No-code platforms vs Low-code platforms: Are they similar?

There are a myriad of superficial and ‘under the hood’ differences that distinguish no-code and low-code approaches for enterprise application development

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The short answer is no, they are not similar or the same. Given the recent attention around no-code (NC) and low-code (LC) platforms, it is easy to confuse the two or consider them synonymous. Analysts and advocates of the technology revolution often bundle them together as an alternative for enterprise application development given their promise of agility and efficiency in development over the traditional approach. While both NC and LC are an alternative to traditional application development, there are a myriad of superficial and ‘under the hood’ differences that distinguish these two approaches for enterprise application development.


Before we get into what the differences are, it is important to know why the difference needs to be understood. LC and NC platforms rose to prominence with the promise of replacing the code syntax with visual based tools which can help in accelerating the development timeframes for applications in order to meet business outcomes quickly. LC platforms aimed at achieving this promise by inserting visual elements at certain points in the application development journey such as creating web forms and adding custom fields to a form (think common business feature requests) which can be dragged and dropped by the developer instead of writing code syntax. While this improved the speed of development to an extent, writing complex logic was still necessary for meeting specific business workflows and custom requirements. Building an end-to-end application still requires the developer to write custom scripts and complex code. LC platforms, therefore, are merely handy tools for the developer to skip or speed up parts of the development but not the entire application.

NC platforms, on the other hand, are for business users or non-technical professionals. In an NC platform, components that are required to build an application are pre-built and provided to the user. Similar to how components are available in a PowerPoint presentation or an Excel workbook, the business user can string these pre-built components together to meet the outcome required. NC platforms are unified platforms that can be used by enterprises to build, deploy, and manage applications without the need to manage or run any individual parts. These platforms are used by business users and predominantly non-technical professionals who don’t have any prior knowledge or understanding of code syntax or application development.

The unified NC platform empowers any user to build and manage applications using visual drag-and-drop interfaces without writing a single line of code. Moreover, standard security and application administration features such as audit logging, identity access management and infosec setup are also prebuilt parts of the platform and do not require any additional management. LC platforms are a set of tools for a developer having coding knowledge/ experience to create parts of the application using visual interfaces vs coding syntax. As the main user of the platform is so different, some key differences distinguish the two:


Level of coding expertise required to operate: LC platforms require minimal to some hand-coding with pre-created blocks of existing code which a developer can make use of while building software. On the other hand, NC platforms require no coding with components available to build a business application using the drag-and-drop components.

Coding/ scripting language to be used: Depending on the platform provider, a scripting language is provided in the LC platform. NC platforms, on the other hand, have a visual drag-and-drop interface without the need to write a single line of code or script for any process.

Ongoing maintenance: In LC platforms, custom coding is required which often leads to bespoke development across applications and increases the overall maintenance challenges and management. NC platforms provide a single unified platform for all applications with managed upgrades for underlying technology leading to minimal challenges in ongoing maintenance.


Primary use case: The primary use case for LC platforms is for single purpose back-end applications with limited features and the need to manage ongoing improvements. NC platforms provide limitless opportunities for building any and every front-end as well as back-end enterprise application.

Give the above key differences, it is important to mark the difference between the two platforms and keep them in separate categories. LC and NC platforms are gaining prominence as the preferred mode of development for enterprises given their promise on speed and agility. While LC platforms have somewhat improved the application development timelines, only NC platforms can meet the expectations in speed and agility demands of enterprises today. Using them interchangeably may lead organizations making the wrong set of technology investments that may become cumbersome to reverse.

The article is authored by Viraj Shah, Leader- Business Solution, Acies

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