Low-code development platforms
Low-code development platforms (LCDPs) allow the creation of application software through graphical user interfaces and configuration instead of traditional procedural computer programming. The platforms may focus on design and development of databases, business processes, or user interfaces such as web applications. Such platforms may produce entirely operational applications, or require or allow minimal coding to extend the applications functionality or for uncommon situations. Low-code development platforms reduce the amount of traditional hand-coding, enabling accelerated delivery of business applications. A common benefit is that a wider-range of people can contribute to the application's development, not only those with more formal programming experience. LCDPs also lower the initial cost of setup, training, and deployment.
LCDPs trace their roots back to fourth-generation programming language and rapid application development tools of the 1990s and early 2000s. Similar to these predecessor development environments, LCDPs are based on the principles of model-driven design, automatic code generation, and visual programming. The concept of end-user development also existed previously, although LCDPs brought some new ways of approaching this development.
As a result of the micro computer revolution businesses have deployed computers widely across their employee bases, enabling widespread automation of business processes using software. The need for software automation and new applications for business processes places demands on software developers to create custom applications in volume, tailoring them to organizations' unique needs. Low-code development platforms developed as a means to allow for quick creation and use of working applications that can address the specific process- and data needs of the organization.
Research firm Forrester estimates that the total market for Low-code development platforms will grow to $15.5 billion by 2020. Segments in the market include database, request handling, mobile, process and general purpose low code platforms.
Low-code development’s market growth can be attributed to its flexibility and ease. Low-code development platforms are shifting focus towards general purpose of applications, with the ability to add in custom code when needed or desired.
Mobile accessibility is one of the driving factors of using Low-code Development Platforms. Instead of developers having to spend time creating multi-device software, Low-code packages typically come with that feature standard.
Because of a minimum amount of required coding knowledge, low-code development platforms can be taught to nearly anyone. Using features like drag and drop interfaces which give visualization of the application rapidly speed up construction times.
Concerns over Low-code development platform security are growing, especially for apps that use consumer data. There can be concerns over the security of apps built so quickly. However, low-code apps do also fuel security innovations. With continuous app development in mind, it becomes easier to create secure data workflows.
Analyst coverage and crowd evaluation
A Forrester report about Low-code development platforms ("The Forrester Wave™: Low-code Development Platforms, Q2 2016") featured 14 providers in a 26-criteria evaluation.
An updated Forrester report charting the growth of the Low-code market was published in July 2017 (Vendor Landscape: A Fork In The Road For Low-Code Development Platforms) highlighting 3 industry trends:
- Growth - the Low-code market is forecast to increase to over $21 billion over the next five years.
- Diversification - Two major new market segments are developing which focus on the needs of Business (‘Citizen’) Developers and of AD&D (App Dev) Professionals.
- Integration - As adoption of Low-code expands and businesses look towards technologies like AI, robotics and machine learning, solutions must grow to offer these capabilities.
A Gartner evaluation on Enterprise High-Productivity Application Platforms (HPaPaaS) was published in April 2018 (Magic Quadrant for Enterprise High-Productivity Application Platform as a Service). It evaluated 20 different vendors in the Low-code market, with 4 recognized leaders. 
A G2Crowd report about Low-code development platforms evaluated market share and user reviews for 46 products.
Some IT professionals question whether Low-code development platforms are suitable for use when building large-scale and mission-critical enterprise applications. Additionally, some CIOs have expressed concern that adopting Low-code development platforms internally could lead to an increase in unsupported applications built by shadow IT.
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