In this article, I discuss the way that Low-Code Development has revolutionized the Software Development field and how the approach could be implemented as a part of higher education studies. As a result of the increased importance of Low-Code development, we at HAMK have included the Low-Code Development as a part of our curriculum in our degree programmes Information Business Technology (conducted in Finnish) and Computer Application (conducted in English).
The rapid pace of digital transformation is driving us towards new and more efficient approaches for accelerating the development. One of these technologies is the Low-Code Software Development. Low-Code is not a new approach in the technology field, but its rapidly increased usage has revolutionised the software industry. This kind of software development approach enables to quickly deliver and modernize business solutions. Instead of extensive coding, the developer uses visual interfaces that include simple logic and the possibility of dragging and dropping functionalities.
When speaking of Low-Code, it is often referred to the “Citizen Developer” term. The term, briefly explained, means that anyone with basic software development skills has the possibility to build applications. There are also Professional Software Developers among Low-Code development users. Varying on complexity of the application, they are responsible for developing the more complicated parts of the implementation.
The Benefits of Low-Code Approach
Depending on the Low-Code Platform used, the approach offers possibilities to create e.g., mobile apps, portals, desktop apps, or automate and streamline some of the business processes. The approach enables development in a fusion or multidisciplinary team. This kind of team can be a blend of technology, domain, and business experts. Together as a Scrum team, they all share accountability for business and technology outcomes. A Scrum team is a team of e.g. product owner, developers, experts that collaborate and together work toward completing the project and delivering the outcome.
Low-Code development approach can be beneficial for Proof Of Concept development (PoC). With the help of the PoC, it is possible to test if the idea (e.g., developing a mobile app for the customers) is viable and if the concept can be turned into a reality. With the help of this technology, it is possible to implement routine tasks, which enables faster development for the first version of the PoC. This will help stakeholders and investors to understand the outcome better, and in best case scenario to also evaluate if the outcome is viable and profitable if created.
As mentioned above, this approach is suitable for the Citizen Developers. However, it is important to emphasize that for these Citizen Developers, it is important to have deeper knowledge of software development. For example, designing an accessible user-interface for the application is a crucial part of the development process. The importance of knowledge like software design, data privacy, data modelling and data relationships knowledge as part of the Low-Code development process should also be emphasized. We can agree on the fact that this approach opens doors and possibilities for the Citizen Developers, but experts are needed to in some cases validate these developed applications.
Low-Code Development as Part of HAMK Degree Programmes
In cooperation with OutSystems, we offer a course named “Low-Code Development with OutSystems”. OutSystems is a Low-Code Development Platform for rapidly creating and deploying applications. In addition to our students, the course is available also for other students via CampusOnline and Open University channels. During this course, the student will carry out the guided training path named ”Becoming a Reactive Web Developer”. The students will also have the possibility to pursue the certification offered by OutSystems for free.
In addition to this course, Low-Code technology is implemented in parts of our curriculum, such as “Cloud-based Business Solutions” course. In this course, Microsoft’s Power Platform is implemented as a Low-Code development environment.
Low-Code development approach provides a framework for the students who are not so much into coding. The feedback from these students has been that with the help of the Low-Code approach, they understand better their role in the development process. I would say that these students are in between the Citizen Developers and Professional Coders.
For the students who pursue the Professional Coder career, Low-Code development approach provides fast track for creating applications that can be developed via different Low-Code Platforms. In addition, they can focus more on more complex implementations, while other parts can be easily developed by Low-Code developers.
Overall, Low-Code development is going to be a crucial factor in accelerating the digitalisation process in many companies. Enabling this kind of flexible and rapid development is very important for business goals and future digitalisation. However, general guidelines and frameworks as well as skills in basics of software development are required for verifying the process.
Mirlinda Kosova-Alija, Senior Lecturer and Vice Head of the Degree Programme.
Degree Progammes: Information Business Technology (conducted In Finnish) and Computer Application (conducted in English)