While reading this thread on HackerNews, I could not shake-off the feeling that Low Code is too broad a category with a wide variety of tools that lets you do things to various degrees without writing code. The way things are, I’m surprised Microsoft doesn’t market MS Excel as a no code tool considering the way it is used across companies.
I feel there needs to be a bit more nuanced view when we talk about this category. There are a few broad categories these tools belong to.
- Interface builders
- Data and process management
These are the tools that let you build customer or business facing sites or pages without coding. These tools range from blogging to CMS to website builders.
Some of these tools also add a semblance of process layer but this is generally paper thin. Some of them add an extension or a plug-in layer to further extend the no code paradigm.
These tools are trickiest as the automation might depend on data residing on their platform or in another system. The automation might be as simple as sending emails and notifications or it might extend into a multi-step or a multi-system automation in exceptional scenarios. However, these exceptions will be convoluted and will be covered with a lot of asterisks due to the platform limits in play.
Some of the automation tools will offer API-based integration, but the catch will be in terms of audit, security and data residency requirements that might not always be met.
Data and process management
These solutions are very common across companies. The solutions might range from a Google Sheet to a CRM. This is also the most complex layer because of all the ways things can be muddled up. To do this well, you need to understand how databases work, how to optimise for queries, figure out logging and data change management, apart from worrying about permission management at a data point level.
Once we move beyond these categorisations, we need to worry about the limits and the capabilities each system will have.
If you approach it with a simple checklist of functionality most of the tools that span these categories will be able to check all of them. However, once you try to understand more about it from a capability perspective you will see that a lot of offerings are shallow.
That said, a few smart people could string a few of these solutions to create a proof of concept to test out product market fit. The issues these tools tend to run into are related to long-term maintenance and scalability.
For companies that work in scale of millions of customers it would make sense to drift towards a cusom solution once the product gains traction.