Creatio updates Atlas low-code platform to make it easier to reuse code

The new version of Creatio's low-code development platform lets developers take a "composable" approach to building apps by reusing previously engineered components, adds AI assistance for UI/UX design, and offers a new, unified development console.

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At a time when companies are increasingly turning to low-code development, Creatio has released a new version of its low-code development platform, Creatio 8.0 Atlas, adding an updated and unified no-code development console, an AI-assisted UI/UX framework configurator, and the ability to more easily reuse already engineered components at any step of the application development process.

Enterprises have been under pressure during the pandemic to bring certain types of apps, such as cloud-based programs, to market faster, and are increasingly adopting low/no-code development platforms, otherwise known as LCAPs, to ensure collaboration among IT and business teams and reduce the time it takes to build applications, according to market research firm Gartner.

LCAPs allow non-expert programmers including business analysts to build applications. By 2025, 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code technologies, up from less than 25% in 2020, according to Gartner.

AI assists UI design

The new Creatio platform release includes an AI-assisted framework for UI/UX design, dubbed Freedom UI. It contains a library of predefined views, widgets, and templates to accelerate the design process, is adaptable to different screens and devices, and complies with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) requirements, according to the company.

“Freedom UI’s AI module, after self-learning, will drive recommendations to developers in terms of elements and styles while designing an application depending on what the app is being made for,” said Andie Dovgan, chief growth officer at Creatio.

The AI-assisted design software will help enterprises train more developers in a short time period, said Dion Hinchcliffe, principal analyst at Constellation Research. “Low and no-skill developers will need assistance nearly every step of the way. AI-based suggestions can accelerate their usage and learning about the tool, making solution development more streamlined and faster, with less education required,” Hinchcliffe said.

Creatio’s approach seems to be based on the premise of creating as many developers as possible, Hinchcliffe added. “This approach allows low or unskilled developers to design apps that can be used on many different types of devices without having a professional front-end developer who knows how to create responsible style apps. This makes it more likely that useful business applications will be developed,” Hinchliffe said.

The analyst said, however, that there is tough competition in the market for low-code software as there are many vendors who provide AI-based tools to assist citizen developers. One such example is the adoption of the GPT-3 AI language prediction model within Microsoft's low-code PowerApps tool to turn a worker's natural language specifications into actual code

Simplifying no-code development

Creatio’s Atlas 8.0 release also includes an updated, unified no-code console, within which low-code developers can set up data models and access rights, design workflows, enable no-code integrations using SOAP and REST services, and launch applications.

The unified console also allows experienced, professional developers to access more sophisticated configuration tools.This facilitates collaborative development among professional and less experienced developers,  further democratizing the citizen development phenomenon within enterprises, according to the company.

“We are using the same tools but packing them in a way that it brings down the barriers to start using LCAPs,” Dovgan said.

Constellation's Hinchcliffe said that while some vendors are making interfaces only coders will really understand, Creatio’s approach of simplifying the development process with something similar to a one-stop console can benefit enterprises with development cycle times as developers will not need to search for features.

Reusing already engineered elements 

The new version of Creatio’s LCAP takes what the company calls a "composable" approach to development, allowing developers to reuse already engineered elements directly from the console as part of the application development process.

“The composable no-code development process allows users to assemble applications and reuse components leveraging the ‘Lego blocks’ approach,” Dovgan said, adding that developers could also use applications, connectors and templates from its marketplace with “just one click to include it in the design process.”

The concept of being able to reuse already created or engineered elements is long sought after in software development circles, Hinchcliffe said, adding that the idea is to allow every functionality or capability someone built in no-code for the business to be easily shared and reused by everyone else.  

“Most code can't easily be repurposed or reused, but if you ensure no-code solutions are built to be composable, now you can accumulate features that can be reused across the enterprise. Popular no-code views of features could spread virally, saving time and effort everywhere by spreading local innovations. Not many no-code/low-code platforms do this today, although a few do, but very differently than this,” Hinchcliffe said.

Some of the other enhancements in the new Atlas version include ALM (application lifecycle management) capabilities that allow no-code developers to view available instances, perform typical deployment operations and orchestrate applications at each stage of the development lifecycle.

The ALM portal allows for the possibility of organizing the work of different teams (no-code architects, no-code developers, professional developers, etc.), while managing collaborative processes, Dovgan said.

Rivals galore in low-code market

According to Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant report for enterprise low-code application platforms, there are many challengers to Creatio that are trying to cater to enterprises’ demand for democratization of app development, hyperautomation and composability.

In terms of business performance, product and go-to-market strategy, Gartner’s latest report shows that Microsoft, Mendix, OutSystems, Salesforce and ServiceNow lead the LCAP market and Appian, Oracle, and Pega are close challengers to them. The research firm counts Creatio, Newgen, Kintone, and Quickbase as niche players.

Enterprise LCAPs are part of the overall low-code development technologies market, which is expected to reach $29 billion in revenue by 2025 (with a CAGR, or compound annual growth rate, of more than 20%), the research firm said. It further said that specifically, the LCAP segment is projected to expand from $4.45 billion to $14.38 billion between 2020 and 2025, with a CAGR of 26.4%.

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