Low-Code vs. No-Code Development: What's the Difference?

Low-Code vs. No-Code | Alpha Software

People frequently lump low-code development and no-code development platforms together. In fact, there is a big difference (that is very important to understand,) between low-code and no-code development platforms. 

No-code platforms primarily serve line-of-business people (citizen developers,) who, with some rare exceptions, cannot code and do not want to code.
No-code products can play an extremely.valuable role in helping a company leverage the talent and domain knowledge of line-of-business employees.

It is important to understand however that no-code platforms are NOT a good fit for professional developers. Invariably, professional developers want to increase productivity, but need to retain the ability to add code for unique and specialized situations that frequently arise in building real world applications.

Conversely, low-code platforms realistically, are only appropriate for professional developers.
(Because low-code platforms require some coding, the vast majority of line-of-business people will not be able to accomplish anything meaningful with low-code platforms.)

Professional developers are increasingly turning to low-code platforms to respond to the pressure they are under to get more done in less time.They are looking for low-code platforms that minimize coding in order to maximize their productivity but they also need to be comfortable, that if and when they do need to code, (to solve a particular requirement not anticipated by the low-code platform,) then the low-code product will not "get in the way" and hamper their ability to write client or server side code.

In a well architected low-code platform it is also highly desirable that coding can be done using industry standard languages such as JavaScrip, Node.JS and .Net languages.
In summary the power of a well designed a low-code platform is that it lets the vast majority of the app be built without coding, but when the situation calls for it, there are no restrictions on being able to code.

Based on these definitions, it is reasonable for an organization to choose a no-code AND a low-code standard if the company wants to take full advantage of its human capital in order to speed up digital transformation and to remain highly competitive in today's demanding business world.

The other benefit of adopting a platform for professional developers and another platform for citizen developers (line of  business people,) is that by allowing more of the needs that line-of-business people have to be met by themselves, it reduces those instances when the "lost in translation" problem surfaces. The "lost in translation" problem occurs when professional developers sit down with line-of-business people to understand what is needed, they then go off and build what they think the business wants, only to find out that there has been some miscommunication and that what they thought was needed, was in fact not what was needed!

An important point about standards

Low-code platforms can be massively valuable provided that they don't lock you in to the vendor's world or trap you in a "walled garden."
As an evaluator of different development options, it is critical to determine if the low-code platform you're evaluating, allows code to be introduced at any point (to avoid the 'walled garden' trap,) and if that code is based on standards or not? The standards issue issue is very important because it has significant ramp-up and training implications for your app development team. 

Alpha Software has been working in this area for many years:  We have developed an innovative low-code approach in Alpha Anywhere called "coding-optional" that delivers high productivity to developers while providing them with high confidence that they won't "hit the wall," because of the ability to code using standards based languages wherever and whenever is necessary.
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About Author

Richard Rabins
Richard Rabins

Co-founder of Alpha Software, Richard Rabins focuses on strategy, sales, and marketing. Richard also served as CEO of SoftQuad International from 1997 to 2001, when it owned Alpha. In addition to his 30 years with the company, Richard played a key role as co-founder, and served as president and chairman of the Massachusetts Software Council (now the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council), the largest technology trade organization in Massachusetts. Prior to founding Alpha, Richard was a project leader and consultant with Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), and a management consultant with Management Decision Systems, Inc. Richard holds a master's degree in system dynamics from the Sloan School at MIT, and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and master's degree in control engineering from University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has served on the boards of Silent Systems, Legacy Technology and O3B Networks, and is co-founder of Tubifi www.tubifi.com.

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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.


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