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Pro-Code vs. Low-Code: Using The Benefits Of Each To Bridge Gaps In Development

A programmer writes code on a monitor that’s displaying a hierarchical logic diagram, highlighting the combination of pro-code vs. low-code.

If you’re comparing pro-code vs. low-code development, you’re probably looking for a faster and more cost-effective way to create applications. Low-code development is gaining in popularity because it speeds up the process of creating software, but it still has some limitations. Let’s look at the differences between low-code and pro-code development before discussing the benefits of a combined approach.

The Low-Code Approach to Development

Low-code development is exactly what it sounds like: an approach to software development that minimizes manual coding, reducing or eliminating the need to employ software development professionals. Low-code platforms abstract your software code into visual artifacts that you can manipulate by dragging and dropping. You can develop entire applications using visual models of the data, business logic, workflows, user interface, and more. These visual models are typically in the form of diagrams, such as entity relationship diagrams for data modeling and activity diagrams for mapping workflows. 

If you’ve ever built an Excel spreadsheet that utilized formulas to track and report a recurring company metric, you’ve done a form of low-coding!

The Advantages of the Low-Code Approach

The primary benefit of low-code development is that it significantly lowers the learning curve for application development. Low-code platforms enable people with minimal coding skills to create custom business applications, which can be a lifesaver for smaller businesses without a dedicated software development team or enterprises that need to devote their developers to more high-value projects. Low-code development is fast and easy and can be used on many different kinds of projects.

For example, you can use a low-code platform to develop custom integration solutions for your legacy and cloud infrastructure. Another common use for low-code is customer-facing web applications, like ecommerce platforms and helpdesk systems. Or, you could use a low-code DevOps solution to create a bespoke project management portal to manage development projects across your entire infrastructure.

Low-code development lowers the technological barrier for software development, making it easier for you to develop custom solutions even if you don’t have the development budget, staffing, or experience to write your code manually.  

The Disadvantages of Low-Code Development

The main downside of the low-code approach is that it simply cannot account for every possible use case. Low-code tools are optimized for the most common scenarios, and assume little-to-no coding experience. Over time, the application designer gets more acclimated to the low-code environment. As end users request new features, this pushes low-code platforms further to their limits, and consequently, projects can get complicated in a hurry as the application evolves. 

Even the best low-code platform has limitations, so you may need to bring in full-stack developers to bridge those gaps in your application. In addition, without experienced developers, QA testers, and security engineers involved in your low-code project, the chances of a security vulnerability or other bug making it to production increase.

The Pro-Code Approach to Development

Pro-code development is simply the traditional, manual form of software programming. Pro-code facilitates the creation of fully bespoke software components and applications, addressing the limitations of low-code platforms. However, the pro-code approach requires experienced development teams (including QA and security engineers) and generally takes longer than low-code development. The required skill sets and longer time-to-market both result in a higher total cost of ownership (TCO) on average.

There are ways to speed up pro-code development, including DevOps practices like automation and CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery). You can also combine pro-code with low-code to gain the best of both worlds – the speed and efficiency of low-code, with some custom pro-code to fill in the gaps in functionality.  

Comparing Pro-Code vs. Low-Code

Though comparing pro-code vs. low-code highlights the unique strengths of each, the best approach is to use both together. If a project does not require completely custom code, you may choose to start with a quick and easy low-code approach to build out a quick proof-of-concept  (POC). Experienced developers can use the POC like a map, building the final application in a specialized programming language, such as Ruby, Go, or C#.

For example, each department in your organization can have a low-code “citizen developer” who both understands the day-to-day requirements of that business unit and is tech-savvy enough to use a low-code platform. They can quickly proceed with individual development projects without needing to wait for software teams to become available. Once the application is complete, or if a scenario arises that isn’t covered by the low-code platform’s logic, the citizen developer can work with the pro-code team to create custom code that solves the problem.

Combining pro-code and low-code allows for more agile business practices and better cross-functional collaboration.

Pro-Code vs. Low-Code: Using the Benefits of Each to Bridge Gaps in Development

Instead of comparing pro-code vs. low-code in an attempt to choose one over the other, you should consider how to best use the advantages of each to create a complementary development strategy. Then, you can shop for a low-code platform that delivers the functionality you need while allowing for seamless integrations with your pro-code dependencies, like Copado. The Copado low-code DevOps platform for SaaS empowers you to manage development across all your clouds, including Heroku, Salesforce, and Google. Plus, Copado’s robotic testing platform delivers low-code, AI-powered test automation to further streamline your low-code/pro-code development lifecycle.