The truth about low-code platforms: Debunking the myths

The term "low-code app development" didn't exist until a few years ago, but the concept isn't a new one. In the last decade, the possibility of building a working business application in a few hours has come to fruition and has attracted an enormous amount of interest from enterprise professionals around the world. It’s become a favourite topic for the big-name analysts, with lots of vendors beginning to offer it, and companies, who have long backlogs and customer demands for mobility, are lapping it up.

As demonstrated time and time again, as soon as a technology gains popularity, there are those who attempt to knock it down. A favourite method for this is creating myths. For example, Forrester has identified three for low-code development. So, stick with me as I explain to you why they are totally false.

Myth 1: To all you hardcore developers, you can’t sit here

The market is keen on the idea of enabling business experts to deliver mobile apps so, yes, there are some low-code platforms out there designed for those kinds of people. But let’s not for one minute assume that others haven’t been created with someone who’s serious about development in mind.

Today, business demands that IT deliver value rather than just technology, and this affects developers more than anyone else. Hand-coding apps for the business is stressful enough. When you add shorter timeframes into the mix, it can become almost unbearable. Low-code platforms enable you to control the creation of your apps without spending hours in multiple code editors and screens.

When I first joined OutSystems, a customer described their experience with our low-code development platform as follows: “If I have an idea, I can just draw it and bring it to life. I have the means to design, program and build something that can actually improve someone’s life: the power to build something not only pretty but also functional.”

And they are not alone. In a recent survey of developers who use OutSystems, 24% said that they would be furious if they had to stop using the our platform. Those surveyed were people who described themselves as everything from full-stack developers to generalists.

Myth 2: There will be no more custom programming... ever

Another myth circulating is that low-code development is no-code development. Of course, it’s possible to use low-code application platforms to develop simple apps without ever touching or writing code, but there’s still plenty of room for custom programming. Most enterprise-grade apps need to integrate with other apps and databases and accommodate custom code.

There are low-code platforms that offer the extensibility needed for these apps, and OutSystems is one of them. We take enabling customisation very seriously and are by no means in denial about what our platform can handle. Our applications can be extended with HTML, Javascript and CSS on the front-end, and there are no constraints on the back-end, either.

What makes OutSystems special is that customisation only has to be done once. On top of this, everything can be integrated in your app in minutes instead of the hours and days it might take if you decided to do things the hard way or tried to create them from scratch.

Myth 3: Small apps only

Sadly, a number of people still believe that low-code products cannot support large and growing user bases and application portfolios. In reality, there are low-code platforms that can accommodate business needs for high-scale, highly complex business applications.

The OutSystems low-code platform, for example, was designed to scale from the very beginning. A number of our customers have created apps that support thousands of concurrent users, even millions. Our architecture not only supports big development teams building super complex apps but also the entire application lifecycle. This is critical, because the lifecycle of enterprise apps can be a sticking point for businesses with behind-the-scenes details such as managing iterations, tracking dependencies and eliminating contention.

Our aim is to make it easy to stage an enterprise app into quality assurance and production environments. Mechanisms to gather feedback from application users do the changes in development and then stage them back into production. It’s all about reacting at the speed of change.

So, as you can see, these myths are like any other; they make great stories but most have barely an ounce of truth in them. As more businesses turn to low-code platforms as viable alternatives to traditional programming, more myths will no doubt pop up. But as for our current three, we know the truth. The OutSystems low-code platform is for developers who need to build enterprise-grade apps and manage them throughout their lifecycles.

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