Main low-code tools: an overview
What is low-code?
A low-code development platform is a platform for software and application development that requires minimal hand-coding and offers visual development tools. On low-code platforms, apps and processes are created by dragging and dropping simple graphical elements. This approach is quite easy to understand to almost any user.
Low-code tools significantly shorten the path from a business demand to a ready-to-use solution, as programming skills are not necessary. It is also possible to easily scale business processes, alter their logic, and customize the system according to the company’s individual needs.
Thanks to visual modeling tools, a low-code platform allows users to create and configure various apps that will cover different types of tasks, from automated data processing to integrations with external systems. With the best low-code platforms, the process of app creation will be intuitive and won’t require any formal knowledge of coding.
Difference between low-code and no-code
What is low-code and what is no-code? Both types of platforms have a basic toolkit and a visual editor, allowing business users to create apps without programmers. These platforms are an alternative to traditional development and allow companies to deploy business processes rapidly and easily. The main goal of low-code and no-code approaches is to reduce the entry threshold for creating and altering data systems, so that advanced users could do more on their own.
While low-code development involves adaptation of pre-configured solutions in a visual editor with some simple scripts, no-code development allows a user to create new solutions from scratch without programming at all. This means that no-code tools are intended for regular users with no knowledge of coding, while low-code tools sometimes require a little help from programmers.
When it comes to low-code vs. no-code, it should be noted that low-code platforms offer more space to realize ideas and more tools to create scalable and agile architectures. The core functions of low-code platforms let users easily modify solutions using simple scripts with no need of professional coding skills.
Main advantages of a low-code application platform:
- Speed. Using pre-configured solutions and creating apps via mouse controls, simply by dragging and dropping visual elements, helps to set up a system much faster.
- Reducing development costs. Clear flowcharts and data models enable creating full-fledged apps fast and without programmers.
- Agility. Low-code app development platforms allow users to easily modify processes and reconfigure the system when necessary.
- Effortless configuration. The interface is quite intuitive, and users easily figure out how to use the visual tools that the platform provides to make low-code apps.
- Cross-platform functionality. A user can create a custom app that will work on any OS and any device.
But what is low-code development and what is a low-code platform?
An overview of the main low-code tools (on the example of ELMA365)
Business process designer
Let’s first see what business processes are. A business process is a sequence of interconnected actions that is regularly repeated and aimed at creating a product or service for end-users. Notably, the end-users can be both external and internal customers.
Every company has rules and regulations that are meant to streamline work across departments. They are usually hard to understand for new hires and often give headaches to experienced employees. All of this takes a toll on the company’s performance. To handle this issue, a company needs to automate business processes, making them clear and transparent.
A business process designer allows creating and editing business process templates in a visual development environment using drag-and-drop. No wonder companies use top low-code platforms. With low-code, even a business user with no coding skills can model the right stages in a business process and define the way different departments can work together to achieve better results.
The business process designer visualizes processes as flowcharts. Actions are represented as boxes, and transitions from one activity to another are represented as lines connecting the boxes. All participants are shown as rectangles, or swimlanes, so events and tasks that each participant is responsible for are placed in the corresponding swimlane. As a result, all the company’s operations are seen as a series of interconnected business processes, which helps to find the best ways to optimize the company in order to achieve maximum efficiency.
Later, a user can edit and improve processes just as easily. The processes are transparent, so it’s easy to see when something needs to be reworked and what exactly has to be changed.
Even though professional development and coding skills are not needed in order to create business processes using a low-code platform, a user needs to have basic training and know how to assign tasks, build algorithms, and test software.
In the interface designer, a user can set up custom interfaces using widgets.
A widget is an interface element that provides certain features that serve a specific purpose. This purpose can be file upload, message display, etc.
The final version of the interface is created by combining different widgets. This allows setting up any interfaces that might be required to meet the individual needs of a company. A created combination of widgets can be saved and reused on other pages and forms.
Another interface element is a page. It’s a structure where widgets are placed. Pages will help users to interact with the system: to run processes, search for data, and perform other activities to do their job.
Modern business calls for a new approach to interface content. Not only should an interface be visually appealing and user-friendly, but it should comprise a large amount of data on one screen. The interface designer has a whole range of components for visual representation of data.
A form is what an app item looks like. It should make interactions with the app convenient and provide all the necessary tips and buttons for people who will use it. While building a form, a business user also defines what information will appear on the app item’s view forms, what data a user will need to enter, which fields are editable, etc.
Low code application development allows business users to set up forms on their own using pre-configured solutions. If it’s not enough, they can enable the advanced mode to fine-tune the form using widgets: they can place the fields in the right order, change the way they look, specify the required fields, and create their own form templates.
A form can include any number of fields with any properties placed in any order. Forms are also set up using drag-and-drop (by dragging the needed elements from the side panel).
Creating custom interface design is essential for analysts and other business users who set up the system. As they configure everything on their own without the help of other professionals, it is crucial that they have enough resources to configure all the properties and features on the form.
A table is a type of field that can be added to a form in order to arrange data in rows and columns, change the way they are displayed, or add a calculation formula.
ELMA365 provides tools that help to create tables and their attributes easily and without coding, resize them, add different connections and links to other tables, etc.
A user can draw a whole table or separate columns. The main settings of a table are width, numbering, row grouping, and methods of sorting. For each column, a user can configure its width, visibility, form, whether it’s required, and who can edit it.
ELMA365 provides tools to build APIs, which allows integrations with external systems.
To set up an integration, a user needs to specify the information source, choose the type of request and the required data. Then the user needs to run the configured script, and the query designer will generate a URL with the required parameters.
All APIs are set up using the HTTPS protocol, by executing POST requests. Requests are authorized using tokens that are created for specific users and allow these users to request data from any system. API permissions are also configured using tokens.
Creating solutions using ELMA365
The platform allows building not only low-code applications but also solutions that cover a wide range of tasks. Numerous features allow to expand on the system’s capabilities effortlessly and create solutions to automate the activities of any industry. This approach results in a more comprehensive outcome.
A low-code platform helps a company to quickly adapt the work to changing market conditions while maintaining the competitive advantages. To ensure high-quality automation, a company needs to take the special features of niche businesses into account, and low-code tools provide the needed flexibility.
Different ready-to-use solutions can be imported into the system from the ELMA365 Store or as .e365 files from other sources. When an imported solution includes a custom workspace, all apps, pages, separators, links, and business processes are imported with it. If an imported solution includes references to system workspaces, only fields and apps added by the user who created the solution will be exported.
A created solution can also be exported from your system. This feature is used to transfer a solution from one system to another or to upload it into the ELMA365 Store catalog.
Pre-configured modules add to the system’s primary functions, improving its capabilities and adapting it to the company’s specific needs. These modules can include IP telephony, messengers, software robots, etc. They can be easily exported to files and transferred from one company to another. The system administrator can enable or disable the added modules at any time.
Low-code and no-code tools have become a large step in the evolution of IT. Many companies on the market choose platforms that allow achieving a whole range of business targets instead of just one. A low-code app builder is a perfect fit, as it allows creating apps quickly and without coding but also makes it possible to involve programmers to create complex architecture if a specific business process requires it.
Any business should at least try a free low-code platform, as low-code helps business and IT to make apps together in order to create up-to-date solutions. Pre-configured modules and user-friendly interfaces help them understand each other easier. As a result, programmers can focus on the most important and complex tasks without wasting time on simple processes.