An ideal low-code development platform consists of 2 parts:
- A WYSIWYG interface builder.
- A speech-like language.
To understand the evolution of code intensive programming languages into a low code, we’ll have to go back and look at the development of programming and its related technologies.
A language for machines
Programming languages were invented to translate human input into electric signals understood by machines. Humans created computers and a language to speak to them. As is the case with any technology, programming languages were initially very primitive. Over the years, these languages evolved from 0s and 1s to something which is a lot more like natural human speech.
For example, in PASCAL, the command Writeln “Hello Genius!” would translate to a binary instruction to display “Hello Genius!” on the screen. Writeln means “write the line on the screen.” This is more intuitive to understand rather than a page of 0s and 1s.
The limitations of earlier programming languages can be attributed to the underdevelopment in processing capabilities of the machines at that time. With the arrival of the microprocessor, this limitation was largely resolved.
A huge research effort into programming languages helped Language Design, the field of refining programming languages, progress to a stage where most instructions could be conveyed through simpler and more meaningful code.
In computing, the concept behind masking the complexity of a system and displaying a simpler version is known as abstraction. Abstraction is an interesting concept, which merits its own blog post in the future.
A picture is worth a thousand words
And a WYSIWYG builder is worth from several thousand to millions of lines of code. Let’s look at how we reached this advanced state on the visual interface front.
The visual interface or Graphical User Interface (GUI) evolved as an alternative to command-based instructions. In addition to the arrival of microprocessor technology, this field advanced significantly with developments in display technology. The evolution of screens from monochrome displays to LCDs and OLEDs and the advanced levels of abstraction in GUI technology led to domain-specific GUIs.
For example, an ATM and your mobile phone have different interfaces.
A combination of words and visuals
The evolution of the two fields of technology set the stage for hybrid platforms. These hybrid platforms empower developers to build apps for any domain they want at ten times the speed of traditional methods, without compromising on the functionality of the apps built.
In the business application domain, these platforms have evolved so much that they are increasingly being adopted by the developer community. The technology has had such a dramatic impact that Gartner, Inc., one of the leading research firms in business IT, named it “low-code technology”.
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