Here is a simple question: Who develops software applications? The answer, of course, is developers. However, the reality is that our understanding of developers and development is expanding. It is expected that in 2017 over 268 billion apps will be downloaded, worldwide. On the other hand, this same year market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than the professional capacity to deliver them. In short, the world needs apps, and it needs people outside of the standard IT roles who can produce them.

With this in mind, the responsibility to create the apps that drive business success is falling to those without specific development training. This presents a very specific complication. Applications operate through the use of computer languages (or code). In order to get an application working as intended, developers need to implement various lines of code — a task that requires patience, precision, and no small amount of know-how. Untrained developers often have difficulty implementing code effectively.

Thankfully, there is a solution: low-code application development framework.

What is application development framework? Application development framework describes any programing platforms businesses or individuals can use to create custom applications. Specifically, low-code application development framework options rely on graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that make it possible for users to design complex applications, without ever having to learn complex computer languages. This is making it possible for more and more non-coders to establish themselves as application developers, and is breathing new life into the industry, as a whole.

Opening the gates of development to nontechnical employees presents a number of advantages. Businesses and organizations can cut back on the time associated with development cycles by not having to send every new development request to over-worked IT departments. Instead, individuals across all departments and teams can take responsibility for developing their own applications, freeing up IT for other vital tasks.

Low-code application development also helps keep IT teams small, agile, and focused on more innovative and complex tasks. By using existing talent from throughout the organization, businesses eliminate the backlog of applications that IT is responsible for. Most importantly, low-code application development framework solutions allow IT departments to unload certain development projects onto other teams, letting them transform customer and employee experience by spending more time on innovative capabilities such as AI, IoT, machine learning, and conversational interfaces.

Additionally, low-code development can help bridge the skills gap. As new technologies become available, it can be difficult for traditional developers to stay current. New browsers, operating systems, and devices that would otherwise require extensive training to be able to code are simply factored into the framework, allowing users to jump directly into the development process. Low-code development platforms, by maintaining all the underlying cloud services to support new technologies, keeps developers current, and prevent them from falling behind on new trends.

Taken altogether, these advantages save businesses on the time, effort, and money normally associated with application development. However, not all low-code application development frameworks provide the same level of support. The best application development framework solutions share certain commonalities that are worth considering. Here are five key criteria for selecting the right low-code application development framework:

  • Data centricity
    A custom application is only as good as the data it’s built on. Low-code application development platforms that are not only built on reliable databases, but also make it easy to integrate with any data, allow for the creation of data-centric apps. This provides a whole new level of connected experience to app users, giving them the relevant, contextual information in real time. Successful businesses rely on the ability to quickly access large amounts of data. Frameworks that put a heavy focus on data, making it easy for low-code developers to embed into applications — all using point-and-click integration tools — mean better, more connected applications delivered much faster than before.
  • Cloud-based architecture
    Generally, it takes more than a UI to build an application. You need services that power the business logic, integrations, security, authentication, APIs, and the ability to bring in different microservices for features such as maps, RFID, Bluetooth, push notifications, and more into the application. The low-code application development framework provide these services in easy componentized formats so that non-coders can quickly assemble the entire application without touching a single line of code. It is essentially UI plus an out-of-the-box, model-driven cloud services approach that makes low-code application development frameworks so powerful.
  • Cross-platform support
    Rather than depend on a specific web application development framework for web application design and other frameworks for designs for other platforms, businesses benefit from using a single all-purpose development framework. For a business to stay competitive across all available media, it needs a cross-platform solution that can be used to build web, desktop, and mobile apps, for any type of the device and application architecture — web or native.
  • Drag-and-drop (or point-and-click) tools
    The main draw of low-code development is that it enables non-coders to create high-quality applications fast. Advanced drag-and-drop tools take this a step further. Users can control their development GUI via intuitive mouse controls, selecting and adding elements to their application template with just a click of a button and configuring the underlying business logic by selecting data and actions from a drop-down list. Drag-and-drop tools bridge the gap between application design and the everyday user.
  • Flexibility
    In order to develop apps that fit the unique needs of a business or its clients, organizations need something that is flexible, open, and scalable. All possible programing languages should be supported if the application development framework need to be extended, including Java, HTML5, Ruby, Python, PHP, and any others. Additionally, the framework should be flexible enough to scale up and down based on the transaction volume coming from the users, as well as include built-in services for testing, analytics, and deploying the applications.

A top priority for any organization interested in innovating fast in the digital age should include a low-code application development framework — a platform that effectively fulfills all of these criteria into an organization. Thankfully, the tools built into the Salesforce platform do just that.

Salesforce has long been the world leader in CRM technology. For the platform, Salesforce has built upon its CRM expertise to deliver a powerful, metadata-driven low-code application development framework, housed entirely in the cloud.

The Salesforce platform provides users with the advanced tools they need to create whatever apps they want — regardless of their level of coding expertise. Nontechnical business users can enjoy the Salesforce platform’s visual interface and intuitive drag-and-drop tools, while those familiar with coding languages can dive deeper into the building blocks of their applications, thanks to Heroku (which makes it possible for Salesforce tools to communicate in any existing coding language).

Beyond providing application tools for both low-code and code-centric users, the Salesforce platform also acts as a database for custom-built applications. Users can browse through Salesforce AppExchange, a repository of over five and a half million available apps. In fact, 79% of Salesforce customers use apps from AppExchange to improve their business.

Simply put, the Salesforce platform gives users everything that they need to design, develop, integrate, deploy, or find the apps that optimize their business.

Applications run on computer code, but developers shouldn’t have to. The Salesforce platform provides the tools that make it possible for anyone to create powerful applications for any platform. An easy-to-use, metadata development framework is the key, and it’s helping to usher in a low-code revolution that is changing the industry.

Who develops software applications? With the Salesforce platform, the answer is “anyone.”

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