexity of the application. Many no-code platforms are designed to support growing businesses by offering scalable infrastructure, cloud-based deployment, and the ability to upgrade features as needed. However, very large or complex applications might eventually require transitioning to traditional development methods to maintain performance and scalability.

What are some popular no-code development platforms available today?

Some of the popular no-code development platforms include Bubble, Adalo, Airtable, Webflow, Appgyver, and Zapier. Each platform offers unique features and caters to different types of applications, so users should research and select a platform that best suits their project needs.

How long does it take to build an application using a no-code platform?

The time required to build an application using a no-code platform depends on the complexity of the application and the user’s familiarity with the platform. Simple applications can be developed in a matter of hours or days, while more complex projects may take several weeks. No-code platforms significantly reduce development time compared to traditional coding methods.

Can no-code platforms support mobile application development?

Yes, many no-code platforms support mobile application development. These platforms provide tools and templates specifically designed for building mobile apps, allowing users to create native or web-based mobile applications. Users can design responsive interfaces, integrate mobile-specific features, and deploy their apps to app stores directly from the no-code platform.

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