No Code vs Low Code: What's the difference?

Connor Cameron

Coding is a notoriously laborious task, so it is no wonder that the emergence of the development concept of no-code and low-code approaches - jointly referred to as "codeless" - has numerous companies excited about the opportunities it poses for agile development. Important to a business’ decision making in this area though, is a comprehensive understanding of the differences between the two, and where they can each have the greatest positive impact.

Low Code

Low Code refers to a development approach whereby an engineer can use minimal hand-coding while still delivering applications quickly and efficiently. Still not completely understanding? Here’s an analogy from another article I wrote here

Imagine traditional coding like walking. Sure, you get where you’re going, but it’s going to take a while. Low code development is more like driving. You have a vehicle (typically an LCDP - low-code development platform), and obviously you still need an experienced driver behind the wheel who’s going to help direct the vehicle, but you’re going to get to your destination a hell of a lot quicker.

No Code 

No Code is similar to low code in a lot of ways, but is really differentiated by the complete lack of coding experience required. Applications can be developed purely based on pre-existing components, meaning that development becomes a logic issue, as opposed to a coding one. This is a key factor that ensures agility within tech teams at elfware.

A No Code application is quintessentially a piece of software that writes other software.The system for no code development is similar to the use of blogging, e-commerce, and other drag and drop website builders.

For a more basic understanding of no code, we can use the analogy previously used in the low code section above. No-code development can be (like low-code development), compared to a car, in that it gets you where you need to go faster. Except this time, there is one, straight road going all the way to the destination. You'll arrive faster, but it leaves very little room for making adjustments during development. A developers adjustments are limited unless they change the original no-code application - almost like changing the road.

Forrester predicts that no-code development platform market will grow from $3.8 billion in 2017 to $21.2 billion in 2022.

Key Differences

As we’ve just established, the key difference is how much hand-coding is required between the two concepts. The differences certainly don’t stop there, and a team needs to consider many of these distinctions before deciding to use either no code or low code;



Case Study

Where better to conduct our case study than within our own doors? At elfware, we’re an IT Automation company that uses both low-code and no-code in providing Retail Automation solutions to our clients. On a daily basis, we need to decide which one is more applicable to a project in progress.  

Internally, for each of these development principles, we create a mapping template, which is later adjusted based on logical decisions suited to the project.

The main differentiation point within elfware for these two concepts is that where no-code is fully automated in carrying out its role, low-code rather provides a greater degree of control to an analyst due to opportunities to insert code that can be replicated throughout the system, or it provides a series of ‘macros’ (macroinstructions) that specify a task that an analyst can assign to different areas of the template.

A case study like ours’ shows that a company is capable of utilizing the benefits of both no-code and low-code, significantly reducing requirements for hand-coding and resulting in a logic focused IT team, as opposed to one that’s focused on manual development.

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