Introduction to LCNC
LCNC (Low Code/No Code) is a development approach that allows creating applications with minimal or no hand-coding. Instead of writing lines of code, developers use visual interfaces and configuration to build applications. The LCNC approach enables faster and more accessible app creation by abstracting the complexities of traditional coding.
LCNC platforms provide graphical interfaces and pre-built components that can be dragged-and-dropped to construct applications. Configuration options and logic can be defined through visual workflows instead of coding statements.backends integrate services, data models, and business logic to generate full-stack apps without extensive programming.
LCNC expands who can build apps beyond professional developers. With intuitive visual interfaces andTEMPLATES, less technical users can assemble applications by wiring together building blocks. LCNC democratizes development and accelerates digital transformation in businesses.
The growth of cloud services, APIs, and modular architecture has enabled LCNC platforms to provide robust features without coding. The proliferation of mobile devices and demand for agile delivery of apps has further fueled LCNC adoption. Leading technology analyst firms predict widespread use of LCNC as part of “citizen development” and rapid application delivery.
Key Benefits of LCNC
- Faster time-to-market: LCNC accelerates building applications, reducing development time from months to days or weeks. The visual interfaces and pre-built components in LCNC allow faster assembly versus traditional coding.
- Lower development costs: Less reliance on professional developers lowers app dev budgets. Subject matter experts and business users can build apps with LCNC with minimal training. Apps can be iterated faster with reduced QA and debugging time.
- Cross-functional productivity: LCNC enables collaboration across business and IT. Stakeholders can participate in shaping apps without coding skills. Apps align better with requirements when subject matter experts drive the process.
- Democratization of development: LCNC opens up app creation to more people – both pro and citizen developers. Coding skills are not required to assemble applications, just logical thinking. More people can create tools to solve business problems.
- Responsive maintenance: Changes can be incorporated rapidly into LCNC apps through configuration versus coding changes. Post-deployment maintenance, enhancement, and customization are easier.
- Agile application delivery: LCNC introduction continuous integration and delivery pipelines into app dev lifecycles. Development can be done iteratively with constant user validation and frequent incremental releases.
Comparison with Traditional Coding
LCNC differs from traditional hand-coding in some fundamental ways:
- Declarative logic: Logic is defined visually via point-and-click workflows vs writing code using variables, conditionals, loops, and functions. Config定义s desired outcomes rather than step-by-step procedures.
- Model-driven apps: Data models drive generation of full-stack LCNC apps. Changes to models automatically propagate to UIs and APIs vs manual coding for data persistence.
- Pre-built components: LCNC solutions provide reusable templates, workflows, UI widgets, forms, charts, and connectors reducing the need to write custom code.
- Automated processes: Steps like compiling, debugging, unit testing are automated with LCNC. Coding involves significant manual testing and troubleshooting.
- Citizen development: LCNC enables non-coders and business users to build apps with training. Coding has a steep learning curve and requires professional developers.
LCNC is not a complete replacement for traditional coding which offers fine-grained control and customization. But LCNC excels in rapid application development and involving non-IT people. Many organizations combine coding with LCNC.
LCNC Platform Capabilities
LCNC platforms provide a wide range of capabilities for building complete applications without hand-coding:
Visual Development Interfaces
LCNC platforms use graphical “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” (WYSIWYG) interfaces for app creation instead of writing code. Drag-and-drop interface builders allow visually arranging UI elements like forms, charts, and navigation menus. Logical workflows are defined through process modeling instead of code statements.
App behavior and logic is configured declaratively by defining rules and conditions instead of imperative coding. Declarative parameters can be used to control UI properties, validations, process flows, integration, and data persistence without traditional programming.
LCNC platforms provide libraries of pre-built, reusable components – UI widgets, templates, data models, APIs, connectors, services, business logic. Apps can be built faster by assembling and wiring these components through configuration instead of custom coding.
The visual design interfaces adapt the app UIs for optimal viewing and interaction across different devices. Responsive web design principles are applied automatically without media queries and breakpoints needing to be hand-coded.
Drag-and-Drop Form Builders
LCNC process editors allow graphically modeling workflows to define app logic and business processes. Steps can be dragged-and-dropped and wired to design workflows declaratively without coding complex conditional logic.
Database and API Generation
Data models drive automatic generation of consistent backends – database schema, APIs, and data services. Changes to data model propagate across app layers. Eliminates need for manual object-relational mapping and CRUD coding.
Pre-built connectors allow connecting to databases, APIs, cloud services, authentication providers, messaging systems, IoT without coding. Reusable adaptors integrate with on-prem and cloud platforms like SAP, Salesforce, Workday.
CI/CD pipelines automate building, testing, and deployment of LCNC apps. Integration with version control systems allows managed deployments and rollbacks. Monitoring and logs enable managed operations without infrastructure coding.
Security & Access Control
Identity management, access control, and data encryption is handled natively in LCNC platforms through configuration vs complex authorization coding. Declarative settings control user registration, authentication, and role-based access.
Apps can be deployed across web, mobile, and other digital endpoints from the same visual models. Native device capabilities are optimized without rewriting business logic and data access code for each platform.
Types of LCNC Platforms
There are many categories and types of LCNC platforms with varying capabilities:
General Purpose Platforms
These provide visual, drag-and-drop development environments withdeclarative configuration for building a wide range of enterprise apps:
- Betty Blocks
Targeted platforms for specific vertical domains, app types, and user roles:
- ServiceNow: IT management and helpdesk apps
- UiPath: Robotic process automation apps
- Airtable: Spreadsheet-driven apps
- AppSheet: Mobile data collection apps
- Thunkable: Mobile app creation for non-coders
Focus on pre-built connectors, workflows, and rapid integration app creation:
- Boomi: Enterprise integration platform
- Workato: Cloud-native iPaaS
- Tray.io: General automation platform
- Zapier: Simple connector builder
Data Science Platforms
Oriented towards non-coder data analysis, ML models, and dashboard creation:
- Knime: Data mining visual workbench
- RapidMiner: predictive analytics lifecycle
- Domino Data Lab: Model creation and tracking
- Tableau: Interactive data visualization
This highlights the diversity of problem areas and user roles targeted by LCNC platforms. Organizations often use a combination of these platforms together.
Key Components of LCNC Platforms
Though LCNC platforms vary significantly in their implementation and capabilities, they share some common architectural components:
1. Visual Designer
Drag-and-drop visual development environment for creating application UIs, processes, and data models. Replaces writing code in IDEs with declarative configuration.
2. Pre-Built Components
Reusable libraries of templates, UI widgets, forms, data models, connectors, logic, and workflows to accelerate app creation.
3. Declarative Logic
Defining app behavior through configurations and rules instead of imperative coding statements. Underlying platforms handle translations to code.
4. Integration Capabilities
Connectors, adaptors, messaging, and APIs to integrate with databases, cloud platforms, IoT, and on-prem enterprise systems.
5. Process Orchestration
Model processes visually and orchestrate services, UI flows, business logic, integration without complex code.
6. Data Storage Services
Persistence for app data models, file storage, caching, search indexing handled natively by platform. Reduces data plumbing code.
7. DevOps Automation
Source control, CI/CD, testing, deployment, monitoring, and management pipelines for application lifecycle automation.
8. Security Services
Role-based access control, authentication, authorization, auditing, data encryption natively enforced without custom security coding.
9. Multi-Experience Support
Ability to generate and deploy apps to web, mobile, wearables, conversational, and other endpoints from same models.
10. Governance & Monitoring
Tools for managing large application portfolios across teams – user administration, configuration management, usage analytics.
These capabilities allow LCNC platforms to handle much of the complex plumbing work involved in delivering full-stack applications without extensive coding.
Key LCNC Platform Architectural Principles
Four key principles underlie the architectures of most LCNC platforms:
1. Model-Driven Design
Data models and component models drive automatic generation of application layers – UI, business logic, persistence, APIs, integration. Changes propagate throughout app by modifying models.
2. Declarative Configuration
App behavior is configured via parameters, rules, and conditions vs coding. Visual workflow steps encapsulate pre-built logic executed behind the scenes.
3. Modular Components
Standardized interfaces allow combining visual designers, reusable components, cloud services, data models. Enables extensibility and interchangeability.
4. Metadata-Driven Systems
Models, configurations, and definitions stored as metadata vs hand-written code. Enables dynamic generation and modification of app behavior without recoding.
Adherence to these principles allow LCNC platforms to abstract away much coding while enabling rapid iterations and extensions to applications with combinations of drag-and-drop, configuration, and modular services.
LCNC as Part of Application Development
While LCNC speeds delivery for many apps, hand-coding is still required in a number of cases:
- Custom experiences: For niche UIs not supported by LCNC libraries
- Specialty logic: Where pre-built components don’t meet unique logic needs
- Platform extensibility: Custom extensions on top of LCNC platforms
- Native capabilities: Apps needing deep native device/hardware integrations
- Advanced optimizations: Performance tuning, complex algorithms unavailable in LCNC
The choice depends on balancing productivity versus customization needs. LCNC enables rapid creation of crud functionality. Coding can be used judiciously where needed.
Organizations optimize outcomes by combining LCNC citizen development with professional coding skills where necessary – “fusion teams” of pro devs and business users. LCNC shifts focus of coders from repetitive plumbing to specialized programming.
LCNC Platform Evaluation Criteria
Choosing the right LCNC platform involves balancing many criteria:
- Ease of use: How intuitive are the interfaces for different user personas – developers, non-coders? Is training/ramp-up required?
- Integrated capabilities: Does it provide a wide set of baked-in services – UI, data, security, connectors? Or are many a la carte add-ons?
- Extensibility: Can the platform be extended with custom programming or open source libraries? What languages and integration protocols are supported?
- Cloud vs on-prem: Does the vendor provide a native SaaS/cloud option or needs hosting on own infra? Does it support hybrid deployments?
- Portability: How reusable are components across apps and iterations? Can apps be migrated to other LCNC platforms if needed?
- Governance & collaboration: Does the platform support app portfolio management, access control, and collaboration between multiple developers and teams?
- Deployment flexibility: Can the platform generate apps for web, mobile, desktop, and other endpoints?
- 3rd party ecosystem: What type of pre-built connectors, templates, UI widgets are available? Is there a marketplace for sharing apps and components?
- Pricing model: Is the platform licensed by named users, app instances, connectors, cloud usage? Is there tiering based on capabilities?
- Vendor profile: How long has the vendor been in this space? Are they financially stable with continuous innovation in the roadmap? What level of support is offered?
A thorough evaluation is recommended before committing to an LCNC platform to understand how it fits organizational requirements both initially and for future extensibility.
LCNC Adoption Challenges
While LCNC offers faster, lower-cost app delivery, realizing the full benefits involves addressing some common challenges:
- Skill development: Training staff on declarative paradigm needs different mindset than coding. Platform expertise takes time to cultivate.
- IT control: Increased autonomy for business users requires IT to adopt governance model to maintain security and compliance.
- Integration: Connecting LCNC apps to legacy systems can be challenging and needs upfront planning.
- Talent shortages: Expanding demand for LCNC skills exceeds supply as many developers still lack exposure.
- Unified data: Multiple LCNC apps can lead to data silos without common data models, semantics and repositories.
- Vendor dependence: Reliance on proprietary LCNC platforms causes lock-in. Lack of standardization hampers interoperability.
Addressing these aspects through thorough training, portfolio governance, reusable data services and prudent vendor selection enables realizing maximum ROI from LCNC investments.
LCNC Job Roles
LCNC has created new roles as well as changed skills required for existing roles:
Focus on configuring apps visually instead of writing custom code. Understand declarative paradigms, component reuse, process logic, connecting data sources.
Specialize in connecting LCNC apps to external systems and data sources leveraging APIs, messaging, connectors. Bridge legacy environments.
Full Stack Developer
Augment LCNC with custom extensions, scripts, components. Build shared services and data layers accessed by LCNC apps. Provide programming mentorship.
Business users trained on LCNC to build apps for departmental needs. Cross-train on multiple LCNC platforms.Deploy apps to end users.
Apply user experience design principles to LCNC app creation. Design attractive and consistent UI/UX with LCNC toolkits.
Govern LCNC platform usage through user management, access control, and resource optimization. Maintain compliance.
Establish architectural guardrails, integration patterns, and standards for LCNC adoption. Guide technology selection, roadmaps, and measures.
LCNC shifts app creation and maintenance left towards business users but IT still plays critical roles in platform expertise, governance, and complementary coding skills.
The Future of LCNC
LCNC is still in nascent stages of evolution with enormous potential still to be realized:
- Wider democratization beyond developers to “everyday makers”, similar to spreadsheets
- Convergence and consolidation of vendors towards integrated low-code/no-code platforms
- Incorporation of artificial intelligence to guide and assist application development
- Internet-scale, interconnected apps composed from modular building blocks
- Multi-experience apps that dynamically reshape across different devices and endpoints
- LCNC platforms expanding to IoT, AR/VR, robotics, industrial systems
- Growth of open source and standards to prevent platform lock-in
Gartner predicts that by 2025, 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will use LCNC or AI-assisted development platforms, up from less than 25% in 2020.
LCNC is set to fundamentally reshape application development, expanding innovation in solving business challenges. The future promises to be low-code/no-code for majority of apps, reserving custom coding for where it provides differentiated value. Exciting times ahead!