3 Recommended Low-Code Tools for App Development – The New Stack

Let’s face it, the majority of users around the world are now mobile first. For example, by the end of the first quarter of 2021, 54.8% of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices (excluding tablets). What does this translate to? If you don’t plan to add a mobile app, whether native or web-based, you run the risk of losing a large audience. This is especially true as more and more people are abandoning the traditional desktop/laptop device and opting to use only a smartphone.

So what are you doing? If you have an in-house development team, you task them with designing and developing your company’s first mobile app or Progressive Web App (PWA). If you don’t have a competent development team, what are your options? You can always outsource your app development. If that’s not an attractive option, there’s always the low-code route.

Low-Code and Application Development

Low-code is exactly what it sounds like: an approach that simplifies the software development process using drag-and-drop tools with a user-friendly graphical interface. What’s important to understand is that low-code doesn’t mean the process is 100% drag-and-drop. You still need to have some understanding of how applications work. First and foremost, you need to know how your app uses data and how that data is stored and passed to the app. In other words, you will need to be able to create (or upload) a “database” to store your application data. The good news is that most low-code services simplify this process, using simple forms.

The real challenge (and, for the most part, the only one) with low-code lies in the planning and mapping of the application. You can’t just dive in and start dragging and dropping your way to an app. You need to have an idea of ​​how the app will work, how the app will accept user input, how the app is presented, and how the app will interact with data.

However, you won’t have to write a single function, call, or code comment. And some low-code solutions even let you choose from a base template (like a scheduling app) to use as the basis for what you want to create. In the end, you can save a lot of time and money by going this route.

That said, let’s look at three popular low-code services that make it easy for your business to build and deploy an app for customers and consumers.

1. Appian

Appian allows you to create an engaging and consistent user experience across web and mobile platforms. With Appian, you can quickly build and deploy your apps (accelerating the software lifecycle by up to 17x and reducing costs by up to 50%, according to the company) and even collaborate on the app with different teams within your company. The apps you build with Appian will look consistent no matter what device or platform they’re used on.

The Appian low-code solution offers features such as:

  • Simple to use user interface.
  • Real-time alerts for best practices and at-risk design patterns.
  • Integrate complex business rules, data, scheduling and automation.
  • Integrate third-party services with predefined standard connectors.
  • Low-code expression languages ​​allow you to customize your application beyond GUI tools.
  • Collaboration tools, such as document comparison, shared package linking, and group security.

Advantages and disadvantages of Appian

One of the biggest benefits of Appian is that the company goes out of its way to guide you through the build process. Not only do you get instant feedback on your app, but the development is split into separate processes to make it even easier. Going this route, you can separate things like database creation and user experience into different teams, so you don’t have to worry about assigning a task to a team without the necessary skills. Appian also includes built-in tools for collaboration and task management.

So far, Appian may seem like the perfect solution. However, there are a few knocks against the serve. First of all, Appian does not include performance monitoring tools. Therefore, if the ability to monitor the health of your application after deployment is a necessity for your business, this could be a problem. Second (and this could be a real problem for those looking to deploy on Android), Appian’s third-party Java library API support is less than ideal. If you are looking for an API integration that involves multiple security models, such as an API token/key (OAUTH), you may run into issues with Appian.

2. Mendix

the Mendix The low-code solution is used by New Balance, Zurich, Canada Post, CHUBB, Ingersoll Rand, ConocoPhillips and more than 4000 companies worldwide. What sets Mendix apart from some competitors is that the platform is focused on enterprise development, for things like online portals, automated workflows, digitized processes, and modernization of legacy systems. .

With Mendix, you can choose between a no-code WYSIWYG IDE (Mendix Studio) or a low-code IDE (Studio Pro). So if your collaboration team is made up of both developers and non-developers, there is a tool that should satisfy both camps. Other Mendix features include:

  • Atlas UI Framework for responsive designs.
  • Third-party APIs to extend the functionality of your application.
  • Use one of over 400 building blocks in the curated library.
  • Get help along the way with Mendix Assist AI development assistant.
  • Cloud-native scaling.
  • One-click deployment.
  • Application lifecycle management.
  • Application performance and quality monitoring.

Advantages and disadvantages of Mendix

Mendix allows you to create, view and modify your applications from the comfort of your desktop. But more importantly, Mendix frequently releases platform updates, along with new features and better (smarter) solutions. So if you’re looking for a low-code platform that keeps up with the ever-changing mobile app landscape, Mendix is ​​a great option. And because Mendix performs automatic validation as you build, you can develop and deploy faster, with fewer technical errors.

A downside against Mendix is ​​that due to the overwhelming amount of third-party add-ons supported, you may find that some of these add-ons are not very well documented. So the more you dig into the curated library, the more work you might have to do. However, Mendix has a very active activity Community forumso help is never far away.

3. Quick Base

Quick base is used by companies like Sprint, UBM, SiriusXM and Columbia and is ideal for teams looking to solve bottlenecks in their pipelines and achieve higher levels of productivity. With a beautiful drag-and-drop builder, even those with little or no development experience can automate complex processes with the click of a mouse.

The QuickBase user interface also lets you preview different configurations for your application so you can find the ultimate solution for your business needs.

When it comes to data, QuickBase makes it easy for your teams to download a spreadsheet or even copy and paste it from a desktop clipboard. Once this data is uploaded, you can begin the building process to intuitively create the application your business has been waiting for.

Other features found in QuickBase include:

  • Integration and orchestration of workflows with QuickBase Pipelines.
  • Continuous deployment lets you deploy changes in real time without any downtime.
  • Application Lifecycle Management Sandbox allows adjusting, transforming and modifying a schema without having to disconnect your application.
  • Real-time personalized insights provide visibility across your entire organization.
  • Enterprise-grade security and governance (including SOC1/SOC2, HIPAA, EU-US Privacy Sheild, and DFARS).
  • Roles and Permissions.
  • Audit logs.
  • IP and SSO filtering.
  • 2-factor authentication.

Advantages and disadvantages of QuickBase

The biggest advantage of QuickBase is its customization, which means it will bend to your business needs, instead of dictating how you work with the platform. Plus, since QuickBase is one of the biggest companies on the list and offers enterprise-level plans (with associated costs), the support is second to none. When you or your team have a problem, you’ll find that QuickBase support is very quick to resolve your issues. Based on the user reviews and comments I’ve read, it’s also clear that QuickBase users consider the fast response time for support questions a big plus. There is also a lot of material (white papers, webinars, e-books, case studies) in their database to get you going.

However, you might find that QuickBase isn’t the most intuitive on the list. Individual models can be a challenge, so it’s kind of a one-size-fits-all approach to low-code development.

Conclusion

There’s no end to the low-code development solutions available to help your business easily build your first mobile or web app. Any of these three would be a great starting point for your low-code journey. Just make sure before you start that you have a viable plan for your app, so you don’t jump into the process without some level of understanding of what your business needs from that app.

If you asked me which of these three solutions is best suited for your business, I would summarize it as follows:

  • If you need a low-code solution that caters to those with absolutely no coding skills and walks you through the process, Appian is your best bet.
  • If you’re looking for a low-code solution that offers a steady stream of new features, serious third-party integration, and some of the best app development advice in the industry, Mendix is ​​your tool.
  • If you prefer a seriously customizable tool, with tons of support material and a staff that responds quickly to your issues, QuickBase is an exceptional choice.

The good news is that if one of these options fits your budget, you’ll likely find it a great choice. But if I had to pick just one, I’d go with Mendix because it offers the best balance of features, ease of use, and support.

The New Stack is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners, an investor in the following companies mentioned in this article: Real.


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