Zero-Code Applications: An Overview

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Traditional web and mobile applications rely on extensive use of various types of programming platforms, all requiring experts to design, program and test the code. On the other hand, a range of computing platforms, such as Spreadsheets, adopted ‘low code’ or simplified programming models allowing an increasing level of adaptability to specific needs.

On the Web, site-builders became hugely popular as a replacement for direct programming using the building blocks – HTML, CSS and JavaScript.Similar platform emerged to support mobile apps construction, all targeted at organisations seeking lower cost, distributed application development model relying on technically-oriented team members of each department, rather than a central R&D.

The ‘Zero Code’ Model

The ‘Zero Code’ application development model relies on two basic elements used together to achieve the desired functionality:

  • A Design Platform, used to construct the UI of the app, preferably via a drag-and-drop environment, equipped with a set of pre-built components assembled to create the desired screen-design
  • A set of Configuration Screens, used to adopt generic functionality to he needs of the specific applications. Thus, for example, a form is constructed by configuring set of ‘fields’, each defined by the type of information it accepts and eventually the e-mail address used to send the filled form. 

Based on these two components, rather complex combinations can be constructed, achieving functionality once requiring army of programmers by small teams of experts familiar with the chosen ‘Zero-Code’ platform 

The Web case vs. the Mobile Case

Zero-Code programming models are easily applied Web-apps. – applications based the desktop as the key usage mode. On desktops, Zero-Code apps achieve increasing level of sophistication, as the environment capabilities and its features constantly expand. 

The mobile phone case, on the other hand, lags behind due to three main factors:

  • Performance Penalty: Most Zero-Code platforms use the browsing capabilities of the mobile phone, considered slower and limited compared to native code, which in some cases diminishes user experience and ranking

  • Distribution via App Libraries managed by Apple /Google:  Most Zero-Code platforms do not offer a version that can be uploaded to the standard app. library, thus create a barrier to entry for the developer, as most users get their apps from these sources.

  • Off-line functionality:  Applications targeting off-line operation as the main usage-mode are typically implemented using native programming technology. However, Progressive Web Apps, the newest approach to ‘Zero Code’ on mobile, deliver an impressive level of off-line operation satisfying most common needs.

A careful analysis of the application at hand and its core requirements is needed before a decision is made to go for Zero-Code version.

Summary

The Zero-Code scene is evolving daily, and it is clear that its role in modern app development will increase as the capabilities of the hardware (faster phones, mainly) and the network (stable, fast connection) increase. Recent advancement in Web technology, specifically the introduction of ‘Progressive Web Apps’ opens the way to Zero-Coding on mobile as well and promises unified Web-Mobile application development environment supporting a wide range of needs

In XpertLink I constantly track these developments and adopts the suitable ones, allowing faster, simpler development of customers’ application.


 

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