Low-code and no-code solutions help line-of-business workers to create applications more quickly and advance business needs. But how do low-code solutions compare to the rapid application development (RAD) tools of yesterday for non-developers? Let’s take a look at the drawbacks and advantages of the low-code solutions of today, who should use these solutions and which application types are best-suited for low-code/no-code.
RAD vs. Low-Code/No-Code
First off, let’s discuss some of the key differences between RAD and low-code/no-code solutions. RAD solutions are development tools that combine an integrated development environment (IDE) with some code generation features, primarily on the UI side.
No-code/low-code, on the other hand, refers to platforms on which codeless design time produces fully deployed applications, whether in the cloud or on-premises. This includes the entire application technology stack—back end, middle tier and UI. While it might not be accurate to say all low-code solutions are RAD solutions, it would be accurate to say low-code is an offshoot of RAD, though a far cry from the RAD solutions of the early ’90s.
Low-Code and No-Code Advantages
Modern low-code and no-code platforms are advantageous to non-professional developers because of their shorter learning curves. These solutions cover the entire application stack and development, testing and deployment process. There is also no need to install multiple components to create a fully functional development environment, as most of the new tools run in a browser and deploy in the cloud.
Low-Code and No-Code Drawbacks
The drawbacks of low-code/no-code platforms are similar to those experienced with RAD. You still need to deal with the code, since in many cases the developer has no control or knowledge of what files were generated or modified as a result of visual tool-related activities. This affects source control approaches and integrations of the code with third-party components. Furthermore, the quality of generated code can be questionable and proprietary in some implementations. This can lead to issues with code integrity across implementations if care is not taken.
One of the key factors of measuring the quality of the generated code is it should use the most popular and widely available (open source) frameworks instead of proprietary frameworks, so further maintenance of the code is straightforward and does not require an additional learning curve. The quality and complexity of the generated code also should be measured using traditional tools.
When to Use Low-Code/No-Code
Which applications work well with low-code/no-code development? Because low-code and no-code allow developers to concentrate on the business logic of building blocks, this strategy is well-suited for business-type applications. Low-code building blocks and components can be created by more technical people also by injecting some code into standard visual components, ending up with no-code required building blocks for businesspeople to construct applications. This approach also fits well into the “bimodal IT” approach popularized by Gartner.
Low-code/no-code and RAD were both built with the same end goal in mind: to speed development and deliver applications more quickly and more consistently. However, low-code solutions offer a more visual way of building apps more well-suited for less experienced developers. It also can empower team members who otherwise would not be able to do so to create applications more easily. Modern low-code solutions also give the developer a great deal of flexibility because typically you can incorporate both the low-code building blocks with custom code, meaning the application can be customized.
Whether you’re new to low-code or no-code or just getting started, this solution is a great choice to help accelerate part of (or even your entire) development pipeline. If you’ve tried RAD in the past, give no-code/low-code a try and see if it’s right for you.