Low-Code vs. Pro-Code: What Are the Differences and Which One Should You Choose?

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Businesses today have a variety of software development tools and technologies at their disposal. One of the key debates associated with application development is the low-code vs. pro-code conundrum.

Should organizations place their trust in the tried and tested traditional development approach or try a more accessible low-code development platform? Should they explore a combination of the two approaches?

The answer, as always, depends on the specific requirements and priorities of the business case in question. Businesses need to explore the pros and cons of both low-code and pro-code approaches in order to make the right call.

If you’re conflicted about choosing the right development approach for your next project, keep reading to learn the differences between low-code and pro-code. You might also end up choosing a third, hybrid approach that combines the best parts of the two.

What Is Low-Code?

Low-code refers to a development approach that leverages an existing infrastructure provided by a development platform. This code scaffolding of sorts simply requires the developer to use a drag-and-drop methodology to configure the required application or webpage.

While not requiring manual coding from a developer, low-code development is still different from ‘no-code’ development which is a completely code-free approach.

The low-code approach gives you the option to use manual code. But overall, it encourages accelerated development using the standard artifacts present on the chosen development platform.

Users can always tweak the artifacts to arrive at the custom configuration of choice but they still have to make do with limited flexibility.

What Are the Advantages of Low-Code Development?

Businesses are making use of low-code development due to several inherent advantages it brings to the traditional development process. Below are some of the pros of opting for low-code development:

  • No need to hire extremely skilled developers
  • Fast and agile development processes
  • Low development costs
  • Short time-to-market and high volume of products
  • Flexibility to leverage skilled developers to refine the code
  • Possible to implement controls and guidelines on the development platform

What Are the Disadvantages of Low-Code Development?

Low-code development isn’t a magic solution free from drawbacks. While it lends itself well to many business cases, it also isn’t a good fit for others. Some cons of low-code development are as follows:

  • Limited feature set and development platforms
  • Lack of full-fledged support present in pro-code development
  • Less control over aspects like performance and security
  • Limited ability to alter the source code
  • Larger codebase than pro-code development, as platforms need to account for multiple use cases and application types

What Is Pro-Code?

Pro-code refers to the conventional approach to software development in which professional developers own all aspects of development such as coding, testing, optimization, and deployment from start to finish.

Pro-code or traditional development can be visualized as a hierarchical team consisting of technical leads and experienced, cross-skilled developers building applications in accordance with the best coding practices.

This conventional approach can still involve developers leveraging public libraries and frameworks but the manual effort involved far exceeds the low-code approach.

Developers use popular programming languages like JavaScript, Python, or C++ and associated libraries to build applications and artifacts from scratch.

What Are the Advantages of Pro-Code Development?

Pro-code development has more than a few advantages over low-code development, owing to the additional experience and skill of the developers and the added flexibility it provides. Below are some of the pros of pro-code development:

  • Easier to build more complex and customized applications
  • Better access to the source code and hence easier to fix bugs
  • More control over aspects like performance, security, and scalability
  • Higher chances of the final output being more polished
  • Easier to estimate the time needed to build new features

What Are the Disadvantages of Pro-Code Development?

Pro-code development suffers from some obvious disadvantages as well, many of which can be tracked to the traditional, cumbersome processes it brings. The major cons of pro-code development are as follows:

  • Longer development time
  • Costly development due to experienced and qualified experts
  • Difficult for resources to multi-task due to less agile development
  • No pre-built artifacts to leverage leading to ground-up development

When to Use Low-Code?

The increased agility, speed, and cost advantages associated with low-code development naturally attract many businesses and users to build applications ranging from simple digital portals to more elaborate enterprise products.

Using low-code development, companies are replacing legacy applications to not only modernize their portfolio but also reduce maintenance expenses. A Gartner report predicts that 70% of new applications in 2025 will use low-code or no-code development, up from less than 25% in 2020.

More often than not, low-code development is best suited to less complex products that don’t require significant maintenance. It’s also a good option for projects that require a fast turnaround time. The low-code approach is also instrumental in providing rich digital experiences to modern consumers.

When To Use Pro-Code?

Pro-code development can be the better choice for your business if you want to create large-scale applications with multiple complex features. Critical applications running on medical devices also require the traditional, longer pro-code development approach.

Skilled developers and professionals can support your applications better and for longer than is possible in a low-code development environment. Moreover, employing a skilled, experienced team means you can resolve issues more robustly and minimze the possibility of bugs in the future.

Hence, if businesses want scalable, customized, and cutting-edge applications, pro-code development is the better choice.

How To Combine Low-Code and Pro-Code

Notwithstanding the advantages of either approach, pro-code and low-code development are often used together to yield a better, hybrid approach toward development. Even creating low-code platforms requires considerable pro-code development at the back-end.

One use case where low-code and pro-code can work in tandem can be creating a proof-of-concept using low-code technologies and then entrusting the project to a team of experts to build on top of it to flesh it out into a full-fledged product.

Businesses can get an application up and running by using a low-code platform, leverage the functionality for a limited period of time, and then take a call to bring in expert help or not to scale it further.

Low-code development provides users with ready-to-use artifacts and templates to build standard features, thus saving time and resources as not everything needs to be built from scratch. Pro-code development can then be used to build the custom and more complex parts of the product.

Many low-code platforms enhance their usability by allowing the application to be connected to pro-code technologies by way of extensions. These platforms use external APIs to connect complex features built with full-stack technologies to the agile low-code core.

Conclusion

Low-code development extends the ability to build advanced applications and webpages to relatively less technical users while pro-code development, at least for the near future, remains the better choice for the most complex and large-scale projects.

Organizations can explore a combination of the two approaches to bring the best of both worlds together and gain a competitive advantage.

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With over 10 years of experience in software outsourcing, Alex has assisted in building high-performance teams before co-founding Trio with his partner Daniel. Today he enjoys helping people hire the best software developers from Latin America and writing great content on how to do that!
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