Low-code, FAVEOD [EN]

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Imagine being able to develop a complete and functional application in just a few days. Imagine moreover that you can do this with a minimum of code.

This is the challenge taken up by “low-code” technology.

For a few years now, such offers have been on the rise: all the big players (Google, Microsoft, SalesForce, …) are interested in them. Whether it is for the development of mobile/web applications, from small simple applications to complex enterprise-wide applications, the spectrum is widening day by day and the possibilities are multiplying.

What is a low-code platform?

A Low-code platform is a development platform that enables the rapid creation and deployment of complex business applications with a minimum development effort. In other words, it allows to build an application/deliverable quickly with a minimum of code.

Five reasons to choose low-code.

1). Accelerates the digital transition, allows rapid deployment with results quickly visible to the customer

In a world of ever-changing technology, companies, especially those stuck in old technology models, find it very difficult to keep up.

One of the biggest and most common obstacles encountered by businesses is the length of development cycles:

Indeed, whatever the method or language traditionally used, the architecture of an application and its fundamentals can hardly be reviewed once developments are started and/or at an advanced stage. For example, in Java, a simple modification such as changing the type of a variable leads to a cascade of other changes to be reported in different places.

A design, even a pushed design, cannot take into account future constraints induced by a customer’s need; and overturning the initial design on which the entire application is based is always very costly.

Low-code response: Favouring visual compositing over traditional coding. To use the same example, changing the type of a variable is like changing a selection in a list, and using a drag-&-drop method is done in three clicks.

Changes even at an advanced stage of implementation have little impact.

2). Advances in low-code platforms

« With low-code, we only develop simple applications ».

This myth, which is strongly present in the developer community, dates back to the time when low-code platforms were not very successful. Today, this is certainly not the case anymore. There are advanced platforms on the market with remarkable flexibility.

Some low-code platforms have evolved more than others and therefore offer more possibilities. The price of the offers is also proportional to these possibilities: it’s up to you to make the right choice to select the platform that meets your needs.

3). Value for money

Let’s take the case of a WEB application: With traditional technology, developers spend time developing “non-business value” components. Bricks such as CRUD, dependency management, field trainers… are already provided natively in the platform. All the generic bricks for an application are already present: developers can thus focus on the specific, on the parts with the highest added value and the highest business value.

4). A booming market

The concept of low-code as such is something that has always existed (on a smaller scale) in the world of development.

Take the case of Excel spreadsheets. In itself, each spreadsheet has the characteristics of an application: it contains information, it processes it, allows interaction with the user to enter values, display the results and in absolute terms store them, all this using native functionalities in the office suite.

Today, the boom in low-code solutions confirms that traditional development can no longer keep up. Here is what the low-code market represents over the years: 2.5 billion in 2016; 15 billion in 2020.

In comparison, here are the figures/forecasts for artificial intelligence:

In 2020, our forecast is therefore: $6 billion for artificial intelligence, compared to $15 billion for low-code.

5). Low risk and high return

Due to the multitude of projects using the bricks provided by the low-code platform, these are tested, corrected, optimized and improved. The use of a brick therefore benefits from a history that makes it stable, robust and efficient, especially since human intervention is limited.

Low-code platforms

There are a multitude of low-code platforms on the market today, here are a few of them:

Forrester Wave: Low-code development Platforms

Despite its absence from the above comparison, due to the fact that it is not considered as a pure low-code product (we will come back to this), we will take the FAVEOD platform as an example for the rest of the article.

FAVEOD

Based in Paris, and created in 2007 as a publisher and distributor, Faveod is an Ltd wholly owned by its founders and management. More than 400 projects carried out with its technology enabled it to post its twelfth consecutive year of profit in 2019 and a strong growth in sales.

FAVEOD was developed with the aim of :

  • Model, design and produce any complex requirement from A to Z. The code is maintained automatically and without inconsistency,
  • Freeing oneself from technological constraints,
  • Be agile on architecture,
  • Ensuring an extremely demanding level of software quality,
  • Have a productivity proportional to the size of the project,

Produce professional and tailor-made applications.

  • Model, design and produce any complex requirement from A to Z.
    The code is maintained automatically and without inconsistency,
  • Freeing oneself from technological constraints,
  • Be agile on architecture,
  • Ensuring an extremely demanding level of software quality,
  • Have a productivity proportional to the size of the project,
  • Produce professional and tailor-made applications.

1). Operation

So we have a DESIGNER (accessible from a web browser) with which we interact to describe the need, this designer is represented as an IDE accessible from a browser.

The architecture follows the MVC model (Model-View-Controller) with the possibility to deploy on a multitude of technologies :

  • DBMS: PostgreSql, MySql, Oracle SQL Server, SQLite, MongoDb
  • Back: Java (Tomcat, WebLogic, WildFly, WebSphere, etc.), Ruby (Puma, Unicorn, Passenger, etc.) and soon NodeJS and many others.
  • Front: AJAX, AngularJS, Angular, Jquery, HTML5, CSS3, Bootstrap, Javascript, C3, D3…

The designer also provides elements for project management; including: feeding epics, US and features, supervising the progress of tasks and GANTT diagram.

It also allows to generate technical-functional documentation, such as :

  • The database schema,
  •  The description of the US and features entered in the tool.

The generated application is instantly deployed and accessible from another URL. This application natively provides tools such as :

  • Access to an SQL console to interact with the generated database,
  • The creation and execution of asynchronous tasks such as batches,
  • Access to application logs,
  • The generation of the application archive,
  • The management of authorizations and workflows.
  • A flow engine
  • An ETL engine
  • A publishing engine
  • A BI / dataviz engine
  • A search engine

Note that only the design is done in SaaS on Faveod’s servers, but that the product project is totally independent and requires a third party infrastructure (Cloud, on premise, etc.).

2). Feedback on experience

a). Learning curve :

  • Beginner: FAVEOD training (4 days) + 1-2 weeks of practice. The trainee can start to set up the data model, slightly modify the default behaviors and configure the various tools already present (ETL, permissions, etc.).
  • Medium: After 2 months of practice + regular exchanges with the support. The trainee begins to be autonomous and to understand the FAVEOD / low-code spirit; Creation of applications of medium complexity.
  • Medium to expert: After 4 months of practice – Weak exchanges with the support. Medium to expert level on FAVEOD; The trainee can design high complexity applications.

b). Developer Profile

To take full advantage of the benefits of FAVEOD, the developer must be:

  • Flexible: Able to change the way you develop and design a WEB application. A developer who is expert in other technologies will quickly gain skills but will not be able to transcribe his reflexes into this tool.
  • Curious: The FAVEOD designer presents itself as a complex software with buttons everywhere; before mastering it, it is often necessary to explore the tool and test its functionality.
  • Organized: In FAVEOD in particular, there is a need to identify what needs to be changed and where.  Even if the modification appears to work, doing something in the wrong place directly impacts the maintainability of the application. Also, moving an action requires rethinking interactions and represents a significant risk of regression.

c). Technical prerequisites

The speed at which a developer’s skills increase depends very much on his or her knowledge techniques :

  • Relational Data model: the data model in this context is of particular importance; its design influences the screens automatically produced by the platform,
  • Ruby : The FAVEOD programming language, necessary for all batches and anything else that is outside the FAVEOD standards,
  • JavaScript, JQuery, AJAX, CSS3 / HTML5 Bootstrap.

Ideally, a full Stack developer is able to perform tasks at any level of the stack of different layers that make up an application.

d). Faveod, low-code, but not only …

Despite many similarities between FAVEOD and the majority of low-code platforms, here is a summary table of the differences:

CONCLUSION

Low-Code can change the game within a company. Working at digital speed creates the application capabilities that users need to effectively address media barriers. When it comes to data access, collaboration tools and applications must be viable on a smartphone as well as a desktop computer. Digital transformation is an imperative for modern businesses.

To achieve this, IT teams need to be able to collaborate better and faster than ever before. A modern, powerful, common platform is needed that can also be accessed by non-IT staff in the best of circumstances. Low-Code platforms enable CIOs to fuel innovation and accelerate the transition to DIGITAL SPEED.

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