No-Code vs Low-Code: Differences, Advantages, and Examples

Lena Mikrukova ◽ Jul 15, 2022

The IT industry is growing many times faster than every other industry. Trends are changing fast. It wasn’t so long ago that everyone was learning PHP, then they switched to Objective-C, and then to Python and Ruby.

The current trend is no-code and low-code platforms, which have become a good alternative to traditional development. According to a report by OutSystems, about 41% of organizations used no-code or low-code in 2021. However, as with other promising technologies, there are many misconceptions about these platforms and what kind of projects they are best suited for.

What is No-Code?

No-code or zero-code is a tool for creating apps using a visual editor, without having to write any code.

Advantages


  • A low barrier to entry - No IT knowledge required. No-code tools can be mastered in a couple of days, or weeks, depending on the platform.
  • High-speed development and time to market - Everything you need is already there. It just needs to be assembled in the builder tool.
  • A great way to test your ideas - Allows you to quickly and inexpensively create an MVP or a pet project. If it fails, just make a new one.
  • Cross-platform Compatibility - The app interface automatically adapts to different platforms.
  • Reduced Costs - No need to hire a team of professional developers. Your only expenses are what you need to pay for the builder platform.

Disadvantages


  • Functionality is limited to the platform’s capabilities - Not every builder tool has enough functionality to implement every idea.
  • Platform dependency - You can’t simply download the code of the finished project. You will have to work on the platform you chose, even if it no longer meets your needs.
  • Potential security risks - You don't know what's happening on the platform’s servers. On the other hand, the platform code goes through multiple checks and is tested on many apps.
  • Instability - The builder platform can be hacked, or it may just stop working.

Examples of No-Code Platforms


  • Webflow lets you build any website you can imagine with the full power of HTML, CSS, and Javascript in a visual canvas.
  • Zapier integrates apps and tools in a way that they perform specific tasks like a domino effect. With more than 2.000 apps like Google Suite, Slack, Twitter, and Gmail.
  • Game Builder is the most famous 2D game builder of any genre. It provides an editor for objects, sprites, scripts, rooms, and timelines.

What is Low-Code?

Low-code is an approach to creating apps with minimal manual coding. Low-code platforms use visual interfaces but still retain the ability to add manual code to expand functionality.

Advantages


  • High-speed development and time to market - Visual interfaces significantly speed up the development process and allow you to automate routine tasks.
  • Flexibility - Allows you to quickly adapt to an ever-changing market.
  • Minimum manual coding - Minimizing the manual code makes the development process less time-consuming and it reduces the amount of errors.
  • Reduced Costs - Having pre-built elements significantly reduces development expenses.

Disadvantages


  • Requires knowledge of programming languages - Unlike No-Code solutions, knowledge of at least one popular programming language is required.
  • Risk of Becoming Dependent on the Platform - Some platforms generate obfuscated code that doesn’t allow you to make edits without using their tool. It’s practically impossible to use such an app outside the platform. On the other hand, more and more low-code platforms are moving towards a cleaner, more standardized code.
  • Limited design customization options - The ability to customize your app’s appearance varies widely from platform to platform, which means your app may look similar to a competitor’s.

Examples of Low-Code Platforms


  • Microsoft PowerApps is a platform for creating business applications for iOS and Android. C# programming language available.
  • Alpha Anywhere is a unified development environment for mobile and web applications. Available programming languages: JavaScript, SQL, HTML, CSS, Perl, Java, and PHP.
  • Amplify Studio is a service for speeding up mobile and web app development. Design components created in Figma can be synched. JavaScript, Amplify CLI, and AWS CDK can be used to expand functionality.

Low-Code and No-Code: What's the Difference?

A comparison of key factors to consider when choosing a tool.

Features
Low-Code
No-Code
Target Audience
Developers
The general public, non-techies
Purpose
To speed up the dev process through use of visual modeling tools.
To create an app without having to know code
Coding Knowledge Required
Some
None
Customizability
Total customization
Only templates can be modified
Platform Dependence
Cross-platform transferability
Platform-specific
Used to Create
Complex/Sophisticated Apps
Simple Apps

No-Code or Low-Code: What's Right for Your Product?

The choice between no-code and low-code comes down to a compromise between flexibility and ease of use.

No-Code is suitable for developing basic applications or creating an MVP. It’s the optimal solution if an app needs to be created in the shortest possible time - literally in a matter of hours. No need to hire expensive developers.

Low-Code is ideal for complex apps. It offers the versatility, flexibility and control you'll need to create unique solutions.

Before choosing a no-code and low-code tool, you get a good idea of its capabilities for your specific development needs. Just because a platform offers no-code solutions doesn’t mean that its functionality is only meant for non-developers. Just like a low-code programming tool is not always the right choice for a professional developer.

Conclusion

If you want your team, department, or organization to work faster and more productively, you should consider adding some no-code and low-code tools into your tech stack. Your resources, strategies, and goals may change over time, so you should choose an app-builder that can be used as a development platform with no code or minimal code.


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