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OutSystems Updates Low-Code Platform for Enterprise Mobile Apps

OutSystems today announced an update to its namesake low-code development platform for creating cross-platform mobile and Web apps.

The company said OutSystems 10 features a completely redesigned underlying architecture for better performance on mobile devices, promising to cut in half the time normally required to create and deploy iOS or Android enterprise apps.

"With OutSystems, developers can quickly and easily build mobile apps," the company says on its site. "You can design the mobile user interface (UI), back-end logic, workflow, integration to legacy systems and cloud APIs all in one place. The applications are multichannel ready from day one. Plus, from one application design, you can deploy apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and the Web."

The low-code approach is designed to provide visual, drag-and-drop functionality to let ordinary business users or "citizen developers" meet the growing demand for enterprise apps in the face of a years-long mobile programming skills shortage.

The company made note of that enterprise demand in its announcement, citing Gartner Inc. research that states: "Through 2018, market demand for mobile apps will grow at least five times faster than the internal IT capacity to deliver those apps."

To help non-programmers meet that demand, the OutSystems platform leverages open source, cross-platform Apache Cordova technology (using JavaScript and CSS) combined with ready-to-go widgets, templates, gestures, animations, transitions and so on. For example, screens and widgets are generated as reusable React JavaScript components. The platform also features local storage with SQLite to boost offline functionality, asynchronous communication via REST APIs (so apps continue to function normally while server-side actions are performed), one-click deployment and more.

The OutSystems Platform
[Click on image for larger view.] The OutSystems Platform (source: OutSystems)

While the company's claim of providing "the first low-code application development platform with advanced capabilities for enterprise mobile applications" is a bold one in view of a crowded field (see article list below), the platform was recently featured as the leader among competing offerings reviewed by Forrester Research Inc.

"The vendor's strong performance in our analysis reflects its strong commitment enterprise customers and to low-code tooling for all aspects of application development, delivery and maintenance," Forrester said. "OutSystems Platform's greatest strengths are its broad features and tools for database and process applications, mobile and web user experiences, integration and collaboration." The research firm said OutSystems' greatest weakness "is its reliance on platform partners and/or customers to provide major cloud-security certifications (for example, SSAE 16 Type II, ISO 27001, FISMA, SOX, HIPAA, etc.), except for PCI."

OutSystems said its revamped platform provides the following capabilities:

  • Visually drag and drop all the components of mobile apps: UI, back-end integrations, business logic and more.
  • Build once, run anywhere, with a single code base that can be deployed on iOS and Android platforms.
  • Create high-performance user experiences with smooth, sub-80 millisecond response times. OutSystems 10 includes an extensive library of optimized, beautiful UX widgets and the ability to add custom code with pixel-perfect control.
  • Incorporate native device capabilities and sensors without writing any code: cameras, touch ID, motion and more. Drag-and-drop sensor functionality into models to create immersive user experiences.
  • Build sophisticated and secure offline experiences with on-device business logic without having to worry about the underlying plumbing. Support any offline scenario from simple offline data caching to the most complex offline data access and synchronization.
  • Simplify deployment with time-saving features: test apps instantly on any device, package apps for the app store with a single click, and update apps automatically over the network.
  • Reduce the backlog for mobile app development. Developers can go from zero to highly productive in just a few weeks.

"Our business faces intense pressure to deal with digital transformation, and mobile is a requirement," the company quoted customer Goncalo Vilhena at Randstad Portugal as saying. "The native and offline capabilities available with OutSystems 10 unleash power for building mobile apps in a controlled and integrated environment. In the past, we had mobile apps delivered with different technology stacks and this ends up creating a maintenance headache. Further, the expectations for consumer-grade UX in our business are rising. OutSystems 10 bundles fast delivery, sustainability, and maintainability into one package while giving us the power to build mobile apps with great UX."

OutSystems provides a free edition of its platform for one developer, along with a 30-day trial for the Enterprise edition, which requires a quote for normal pricing.

More Coverage of Low-Code Tools

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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