No-code, Low-code, and Pro-code Development. How to Choose Your Place on the Spectrum
In this article we will talk about the differences between no-code, low-code, and pro-code development to see, how they differ and what benefits they can bring to your software project.
It’s pretty interesting to witness how the software development industry evolves. In a manner, we can say that developers play catch-up with the software they build. Applications become more complex and feature-reach, which requires a deep understanding of multiple frameworks and tons of code to write and test. Development tools aren’t frozen in time as well. They provide dozens of features, making the quality assurance process automated as much as possible and helping programmers to build better apps. Among the latest innovative inventions, there’s GitHub Copilot, for example. This cloud-based AI solution that can assist developers by suggesting code auto-completion options.
Nowadays, you can build apps using no code at all or using it quite a bit. The question is, what are the downsides of such an approach? Today, we’ll consider the difference between no-code, low-code, and pro-code development to see how they differ and what benefits provide.
Who Needs the Code Anyway? How No-Code Development Works
With no-code platforms, instead of describing how your future application must function by writing the source code line by line, you can use the drag-and-drop interface. If you don’t have much time and want to create something simple to automate a particular task, no-code development can be a decent choice. You can simply use one of the out-of-the-box templates to create a basic chatbot or a simple MVP for your startup company. For a specific task, there’s a no-code platform with a particular set of tools. For example, Webflow can help you design a website, and Xano is a good choice for the back-end part of the app.
Using no-code platforms can help you cut development costs. With a bunch of HOWTOs, any employee of your company can build a web app. Even if you have a team of experienced developers, they may be busy working on something else or paying for their working hours may be too expensive if you don’t need to create something complex. Hiring a dedicated team of developers may also not be worth it, since you can lose time and risk to decrease the overall productivity of your company. Solving the problem yourself in this case can be a suitable alternative.
However, the more effort you put into something, the better results you get, and vice versa. With no-code, you don’t have to spend countless hours to learn how to write and debug code, but there will not be much room for customization. If the functionality of your dream application goes beyond the possibilities of pre-built components that no-code platforms provide, there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s why you must know your requirements well and understand what limitations a specific platform has. Also, it won’t be a wise decision to use no-code for building services that work with sensitive data. Here, you can face some security issues since you don’t have full control over what happens under the hood of the application. If you want to do more to achieve more, you can consider the use of low-code instead.
What if We Add a Pinch of Code? The Advantages of Low-code Approach
Low-code development is an approach that makes a tiny step further in terms of complexity and effort compared to no-code. Here, you can also use a graphical user interface to create an app you want. Plus, with some code, you can achieve extra flexibility thanks to extended configuration possibilities. Therefore, with low-code, you can focus mostly on the most exciting things like design and UX and leave the most boring part of work (apparently, the coding) for the rest of the day. Here, you’ll save time on development and get the opportunity to make your low-code app different from the others and provide excellent user-experience.
Such flexibility has its price. If you choose low-code, you must remember that the code you write can help you build better apps, but it also can harm you and end-users if you don’t have any experience in programming. When you work with a no-code platform, the vendor is responsible for how a specific feature works. With low-code, stakes are higher since you can make adjustments to the pre-built application elements.
Pro-code Development. When You Decide to Work at Full Throttle
Finally, if you’re not satisfied with low-code possibilities, there’s pro-code development, a traditional way of building software. This approach implies that the team writes all the code to build the blocks from which the app consists. Well, not all the code exactly. Using libraries frees developers from the need to implement low-level functionality. Even so, they’re responsible for every feature and all UI elements’ appearance and behavior. As you can imagine, compared to the low-code way of doing things, making software this way is more time and money consuming. The good news is that eventually all the investments will pay off.
The reason is that the development team can implement any feature you want within the capabilities of modern technologies without the restrictions that low-code implies. Such software can perform complex computations, scale vertically and horizontally as you need it, monitor multiple vehicle locations via GPS tracking devices in real-time, predict market demand using AI and ML algorithms, and so on.
Unlike in case of no-code or low-code, here, you should prepare well before writing the source code of the app. Rebuilding the user interface will take more effort than shuffling ready-to-use blocks like you would do using a no-code solution. Therefore, you better start with a mockup or even build a prototype or two to find the best possible solution. Next, you should choose a software development life cycle that better suits your project. Agile development, for example, works better for those who can’t clarify the requirements at the earliest stages. And, of course, you’ll need more experienced developers than those who can handle low-code apps. You must be sure that they can take care of front-end development, back-end functionality, data engineering, and other aspects of your future app.
Summing up all the above, we can say that pro-code is a medal that has two sides. Software development industry professionals can build state-of-the-art apps for other professionals working in various fields, from manufacturing to financial services. Unfortunately, unlike the low-code approach, in pro-code, there are many highly technical processes and implementing them from scratch is usually a pretty laborious task. Developer hiring costs and time are the major sacrifices that pro code demands.
Today, software comes in many various forms. Designers can build eye-catching UIs, and development teams can implement any functionality you want. The way you build software has also changed dramatically during the last decades. Crafting the building blocks of a more complex system with code is no longer required. No-code and low-code platforms help to avoid this necessity for those who, for different reasons, don’t want to master their coding skills. Unfortunately, such a luxury takes away the freedom to customize your apps the way you desire. The reason is that the UI of no-code and low-code services designed to reflect all the possibilities of modern programming languages will become too cumbersome and overloaded with fields. Thus, you must determine for yourself on which part of the “no-code, low-code, pro-code spectrum’’ you and your end-users will feel most comfortable.
Technical writer and content creator. Passionate about delivering reader-friendly tech-related content. Love Linux, FOSS, and horror movies.