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When should app developers choose no-code platforms?

No-code platforms have a place in app development, but knowing how and when to use them is key. An expert looks at features that make them a good choice for many app dev projects.

Enterprises are often burdened by their portfolio of complex, legacy applications that are hard to change and harder...

to keep using. The best chance organizations have of deriving value from these applications is by integrating them with other applications that are more modern and moving away some of the critical workload to more capable tools that are built for the job. That's where no-code platforms can help.

No-code approaches provide a plug-and-play platform-as-a-service platform for building a custom app in a short amount of time. Some of the leading no-code platforms are Zudy Vinyl, Nintex Workflow, Quick Base and FileMaker. Let's look at the features that make no-code platforms a good choice for many app development projects.

Bottlenecks in the enterprise

Some modern enterprise applications are vendor-provided third-party tools, and some need to be custom-built in-house. However, building custom apps in-house comes with its own challenges. Each team and developer is comfortable with a certain programming language and method of building apps, and it's hard to build in consistency. Getting approvals and input from various teams takes time, as stakeholders can be located across the globe and may have competing agendas that hold them back. Finally, even if the custom app is built, keeping it running is another challenge altogether. As issues are noticed, they need to be fixed by teams working in coordination. The app needs to evolve with the changing needs of the organization and other applications around it. All this takes a lot of time and slows down progress in the enterprise.

Speed of innovation

The biggest advantage of no-code platforms is the speed they enable. Because all the components required to build the app are pre-built into the platform, all you need to do is select which ones you'd like to leverage and connect them to build your app. Additionally, because IT only needs to do initial sign-off and implementation and business users or citizen developers can build their own apps from there on, the time it takes to build apps is cut down from weeks to hours. No more cross-team conflicts. A single user or a closed group of users can go from idea to app in no time.

Cross-platform compatibility

Another major advantage of apps built with no-code platforms is that they are cross-platform-compatible by default. The platforms take care of rendering the apps on mobile devices, web browsers and your internal platforms equally well. What would otherwise take you long hours of QA testing and multiple platform-specific tools is offloaded onto the vendor platform.

Empowered decision-making

Perhaps the biggest advantage of no-code platforms is that they empower a wider group of users to create applications. This brings decision-making down to the lower levels of the corporate hierarchy and empowers every user -- whether technical or nontechnical -- to be able to build apps in a self-serve model. This means business challenges are solved faster as more people are empowered to make decisions.

Customization can be a concern

One possible drawback of no-code platforms is that they can be restrictive by not allowing certain functionality out of the box. This is where you need a thorough audit to ensure the no-code platform you choose can offer the exact features you need, work with the technologies you use and be flexible enough to fit your evolving needs in the future.

No-code platforms have a permanent place in the enterprise application ecosystem, but knowing how and when to use them is the key.

Next Steps

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This was last published in October 2017

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