Software AG moved into the codeless development space when it acquired cloud platform vendor LongJump this spring. The service has been rebranded AgileAppsLive. Visually developed, process-driven applications can be created without writing code, such as an employee onboarding system, Malviya says. These can be deployed in private or public clouds, on-premise or to mobile devices.
LongJump client Economic Modeling Specialists, which provides Web-based tools for looking at labor market data, has used the platform to fashion record-keeping applications. The company is moving over to AgileAppsLive. A junior developer has been designated to work with the platform, says David Wallace, project manager at Economic Modeling Specialists.
"We basically explain to him, 'Here's what we want to do, here's the kind of report we need,'" Wallace says. The developer then figures out database fields and can build workflows and automated triggers. "It has a workflow built into it."
LongJump enables building of forms-based business applications, Wallace says. "[It] has saved us a ton of money, a ton of time," he says. "It's just a flexible, prebuilt structure that really lets us fly."
Codeless approaches can be limiting
Still, these tools have their limitations -- particularly when it comes to integration. Integrating with mainframes via codeless platforms can be an issue, Norton notes, and a skill set has to be acquired. "The limitation of any high-productivity environment or model-driven environment is it needs a different set of skills [than] traditional language-based development like Java or .Net," Norton says. Application builders need to deal with abstraction and models.
While acknowledging that "codeless" development expands software building beyond just developers, Rymer sees the risk of vendor lock-in. "These are completely proprietary environments, most of which are provided by small vendors." He also rejects the term "codeless," saying, "These environments allow delivery of simple applications without writing code. But in the real world, there's usually some [code] somewhere in the project." He cited integration as a place where custom code is needed.
Java and .Net developers will not be losing their jobs over the codeless environments, Norton says, and there will always be a need for developers who could build something such as a complex billing system faster in Java than it could be done in Unified Modeling Language In some corporations, abstract- and model-based approaches to development do not fit in with the culture, according to Norton.
But productivity can be much greater with the codeless tools. Users can become productive in a matter of days, Norton says: "Once you get people trained up, their productivity can be eight to 12 times higher" than with standard development using Java or .Net.
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