Nick Hines is CTO of Green Lemon Company. In the not too distant past, Green Lemon Company embraced the low code space, partnering with OutSystems to help their customers deliver software x5 faster. What he discovered was RAD is so much more than just RAD. This is his view.
When people think about RAD they unsurprisingly tend to focus purely on the ability of these platforms to accelerate the development of application functionality. RAD platforms that use a visual modeling technique to build applications can dramatically increase the speed of development however anyone who has been involved in modern web and mobile software development knows that the creation of the business functionality whilst substantial is only part of the process. In this world of continuous delivery and rapid iteration there are many other factors that must be addressed over and above the core business logic before an application can be considered ready to put in the hands of the end users.
Of primary importance is creating the path to production. Obviously, software that has not been deployed to the production environment is pure waste but being able to repeatedly and reliably deploy your application into production is no mean feat as evidenced by the rapid rise of the DevOps movement and its associated tooling. Creating a so called one-click deployment that takes the latest version of the application builds the code, makes the appropriate changes to the database structure and delivers the new software to the required environment is a complex process which requires a lot of effort and a whole new skill set, (e.g. Jenkins, Puppet, Chef, etc.).
Once an application is live in production it needs to be constantly monitored to ensure users are getting a good browsing experience. Obviously, this goes double for fickle mobile users where even slightly slow application speeds mean lost customers. Having a platform that automatically injects consistent performance and analytic metrics makes the task of tracking down slow functionality to the root cause e.g. client side code, slow SQL queries, network bandwidth, etc. a trivial exercise. This logging of course has to be performed asynchronously so as not to impact the application itself.
Given the recent scandals of data theft, security for your application is something that no-one can afford to ignore. Protecting your site from Cross Site Scripting, SQL Injection and the like requires discipline and regular checks for new insights and vulnerabilities that might emerge. Having a robust role based user management system or the ability to interface with directory services such as LDAP is essential for securing internet facing applications. A RAD platform that takes care of ensuring that your application is secure by default can save a significant amount of development time. As new security advice is circulated the platform is automatically updated to incorporate the latest fixes.
No application is an island and with the drive towards micro-services architectures the ability to easily consume and publish REST and SOAP interfaces can save a large amount of hand coding. Interfaces to all the major databases, MS SQL, Oracle, DB/2, etc. as well as ERP and CRM systems such as SAP and Salesforce make it easy for applications to participate in complex application ecosystems
No matter how brilliant the developers of a RAD platform are there will always be tasks that require the ability to break out of the platform. Having the ability to develop custom code that can be incorporated into the RAD platform as if it was native provides a degree of comfort that there will be no “the platform doesn’t support it” moments.
For further information, please contact one of the Green Lemon Company.
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