March 4, 2024

Choosing a Low-Code Solution: Platforms vs. Frameworks.

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Phone mockups that include OutSystems, Mendix, Power Apps and FlutterFlow Icons.

The pace of innovation can often make or break a business, and the choices of development tools, the approach, and technology solution becomes a strategic decision.  

Among the array of development approaches and technology options, low-code development has emerged as a transformative force, enabling businesses to expedite the creation of software applications by reducing the amount of manual coding required. However, the distinction between low-code frameworks and platforms adds a layer of complexity to this decision-making process.

What is the Difference Between a Low-Code Framework and a Low-Code Platform?

Low-code solutions come in two primary forms: frameworks and platforms and understanding the differences is paramount. This blog aims to shed light on these distinctions, offering insights that empower your businesses to make informed decisions based on your objectives and requirements.

Understanding low-code frameworks.

A low-code framework is a foundational set of tools and libraries that facilitates the development of applications with minimal manual coding, but normally serves one purpose only. For example, you get some frameworks that only accelerate the (UI) front end-, back end-, or API layer.

These frameworks typically do not cater for the full Application Lifecycle, but then again, you might not need it. If you do however require an all-in-one platform that takes care of the full ALM cycle, then you need to consider a platform instead, which automates all aspects of DevOps, including planning, development, testing, deployment, release, secure, and monitor.

If, however, you are looking to accelerate for instance your front end development which still hand coding the backend or connecting to an existing backend as a service, a low-code framework like FlutterFlow is well-suited. This approach is also very well-suited for startups, offering a more hands-on and cost-effective approach to development as scaling, flexibility, and robust security might not be a requirement from the start.

FlutterFlow is a low-code framework used for building mobile and web applications using Google's Flutter framework and programming language. Flutter is an open-source UI software development toolkit created by Google to enable developers to build natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase.

| FlutterFlow is best suited for: | |-----------------------------------------------| | Prototyping and MVPs (Minimal Viable Product) | | Internal tools | | Simplified customer-facing apps | | Automation of processes | | Swift iteration | | Proof of concept (POC) | | Mobile applications with fundamental features |

Understanding low-code platforms.

A low-code platform is a comprehensive solution that spans all layers of an application, such as the logic-, UI-, database-, and integration layers (APIs). These leading low-code platforms enable you start building from day one by using the fundamental DevOps practices and patterns built into the core of the platform, such as:

  • Fast development: Low-code platforms are ideal for streamline the development process by harnessing the efficiency of low-code platforms and AI assistance.
  • Easy integration: For integrate with external systems, low-code platforms foster a connected IT ecosystem for smooth data flow and collaboration.
  • Integrated version control: Ensure project integrity with seamless version control, enabling effective collaboration and structured software iteration.
  • Embedded build server: Low-code platforms optimise the development life cycle with an embedded build server, streamlining compilation, testing, and deployment.
  • Cross-environment deployment: Simplify deployment across multiple environments, ensuring adaptability and consistency in delivering solutions.
  • Access control policy: Establish a robust policy to safeguard sensitive information, managing permissions for secure data access and project confidentiality.
  • Real-time monitoring: Platforms implement real-time monitoring to proactive monitoring to resolve issues and enhance performance, addressing concerns as they arise.
  • Full extensibility: Ability to customise your development environment with plugins and seamlessly integrate third-party tools via API.

These platforms also help you accelerate your development efforts by leveraging pre-built components or components built by the community for the community. OutSystems has over 6000 components that you can leverage today.

Low-code platforms are ideal for enterprises with diverse use cases and complex application needs.

Leading low-code platforms like OutSystems, Mendix, and Microsoft Power Apps can be used to build web and mobile applications. They also integrate all aspects of the software engineering process as mentioned above, including design and development, enabling the rapid delivery of complex and sophisticated apps up to 4x faster than traditional code-based development. The platform includes built-in features for collaboration, experimentation and execution at scale, all with minimal coding required.

| OutSystems is Best Suited for | Mendix is Best Suited for | Power Apps is Best Suited for | |---------------------------------------------------------------------|----------------------------------------------------------------|-----------------------------------------------| | Business process automation solutions | Progressive and responsive web app | Automating B2E departmental and workgroup | | Web and native mobile apps | Truly native mobile apps - React Native | Self-service data visualisation and reporting | | Workflow management | Internal tools with in-app collaboration and testing solutions | ‍ | | Business-to-employee (B2E) departmental and enterprise applications | Dynamic customer-facing apps integrated with existing systems | | | Multi-experience applications | | | | Business digitisation, prototyping, and innovation | | | | Business workflow automation with integration |

JustSolve Has You Covered on All Fronts.

Whether you need the flexibility of traditional code-based development, a low-code framework or a combination of the two, we can make your solution come to life in the best way possible. If, however, you need an enterprise class low-code platform, we also have you covered through our handpicked partnerships with OutSystems, Microsoft and Mendix.  

The picture below is worth a thousand words, as independently verified by Gartner in their latest Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAPs) report. The report outlines the Critical Capabilities that Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms provide and a comprehensive comparison between 17 LCAPs, offering invaluable insights for IT and software engineering leaders.

Leading enterprise low-code application platforms.

Leading enterprise low-code application platforms. OutSystems and Microsoft

Seriously Considering Going Down the Low-Code Path?

What should you consider when you embark on selecting the right low-code development platform?

If you are interested in diving a bit deeper into this topic, then it's your lucky day. We created a quick 13-step guide on selecting the best fit low-code development platform for your business.

For startups focusing on quick development and prototyping, low-code frameworks like FlutterFlow are ideal. Enterprises with complex needs and a focus on end-to-end process optimisation and automation, security, and scalability, will benefit more from low-code platforms like OutSystems, Microsoft Power Platform and Mendix. By understanding these distinctions, you can now navigate the low-code landscape and make an informed decision that aligns with your IT Strategy.

Choosing the best fit low-code solution requires a careful consideration of your IT Strategy, the use cases, and a projects unique requirement, but the good news is that JustSolve as the #1 Low-Code Development Company™ in South Africa has you covered.

Still not ready to pick a solution or still considering the flexibility of traditional code-based development?

Schedule a free consultation and get expert advice on the subject.

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