Dispelling low-code myth #1 – just not ‘cutting it’ at enterprise level

18 August 2020 | 2275 Shares

If you are reading this article, you’re probably evaluating low-code application development tools and methodologies.

Half a dozen or so objections from a variety of places often arise as to why low-code might not suit your organization. Whether from developers, DevOps teams, business unit decision-makers, or C-suite professionals, said objections can be summed up into a single sentiment: low-code platforms can’t create serious applications, that is, software that is enterprise grade.

The current low-code area boasts several vendors whose products have gained traction above the others, or have evolved and transformed the space. Whichever, the latest generation of low-code platforms are easily capable of making enterprise-grade mobile or desktop applications, are cloud-native, and integrate via standard APIs with in-house or third-party hosts. In short, apps that come from, thrive in and are designed for enterprise use.

Some of the leading low-code platforms make the dubious claim to make anyone—even the most technologically illiterate among us—into “citizen developers”. The platforms we’ll be featuring in this series most definitely do not fall into that camp. It’s time to dispel some of the low-code preconceptions and address the typical low-code objections that arise during the evaluation process.

Visual LANSA

Most companies and organizations developing applications and services for internal and customer-facing purposes know that it’s a pretty resource-intensive process. Getting new software into production quickly is what the LANSA environment is all about. To achieve that, the platform supplies a great deal of the heavy lifting that development teams have always had to do manually. Developers rarely have to leave the IDE (integrated development environment) to take a new application from concept and backend staging to full production. In this, Visual LANSA is low-code, but low-code for developers, not low-code—simplistic code—for John Doe, the HR intern.

The low-code development environment gives the organization an ability which it may not have had to the same extent — the ability to refocus and pivot quickly, move into new areas and virgin markets, and get solutions across to end-users without delay. Backlogs of application requests get cleared more quickly, and the IT function in general is a more valuable strategic asset, capable of getting products out there up to ten times faster.

That type of responsiveness to market demand has always been, of course, achievable by opening up the purse strings and hiring new bodies by the truckload. Throwing enough money at a problem usually solves it, but unfortunately, even in the largest enterprises these days, that’s no longer a solution.

Instead, the LANSA solution allows existing DevOps and developer staff to work right across the full stack, from server and databases, application code and libraries, API calls, management, and presentation layers.

That type of multi-layered ability in low-code environments has always been a doubt among skeptics of the entire low-code concept. It’s understandable: start using the phrase “low” in low-code, and it stands to reason that a platform built for that purpose can’t be eminently approachable by a novice and render out enterprise-grade code. But the LANSA IDE requires skilled developers, with the knowledge of the IT stack that makes them valuable to the organization, and expensive to hire. The LANSA difference is that rather than have to learn new languages, libraries, get acquainted with different query languages or absorb unfamiliar, specialist methods (like the “dark arts” of iOS and Android app development, for example), LANSA abstracts those technologies away from the development teams.

With comparatively very little work (a term we use advisably), an application can be created that integrates with the existing IT stack, with third-party systems via APIs, with internal and existing services, and runs safely, quickly, and with an attractive GUI.

The LANSA stack compiles applications ready for mobile or (Windows) desktop app, or can be presented as a web application, hosted in-house or on common cloud platforms. Having a single code base for what are multiple presentations to end-users creates further savings down the line over an application’s life: bug fixes apply to every platform, and there’s no drift in versions between different, discrete sets of code (Customer Care teams will find themselves with many fewer tickets from this aspect alone of the LANSA stack).

Applications iterate quickly and reach production fast, plus they behave and look good, too. Users in the business or customers tap an icon on their tablet or smartphone, navigate to a web URL, or start a desktop application. The difference LANSA brings is in the time it took for the app to get there, nothing else!

At an infrastructure level, there are several options open to LANSA-using enterprises, too. IBM’s i-Series and AS/400 platforms can host, as can Windows Server and, of course, Linux. That means apps and services can be ported quickly as and when IT strategy might change, with little disruption to end-users. If those end-users are customers, the overall experience remains unchanged irrespective of platform change. Thanks to the centralized control of development policies, all applications will adhere to branding guidelines and be built according to Google’s material design guidelines. Company-wide rules about data governance are obeyed, as are the subliminal “rules” of GUI use that end-users are so familiar with these days.

Developers will love how the IDE gives them access to every aspect of application development as they create database instances, custom queries, advanced logic flows, and subroutines, all from an interface that guides and steers. There are thousands of code examples, templates, shared libraries, and more, to make the entire production process simpler. But (and it is a big “but”) the results need not be simple — other than in what an end-user sees. The Visual LANSA platform creates high-end, sophisticated, and enterprise-grade applications that can change how and what a company publishes.

To find out more, and see how your development teams can be placed into permanent turbo-drive, visit the LANSA homepage. And, watch these pages for another article appearing in September to coincide with the release of Visual LANSA 15.1, which promises to be more than a point upgrade for this low-code game-changer.