Turns out low-code and no-code is valuable to professional developers, too

Two in three IT professionals now see low-code as a workaround solution. 'Low-code almost presents a counter-culture to traditional programming.'
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

The low-code and no-code aren't just about enabling citizen developers to get out and build their own applications. And it isn't just about freeing up professional developers from having to build and deploy low-level applications. Low-code and no-code solutions are also tools for developers themselves, making their own jobs easier and enabling them to put together business-critical pre-built application components rapidly. 

Photo: Joe McKendrick

A recent survey conducted by Mendix shows 64% of IT professionals agreed that low-code is their go-to workaround development solution. As many as 59% of projects using low-code are a collaboration between business and IT groups.

To explore these possibilities, industry leaders weighed in on the implications of this new mode on developers' jobs.  

"Low-code almost presents a counter-culture to traditional programming," says Dr. Rod Fontecilla, SVP, chief innovation officer and chief data scientist at Dovel Technologies. "Developers are in high demand and have built such a large community over the past few decades that such a cultural shift may be difficult to adapt. Developers must embrace these platforms, get certified, learn their scripting languages and complement their current skills."

Fontecilla predicts that the rise of low-code/no-code in development shops will create hybrid environments. "As these low code/no-code platforms gain in penetration, enterprise software environments will become hybrid with a combination of custom coding for the most complex business processes and the use of low-code/no-code platforms for all other," he says. 

Such a hybrid approach may become the norm in most environments. "A best practice in programming is to build reusable components, and with a hybrid low-code application platform a developer can, for example, code a connector to integrate an internal CRM solution and then share it with other development teams in the company," says Nuno Pedro, head of commerce for SAP Customer Experience.   

The days of creating code from scratch are waning, but not entirely over. "A low-code approach includes drag and drop tools that developers can use -- for example, to develop APIs, or to integrate the application with other systems, or to customize front end interfaces," says Miguel Valdes Faura, CEO of Bonitasoft. In cases when developers do need to sit down and code, they can still rely on their tried-and-true tools, platforms, and frameworks. "Platforms that offer a hybrid low-code approach are likely to be the ones most useful to mixed-skills development teams." 

With application development evolving into a time-intensive process, "professional developers are now leaning on low-code/no-code solutions for applications that don't require developers to write or own them themselves," observes Shiv Ramji, chief product officer of Auth0. "By shortening the software development lifecycle, it speeds up time-to-market, improves flexibility, and allows developers to focus on core innovation. Low-code and no-code solutions also improve agility for developer teams as they are able to quickly create a sample for the business team to evaluate and provide feedback on - shortening the review cycles and improving the finished product."

Low-code/no-code platforms are helping developers "to improve their ability to tackle more complex development tasks by reducing the time needed to tackle simpler programing challenges," says SAP's Pedro. "There has been consistent feedback from developers that using low-code and no-code platforms forces them to rethink how they tackle different coding challenges and pushes a leaner and simplified way of thinking and coding that is ultimately beneficial from a productivity perspective for all coding work being done."  

There may have been some pushback to low-code/no-code from professional developers, but now it is becoming part of many toolkits. "Many development teams are now realizing that drag-and-drop API access, data mapping and form building are big timesavers -- which don't threaten their jobs," says Rod Cope, chief technology officer at Perforce Software. "Implementing tools that accelerate this work allows time to get to the endless list of more interesting, complex work faster. Over time, we'll see low-code and no-code platforms package their output in ways that are even more easily accessible by traditional programming languages and development platforms. As a result, developers will be more productive as they outsource the basics to code generated by other tools -- as we'll soon see with AI-related tools. Low-code and no-code solutions will also be particularly useful when integrating with business applications that have known and stable interfaces, such as CRM, ERP and similar packages."

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