The advent of codeless programming has enabled more people to create their own apps, with increasingly sophisticated access to back-end data sources and “drag and drop” styled web form builders.
These brilliant tools have been brought into existence to make our collective lives easier. By automating common processes and rearranging data into more meaningful configurations, they enable us to do more with less and (hopefully) make better decisions. However, as this market matures, there is an increasingly creeping feeling I have of deja-vu; a distinct sense that I’ve been here before…
Allow me to make a prediction: the challenge we will increasingly face is apps spun up out of codeless app development will become integral to the successful operation of businesses, however, by not following established app development methodologies, run the risk of becoming orphaned in the not-too distant future when their creator(s) moves on.
Before I’m burnt at the stake for demonstrating incredible skills in foresight, recognise that I am simply a student of history. Specifically, my own history. From Lotus Notes Applications to Excel spreadsheets, my career has been littered with dealing with these DIY holdovers that went from a small convenient application, to business-critical over their lifespan. Long hours were spent ensuring that any changes to systems included support for these in-house developed applications and, as you could imagine, that wasn’t as simple as you might think. As these apps were often only managed by a single person and rarely, if ever, documented and constructed in a myriad of “non-standard” ways. If you really lucked out, they often had esoteric third-party add-ons that would break if you even so much as stole a glance in their direction.
However, whilst I do strongly encourage the adoption of these new codeless platforms (such as Microsoft’s Power platform), it is important that these applications undergo a rigor of implementation phases, similar to that of a full business application. Namely, your standard Plan, Design, Implement, Document (and so forth) phases.
We, at Azured, ensure that these apps go through a series of review phases with our appdev team who are responsible for ensuring that any apps, including codeless, are developed in-line with our internal standards.
These development standards help to maximize the success of any application being implemented, be it a custom ground-up or codeless simple workflow. Having a consistent method towards implementation, documentation and ongoing support, ensures that ongoing management or subsequent revisions and updates are achievable by anyone in the business.
My advice to the budding codeless developers out there – recognise you are performing appdev and as such, you should be leveraging the associated appdev methodologies. Otherwise, to quote a senior dev within Azured, “you’ll do weeks of coding to save hours of planning”.