Low Code

team discussing low code software development in an office

Low code software development uses a visual platform to minimize hand coding of applications. A visual development environment allows developers to specify the required functionality. The development platform generates the vast majority of application code as defined by the developer.

Why is This Approach Appealing?

Low code development enables applications to be written faster than traditional approaches. Most of the code is generated by the development platform, so developers are more productive, making it less error-prone or buggy. Hand-coded applications require more maintenance and testing because the code is developed procedurally at a lower level. When servers were less powerful than today, applications had to be hand-coded to maximize resource efficiency. Higher-level code generation uses a non-procedural approach that specifies what applications should do at a higher level, making it easier to maintain.

Before Low Code

When computers had limited CPU power and memory, programmers coded each instruction in a low-level language such as Assembler. As computers became more powerful, richer applications were developed in third-generation languages, making them far more readable and maintainable. Compilers for programming languages such as COBOL and C would generate machine-readable executable code. Many transactional applications still operating today were developed in a 3-GL language.

The primary reason low code application development was less prevalent in the past was efficiency. A 4GL tended to be relatively verbose, executing more lines of code than a hand-written application. Today, servers have faster CPUs with multiple cores and plenty of cache, which mitigates the efficiency argument. The only other downside of switching to low code is that developers have less low-level control of how an application executes. In these situations, most 4GLs allow hand-coded plug-ins.

Why is Low Code Application Development Growing in Popularity?

As companies need to develop more applications faster without high maintenance overheads, they can achieve more productivity from their finite developer resources. Generative AI has evolved to the level that it can generate almost complete applications from descriptions written in plain English. Even if applications aren’t fully hand-coded, low code development is increasingly being used to augment more traditional development efforts.


Below are some of the benefits of using low code development:

  • Applications can be written faster than hand-coding.
  • Developers only need to maintain code specifications which are much smaller than generated or hand-written code. This makes low code applications more manageable and less costly to maintain.
  • Low code platforms allow the generated code to be written in different languages, such as JavaScript, C, and HTML5. This optimizes applications for mobile devices, web browsers, and different hardware.
  • Application components are highly reusable to protect investments in applications.
  • Applications become future-proof as code can be created for containerization or component architectures without re-coding.
  • Low code and no code adoption rates are expected to be close to 75% by 2025, and many enterprises will use more than one development platform.
  • Low code approaches avoid common bugs, such as developers forgetting to code for each potential exception or initializing variables that often lead to unexpected errors. Code generators implement such best practices by default.

Actian and Low Code Development

Actian’s OpenROAD Workbench is an integrated development environment (IDE) that creates and maintains low-code applications. OpenROAD provides a visual development environment where developers can design user interface components using drag-and-drop tools, visual editors, and wizards. This makes it easier for developers to create complex user interface layouts without writing extensive custom code and easily reuse business logic to preserve and protect your application development investment.

Deploy OpenROAD Server in the cloud using microservices and containers for portable and scalable business logic, fast communication between distributed systems, and simplified rapid development with Volt MX, .NET, Java, and OpenROAD.

The OpenROAD gRPC architecture supports multiple server architectures, microservices, and containers. Data-centric applications support popular databases on Windows and Unix, allowing a single Enterprise Access client application to access different data sources.

Learn more about Actian OpenROAD here.