• Victor Kmita

Low Code, No Code, Fast Code, or RPA. Full tutorial 2021

Fast-Code vs No Code vs Low Code vs RPA: How to Choose in 2021


Business needs constant digital innovation. But how to ensure flexible commercial growth, if it takes 8-20 months to develop one custom product from scratch? Rapid application development (RAD) instruments come to the rescue. If you are at a loss to choose, we offer to disassemble the pros and cons of no/low code, fast code platforms as well as the acclaimed robotic process automation (RPA) technology. Are you ready to make up your mind effortlessly?

All You Should Know About No Code Solutions


Low Code Platforms In General


Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Is Not Low/No Code


Open-Source Fast-Code Platform to build those is missing


All You Should Know About No Code Solutions


No Code Platform Definition


Today, digital product creation lends to everyone. Even to people who have never written a single line of code. It's possible due to no-code platforms. The latter provide an intuitive environment for software development using the drag-and-drop function.


No Code Solution's Components


Must-have components of such an environment are:

  • multiple templates ready for customization by drag-and-drop;

  • features that provide elementary integration with third systems;

  • components responsible for data safety.


No Code Products


Among the most efficient no-code solutions in 2021 following G2 ranking are Appy Pie, AppSheet, Quixy, Airtable.


No Code Pros


  1. User-friendly interface. Vendors create a clear environment for the non-technical part of the target audience so that anyone can create a digital product.

  2. Fast time-to-market. Here, a user can build a solution with simple logic in a few hours.

  3. Relatively high-security level. It's the case where vendor lock is rather an advantage. The source code inaccessibility protects a user from accidental security errors.

  4. No Code platforms accelerate an enterprise's digitization.

  5. Simple software innovations take companies to a qualitatively new level of operation.


No Code Cons


  1. Limited product functionality. No code can offer a solution to a simple issue, but you shouldn't rely on developing more complex products there. A supplier puts certain functionality into the templates that cannot be changed.

  2. Vendor lock. It becomes a disadvantage when a company requires more custom results than the platform can afford. Moreover, users cannot make fundamental product updates. Each created software directly depends on a platform subordinate to the vendor.


Who Uses No Code Platforms?


As seen, no code is a great base if you need to create a simple digital enterprise transformation solution. This approach optimizes IT teamwork and helps it focus on more serious tasks. But it is completely unsuitable for solving complex problems due to its limited functionality and lack of flexibility.


Let's take an example.


Imagine you are a small business representative. You need to create a loyalty system for one small store. Almost any no-code platform offers effortless creation of mobile apps, websites, chatbots, or elementary systems. And exactly this type of instrument will become your reliable ally if you do not plan to develop the business. You don't need to hire a developer or pay for a custom product. At last, you can implement an idea, spending one day learning the platform, and the second one - creating your product.


But what if you are ambitious? If today you have a couple of hundred clients, and by the end of the year you plan to expand your audience to several thousand? - It is worth looking for alternatives. No code platform will help you to create a solution, but, in this case, it will not allow you to maintain and develop it as needed. You will lose out in scalability and agility. The opportunity to expand the number of clients exists, but you have to buy it as a part of an expensive tariff plan. Not every small business can afford this luxury. One of two things remains: either start with no code and then completely change the product, or initially consider other options.


Low Code Platforms In General


Low Code Platform Definition


Low code platforms are a lot like no code ones. The same intuitive interface, fast results, and accessibility. The main distinguishing feature is the necessity to apply coding for configurations of ready-made templates. Thus, a low code solution is a RAD instrument that allows the creation of comparatively complicated products, using a limited amount of custom code. It's predicted that the global low code solutions market size will be $13.8 bn in 2021.


Low Code Products


As of 2021, Gartner highlighted the following low code platforms as the best ones: OutSystems, Appian, Quick Base, Power Apps.


Low Code Pros

  1. More scalable and customized product, compared with no code-based. Yes, here a user has much more freedom than in the previous case. It's because of coding usage. Clients operate with built-in templates, but they can make them more individual.

  2. Wide range of users. These solutions are also available for any team member. No matter who you are: developer or manager - you can configure a needed product there.

  3. Low cost. If you should choose between development from scratch or low code one, the latest will be cheaper and rapid.


Low Code Cons


  1. No efficient custom updates. Don't waste your time making general updates in low code-based products. Most likely, they will be destroyed by supplier's initiatives. So, despite the illusion of flexibility, here you also will not manage your product.

  2. Sometimes poor integration. Choosing a low code platform for development, make sure a result will be flawlessly suitable for your existing software. Often it's hard to integrate low code-based solutions with legacy systems and third-party services.

  3. Costly maintenance. If you want to use any certain low code environment effectively - get ready to find an engineer, specialized in it. Despite their simplicity, low code platforms have a complex nature. You can't design a desirable solution without a narrow-profile expert. Here the two core problems arise:

  • it's hard to find an experienced developer. Yes, you still do need a developer to cover real business issues, they are called citizen developers

  • if you find a rockstar in a required technology, you have to pay a lot for the assistance.


Who Uses Low Code Platforms?


Companies of different sizes sincerely prefer these products. They like the ability to implement ideas immediately.


In the case of small businesses, they are more reliable than no code ones. Low code platforms can provide a bit more opportunities for growth.


For middle representatives, low code platforms help to receive cost-effective products, speed up a workflow, and automate processes.


For large enterprises, it's a chance to fix organizational issues. For instance, to launch an internal training app or leave a request app.


Developers admit low code platforms are so convenient. But they also warn of open-source absence and limitations that will prevent users from developing a product with complex business logic there.


Let's go back to our example. You definitely can design a loyalty system, using low code instruments. But a range of maintenance obstacles will remain the same: no required scalability, agility, customization, integration. Your opportunities will always be limited by your tariff.


Robotic Process Automation Is Not Low/No Code


RPA Definition


One more auxiliary tool that has been gaining popularity in the past few years is robotic process automation (RPA) software. Judge for yourself. According to Gartner, the robotic process automation market is one of the fastest-growing. It's predicted that it will gain up to $1888 mln in 2021. Following forecasts, by 2022, 90% of large organizations worldwide will apply RPA as they strive to empower mission-critical business processes.


So what is this miracle tool?


It's a group of technologies that are based on the various bots usage and are designed to automate repetitive tasks. They are integrated with core business systems, automating elementary tasks at the operational level.


How does RPA work?


Due to the user interface, a bot forms an algorithm of actions based on the human ones' recording. In other words, if you want that a bot starts doing routine work for you, you should show it an example first. It will copy the set and sequence of actions to perform the operation error-free.


Why RPA Is Not A No/Low Code Platform


Large vendors know the robotic process automation tools future. That's why they are looking to buy or merge with successful RPA companies. Let's take IBM and WDG Automation union in 2020. IBM will integrate 600 RPA functions from its affiliated entity WDG Automation into the Cloud Pack for Automation.


Or let's dive into history and recall the acquisition of RPA Contextor by SAP Leonardo.


Moreover, there are many no/low code giants that also hunt for RPA. So it might seem that robotic process automation is something very similar to the products we talked about earlier. In fact, these instruments are on different planes. The only common thing between them is the ultimate goal: to optimize processes.


Here's what Francis Carden,

VP, Intelligent Automation and Robotics at Pegasystems says about it:


"Automating old processes on old legacy systems with RPA in a visual IDE is a far cry from designing, building, deploying, and managing entirely new digital applications and systems in low code and no-code platforms.
The RPA "term" got its legs on the promises of being easy to use and how business people can automate anything without IT. This is true for a lot of easy stuff but rarely does this get you beyond a few bots because, well basically, there's not much "easy to automate" stuff left."

Thus, we can conclude that RPA helps employees to solve local issues by configuring robots without IT-team participation. While no/low code products allow the creation of new products that can transform legacy systems.


RPA Products


Among the most widespread RPA solutions in 2021 are UiPath Platform, Automation Anywhere Enterprise RPA Platform, Blue Prism, TruBot.


RPA Pros


  1. No routine tasks. It means that your employees will do what develops both them and your business. Moreover, since bots can be customized without the engineers' involvement, your team will have a lot of time to develop strategically important software.

  2. Reliability. The robot's work is not characterized by human factor presence. The system will work flawlessly 24/7, which cannot be said about people.

  3. RPA is multitasking. It can perform several functions, instantly switching between them.

  4. No lengthy approvals. It's a way to drive innovation without getting bogged down in business demagoguery. Elementary solution implementation does not require significant investments and does not bear great risks. No one convenes the board of directors on this matter. Therefore, RPA instruments can be implemented quickly.

  5. Ease of use. The company must ensure that its employees are ready for digital transformation. Otherwise, this idea will not be implemented. RPA forms the basis for the further perception of innovations, because:

  • as it was said, it saves employees from routine work

  • and it is intuitive to use, working on a "show once, use always" principle.


RPA Cons


  1. Only simple operations like basic paper-work. RPA is not designed to optimize a large number of complex processes. Typically, here one or a few more easy procedures are involved, such as entering data into a system, formatting data for reporting, etc.

  2. Software gets tired too. Sometimes there are failures in RPA and it cannot be avoided. But, anyway, this tool is much more adaptable to the long-term performance of one routine task than an ordinary employee.


Who Uses RPA?


Practically every company needs routine procedures minimization. That's why robotic process automation is commonly used in healthcare, air transportation, media, financial, delivery areas, etc. For instance, Ecolab used the UiPath RPA product to reduce order processing times and handle a 10X spike in hand sanitizer orders.


Let's go back to our attempt to create a loyalty system. Can you build it using just an RPA solution? As you might guess - no.


Robotic process automation tools can transform existing processes, but new system development for them is a daunting task. Anyway, they will help you update customer profiles, send them notifications of new marketing campaigns, and more.


Thus, this instrument is a must for all businesses that suffer from an overabundance of standard tasks and cannot optimize them.


So take inspiration from the experiences of giants like Google, Airbus, Virgin Media, DHL, and consider RPA product implementation.


Open-Source Fast-Code Platform to build those is missing


Fast Code Platform Definition


If you have come to this point, you are probably wondering: "Is there a versatile tool that will provide the desired result and eliminate the necessity to worry about the environment's shortcomings?"


We at XME.digital have thought about it a bit earlier and created an open-source platform as a service for your needs. It is a hybrid solution that combines the advantages of RAD and development from scratch.


XME.platform is an environment with built-in templates which you can configure without limitations. The operation requires coding that provides product flexibility. Working in the environment, you can find the

real results of other companies and modify them following your requirements.


Fast Code Platform Pros


  1. No vendor lock. It is difficult to find an open-source product that allows rapid development. We decided to break stereotypes for your convenience. Now you can develop a product using the ready-made source code and transforming it as you wish. At the same time, there is no dependence on the vendor. You will be able to maintain your solution seamlessly, and use the source code as a basis for further development, regardless of whether you have a subscription to XME.platform.

  2. Multitenancy is no longer a problem to create SaaS solutions or products for a wide range of internal tenants. You can use this feature to try different variations and find the right one without wasting time and resources.

  3. Reporting feature. XME.fast code platform can proceed with product performance data. Recently we have designed a solution for smart houses' software updating. Our client - a global company that serves 1 mln smart houses worldwide. We provide it with accurate report information about this service efficiency. Thus, you don't always need RPA to streamline routine processes. It's enough to have a versatile XME.

  4. Full freedom. Here, your options do not depend on how much you pay to use the platform. We provide unlimited scalability, integrability, and modern technology support.

  5. Clear interface. We strive to ensure that a developer develops, and a business analyst creates a workflow. Fast code platform is clear for both engineers and business representatives with basic coding skills. By the way, here you do not need the narrow-profile specialist assistance. Several Java developers will be enough.

  6. Fast hypothesis checking. Has it ever happened that you have an amazing idea, as well as significant risks, that it will not work? With the fast code platform, you can evaluate a hypothesis almost immediately without waiting for the end of the development cycle. It takes only 2-4 weeks to create a working prototype and test it.


Who Uses The Fast Code Platform


It doesn't matter who you are: retailer, telecom operator, or manufacturer. It also doesn't matter what product you strive to design: for internal usage, for service provision to third parties, or workflow optimization.


Here any development, including the loyalty system creation will take 2 times less time than creation from scratch. But what makes working with the fast code platform different? - Ease of maintenance. Available resources, the ability to update a solution whenever you need and reuse existing results. It is a completely new level of working with RAD tools.


If your company needs fast development of independent custom products - XME.platform can come in handy.


We have already helped to design 400 robust high-scalable apps for companies like Vodafone, Clarity Labs, and Crane Payment Innovations.


The Bottom Line


The choice of rapid application development instruments in 2021 is quite wide. We advise you to arm yourself with information and make a decision based on the current needs of your business. It is worth saying that there are no bad products among the discussed ones. Each of them perfectly fulfills its functions for a specific audience. Decide which one you belong to and choose the most suitable option.