Low-code platforms are the future of software development
Thanks for reading our second article about choosing a low-code platform. If you missed Part 1 of “The Future of Software Development”, please be sure to read it first.
Our Goal in picking a trial platform
Sprinterra’s long-term objective is to provide our customers with top-notch services by building high-quality, secure, customized software solutions as efficiently as possible. We recently made a decision to invest into development of new expertise in low-code/no-code platforms so that we can service our clients with even higher degree of quality and timeliness for their critical projects.
While these new platforms are trying to grab their market share, we feel that in the short-term perspective, the adoption of the low-code / no-code concept by the business community is a test in its own. We intentionally allocated a relatively short period of time to sift through and analyze a list of companies in this space who caught our attention in a preliminary search by ticking off the very basic criteria checkboxes (see the Selection Process section). Generally speaking, the goal of this series of blogs is not to find or recommend the best low-code / no-code platform but rather to validate the appeal of using these tools by non tech savvy employees within organizations of different size. We will try to pick interesting use cases and demonstrate how different platforms tackle them.
This particular blog will give you an insight into some of the platforms that we researched and played with. We studied each of them enough to be able to build a simple application and understand each platform’s strengths and weaknesses. In case you have a candidate project and want us to help you with completing a proof of concept within one or several of the low-code/no-code platforms please contact us at [email protected] and we will be happy to assist you.
Best Low Code Platforms
First, we had shortlisted several low-code platforms, including Appian, Camunda, Corezoid, Creatio, Kony/Temenos, Mendix, Microsoft Powerapps, Odoo, Outsystems, Pega, Salesforce, Sitecore, Unqork, and Zoho based on our initial research and analysis of that newly developing space.
Our goal? To name a finalist – the platform that could best serve us and accommodate for future growth. We concentrated on a few factors in determining our finalists, including:
- Overall capabilities:
- Process editor similar to bpm(n)
- REST/SOAP integration
- Mobile application development
- User and role management
- Extensibility with the natural language such as Python, Java, C#, etc.
- Speed of development compared to mainstream coding platforms
- Education cost
- Partnership cost
- Market Saturation:
- How many developers and outsource companies are available to support the platform
- Number of customers
- Cost of ownership:
- Price per user license per year
- Maintenance and scalability
- Support team availability and responsiveness
- Available courses
- Well-written documentation
- Community forums
- Platform intuitiveness and ease of use
- Platform solution marketplace where developers can earn money.
And, of course, any other driving forces satisfying our primary objective.
Each platform was carefully and deeply analyzed by comparing their criteria outlined in the conclusion section below.
The most popular platform is Salesforce. It has a vast marketplace, generating 13B USD revenue in the past year – more than 100,000 global companies use Salesforce. Trailhead offers solid developer documentation with scoring functionality. Salesforce supports a dedicated marketplace called AppExchange. Applications on AppExchange get developed on the platform where developers can sell their solutions.
With multiple “pros” and only a few “cons,” Salesforce ranks high on our list. Negative aspects include being a cloud-only platform and having a high cost per user.
Cost of ownership is the most critical criteria for us because we work primarily with small and mid size businesses. On-premises hosting is vital for the next step to develop solutions for enterprises.
Zoho, Camunda, Kony/Temenos, Mendix
Unfortunately, we have to set aside these platforms, as either the partner’s programs were not available or we had trouble communicating with their sales/support teams.
Work with Sitecore started by contacting their Support team. Support is among the critical factors in our research. The Sitecore Support team replied promptly to our first inquiry. However, there were delays with the replies afterward. A similar story happened in our communication with Appian- we received the first reply from the partner’s program manager, but communication became very slow from that point forward.
We decided to remove both Sitecore and Appian from further consideration as communication delays could negatively affect the quality of our service.
Pega responded to our inquiry with the following automated message:
“We are delighted that you have submitted your inquiry and interest to join the Pega ISV Partner Program! Since we launched the Pega ISV Program at PegaWorld in June 2018, we have received an overwhelming response. The demand has far surpassed our expectations.”
We have never received any follow-up from Pega and assumed they are not interested in adding new partners, so we moved to the next platform.
Creatio is an intuitive low-code platform with business process management built into their studio. Creatio offers a marketplace of applications, connectors, and add-ons available for developers to sell. Free courses are available to become a developer.
The Creatio manager was very helpful and his presentation of the platform was excellent. However, we ruled out Creatio because the market opportunities for this platform appeared to be limited.
Unqork is a newer start-up that launched in 2016. Its functionality resonated with us. We decided to use the low-code platform as an added development option besides the classic .NET, Java, PHP, and other languages and platforms.
Our developers completed the boot camp course. There is serious limitation – Unqork does not have BPMN type visual editor as the other platforms. But even more important – the platform is not popular, we had difficulties finding clientele in the verticals we serve.
Odoo is not just a low-code platform, it is a modular ERP platform. It is quite flexible and extensible. Python is a preferred language extending Odoo’s modules’ functionality. Odoo features a marketplace where developers can sell solutions built within the Odoo.
The cost of ownership is reasonable, comparing to other platforms. Their support and partnership program managers are outstanding. Odoo offers many well-made courses where you can learn how to develop applications.
We selected this platform for our ERP department as a second ERP platform. This addition complements our work on Acumatica, an ERP platform we are working with for over eight years.
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Corezoid is a specialized platform not listed on the Gartner diagram yet.
Corezoid has a compelling process UI where users can access tutorials to learn. The platform’s “process engine” is fast, and easy for developers to understand.
Corezoid licenses are much cheaper compared to the competitors.
The only tech disadvantage we found is the missing mature UI builder for applications. Even more important issue of Corezoid is a comparatively small user-base, but the platform is developing and, hopefully, will be able to grow the number of clients soon. We set Corezoid aside for the moment, but it remains as an option for the future consideration.
We are going to watch Corezoid closely and, based on their feature releases, we’ll review this platform again. Please subscribe to stay updated.
Conclusions From Our Selection Process
Several platforms scored well on a few important aspects, including cost-effectiveness, capabilities, and the time needed to learn it.
We subscribed to the partner’s programs on the platforms where such were available and contacted the sales department for those without them. Roughly 50% of the companies we contacted got back to us, and our list shrunk significantly, as we removed non-responsive parties.
The table below provides a short version of the No-code and Low-code platforms comparison prepared by our team. We also calculated ROI, which includes training cost, partnership cost, costs for retention of employees with experience and knowledge of a low-code platform.
|Title||Partnership Cost per year||Response Quality||Enterprise Solution||Cost per 100 users/year||Leads Delivery||Hosting Platform||Revenue (millions)||Marketplace of Modules|
|Outsystems||$ –||★★★★★||$ 48000||Hybrid||$ 200||FREE|
|Corezoid||$ –||★★★★★||$ 9600||Hybrid||$ –||NONE|
|Odoo||$ 3950||★★★★★||$ 15100||Hybrid||$ 250||PAID|
|Creatio||$ 3000||★★★★★||$ 20340||Hybrid||$ 48||PAID|
|Salesforce||$ –||★★★★☆||$ 90000||Cloud||$ 13300||PAID|
|Unqork||$ –||★★★★☆||$ –||Cloud||$ 22||NONE|
|Appian||★★★☆☆||$ 72000||Hybrid||$ 266||PAID|
|Pega||★☆☆☆☆||$ 108000||Hybrid||$ 892||FREE|
|Sitecore||★☆☆☆☆||$ –||Hybrid||$ 179||FREE|
|Mendix||☆☆☆☆☆||$ 57600||Hybrid||$ 125||PAID|
|Camunda||☆☆☆☆☆||$ –||Hybrid||$ 18.30||NONE|
|Kony|Temenos||☆☆☆☆☆||$ –||–||$ 100||NONE|
|Zoho||☆☆☆☆☆||$ 51600||Cloud||$ 451||PAID|
We’re happy to provide more detailed information upon request, as we collected more data than could be accommodated in the table above. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, need explanations, or seek clarifications.
After thorough test of available platforms, reviewed presentations, and detailed analysis of available capabilities, we selected the final group containing three platforms:
Naturally, each of the three platforms offers compelling advantages. Outsystems became our first choice low-code platform for several reasons including its large user base, its intuitive and powerful user interface, and the integration of the business processes into Service Studio.
The remaining two platforms are very powerful and interesting. Sprinterra will adopt Odoo to expand our reach in the ERP space.
Corezoid will remain on our list for further exploration and development opportunities.
Why We Chose Outsystems
Outsystems is a low-code platform that supports speedy development and offers high scalability, security, and straightforward maintenance. The learning curve is very short. Tech specialists need approximately two months to learn, get certified and start working on this platform.
One of the most outstanding benefits of using Outsystems is having a full transparency for the logic and applied business processes via diagrams. Using these diagrams greatly simplifies the work.
Below you can see the business process diagram on the left side (created in Service Studio with the Process UI) and the specific state of the business process on the right side.
The diagrams help to share the vision for the solution at work between the development team and the business users. They contain logic that doesn’t rely on code to run, which is fantastic. The screenshot below illustrates this approach.
Sprinterra is thrilled with the results. Development in Outsystems is lightning fast, and the resulting products are nearly effortless to scale and maintain.
Outsystems empowers rapid development by requiring a minimal amount of code and a comprehensive overview of business workflows.
Some projects could be accomplished in Outsystems by the business analysts without any involvement of software developers. This streamlined process is beneficial for shortening development time and cutting expenses.
If you have a software project in the pipeline that requires rapid and cost-effective implementation, please contact Sprinterra with your RFP. Our team will help you launch your product on the market faster.
If you’ve got ideas, but your RFP isn’t ready, please use our Tools to generate one automatically:
The Sprinterra Software Development team is available to help you meet and achieve your business goals and objectives, whatever they might be.
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