From fast to faster: Boost developer talent with high- productivity platforms

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Fast is no longer fast enough when it comes to building applications.

Long are the days when developing apps and taking them to market could constitute a lengthy project. Unforgiving market competition and increasing business demands have led the app development lifecycle to shorten dramatically, with apps expected to be market-ready within weeks.

Is this an unrealistic expectation for the developer community? Not necessarily. It’s well understood that providing the right toolsets and platforms to developers can make their job easier, speed up the development process and help them deliver better apps. But every new technological implementation comes with opportunity and cost attached to it. Often the cost takes the form of having to expand the developer team, or re-train the existing team to ensure they have the right skillset to utilise new development platforms. This requires financial and time investment that further delays the actual app development process.

High-productivity and low-code platforms can fundamentally change the game. They not only enable developers to build apps faster than ever, but they also empower them by giving them the control they need to do their best work. But although these terms tend to be used interchangeably, they, in fact, refer to different development frameworks. To ensure that they choose the right productivity platform that fits their needs, businesses need to understand the difference between traditional low-code and high-productivity platform.

Traditional low-code vs. high-productivity platforms

Low-code application development platforms are a good solution for the rapid delivery of enterprise applications with minimal hand-coding. However, traditional low-code platforms come with caveats as speed and ease of use are often compromised by a set of limitations. One of the key issues with these deployments has to do with poor user experience and performance. Traditional low-code platforms deliver hybrid apps that experience latency and are less flexible, customisable and interactive.

In addition, low-code platforms often need developers to retrain in order to acquire the right skills, leading to further delays and costs in the development process. Finally, these platforms are often dependent on proprietary vendor technology and customisations. This means that these deployments can lead to vendor lock-in and the inability to easily integrate or extend them with custom code or scripting.

High-productivity platforms, on the contrary, operate differently. They provide truly native support to build high-quality and multi-channel applications offering consumer-scale user experience. Developer teams can leverage their existing skills and development processes without the need to retrain or re-staff, eliminating cost and time delays. Coding languages like JavaScript, TypeScript and Node.js, alongside frameworks like Angular and Vue increase developer productivity by facilitating code reuse across different digital channels.

Below we discuss the key points that organisations looking to boost developer productivity need to consider.

  • Think about the entire lifecycle and don’t rely on proprietary tools
    To deliver ‘killer apps’, developers need transparency. Solutions that hide the implementation, or which require scarce development resources, make it hard for developers to interact with code without further investment in niche developer talent. When deploying a high-productivity or low-code platform, businesses need to take a holistic approach and consider how the platform will fit into the existing IT infrastructure. This will help them not only choose the right solution that addresses their business needs, but also avoid creating silos and incurring further costs.
  • Hybrid mobile experience does not cut it
    Optimised user experience and responsiveness are no longer nice-to-have but essential. Enterprise users expect consumer-style experiences and will not settle for less. This means that instead of a dated hybrid approach, businesses should invest in developing native apps. JavaScript native technologies are a good way to leverage existing JavaScript resources and build native apps that interact directly with iOS and Android APIs with a single code base. 
  • Keep your backend systems front-of-mind
    Whilst frontend tools are commonly the first point of reference when thinking about user experience, businesses should not underestimate the importance of backend integration. The problem that organisations deploying high-productivity platforms often face is that their existing enterprise systems cannot meet the expectations of mobile or multi-channel workloads. This leads to increased risk in the enterprise data, systems and authentication, as well as latency. A low-code configuration-based approach enables the caching of enterprise data offering offline support, as well as fast response time and accessibility.
  • Always look to the future
    One of the critical mistakes that organisations make is being overly consumed with the current state of affairs in their business. Whilst it is important to solve current problems and meet existing needs, businesses should always keep an eye on the future. Organisations should ensure that their toolsets are scalable enough to keep up with their growth and changing business needs that will come with it. What’s also important is for your existing developer resources to be able to utilise these architectures as they scale and grow without the need to retrain. 
  • ‘Citizen developers’ are not the Holy Grail
    When thinking about high-productivity and low-code platforms, there’s often confusion between deployments aiming to boost professional developer productivity, and no-code platforms enabling ‘citizen developers’ to build simple apps. Although in certain cases a citizen developer app might be the right answer, businesses cannot assume that professional development talent can be substituted with a no-code platform, regardless of how attractive point-and-click and drag-and-drop functionalities might seem. Citizen developers are not a substitute for professional developers and the native apps they build.

Make the most of your developer talent

Businesses are under pressure to keep up with constantly changing technology trends and competitive market conditions. Overwhelming as this is, organisations need to resist jumping to the newest industry category, or thinking that retraining or pinning down niche developer talent are the only solutions. High-productivity platforms can enable businesses to leverage their existing developer resources in the best possible way without extra training or recruitment costs, helping deliver the type of consumer-grade apps that cut through the noise.

Mark Troester, Vice President of Strategy, Progress
Image source: Shutterstock/Omelchenko