At the start of the year, we declared that 2021 would be the year of low code. It turned out to be a fairly accurate prediction. 

Low code was used throughout the past two years by small businesses needing to quickly open online storefronts, companies needing to create tooling to support remote workers, and by developers looking to save some time by turning to a low-code solution rather than having to write out unique code that would have taken much longer to produce.

When interviewed for our Year of Low Code story last December, Shane Young, PowerApps guru at consulting company PowerApps911, said: “What it’s really been a lot of is people realized that they have a lot of processes that required paper, walking it over to somebody’s desk and saying ‘hey, sign this’ or ‘do this,’ and when we’re all working from home, you can’t walk over to my desk and have me sign this, or share some information with me. So a lot of the app uptake has been just trying to [create] simple apps, which lends itself so well to low code, but just things that facilitate conversations, or facilitate approvals, or what are the processes that used to be paper or hand-driven that now need to be electronically driven?”

When low code was first introduced, it didn’t have quite the stellar reputation it does now. People who worked in technical roles scoffed at it, believing that there was no way a tool could handle the complex tasks they had to do on a daily basis. And for a while low code was mainly used for simpler tasks, like creating something as simple as a vacation scheduler. But now low-code platforms are much more hefty and can be used to create some pretty powerful applications. 

One way in which low code has changed the face of development is that it allows for the creation of better UIs. Traditionally, a lot of development time is spent writing the user interface, while the core application code only takes up a small portion of the codebase as a whole. 

According to Kiasco Research analyst Michael Azoff, low-code tools can be used as a cross-platform UI builder. This will eliminate much of the repetitive work relating to the UI that needs to get done on many development projects. 

“It is no surprise to me to see the rise of LCNC, taking the burden out of cross-platform UI development is a great opportunity, I think this sector of appdev will continue to grow,” Azoff wrote in an article for SD Times. 

The idea of low code doesn’t necessarily mean that no code is written at all, just that a lot of the work can be accomplished through drag-and-drop interfaces. Earlier this year, Microsoft actually released an open-source low-code programming language called Power FX. Power Fx is based on Microsoft Excel and it uses a lot of formulas that people are already familiar with, which opens up the language to a broad range of users and skill sets. 

“With Power Fx, we can amplify the impact of developers by many multiples over the same time horizon. By offering citizen developers a familiar and approachable way to express logic, we’re dramatically expanding who can build sophisticated solutions. By delivering Power Fx with the tools a professional expects, including the ability to directly edit apps in text editors like Visual Studio Code and use source control, we’re making it possible for developers to go faster and find common ground with millions of makers,” Ryan Cunningham, director PM of Power Apps at Microsoft, wrote in a post. 

A lot of new folks are interested in learning about low-code if they’re not already implementing it. D2Emerge, publishers of SD Times, produced a conference about low code in October called Low-Code/No-Code DevDay and nearly 600 people attended to learn more about the subject. 

Here are some of the sessions we had at our 2021 event:

  • Designing a developer-led culture
  • Text nudges, chatbots, self-service and more: Why now is the time for low-code CX
  • Maximizing the value of hybrid dev teams in remote environments
  • Mastering Power Apps & SharePoint related lists