6 reasons to start with Low-code

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Working in IT for a while, I often hear that there will be no need for developers in the future. AI and robots will take over all development tasks, and the developer role will become obsolete. Who knows what will happen in 30–40–50 years. But even now, known cloud services make it possible to maintain complex infrastructure just with a couple of engineers instead of having huge IT departments. Website builders and CMS become even more convincing, allow creating webshops and sites for not IT people.

For a couple of months, I got a chance to learn a Low-code platform called Outsystems. I was amazed at how great that is. I was surprised even more when I saw that this platform exists since 2001. Somehow this name never popped up in my “bubble”. That’s why I came up with this article.

Outsystems is not a single Low-code platform on the market. There are more of them, like Mendix, Creatio, Appian. But IMHO feels like the most solid one and has an awe-inspiring customer list. They target an enterprise sector but offer limited Free plans as well.

I want to share some developer’s thoughts on why you might think of using Outsystem for your next project.

There are (nearly) no limits.

Logic action inside Outsystem IDE with different block

The problem of many CMS or website builders is that you can reach a limit of the functionality at a certain point. To solve that, Outsystem offers a visual designer where you can develop any business logic. Not limited to that, it’s possible to plug in a Javascript code if needed, for example, to connect a specific JS library. You can also write a C# snippets. And that’s not it. There is a possibility to Consume or Expose a REST or SOAP API that makes you flexible for any integration.

Stop the Holy war about tools.

Outsystems offer developers an own IDE studio, where you can design a database, create custom CSS, develop business logic, user interfaces, and in the end, put it all together.

They also provide you with a built-in analyzer, continuous deployment, automatic database migration, and multiple environments. Everything is ready for you. You don’t need to argue about the branching model, yet another linter, or what CI/CD platform is better.

There’s much magic to assist.

Outsystems came up with a lot of clever (AI) helpers and accelerators. For example, after designing a database entity, drag-and-drop a table to the interface will create a screen with a list view to the entity and edit form. Or another one: upload an Excel file, and Outsystem will generate a database entity out of that. But one of my favorites is its field suggestion. When it’s required to assign a variable, you’ll get a suggestion based not only on a datatype but on a name pattern.

Finally, it’s possible to copy and paste certain blocks (logic or interfaces) from one place or app to another.

It’s straightforward to start.

Thanks to a lot of helpers and accelerators, it’s straightforward to start. For instance, I’ve created and deployed a mobile app with a simple, well-known TODO app in less than 10 minutes (!). Check this out in the simulator. Outsystem also came up with built-in IAM integration and many other security patterns.

Microservices are easy.

Due to the nature of the Outsystems, it’s elementary to create microservices and integrate them. Similar to that, it’s effortless to develop a shared UI library for all applications.

There’s also a kind of queueing system for asynchronous communication.

You’re not alone.

Outsystems has its community with forums and discussions. There’s also its own App Marketplace, called Forge, with many helpful apps ready to be installed. Worse to mention dozens of very nice tutorials and guides.

But, as always, there are two sides to the same coin. In the next post in the series, I’ll share some drawbacks and why it’s not always good to use Low-code platforms.

UPD: A new story about drawbacks could be found here.

Software engineer from Hamburg (Germany) www.zeleniuk.com