What is low code?

Connor Cameron

Films and the media like to paint a picture of the committed software engineer who slaves away on a computer till the early hours of the morning in efforts to develop systems. For a long time, that’s what it took to complete projects; talented and committed developers with an extensive understanding of math, digital logic and programming languages. While this is often still true, a sort of saving grace has emerged in the form of the low code movement.

Software systems are becoming more complicated, requiring more and more complex development. As a result, numerous engineers and organisations are considering the benefits of low code. But few of us really understand what it is.

That’s probably because companies will try to overcomplicate the concept, telling you things like: “low code is a development movement where time-consuming manual processes are automated, without hand-coding, using a visual IDE environment, an automation that connects to backends and some kind of application lifestyle management system” *

Really, low code just refers to any case in which an engineer uses a system to generate code, meaning that they don’t have to do it all manually, low-ering the amount of hand-coding required.

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but what if software could be?

Let’s look at low code through an analogy.

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. If you have a vehicle (typically an LCDP — low-code development platform), and an experienced driver behind the wheel directing the vehicle, you’re going to get to your destination a hell of a lot quicker.

So, low code automates the tasks that developers would typically find complicated, time-consuming… or straight-up irritating. A developer narrows the scope of their work and can focus on higher-value logic-based issues, as opposed to technical ones.

What are the benefits of low code?

Developers access these benefits through low code development platforms, but no two low code tools are ever really alike. Typically they have some sort of visual aid, a development environment and automatically handle backend services.

Some low code development platforms are available to the public, such as Salesforce Lightning, or KiSSFLOW, while others are used for in house development.

elfware Automation uses a custom low code platform called elfCafé, developed in house. Our engineers are constantly adapting the platform to meet the services our customers require, typically relating to Retail ERP, data integration/validation, automated testing and more.

What does low code mean for the future of IT?

Short answer; we don’t know.

In some scenarios, like at elfware, low code has meant clients can get substantial results without large investments of time and money. With a specific retail focus, we’ve been able to validate typically years’ worth of data in months and run millions of scenarios in hours. Just take the example of a US Specialty Retailer whose data we managed to prototype into Oracle Retail v16 from Oracle Retail v11 in just 2 weeks. But, some industries haven’t been able to capitalise on its benefits as of yet.

Many companies are still using Agile and DevOps to fuel faster development, with varying degrees of success. But more and more are pushing toward integrating low code development into their technical model, including Shell Downstream, Harvard, MIT, ING Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Yahoo and more.

This rapidly growing demand has led to Forrester Research estimating a 40% compounding annual market growth for low code development platforms, leading to a market value of $21.2 Billion by 2022.

Will it put engineers out of work? Probably not. If anything, low code is an aid that will make engineers more productive and more agile, making them capable of producing more output at greater efficiency.

elfware Automation is an IT Company specializing in retail automation solutions. We have headquarters in Sydney and London, with clients from across the globe. If you’d like to learn more, visit www.elfware.com or contact us.


* - https://www.bmc.com/blogs/low-code-vs-no-code/

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