Low Code Platforms Will Not Replace Coders

Low code has been widely touted as a digital transformation solution, but it is not going to replace advanced coders and DevOps professionals. Understanding its uses, what it’s functions are good for, what it can and cannot do, is imperative for successful implementation.

Low code is a poorly defined term. There are SaaS platforms which could be considered low code because of how they function, but technically may not be low code. So defining the term first is important. According to Outsystems.com, “Low-code is a family of tools that helps you create complete applications visually using a drag-and-drop interface. Rather than writing thousands of lines of complex code and syntax, low-code platforms allow users to build complete applications with modern user interfaces, integrations, data and logic quickly and visually.”

It is, essentially, a point and click platform that allows people with little to no coding experience to have a way to automate processes with pre-determined needs. This differs from a SaaS platform, which also utilizes pre-baked information geared toward specific industries. Low code platforms are generally rigid. There’s not a lot of room for making changes or tweaks to the underlying code.

That said, low code platforms are really useful and efficient for simple tasks. Automated data movement with pre-determined actions is a simple task that low code can help with. Basically, when a specific event happens in one spot, you want it to trigger a pre-determined response. That is something low code can do.

However, when you start moving into logic trees and math, transformation of data, more complex coding and knowledge-based decisions, it is not the way to go. This is where you will still need coders to come into the picture and build out features. They can create features which produce varying outcomes based on varying inputs which are specific to company needs.

Is it possible to create workarounds with low code to do different things that it’s not really designed for? It is. But doing that is time consuming, costly and creates fragility. Businesses don’t want to pay an experienced coder to essentially move data from one spreadsheet to another, especially when that can be automated. But using it for something it isn’t designed to do is not worth the headache it will cause in the long run.

Generalized low code systems generally suffer from the fact that it usually ends up being more complicated and taking more time to use the platform. Usually you end up doing things in an inappropriate way to get to the same result as if someone who knew how to do the development just wrote a few lines of code.

Low code options further digital transformation by reduceing cost and frees up advanced coders to push new features for products. Having a low code platform isn’t a bad idea if you have data you want to move from one source to another. But don’t expect it to do much more than that, and if you spend the time and money to do a workaround, understand that you’ve now created a fragile platform that will break faster than if you had built a traditional system. Utilizing a low code platform can be a really good idea in the right circumstances, so don’t count it out as an option. Just understand that there are limitations that come with it, so verify that it’s worth doing before investing the time and resources to integrate it.

About the Author

Pieter VanIperen, Managing Partner of PWV Consultants, leads a boutique group of industry leaders and influencers from the digital tech, security and design industries that acts as trusted technical partners for many Fortune 500 companies, high-visibility startups, universities, defense agencies, and NGOs. He is a 20-year software engineering veteran, who founded or co-founder several companies. He acts as a trusted advisor and mentor to numerous early stage startups, and has held the titles of software and software security executive, consultant and professor. His expert consulting and advisory work spans several industries in finance, media, medical tech, and defense contracting. Has also authored the highly influential precursor HAZL (jADE) programming language.

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