According to Gartner’s estimates, low-code application development will account for more than 65% of software development activity by 2024. It seems that the need for highly customizable yet easily manageable solutions has been steadily increasing over the past years.
For all the benefits of low-code platforms, there are certain limitations that stem from the target area of their application options. For example, there are low-code solutions tailored for web development, mobile development, business processes management, etc. In other words, there is no universal low-code software that would fit any business and any development task.
However, when choosing a platform for low-code development, one can consider several factors that are common for all areas. Today, we’ll look into the main features and requirements for low-code software and compare a few solutions available on the market.
Drag & Drop editors enabling simple creation of applications is at the core of the low-coding approach. Even business users with no technical background will be able to build workflows or entire apps with an intuitive and user-friendly GUI.
When choosing a low-code platform, it’s crucial to make sure that your employees are comfortable while working with it. Even though they all have visual builders, they might differ significantly in terms of available options, customizations, and ease of use. Some vendors offer free trials so that you can test-drive their solution and see if it suits you.
For example, platforms like Flowable or OptimaJet Workflow Engine for automating processes and building workflows have a visual editor enabling you to easily model, create and edit interactive workflows of any complexity.
There’s often a need to adapt low-code software to your business processes and users, so it’s important to find out if the chosen solution is customizable enough. At the very least, you should be able to extend or modify its functionality with the help of add-ons or plugins. Some vendors can apply necessary modifications at the request or, in some cases, even provide the source code.
For instance, OptimaJet Workflow Engine, a BPM low-code platform, offers customers its source code so that they can make necessary customizations to maximize productivity.
It’s also worth checking whether the low-code platform you’re considering adopting integrates well with all the software and data types used in your company. In case there are a number of technologies used by different departments or business units (for example, if both .NET and Java are used), it’s important to make sure that the platform can be integrated with all of them.
Some vendors offer in-built connectors to integrate with popular software tools; and most of them provide API interfaces as a more flexible integration opportunity. And while the former can be easily dealt with by an employee with no technical background, integrations via API will require some coding.
Working in low-code tools often requires granting users different access rights and permissions. This is especially crucial when used in large enterprise systems since access to specific data needs to be restricted. This is why, when choosing a low-code platform, data access rights are to be taken into account.
Depending on your situation, you might need a more or less complicated permissions hierarchy and level of flexibility. For example, some of your employees might need access to different parts of the system but with different rights (to view, edit, or delete). In this case, the platform should be able to provide flexible permissions settings.
Last but not least is the availability of technical support provided by vendors. When implementing comprehensive low-code solutions, the need for additional information or consultations often arises.
Without professional and timely customer support, you might find it difficult and inconvenient to use the platform. What’s more, constant communication with customers enables vendors to better understand users’ requirements and add demanded features as they launch updates. So, if you have an opportunity to check the work of customer support in advance, this would be another point in the decision-making process.
We have analyzed five popular low-code platforms aimed at business process automation:
Although the basic functionality of these platforms is more or less the same, you might find one of them more convenient and better fitting your business needs than the others. We’ve chosen platforms with a free trial period so that you can test drive them and make an informed choice. In the end, it doesn’t matter if you choose Camunda or Nintex, OptimaJet Workflow Engine, Nuxeo or Flowable — they can all provide you with the necessary tools for low-code development.