Low-Code vs. No-Code Development: The Accessible Age of App Creation

Zack Busch
Zack Busch  |  April 2, 2019

You want to make an app, but you don’t know much about writing code.

If this is the case, you have two choices to help you create your app: low-code development and no-code development.


Low-code vs. no-code development

When the digital age was getting off the ground, this would’ve been a much greater issue. But, thanks to rapid application development (RAD), hopeful app developers are no longer held back by having no or limited coding knowledge. Low-code and no-code strategies give app developers a quicker, easier road to making an app for their businesses.

What is low-code development?

Low-code development may require a little bit of coding knowledge, but don’t let that dissuade you.

If you want to develop in low-code, you’ll be using a low-code development platform, a type of visual integrated development environment (IDE). Low-code IDEs primarily employ visual components for assembling the application but also offer text editor components for modifying source code. The text editor is where you’ll need to take over with some prior code knowledge, since manipulating source code requires at least a basic understanding of what’s being changed.

What is no-code development?

No-code development is exactly what you expect.

No-code development is the pinnacle of graphically driven development. Through a visual IDE called a no-code development platform, users can drag and drop features straight into an application framework. There’s no need to worry about code libraries or writing code. These features are usable either immediately or with only minor, non-code specifications (e.g., an application server address).


Comparing low-code and no-code development

What we have here is like the old “squares and rectangles” situation in geometry. For the unfamiliar, all squares are rectangles. They have four sides, four right angles, and their opposite sides are of equal length. But, unlike other rectangles, squares have a specific property that sets them apart: all their sides are the same length. Because not all rectangles have sides of all the same length, not all rectangles are squares.

With that analogy, low-code and no-code platforms become easier to distinguish. All no-code development platforms are a type of low-code platform, since they drastically reduce the amount of code needed to produce an application. But, unlike other low-code platforms, no-code platforms require, well, no code to create a final product. So, not all low-code platforms are no-code.

Similarities between low-code and no-code development

What sets low-code and no-code platforms apart in the RAD (rapid application development) world is ease of use and speed of delivery — how quickly a company can develop and launch an application. Unlike other development platforms, low-code and no-code platforms are built for those with little to no development experience, meaning that even companies without in-house software developers can still create their own applications with ease. This is perfect for small and mid-size companies that may not have a formal development team but need their own app to be competitive.

A big factor in usability is that, as stated previously, low-code and no-code development is typically done in visual IDEs. They usually include templates and app skeletons to choose from, where users can then use selection menus or drag-and-drop functionality to add the features they need. Users simply choose what they want, make any brand adjustments they need, and launch the app. This simplicity improves speed of delivery.

Differences between low-code and no-code development

The difference between low-code and no-code isn’t subtle per se, but it’s easy enough to overlook that conflating low-code and no-code development is fairly common.

The difference is all about code access. Low-code lets users get into the source code and fiddle around, tweaking whatever they need to get the results they want. No-code development, in contrast, is exactly that: No coding is involved in development. No-code development doesn’t involve users getting into the nitty-gritty of the development experience, thus trading deeper customization for faster turnaround and easier user experience.

Depending on the development method, low-code and no-code tend to meet vastly different business needs. Hopping aboard the no-code train is ideal when users need to turn out a basic application in a short period of time. Applications built using no-code development aren’t supposed to involve heavy workloads or have extensive features. They’re the quick-and-dirty result of having to meet a basic need.

On the other hand, the low-code method can handle a greater, more diverse workload. Source code modification is a powerful ability, so don’t make the mistake of equating “rapid” with “limited.” Getting into the source code lets businesses better integrate the application with their other systems, as well as fine-tune the functionalities they want from the application. The result is a more extensive, all-encompassing application that can serve a wider range of needs.


Want to dabble in application development yourself? Check out these five free rapid application development tools and try it out!

Zack Busch
Author

Zack Busch

Zack is a Research Specialist who made the jump to the research realm after three years in IT support services. He studied mathematics, physics, and education at Truman State University. Zack enjoys video gaming, D&D, movies, TCGs, and spending time with his partner, dog, and two cats.