Low-Code vs No-Code

Understanding the Difference in Development Tools

While it seems that the difference is about having to code very little versus not at all, that’s not really the case. It’s more about the people who use it to create applications, and what those applications will be used for.

From basic machine languages to programming and frameworks, to the latest and greatest innovations; we’ve come a long way in software development. If you’ve heard anything at all about low-code and no-code, you probably know it has something to do with coding, or rather the lack of it. And if you haven’t heard anything about low- and no code, even if you’re not a software developer at all, now is the time to catch up.

Traditionally, application development involves working with a development team to hand-code software based on predetermined requirements. While hand-coding is essential in some cases, it may feel unnecessary in others. Even though traditional software development is still completely acceptable, it is often inefficient in terms of time and cost due to expensive resources, complex projects, and unforeseen bumps in the road. Traditional development is also inherent to continuous maintenance to ensure that the software is up-to-date and secure.

Nowadays, there are better options for most development projects. Both low code and no code tools, at their core, revolve around the idea of minimizing the need for writing code while building applications and improve agility in development. Low- and no-code development platforms often use a visual integrated development platform (IDE) which allows users to build applications by dragging and dropping components. They both decrease development time and increase efficiency. And while it seems that the difference is about having to code very little versus not at all, that’s not really the case. It’s more about the people who use it to create applications, and what those applications will be used for.

Low-Code vs No-Code

Below you’ll find a list of characteristics that help to better understand the differences between low code and no code development platforms:

  Low Code   No Code
Visual IDE
Application Integration
Business Applications
Consumer Application
Training Required
Relative Complexity of Use High Low
Relative Budget Required High Low
Relative Degree of Customization High Low
Target User IT Professionals/DevOps Citizen Developers
  • Visual IDE: Both low- and no-code development platforms use visual integrated development environments (Visual IDE). Most will use model driven development (MDD), to specify application behavior, logic of processes, and construct user interfaces.
  • Application integration: Depending on the type of application, you may need to pull data from various systems through integration. While low-code development platforms usually offer great compatibility for system integrations, no-code platforms are often lacking in this area.
  • Business applications: Both low-code and no-code development platforms can be used for creating business applications for use within your organization. However, through low-code platforms it’s possible to build highly demanding applications which aid major business processes. No-code platforms are great for creating applications that may help solve stand-alone less critical business problems.
  • Consumer applications: Building apps for users outside of your organization, without a background in proper application development, may not be a great idea. No-code development platforms and its users may bring applications that are unsuitable for high demanding consumers and may bring security or compliance risks. Low-code platforms, on the other hand, are great for creating complex and varied apps that can handle just about anything.
  • Training required: No-code development platforms are useable by anyone, no technical knowledge needed. As low-code platforms allow for more complex applications and customization, these platforms are only suitable for users with programming experience.
  • Relative complexity of use: It may be clear by now that no-code platforms are designed to be used by anyone, and they’re known for their ease of use. As low-code platforms require some level of technical knowledge, the complexity of use will be much greater.
  • Relative budget required: Both low-code and no-code are great for decreasing development costs. However, creating complex applications and more demanding solutions will still be more costly than more basic apps that can be created through no-code platforms.
  • Relative degree of customization: No-code development platforms have all the tools and functionalities that the software vendor decided are needed for the creation of apps.
  • Target user: As becomes clear from the discussion above, no-code platforms are great for any member of an organization with a vision for innovation and improving processes. Low-code platforms are meant for building critical business apps. Therefore, it’s a great tool for software development professionals and DevOps teams seeking to decrease costs and development time.

Which should you choose?

While no-code is targeting ‘citizen developers’, low-code is often better suited for IT professionals. Whereas no-code development platforms allow virtually anyone to build basic applications, low-code platforms don’t offer the same ease of use. The tradeoff lies in the complexity of the app. Build an application through a no-code platform, and it will cover simple tasks and processes, and serve only front-end use cases. Low-code applications can be more complex, however do require more technical knowledge.

Low code is a great choice for organizations undertaking digital transformation, in order to be able to build business and consumer grade applications. No-code platforms on the other hand can be great to stimulate innovation within organizations, by giving any business stakeholder a tool to put new and innovative ideas into practice. However, it’s not always this black and white as the distinction between low-code and no-code platforms is starting to fade.

After all, no-code platforms are a type of low-code platform in which the customization through coding is replaced by pre-building most needed customization components. Therefore, when choosing the right development platform for your organization’s needs, be sure to know exactly who’s going to be working with it and what it will be used for.

Up Next

In a following post, we will tell you all about Be Informed as a low-code platform. Want to know more in the meantime? Contact us and we’ll be happy to show you how our platform can suit your development needs!

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