No-code vs low-code
A common mistake is the grouping of no-code and low-code platforms as one in the same when in fact they are quite different. These differences vary greatly from audience type - no-code empowers citizen developers while low-code still requires technical capabilities- to how an application can be shared.
Data vs code
No-code platforms use a data-driven approach to build applications. Simply connect your data source and you have the foundational component to build an application. There are of course helpful tricks that will help set you up for better success as an app creator when it comes to your data. Data design is an important one - the better your data design at the outset, the better you can reach your design goals for your application.
AppSheet takes data-driven app building one step further by baking in AI and ML capabilities that analyze your data and provide smart suggestions based on your data inputs. Have a date column in your spreadsheet? A calendar suggestion will appear. Are you using a series of actions in your behaviors section? A handful of workflow suggestions may be listed for you to select from.
Low-code applications on the other hand still require the use of code to build applications. Calendar views and the implementation of workflows are done so with the use of code. If you are a skilled developer, this process may be preferred simply because you prefer the use of code, but for those wanting to quickly build an application for scheduling employees, learning a new language on top of keeping your team running can be a barrier of entry.
Data driven UX vs custom CSS
Remember the calendar suggestion? That comes from what’s called a UX view type. View types are the way in which your data is displayed in your application. Much of this is dependent on the type of data captured in columns, also known as a column (data) type. If you’re working with addresses, your AppSheet editor may suggest adding a Map view type to interact with Google Maps within your application. Remember, this is all possible without writing a line of code.
View types aside, making the app look and feel like your own is often what’s most important. For those with experience coding, low-code platforms may provide the upper hand as you can write custom CSS for your applications. To compliment the coding capabilities of low-code platforms, however, AppSheet has been expanding their branding offerings to include options such as a color picker and logo placement.
Expressions vs logic
The last category to touch on is related to how one expresses facts and rules within their applications. This area can become rather complex rather quickly, so we’re going to keep it as simple as possible.
No-code platforms do not contain any code. There’s no code editors, no script to access, just data. That being said, there is a way to customize the look, the behavior, and more within your application based on certain rules. In AppSheet this is performed with expressions. In low-code, these facts and rules are created with logic. If you are a professional developer, logic (and therefore low-code) may be the preferred route to go. For those unfamiliar with logic programming, AppSheet’s expressions are going to be a great place to get started.
The above three categories are by no means exhaustive, but they are a great place to begin to understand what sets the two types of technology apart.
By Jennifer Cadence