Just try to assume that there isn’t any difference between low code and no code. What? It isn’t possible, you say. The name itself suggests the basic difference between both. But still, many professionals who have less field experience along with marketers and journalists get confused with these terms and often use them interchangeably.
For example, the marketers at Zoho and Appian promote their platforms as low-code platforms but in reality, they are no-code platforms. Because you don’t have to write even a single line of code to use the functionalities of these platforms.
Another reason why such confusion occurs is that both low-code and no code platforms are used to achieve the same results. But it is high time that we clear the air of such confusion so that non-technical people, as well as business owners, can make an informed decision about which platform to use in their project. So, let’s get started.
What is No Code?
We are living in an age where you don’t have to be an expert to build your website or application and it’s possible because of no-code platforms. You don’t have to learn a complicated programming language anymore, just use the simple drag-and-drop features of the no-code platforms. This is done through a visual development methodology where pre-made visual elements are connected with pre-coded and easy-to-configure workflows.
These types of platforms are specially developed to serve non-tech people who don’t have any coding experience. Also, all the functionalities are pre-built and relatively simple to use so there is no need to involve or hire the IT department or hire any professional developers for your app development. This not only reduces the burden of certain responsibilities of maintaining the systems and infrastructure but also saves you from many overhead costs.
Now say, for example, a restaurant owner named Bob provides dine-in, takeaway, and delivery options. Now, his delivery takes time and his costs are high too. So, to save money on it and to make faster deliveries, he comes up with an app idea. But he doesn’t have any coding experience or knowledge on how to develop a software application whatsoever.
He could easily use the no-code platforms to transform his idea into reality without spending too much time learning how to code or money on app development. Of course, he has to have some basics clear about how the software works, what is a database, the user interface, and more.
The thing is he could easily obtain such knowledge from anywhere, may it be youtube, free online courses, boot camps, and so on. Interestingly, most of the no-code and low-code platforms provide such basic training for the users of their platforms.
And what more? If you go through the strenuous training of learning programming languages and then executing a software development process, it would just take a considerable amount of time in comparison to app development with low-code or no-code development. The former can take months whereas the latter option can take just a few hours. More importantly, with no-code platforms, you don’t have to start from scratch, they provide pre-built templates to build your applications.
What is Low code?
It was the low-code platforms that made software development easily accessible to the masses.
Low code is a software development lifecycle that focuses on building applications without coding. The concept of low code was first introduced by Dan North in his book, The Art of Unix Programming. He described low code as “a kind of programming that avoids writing any program code.”
Now say, for example, a web developer named Matt wants to create a new feature for his MicroSaaS. If he leans into manual coding, it takes more time but if he uses a low-code platform then he can integrate his new feature into the platform a lot faster. This would not only save him time but will also increase his productivity.
Developers can easily use the low-code platform without any trouble because they know how to code so they can easily figure out what to do and how to do it.
When you weigh out all the available development options, Low code platforms rank in between the completely manual coding and no-code platforms.
Differences between Low Code and No Code
Before we weigh the low-code and no-code platforms on standard industry parameters. Allow me to explain some basic differences to you first.
Integration of applications
Sometimes you have to gather data from multiple platforms, of course, it depends highly on what type of application you are using. No-code platforms perform very poorly in this arena whereas low-code platforms are known to offer outstanding adaptability for system integration.
When you build with the no-code platform, there isn’t anyone who could provide expert oversight or supervise your work. So the chances of programs developed under such conditions can sometimes have regulatory challenges, security concerns, integration issues, and more. You might also end up with an app that uses up more resources than necessary.
Requirement of training
There is no need for any kind of training to use no-code development platforms, as you can just simply drag and drop the features you want in your app. No technical experience or knowledge is required either.
But the low-code development platform contains some complex tools and provides customization too. The use of such a platform is possible only if you have some prior knowledge or experience in programming. Therefore, you need some training before you go out and start using low-code platforms.
Low-code and no-code platforms, both are mostly used to build business applications for internal usage. But the major difference lies mainly in what kind of business operations they can handle.
No-code platforms can only help you create apps that can optimize minor business issues on their own, nothing complex can be solved using this platform. Meanwhile, low-code platforms are ideal for developing high-demand software applications that can easily manage essential business operations.
From what we discussed above, the no-code development platforms seem to be ideal for someone who aspires to innovate or even improve the existing procedures. And the low-code development is good enough to create enterprise-grade apps.
For example, when the covid-19 virus hit, low-code platforms came in handy to design pharmacy and covid testing site-finding apps. It has proven to be an incredibly reliable tool for developers and DevOps teams for reducing their development time and costs.
Now, let us browse through the standard industry parameters and understand how low-code development and no-code development differs there.
- Primary users – Mostly business personnel and other non-tech people use the no-code development. On the other hand, the primary user base for low-code consists of developers.
- Objective – The main objective behind designing using low-code platforms was to reduce the development time whereas the no-code platforms were created so that people can easily build their apps without any hassle.
- The need for code – The name no-code itself suggests that no coding is required in this type of app development. Meanwhile, in low code, you have to use a few lines of code to create features or applications.
- Customization – You can completely customize any features or any component of the app because here you are basically altering a few lines of code or just adding some new ones. So complete customization is possible with low code. But in the case of no-code, pre-built templates are used to build apps. So, even if you want to customize, you can only customize those pre-built templates.
- Platform flexibility – The low-code platform utilizes coding so you can just use different programming languages to use them across multiple platforms. However, using no-code development, you have to stick with the same platform.
- Development capabilities – You can code your way through this type of development so this type of development has complete end-to-end development capabilities. But the no-code platform comes with limited development capabilities.
- Complexity – Low-code platforms aren’t just complicated to use but they can also be used to develop complex apps. On the other hand, development with no code is easy but you can only build simple applications with such a platform.
- Cost-effectiveness – If you already have a team of fully-fledged IT developers then low code is very cost-effective for your use. On the other hand, if you don’t have developers or have inexperienced developers but your requirements are high then no code is cost-effective for you. So ultimately it boils down to what your requirements are.
Which one is suitable for you?
I think the differences we discussed in detail are good enough to give you a complete understanding of low-code and no-code platforms. Now, it’s time to answer the most important question because you might say that yes, it’s interesting enough that one platform can help you develop apps without coding and another can help you develop a custom application with less time and money. But which one is useful to me?
“No Code can eat Low Code for breakfast” – Shawn Wang, Former Senior Developer Advocate at AWS.
Well, no-code is very helpful but there are many merits to low-code development too. Choosing one can be a bit challenging. You have to make a strategic decision in picking a platform that can help you achieve your business goals. But don’t worry, allow me to guide you more so that you can make an informed decision. Well, keep one thing in mind most of it depends on whether you can hire professional developers or not and if you can, what kind of development experience they possess.
When to choose No-Code development?
If you have just come to know that such tools exist then it is advantageous that you must choose no-code as your development approach, especially if you don’t have any technical background or coding experience. Even if you have limited IT resources then also going with a no-code platform would be a wise choice.
No-code platforms aren’t designed for developers, they are built for citizen developers and business users. You can have complete control over your app development process and can oversee the entire digital transformation process, create apps, data management solutions, and ML tools without any type of IT team.
No-code platforms are easy to use for rapid development. Software development is no longer expensive or limited to tech-savvy developers.
When to choose Low-Code development?
If you or your team of developers possess unique coding skills and are proficient in at least one programming language then it is safe to say that you can choose low-code development over no-code development. Because the whole point of choosing no-code is that you can’t code your way through app development.
If you have professional developers on your team then it is just the right time to introduce them to the low-code platform. Not only is it a good alternative to conventional manual coding but it also helps you save time and money. If you want to build apps for multiple devices then also you have to use low-code because using no-code you will be bound to a single platform only.
Even if sometimes you have used no-code and now want to try out a little coding yourself then also it’s a good time for you to move on to low-code.
Now, just ask yourself a few questions and you will have your answer for which platform is an ideal choice for you.
- What is the amount of customization that you require? – If you need little customization then no-code is your choice and if you need large-scale customization then go for low code.
- How much technical proficiency does your team have? – If you are proficient in at least one programming language you can try out low-code, otherwise, it will be better to opt for no-code.
- How many integrations do you want to add? – If you want to work on a single system then you can go with no-code. Even a few integrations won’t do any harm. But if the number of integrated systems is larger then you must choose low-code development.
I hope that this blog and a little Q&A above have been helpful to you in figuring out which side you would like to be in Low Code vs No Code.