10 Unfounded Objections to Using Visual App Development Platforms - Part 2

In our last post, we looked at 2 out of the 10 objections we commonly hear from our clients before they become converts to using low-code app creation tooling – and why the arguments are old-hat. In this post, we’ll tackle three more.

“Low-code development platforms are cute, but not ready for enterprise prime time”

We hear this sentiment a lot and are careful to spend time understanding where a company is coming from when they say this. In general, the sentiments land in three categories:

  • The “ilities” – as in scalability, reliability, securability, extensibility and agility.
  • App quality – user experience, native quality and the performance of resulting apps.
  • Deployment flexibility – to meet corporate architecture and security standards, and also to align with mobile development systems and processes.

“The ‘ilities’ are not met.”

Low-code development platforms have evolved from two directions. Some grew out of serving the long tail consumer developer community, as the app economy exploded. Others have been designed from the ground up with enterprise requirements in mind. Kony is an example of an early enterprise player, while AppGyver’s Composer is a more recent example. The newer low-code platform entrants like AppGyver already stand on top of several generations of attempts tackle the problems previously faced by low-code solutions.

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Today, most low-code development platforms are available on the public cloud for low-cost piloting. They’re also deployable to private clouds and offer flexible support for different vendors as well as scalability.

building attention grabbing applications is important when you need to stand out in a sea of millions of apps

From a security perspective, the modern visual development platforms no longer require any sensitive data be stored in the cloud, they offer encryption, and are able to run in PCI and HIPAA compliant data centers. Furthermore, many solutions offer integration with existing identity management, authentication and directory services out of the box.

“App quality of low-code development platforms is suspect.”

Much of the time, these sentiments are rooted in expectations forged from building consumer-facing apps. Of course, building attention grabbing applications is important when you need to stand out in a sea of millions of apps. It also means experimenting with new and exciting ways of interacting with apps. This, of course comes with its perils. User adoption often falls flat on it’s face due to their need to stand out. When it comes to B2B and B2E apps however, there isn’t a sea of apps to stand out from. Utility and adoption are the the driving KPIs. A good low-code platform will provide a rapid way to build UIs that follow standard paradigms, providing an experience that users don’t have to learn.

Enterprise developers are right to be vigilant about a low-code development platform’s ability to deliver high quality apps.

Enterprise developers are right to be vigilant about a low-code development platform’s ability to deliver high quality apps. Their apprehensions are well founded. Most of the prior generation of low-code platforms still rely on old technologies and frameworks. They usually generate HTML5-based Single Page Apps (SPAs) that come with their own problems on mobile devices. And if they are generating native code, projects can be just as difficult and slow to manage as if they were being built natively from scratch.

The technology sitting under the Composer platform is the product of years of development working directly with hundreds of thousands of mobile and web developers to overcome these limitations. It allows HTML5 hybrid apps to deliver truly native performance where the difference matters. Superior quality and performance is imperative for adoption in a world where the employee is used to the standard of modern consumer applications.

“Poor deployment flexibility.”

Having several options for deployment is important to most enterprises; especially those that are dealing with sensitive information and have heightened regulatory and security concerns. These concerns often prevent data from flowing out to a public cloud. However, today’s enterprise-grade visual development platforms are tackling this on every level. They’re able to run in private clouds or on premise data centers just as easily as any modular solution.

AppGyver Cloud Configuration

AppGyver Composer's flexible deployment, high security solution.

AppGyver’s solution offers a modular setup. Design and development work is performed in the Composer tool which can be placed anywhere. Data and connectors, users and permissions as well as business logic however, live in the middleware which is dockerized. Apps communicate exclusively with the middleware.

“Low-code platforms don’t give us the fine-grain, native level access we need for features like Bluetooth, push notifications, GPS, camera etc.”

Composer native featuresAppGyver’s wrapper comes pre-built with access to native APIs for both iOS and Android. From camera to GPS to barcode scanning to push notifications. If there’s a need for something less usual, tapping into PhoneGap’s extensive list of open APIs is as simple as including them in the next build – Composer is 100% compatible.

The kicker is to provide a cloud Build Service that will let you create native binaries with the plugins you need. This way, the platform automatically takes care of what would normally require someone to run Xcode and Android Studio.

The problem with older generations is that when you hit a brick wall, there was no way out without building natively to extend. Again, sacrificing the speed advantage.

The problem with older generations is that when you hit a brick wall, there was no way out

“A low-code development platform is a whole new layer and way of development that needs to be learned.”

Building an app is all about getting the business case aligned with what’s being built. Thus, if you know how to design great apps – or want to develop that competence – the toolset shouldn’t matter.
Inherently, Composer and other visual development platforms have been built to get out of the way. If you understand how an app works, you should be able to build one with Composer.

Extendible low-code development platforms like Composer are built around standard web technologies and let developers include their preferred frameworks and libraries – so when it comes time to extend part of the platform that falls short, it’s with code that’s familiar.

Bottom line: the ramp up for highly intuitive visual tools will be far less taxing than the cost of building B2B and B2E apps from the ground up. In our view, “highly intuitive” means “no coding unless desired.” It’s absolutely fair to expect a toolset to be familiar and extendable to developers used to working with frameworks like PhoneGap or Ionic, while also serving up a visual user experience that is understood by less skilled developers.

Jeff N Alonzo

Jeff Alonzo has been instrumental in bringing technology enterprise for over 20 years. Notably, his roles at AnyPresence and Apigee have added to his insight into mobile trends in the enterprise.