What is Low Code? What is No Code? A Primer with Low Code Examples

What is Low Code? What is No Code? A Primer with Low Code Examples

By Flux7 Labs
October 11, 2019

Much has been written about the rise of citizen developers (anyone outside of IT who builds business applications) as empowered by a new slate of Low Code platforms. According to a recent survey by Information Today, 76% reported that at least some portion of their applications were developed outside of IT. Addressing a persistent lack of developer resources, Low Code gives business units the ability to create applications with fewer handoffs that allows faster time to production. Low Code platforms enable these benefits by providing citizen developers with reusable drag and drop components and flowcharts for business logic that allow them to easily create applications that meet specific business and/or customer requirements.

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Low Code vs. No Code

In a recent video blog, Never Say Or Write The Phrase “Low-Code/No-Code” Again — Here’s Why, John Rymer of Forrester Research implores us to clearly define Low Code and No Code solutions. While offering a similar benefit — allowing business units to develop their own business applications — Low Code and No Code are not interchangeable. In fact, according to Mr. Rymer, a No Code outcome “hardly ever happens”. All this begs the question, how are Low Code and No Code solutions defined and what is the difference, really?

    • Low Code is an application development approach supported by software that presents users with a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to create an application, rather than a traditional programming tool. Note that Low Code solutions may still require coding, most often on the backend, to ensure the created application is compatible with other business systems.For example, at Flux7, we have a low-code solution in our statement of work estimation tool. The solution was created with a mere 20 lines of code — but does rely on some code. In addition, our assessment platform has about 250 lines of code, with the vast majority of the offering developed through a low code solution. Low Code has enabled us to quickly hit the ground running with tools that facilitates a significant portion of our client assessments and statements of work.
    • No Code is also an application development approach supported by a GUI-based software platform. Sometimes defined as a specialized form of Low Code platform that features industry or line of business-specific functions, Rymer’s Forrester points out that the real difference is aspirational. No Code is an outcome that is achieved rather than a solution that you purchase.

As we see it, the trend to Low Code and the aspiration to No Code disrupts an important knee-jerk reaction to write code in the first place. For example, Flux7 has a proprietary platform that many in the company wanted to code and turn into a Web application; the instinct was to turn it into code. However, as a team, we realized that once that code exists, it needs to be maintained. All too often a developer gets excited about a project, writes code for it and finds that maintaining the code moves down their crowded to-do list to quickly become neglected. At Flux7 we use Low Code to help avoid this cycle.

Low Code Examples

At Flux7, we use Low Code platforms to support our mission to experiment more, fail fast, and measure accurately. Using this mission as a framework, let’s explore a few Low Code examples in action here at Flux7.

Experiment More

Low Code expands our capacity to experiment as more people are able to participate in the process. Whereas coding limits the number of teammates who can develop an experimental application, Low Code expands the number of departments within the company who are now able to create experimental solutions. For example, prior to Low Code, if marketing had an idea for a trial customer-facing application, they would take the idea to engineering, describe the requirements and wait as the team turned their ideas into code. There would likely be several back-and-forths as the two teams worked to ensure the business requirements were met and then the trial would be launched.

With Low Code, the middleware and coding are behind the scenes (abstracted from the user), allowing non-coders in the marketing team to use a GUI to create the customer application. This eradicates the back and forth with engineering as marketing has a clear idea of its business requirements and is able to deliver on them directly as they build the application. With fewer hand-offs and little to no time spent waiting in the engineering queue, the application is able to get to market faster and the next experiment can begin!

In fact, our marketing team has created many No Code workflows and dashboards that are completely automated. Using Zapier, an online automation tool, marketing has created workflows that do things like send a Slack notification to relevant parties when someone submits a “Contact Us” form on the website.

Fail Fast

The experimentation process allows us to test more ideas faster and thus fail fast. While some ideas are clear winners, we often have a few failures on our way there. As we involve more people in the process of experimenting and failing fast, we find that we have fewer sunk investment costs which allows us to much more quickly toss those experiments that fail. While we learn from what failed, it drives us to our next round of experimentation faster, which is at the root of innovation.

For example, we recently added to www.flux7.com the ability to chat with a teammate. With just a few clicks in a Low Code tool, the marketing team was able to test if visitors would engage with the new technology. In just a few days (vs. months if we had to code it), the marketing team was able to determine that indeed customers were engaging with the new click-to-chat functionality.

Measure Accurately

Low Code solutions allow us to measure more accurately. At Flux7, we like to think of the transition to test and failure/test and success as a move away from conviction-based to data-oriented decision making. Data scales; conviction does not. Using tight feedback loops, we are able to hyper-optimize our tests, creating features, products, and services that don’t just meet the mark but hit the bulls-eye.

For example, our Operations team uses Fathom, a dashboard tool for finance. It integrates with our accounting system and has readymade reports that allows the Operations team to click and choose the timeframes they want to compare, see trends and patterns. Without any coding, the Operations team is able to create reports that allow them to accurately measure against specific targets and continuously compare against them.

Another great No Code example at Flux7 is our HubSpot reporting which allows us to accurately measure sales and marketing activities across the customer journey. Previously the team created its own dashboards by writing scripts and Google queries using Google spreadsheets. However, the team has been able to leverage Low Code drag-and-drop reports in Hubspot without writing scripts or using a separate Google sheet to export the data out from Hubspot. What once was added work has turned out to be a No Code outcome, with a robust reporting tool that has very effectively increased visibility across teams and now serves as a single point of truth for data and reporting. In addition to greater measurement, we’ve increased our transparency, and have a solution that anyone in the company can use with very little training.

Low Code has many corporate advantages. At Flux7 it has enabled us to create a virtuous cycle where we can experiment more, fail fast, measure accurately and put these learnings back to work in the form of additional experimentation. This approach has decreased the number of handoffs necessary to complete tasks while simultaneously increasing our transparency and improving our feedback loops. Not coincidentally, breaking down silos like this is key to successful DevOps and when taken together give us more time to focus on strategic, customer-impacting work.

Interested in joining a team that aspires to experiment more, fail fast and measure accurately? Come join us as we seek to push the envelope on the next phase of technology automation.

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Written by Flux7 Labs

Flux7 is the only Sherpa on the DevOps journey that assesses, designs, and teaches while implementing a holistic solution for its enterprise customers, thus giving its clients the skills needed to manage and expand on the technology moving forward. Not a reseller or an MSP, Flux7 recommendations are 100% focused on customer requirements and creating the most efficient infrastructure possible that automates operations, streamlines and enhances development, and supports specific business goals.