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Low code: Developing software simply

Software development is constantly changing and regularly produces new technologies that are intended to speed up the development process. One example of this is low-code platforms, which claim to represent the next significant step in the evolution of programming languages. However, the question arises as to whether this world is just as powerful as its predecessors.

What is low-code?

Low-code platforms have the declared aim of creating applications with minimal code effort. This is achieved by representing the underlying logic visually instead of textually. This creates a low-syntax environment that enables even non-domain experts to describe complex algorithms.


However, an application not only consists of the underlying logic, but also requires a user interface (UI). Visual representation, which has already been successfully implemented in frameworks such as WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), is particularly useful here. In contrast to WPF, however, this is not done by editing XML files. Instead, a drag-and-drop system is used to place UI elements, which can then be designed with the help of CSS.



Strengths and weaknesses  

The outstanding strength lies in the aforementioned applicability for laypersons. This enables a designer, for example, to actively participate in the development process by being able to link their designed user interface directly to uncomplicated logic. A simple example of this would be menu navigation, where each button navigates to different pages.

Nevertheless, the weaknesses outweigh the advantages, as despite the user-friendliness for non-experts, a considerable part of the possible complexity is lost to the experienced developer. It has been shown that a visual approach is unsuitable for extensive, especially technically complex systems, as these rely on recognizing possible connections and patterns in order to develop a stable architecture. This is not possible or only possible to a limited extent with low-code platforms, which can lead to systems that are difficult to maintain.


To summarize, we believe that low-code in its current form is not suitable for the development of customer-specific software. The considerable license costs in conjunction with the limited application possibilities put it well behind established languages such as C# or Java, which have reached the necessary maturity and applicability over the years. However, one possible area of application is the development of in-house software. This allows license costs to be minimized, while at the same time the software is often comparatively simply structured and can therefore also be implemented with low-code platforms.

If you would like to find out more about the possible applications and functions of low-code platforms, please contact our team of experts.

About the author

Robin Glatz is a student in the Department of Computer Science at Furtwangen University, where he specializes in the field of software engineering. During his internship semester at M&M, he worked intensively with low-code platforms to investigate how they can be used effectively in software development.  

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