The best type of code & its differences: no-, low- and highcode

The world is rapidly changing, and so is the world of developing software solutions. Traditionally you always needed a team of IT developers to build software in languages you could never understand. Nowadays, multiple solutions exist to create software without even writing one line of code. In this article, I will explain what types of code exist to create software solutions. We’re also answering the question: what is the best type of code? No-code, low-code or high-code?

4 minutes read, by Harmjan Oonk

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Digital innovation

We currently live in a world in which everything is connected. Nowadays, consumers can use their phones, check their mail at any time and login to portals to track and trace their recently purchased items online 24/7. This creates the need for our customers and organizations to share information and updates constantly. 

The need for digital solutions in organizations is rapidly increasing year by year. This requires changes to your existing software applications, either by implementing new ones or creating your own. A common challenge these days is that the demand for apps is growing at a much faster rate compared to the availability of skills to build these apps. How can organizations tackle this challenge? Fortunately, organizations do not only have high-code development as an option these days. No-code and low-code application development platforms are also available to help organizations achieve more without the availability of traditional developers.

The question is; What is the best type of code: no-code, low-code or high-code? 

Let’s first look at what these three types of coding mean. 

High-code

‘High-code’ refers to programming languages such as Java, C++, and Python, and is only understood by software engineers who have spent years mastering these languages.  

High-code is generally used to create unique solutions that suit the business best since you can build it from scratch. This allows every company to do exactly what they want. There are no drag-and-drop interfaces or pre-built templates. You can create anything. The downside of high-code is that it is complex and requires specialized skills,. Also, normally bigger teams are needed to build the backend, middleware and front end.   

Best type of code

 Advantages:   

  • You can fully customize anything you want in your software application.  
  • It is possible to make the software that suits your process.   
  • You can build anything from mission critical software solutions to simple applications or websites.   
 

Disadvantages:   

  • You need to set up everything from scratch. It could take multiple days or weeks to see a result.   
  • You’re dependent on developers & programmers with specialized knowledge.  
Best type of code

Example: Highcode car 

Let’s say you want to develop a car. With high-code, you can determine every step and customize it. You can design a light vehicle with solar panels. You can decide which type of materials you’ll use, the look and feel of the car, or skip some parts and design. However, you need a lot of expertise to build this solar car. You need knowledge about solar panels, as well as an engine, batteries, materials, interiors etc. You need to bring in all of the experts to manufacture the car. However, you can influence and adjust every step to your needs.  

No-code

No-code development platforms provide a visual, drag-and-drop approach to software development that requires no programming skills. For whom is this interesting? Well, for anyone who has plenty of ideas but doesn’t have the skills to create software.   

Good examples are marketeers. Back in the day, the marketing department needed to team up with a website developer. They would develop the ideas that the marketing team brought into a website. Nowadays, you have no-code solutions like WordPress to create a website or you can use Squarespace to set up your website and/or webshop.   

 The user can drag or drop functionalities into an area. In figure 4, you can see how easy it is to create a website in WordPress without using one line of code. This enables people to develop websites themselves without special web development skills. Eventually, when you’re done with the no-code solution, you simply click on a button. The program will automatically generate code in the background and publish it. Afterwards, you, as a user, can see the result right away.  

The advantage of no-code is that you don’t need any background in coding. You click or drag and drop the items you want. These are pre-built modules that you can use. This makes creating solutions without using code incredibly fast. But, if the prefabricated components do not meet your needs, you cannot create anything to fit these needs or adjust them to fit.  

Best type of code

Advantages:   

  • You don’t need to learn a programming language to create applications. Anyone using a computer and a no-code tool can make software applications or adjustments in existing software tools with no-code options.   
  • You don’t depend on IT professionals or the IT department. You can make the solutions yourself.  
  • You can deliver new features for most no-code solutions within minutes.  
  • You don’t need the experience to maintain software or know how to set up an application. You can rely on the no-code solution.  
 

Disadvantages:  

  • Your only options are the prefabricated components. If your needs extend beyond what the platform provides, you are stuck. 
  • Performance could be an issue when working with thousands of users. Performance is also affected when having to process large amounts of data.   
  • You cannot influence the building process.  

Example: no-code car

You want to build a car. Think about a car configuration tool. For every component, you have choices, but these are predefined. You just have to click on the option box. There is no need to worry about the design, realization or delivery. Everything is done by the no-code tool, but you’re limited to the predefined building blocks. If you click ‘build’, the no-code tool will ensure the car is manufactured. You cannot adjust or see this process.  

Low-code

Now that you have a general understanding of both no-code and high-code, let’s start to explain low-code. Low-code can be found in between no-and high code. Low-code also uses visual diagrams to help the user’s drag-and-drop functionality. Therefore, it’s fast, and you don’t need knowledge about coding to develop software. However, if you want to customize a specific part, low-code allows you to customize it to your needs. But in order to customize this software, you need to understand how to do this. Low-code platforms call their developers ‘citizen developers’. Everyone can become a developer according to low-code tools, since the tools guide the developers to build code. Secondly, there is no high-code knowledge required. That’s the reason why the developers are called citizen developers.  

Best type of code

 

Advantages:   

  • You can create software lightning fast with predefined building blocks.  
  • You don’t need to be a programmer to learn new features or functionalities. A citizen developer can build software since the low-code tool guides the citizen developers.   
  • You can customize specific areas fit to your requirements. However, you need the expertise to be able to do this. This customization can be done by a citizen developer. 
  • You don’t need experience in order to maintain software or know how to set up an application. You can rely on the low-code solution.  
 

Disadvantages:   

  • You need some understanding of coding to use low code and deliver customized features. 
  • You need to work within the boundaries of the low-code platform. 
  • You need expertise with low-code tools to build high-performing applications.   

Example: Low-code car

You can still use the car configurator tool with low-code. You can select the frame, type of wheels and engine type. However, if you want to add a feature, you can. 

Consider using a body kit, a spoiler, or a turbo for your engine. You can install it on your car, but you need some additional knowledge to integrate it correctly. Therefore it is adjustable to your needs, but limited to the car type and availability. So it’s a combination of high-code & no-code. In the end, you can extend low-code with high-code. However, this means that you still need experts with high-code knowledge to customize parts fully. 

Good to know

Many software manufacturers say they have low-code solutions. Think about SAP or SalesForce. They offer their products and let users adjust the platform with no-code or low-code modules. This is low-code and no-code, but you cannot make a fully standalone no-code and low-code solution with SalesForce & SAP. They always rely on the core product, in this case, SAP or SalesForce.    

Technologies like Mendix and OutSystems are standalone enterprise low-code application tools that enable the business to create an application without this core product. Therefore, you don’t need to rely on a software vendor. You can build anything and integrate it with other applications. 

What is the best type of code?

This question is problematic, as it depends on your use case or scenario. To give you a brief answer, I made a diagram to show the best code type based on the complexity and knowledge required.   

High-code is the way to go if you want a fully customized solution. But remember that you need a lot of expertise to build solutions. Secondly, you must maintain this knowledge if you constantly want to update and maintain your solutions.   

Again, it all depends on what the code will be used for. If you want to gain a competitive advantage, you need highly customizable solutions. Therefore, high-code or low-code could be your choice. However, if you have difficulty finding people, low-code or no-code could help you since people with limited IT knowledge can build applications.   

You could choose no-code solutions if you wanted to use basic features and let anyone add features to your applications. In the example given earlier with the website built with WordPress, the no-code solution works for 80% of the cases. Low-code can be a good alternative if you want to use the advantages of both high-code and no-code. Low-code has the benefits of a no-code team but still gives you the flexibility to make nearly anything you could think of.   

What is also an important thing to consider is that technology isn’t the solution. In the end you need the right approach to implement the technology. Therefore, you require the correct method and mindset. 

In the following article, I will write about specific systems and when you want to consider no-code, low-code or high-code.  If you want to receive these articles by mail, please subscribe to our newsletter below.  

Best type of code

Need any help?

Do you need assistance with preparing your business for the future? We’re happy to help and ensure you’re ready for the future. Feel free to contact our Australian team lead Harmjan. 

About CAPE

With our APAC office in Sydney we  help organizations to digitally transform. We work with you to solve business problems and rely on proven technologies and our battle-tested methodology.

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harm-jan oonk - digital transformation expert australia

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