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Report: Low-Code Tools Increasingly Support ... Coding

The low-code dev tooling space -- helping "ordinary business users" crank out apps to meet growing demand amid a shortage of trained developers -- is evolving to support ... more coding, of all things.

Thus analysts at Forrester Research are examining low-code platforms for application development and delivery (AD&D) pros that the firm says are expanding enterprise value with high adoption rates. The firm's prior research of global developers revealed 23 percent reported using low-code platforms in 2018, while another 22 percent planned to use them within a year.

"Digital businesses' demand for ever more software ever more quickly is the big driver of adoption. But our assessment of 13 leading platforms also reveals vendors removing previous limitations on low-code adoption -- even by supporting coding," said the new "Forrester Wave: Low-Code Development Platforms For AD&D Professionals, Q1 2019" report.

The research firm said vendors are removing barriers to adoption of low-code platforms by:

  • Providing solid features for common use cases; differentiated vendors add depth.
  • Automating governance and production management.
  • Powering projects with integral coding, as well as business expert participation.

Speaking of the latter item, Forrester said: "Some vendors allow developers to work in either code or declarative tools -- their choice. Embedded integrated development environments and code editors free developers to build features outside of the low-code platform's framework but manage that code within projects. 'Code behind' approaches allow developers to swap back and forth between graphical and coding views of their apps."

The Forrester Wave: Low-Code Development Platforms For AD&D Professionals, Q1 2019
[Click on image for larger view.] The Forrester Wave: Low-Code Development Platforms For AD&D Professionals, Q1 2019 (source: Forrester Research)

In evaluating 13 vendors in the low-code-for-pros space, Forrester identified five as Leaders: Microsoft, OutSystems, Mendix, Kony and Salesforce. In the Strong Performers category were ServiceNow, GeneXus and Progress Software. In the Contenders category were WaveMaker, MatsSoft and Thinkwise. In the Challengers category were Skuid and Clear Software.

The report says each of these vendors:

  • Offers a comprehensive declarative development approach.
  • Designs its product/services to serve the needs and preferences of AD&D pros.
  • Provides a low-cost-of-entry commercial model.
  • Supports building many business use cases.
  • Primarily targets large enterprises.

With all vendors supplying all those features, Forrester said features for digital-business use cases set the leaders apart from the others. "Development services for basic Web and mobile applications, including standards for integration, basic data management and mapping, workflow, development process support, and application and identity administration, are table stakes," the report summarized. "The leading vendors have also moved into business process automation, real-time applications, and AI services, as well as large, mission-critical apps."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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