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Recently I have come across this article, which claims that "low-code" development is very important in the rapidly changing world of software engineering. I got the idea that "low-code" has something to do with high-level programming and small sized code, but without a formal definition of what it actually is, the concept remains quite vague in my mind. So, since I couldn't find a question relating to this concept here (hope I didn't miss anything), I thought I'd ask the specialists:

  • What is the formal definition for low-code development (if exists)?
  • Does it refer to a specific set of programing languages, or is it just a general concept / set of guidelines on how to write software?
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Low code gives users the ability to make modifications to an application with little or no code.

An example would be of a GUI interface that allowed the drawing of data form objects (text box, list box, check box and labels), link them to a table and allow CRUD all without the "user" writing any code or maybe they write a formula or two for calculations and/or data check. Of course the builders of the application have to create all of this capability. Microsoft Access is an example of having low code capabilities even though, it has a lot of other full coding features as well. Salesforce.com offers this in a web app.

The idea is to empower those that are more familiar with the business side of the application to make modifications without being a programmer. I personally like the idea of taking off mundane development tasks off of my plate. Users like it because they can have changes made faster without bothering the IT department. Of course there are limitations (Unless you build it very, very well.) on the functionality they have at their disposal along with many coding practices (source/version control, tests, performance, etc.).

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    Despite the fact that we've had tools like this for literally decades, the state of the art of modern software development has drifted away from using them. Most modern software development is very code-centric, and I don't see that changing any time soon, unless the next generation of visual tools becomes really compelling. – Robert Harvey Jun 3 '16 at 18:09
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    And you're right; the audience for such tools is business analysts for the most part, not software developers. We'll see if it catches on or not; I eagerly await the next generation of applications with 300 controls on a single form, and one database table backing it. – Robert Harvey Jun 3 '16 at 18:12
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    @RobertHarvey In my experience these tools are managed by business users until they've painted themselves into a corner. Then developers are brought in to untangle a gigantic mess of unreliable buggy garbage with gobs of unnecessary complexity. These tools lack things that any decent development platform would have (because they aren't made for developers) and usually require opening lots of little dialogs in order to make the same change in 5000 different places. Also, they use source files that no merge tool can make sense with so team development is a nightmare. – JimmyJames Jun 3 '16 at 18:54
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    And yet they're now being held up as the next "silver bullet," and even given a new marketing term. Hooray for enterprise! – Robert Harvey Jun 3 '16 at 18:57
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    @RobertHarvey: But think of the synergies you'll be able to leverage by enabling low-code applications in your enterprise cloud. :-) – Blrfl Jun 3 '16 at 19:23

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