As more IT organizations embrace low-code application development platforms, many of them are discovering that accelerating the rate at which they develop applications can be too much of a good thing.
António Barros, product manager for OutSystems, says most of the organizations that have adopted the company’s namesake low-code platform are just now coming up to speed on automated testing. Barros estimates that only 20 percent of the organizations using the OutSystems platform are also employing automated testing tools. The majority of OutSystems customers continue to rely on manual testing even though it’s apparent low-code platforms will produce applications much faster than manual testing can keep pace with. OutSystems has identified five stage of DevOps maturity, he notes, but none of its customers has achieved that level of DevOps maturity.
To help them get a little further down the DevOps path, OutSystems, at its recent NextStep 2017 conference, announced an extension of its partnership with Indigo to provide tighter integration with the OutSystems platform. In addition, OutSystems plans to make available digital transformation playbooks, including one for DevOps, beginning in 2018. Outsystems has already integrated its platform with the Jenkins automated server to provide continuous integration and continuous development (CI/CD) capabilities.
Barros says it’s not only critical to engage in continuous testing, but the application needs to be designed to make it easier to isolate user interface, application programming interface (API) and unit testing. Otherwise, automating the testing process becomes more difficult than it should be, says Barros.
Developers for years have resisted low-code platforms, which automatically generate much of the code that needs to be written for an application. Some fear the platforms can’t build applications that scale. Others have simply decided they prefer to write code themselves. But these days, organizations are under more pressure than ever to deliver applications faster, which has led many organizations to rely more on low-code platforms such as OutSystems.
It’s not clear just how popular low-code platforms will become. OutSystems revealed at its conference it has signed up 122 new customers in the last quarter alone. On average, it now takes organizations eight weeks to build and deploy an application on the OutSystems platform, with new release cycle updates occurring every 48 hours, says OutSystems CEO Paulo Rosado.
Michael Facemire, an industry analyst with Forrester Research, told conference attendees that adoption of low-code platforms is now a matter of economics. The starting salary for a developer in the San Francisco Bay area is $145,000, says Facemire. As the salary of a developer with a few years of experience now reaches more than $200,000 in the Bay area, companies in that geography will have no other option but to employ low-code platforms, he says.
Obviously, developers might be less expensive in other regions. But Facemire notes that no matter what the region, developers are in short supply. That need for speed, he adds, is also why organizations are rapidly adopting containers and serverless computing framework. The challenge IT organizations will face is finding a way to put quality control processes in place to don’t compromise either the speed of the development process or the quality of the end user experience, he says.
By the same token, however, no one really appreciates code that arrives late, no matter how great it might be.