Low-code doesn’t mean low quality

There is a certain artistry to elegantly written computer code. Programmers pride themselves on the craftsmanship that goes into program design, including attention to detail and functionality. Superior craftsmanship also requires superior tools, which is why more developers are adopting low-code development solutions. They want to focus on application services, not the coding process.

Some argue that software stacks and low-code solutions are limited in their capabilities, reducing the elegance of coding to a series of sophisticated dialog boxes and drag-and-drop interfaces that offer limited functionality. Granted, no-code platforms make it easy to get the stack up and running to support back-office workflows, but what about supporting those outside the workflow? Does low-code offer the functionality and flexibility to support applications that fall outside the box?

The truth is that low-code programming architectures are gaining popularity precisely because of their versatility. Rather than compromising on quality programming, low-code frees developers to make applications more creative and more productive. In response to a recent article on the hidden dangers of low-code, here are some thoughts on the benefits of low-code and why more developers are embracing low-code platforms.

Low-code promotes innovation

Some argue that low-code “makes us stupid” by leaving the thinking to the machines. Low-code isn’t about relinquishing control to the computer and abandoning human thought. Rather, low-code solutions free developers to focus on building better software. Low-code augments the programmer’s capabilities rather than replacing them.

There is no question that software development requires a lot of repetitive tasks. Low-code streamlines those tasks so developers can focus on solving critical problems that yield better results. The best low-code platforms never dictate programming decisions but offer a framework that simplifies programming to promote faster development.

Low-code still requires human oversight. Any application development requires checks and human supervision. With low-code, those checks are simpler and more streamlined, allowing developers to focus on overall quality control and functionality rather than bug hunting.

Low-code is highly customizable

Low-code is designed to accommodate a broad user base, or as some would argue, the lowest common denominator. That doesn’t mean low-code platforms can’t be adapted for specific applications or workflows. A good low-code solution is highly adaptable and can be customized for virtually any business requirement.

Modern low-code platforms include customization, configuration, and extensibility options. Every drag-and-drop widget is pretested to deliver flawless functionality and make it easier to build applications faster. However, those widgets also have multiple options to handle business logic in different ways at various events.

Low-code widgets allow developers to focus on integration and functional testing rather than component testing. Low-code platforms are also backward-compatible, so developers don’t need to worry about updating legacy code. For example, enterprise applications are updated regularly, and new releases are issued with changes in the code. The low-code platform handles backward compatibility, so developers don’t have to worry about solving integration issues for legacy software. And with low-code, developers don’t have to worry about securing vulnerabilities—they’re taken care of by the low-code platform.

Rather than limiting options, low-code empowers developers, accelerating software development while allowing for bespoke processes and features. A common misperception is that low-code is bundled or off-the-shelf software. Low-code actually enhances a company’s ability to create software with distinctive capabilities. Low-code makes it easier and faster to build custom applications based on specific requirements, business processes, and workflows. 

Lack of bias in low-code

Advances in artificial intelligence are democratizing coding, enabling everyone from professional developers to business analysts to develop applications using tools like ChatGPT. However, low-code should not be confused with AI.

AI models suffer from inconsistencies and inherent biases. AI algorithms are only as good as those who create them, so human biases are often built-in. Bias can result from the training data, the algorithm, or the algorithm’s results. AI can introduce bias by misinterpreting data, using erroneous data, missing relevant data, and using data sets that include prejudices or stereotypes. A classic example is using AI for facial recognition. People of color are misidentified more frequently because white programmers develop facial recognition algorithms.

Low-code platforms aren’t subject to such biases because low-code and AI use different approaches to create computer code. When using AI as a coding copilot, developers must review the code and spend time maintaining and upgrading the technology stack. Low-code tools have already been tested and vetted for enterprise applications. Unlike AI, low-code is structured to support iterative development, including debugging and improving functionality. Low-code tools generate code using predefined templates free from bias because they are not asked to make predictions. Templates are always consistent and accurate.

The productivity gains low-code gives developers come primarily from the ability to reuse abstractions at the component or module level; the ability to reuse code reduces the time needed to develop customized solutions. Low-code platforms make it easier for development teams to build software using an iterative approach, refining code, observing usage, and mapping out improvements. Low-code was created with agile development methodologies in mind.

That doesn’t mean low-code replaces the developer. As with any creative endeavor, better tools free software developers to be more creative. Human oversight is still required. A tool is only as good as the team that is using it. What more programmers are discovering is that low-code development platforms only make their development teams better.

Venugopal Jidigam is the senior director of engineering at WaveMaker

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