Digital transformation is on everyone’s mind. Business managers, employees and consumers increasingly demand digital support and tools for all conceivable work processes. This is an era where we see the decline of manual processes and the rise of automated and smart workflows. The modern worker also expects that applications at work are available and compatible with the latest devices and technology on the market.
Yet, the wave of digital transformation has a dark side. Despite all its advances, software development has become a more complex process in many respects. For example, systems need to communicate, and older legacy systems don't necessarily integrate easily with new technologies and cloud-based solutions. Many businesses are experiencing large project backlogs and troubling growth in resources spent on new digital solutions and platforms. Simultaneously as IT-departments are reaching their resource limits, software developers have become a scarce resource and are becoming more expensive as well as harder to acquire. Outsourcing may seem like an intuitive solution, but experience has shown that this often has disappointing outcomes (read more here)
So, if you could create new rules of the game, how could business software be created in a better and more painless way? Well, what about having more people participate in creating software, not only hard-core developers? Especially those that have a deep understanding of the business processes and user pains in question. Such business intimacy implies that geographical proximity and real world interaction with the business stakeholders is desirable. We also want rapid development speed, with the ability to launch prototypes fast with continuous involvement from users. And as always we want an attractive business case with a great cost and benefit outcome.
All of these are reasons why both business and IT managers should learn about the benefits that no-code platforms provide. Gartner estimates that by 2024, low/no-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of all application development. That’s a pretty unbelievable estimate when you think about the sheer size of the global enterprise software market. The rationale behind no-code is that software development today still involves a large amount of manual labor from the developer. And developers are becoming increasingly specialized in coding languages, frameworks and within the stack itself. The full-stack developer with a detailed overview of all technologies throughout the stack as well as a deep understanding of your business doesn't seem to exist anymore. Yet, a surprising amount of both technical and functional requirements of enterprise software is in fact quite overlapping, which leads to essentially the same thing being created over and over again. In short, there is a clear potential for a dramatic increase in software delivery efficiency and no-code platforms are a disruptive force that will bring development automation to the center stage.
Developers and IT professionals are usually skeptical about application development platforms, arguing they have two major shortcomings. First, many platforms only handle either the front-end or the back-end layer for applications. For the full benefits of the no-code approach to materialize, it has become evident you need to work with a full-stack solution. Second, most platforms are usually too rigid in its application designer and essentially imply too many compromises and lack of flexibility to create advanced applications for the enterprise market. While these worries may have been legitimate and justifiable before, they are not anymore. No-code platforms have evolved rapidly, and with the best platforms out there there are no longer any compromises when creating advanced, complex or large software solutions.
No-code development - what is it?
As the name implies, no-code platforms enable the user to build advanced enterprise software without traditional programming. Instead, software is created by combining predefined components/building blocks for user interface, logic and data management together in a visual and intuitive process. In short, it enables software to be created (and updated) much faster. There are two main drivers for this rapid increase in speed. First, this approach avoids repetitive coding or experience in any specific programming language. The components are already programmed and you only need to combine and configure them. Second, with full-stack no-code platforms you only focus on the design and functionality of your applications. Leading no-code platforms take care of all aspects related to the back-end layer of applications, including databases, servers and cloud infrastructure.
A major implication of no-code is that a very small team can create advanced application portfolios. It also opens up for non-developers in more commercial roles to be deeply involved in the development process. This helps to tear down the silo structures where IT and commercial functions are separate and talking different languages.
Experience true no-code with the Appfarm platform
Appfarm is a true full-stack no-code platform that takes care of all aspects of creating, launching and managing business apps. As a user you only deal with the all-in-one development tool Appfarm Create available in your favourite browser. A cloud-based development tool ensures full multi-developer support in real time. You will get the same collaborative experience in application development as you experience with for instance Google Docs for documents.
Visual development with components, using a “drag and drop” approach, enables you to create customized software for any purpose, virtually without any constraints. The Appfarm platform takes advantage of standardization and emergence of leading frameworks and libraries in web technologies that help provide this remarkable level of flexibility. You can use higher-level building blocks that provide complex functionality out-of the box, or combine several low-level building blocks for extreme customization to your needs. It’s up to you.
Appfarm incorporates the Google Material Design framework as the guiding design principle on our UI components. Even without having design experience, this ensures that your apps have a modern, sleek and amazing look and feel based on a tried and tested design methodology. And the Themes editor lets you quickly customize and style your apps. But there is no compromise here, as you will have full flexibility to change your applications’ UI with a comprehensive visual CSS editor. Also, the theme editor acts as a tool for white-labelling. Here you can create multiple themes for individual brands and your app could take on an entirely different look and feel depending on user context.
The visual development process also goes deeper. Data models, application flow and logic are configured using flexible components. The platform also comes with a range of functionality out-of-the-box which all applications need to deal with. Authentication, permission models, user management and language support are all features that are available out-of-box for you to choose and configure. In short, you never need to worry about servers, cloud infrastructure, database connections, security or back-end layers again.
API by Design
Lastly, Appfarm is made from a fundamental position that modern software needs to interact and easily integrate with other internal systems as well as third party services. As a consequence, all data objects in Appfarm are set up with flexible GraphQL APIs (to read more on why GraphQL is the future of APIs, see here). Also, you can easily consume external data either initiated from the client or by setting up server based integrations. These may run on schedules to deal with more heavy data management.
Apps on all devices
Businesses need a range of applications for different purposes and users. With Appfarm you can create as many applications you want, and decide yourself how and if it should be available on web, tablet or mobile devices. The benefit is that all apps are built upon and share the same data model and other resources in Appfarm which create “appconomies of scale”. Also, Appfarm utilizes Progressive Web App (PWA) technology to enable true mobile experiences without the costs and hassle of native app development. PWAs work on all modern mobile devices, and combine the benefit of web technology with the mobile interface. PWAs are now installable, linkable and engaging, but still feel and look like traditional native apps. There is no need for downloading updates or deal with app versions all together as all users always run the current live version. PWA is the future of mobile enterprise apps.
Our Big Blue button
Appfarm is NoOps with one-click deploy. All you need to do is to push our big blue deploy button and your updated application is available across your environments and users. There is only one version; the last one. And should you regret the recent changes, you always have the opportunity to roll back instantly. This approach will of course drastically reduce time-to-market.
In sum, Appfarm is an all-in-one-tool to rapidly create amazing digital experiences. All aspects of software development and management happen in Appfarm Create and you never need to go anywhere else, avoiding juggling multiple tools, technologies and services at once.
What do you want to create?
Because there are really no compromises with no-code, the Appfarm platform enables you to create nearly any digital solution your business may need, all available in the cloud. In our experience, there are some key characteristics of use cases where Appfarm is a particularly attractive option to develop solutions that:
- ...drastically improve, automate, replace or integrate several new or existing work or business processes that are manual, have poor digital support or just plainly do not take place today.
- ...typically involve the introduction of mobile or tablet apps to facilitate increasing mobility of the modern workforce.
- ...need an application portfolio with several user interfaces tailored for different user groups who interact with the data in particular ways.
- ...need to be integrated with existing systems to maintain seamless management of enterprise data or external third party systems to automate particular tasks
So why go no-code?
We believe that the question isn’t why, but why not. Using a no-code platform enables you to easily keep up with digital transformation and rising customer demands. Creating digital solutions has never been faster, easier or more effective. The time it takes from when an idea sparks until it is out in the world is drastically reduced compared to traditional coding. And should your business happen to grow, no-code enables your applications to grow with it, completely painless.