Low-code for the professional developer

5 ways the Progress Kinvey platform tailors low-code development to professional programmers

Low-code for the professional developer
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Surveys have shown that professional app developers are skeptical of traditional low-code platforms. Developers fear that low-code platforms will strip them of control, force them to use unfamiliar proprietary tools, and tie them to aging architectures and hybrid mobile containers. Progress takes a different approach to low-code that aims to avoid these pitfalls.

While Progress caters to professional developers, we also support every key business application team member including designers, devops, and data scientists. We also have the enterprise architect in mind, which drives our hosted, cloud-native serverless architecture. While there are many differences between our approach and traditional low-code solutions, let’s look at the key distinctions that appeal to professional developers.

Standard and open technology

While traditional low-code vendors may support a standard language, that doesn’t mean their application development cycle itself is standard. It also doesn’t mean that it is easy to edit or sometimes even access the code that is generated by these platforms.

With Kinvey, everything is standards-based and completely open. Kinvey takes a full-stack JavaScript approach that leverages open-source NativeScript for iOS and Android and Kendo UI for web development. This front-end code is cleanly decoupled from the Node.js back-end, which is deployed as a combination of serverless functions and microservices. Developers are free to use popular frameworks like Angular or Vue along with their IDE of choice.

While Kinvey Studio visually scaffolds the application, the generated code is completely accessible and clearly labeled where custom code can be placed. This allows other tools such as Visual Studio Code to be used while still maintaining the Kinvey Studio workflow with roundtrip code support between any IDE and Kinvey Studio. Developers are free to use other tools as well, including their preferred CI/CD tools, version control systems, etc.

Developer focus on app and business logic

If you ask most developers, they get truly excited when they can focus on delivering cool application functionality, rather than spend time on infrastructure, integration, and setup drudgery. This is where traditional low-code platforms excel, but at a cost that professional developers resist.

While Kinvey provides the visual development capability for front-end development, what sets Kinvey apart are its no-code capabilities. No-code configuration simplifies difficult back-end tasks, like integration into enterprise data sources and systems, enterprise authentication support for things like Active Directory and SAML as well as social authentication for customer-facing experiences.

The developer simply configures a collection with the data the application needs and visually connects this collection to back-end data sources that exist on-premises or in any cloud. In a similar fashion, authentication is enabled via simple configuration and platform options that are automatically compliant with standards such as HIPAA and SOC 2.

Support for new app experiences

Most application platforms available today have been retrofitted to support mobile. However, the ability to create the web and mobile experiences that today’s users expect—truly omnichannel experiences that include chat, conversational, AR, VR, and microapps—is often out of scope or enabled via APIs to third-party systems.

Kinvey Chat provides a low-code approach for creating transactional chat experiences using machine learning and conversation flows. Instead of coding complex decision-tree logic, JSON-based conversation flows are used and the bot is dynamically trained to collect user input and converse naturally.

Kinvey also supports a new digital concept called microapps—think next-generation enterprise portals. Microapps are a “universal” company-branded app that allows common employee actions to be managed within a single container app, enabling businesses to minimize the number of apps in use. A microapp features an event-style architecture, where capabilities are fed to the app in the form of app cards that the employee can easily process.

Cloud-native serverless and microservices architecture

Strategic-minded application developers understand the value of modern architecture principles. They know that simply exposing an API and using Kubernetes or Docker as a delivery mechanism for archive file deployment doesn’t turn a monolithic application into a serverless cloud-native architecture.

Kinvey was architected from the ground up to support microservices and serverless Lambda-style functions. The developer focuses on the business logic and Progress manages the hosted cloud infrastructure, including auto-scaling of functions and microservices. In other words, Kinvey combines low-code development with serverless capabilities akin to what is provided by cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon and Google. These capabilities make it easy for organizations to realize the architectural benefits of the cloud without dealing with bare-metal cloud complexity and licensing uncertainty based on unknown usage. This approach enables JavaScript developers to build new workloads, including event-style and IoT.

Support for designers and data scientists

Progress supports the ability for designers to work effectively with developers, using their design tool of choice. A design-to-code approach with roundtrip capability between the design tool and the development environment facilitates collaboration and ensures a pixel-perfect implementation of the actual design. Just as devops has helped close the gulf between app dev and IT ops, “designops” will help designers and developers work together more effectively.

Turning to another critical discipline relating to modern business applications, Progress provides an automated data science workbench that uses an AutoML approach with unsupervised learning to engineer features, run model experiments, and deploy and maintain production models. It is an ideal way for developers to participate in the analytics process as everything that is automated is transparent, allowing developers to learn the art of data science.

Progress Kinvey is not trying to be all things to all people, but if you are a professional development organization looking to speed up the introduction of applications that support multiple digital channels with your existing skill sets, Kinvey is a good fit.

Mark Troester is vice president of strategy at Progress.

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