In late 2021, Gartner analyst Melind Govekar said in a presentation to the Gartner IT Symposium that he expects by 2025, most business applications will be developed in-house using low-code or no-code software. The low-code/no-code software movement is relatively recent and is increasing in acceptance, including for development of eLearning applications.
What is this movement? Low-code and no-code platforms support development of business applications without requiring developers to write code. One of the trends driving its acceptance was the change to a mobile workforce using mobile devices as they moved out of offices during and following the pandemic. Another reason for the rise in interest is the difficulty in finding enough coders with the knowledge and experience to develop custom applications to solve everyday problems.
Two types of platforms
As the name implies, there are two types of platforms within the movement. No-code platforms may support visual programming methods through templates and drag-and-drop interfaces. Low-code platforms also use visual programming, but in addition may provide support for textual coding or scripting.
Both low-code and no-code approaches offer simplicity, speed, and accessibility through their ease of use. Both types fall into the category of rapid development tools. They provide efficient development, although there are limitations to what can each can do. The latter disadvantage is offset by rapid prototyping and timely deployment.
Both types employ visual programming languages, in which the developer selects and manipulates program elements graphically rather than textually. Solutions can be developed and tested very quickly. Some visual programming languages use boxes and arrows, in which arrows, lines, and arcs represent relations between entities, represented by boxes. (In selecting a programming language, recognize that the name of the language may be misleading: Visual Basic, Visual C#, and others are textual rather than graphical.) Both low-code and no-code platforms are cloud-based tools and the applications they build run in browsers (there are exceptions to this).
What are the differences between low-code and no-code approaches?
There are important differences between low-code platforms and no-code platforms. Low-code approaches are more suited for developers with some programming skills and knowledge. No-code works for those developers without programming experience.
No-code works well if the application to be built is one that could use a drag-and-drop user interface. Some low-code applications develop voice interfaces. If the application needs to integrate with other apps and external APIs or connect to multiple data sources, low-code supports those requirements, whereas no-code does not.
There are fewer issues with applications developed with low-code approaches. Low-code requires more onboarding but it is still faster than traditional development approaches.
No-code has less extensibility and offers limited potential in connecting to legacy systems or integrating with other platforms. No-code platforms are normally closed systems. It is more difficult to maintain applications built on a no-code platform. Use cases for no-code are fewer in number, as is also true concerning access to boilerplate plugins and integrations, but it’s easier to ensure backward compatibility because there is no manually written code that could break future versions.
Because no-code requires little or no involvement from IT teams during development, it could lead to a problem with “shadow IT”: a parallel infrastructure that’s not closely monitored by IT, leading to security vulnerabilities and associated costs.
What are some of the low-code and no-code platforms available?
BUNDLAR is a no-code application for developing augmented reality (AR) eLearning applications. The difficulty of developing AR has been one of the biggest barriers to its adoption, so BUNDLAR has found ready adoption in a variety of settings where no-code is ideal.
Bubble is a visual programming language intended to provide a no-code environment that makes hand-coding obsolete. Uses of Bubble are not limited to eLearning.
isEazy Author offers three levels of low-code options and customizations for creating courses.
Webflow is a no-code platform intended to facilitate website creation for course and coaching launches.
Glide Apps is a no-code platform for producing mobile apps, including courses, using a visual editor.
Landbot.io is a no-code platform for building web and mobile chatbots for performance support.
Voiceflow is a no-code platform for building conversational assistants, using drag-and-drop design and pre-built code.