There is a gap between the users of business applications and the software developers. This is why some business software is hard to use or doesn’t offer an accessible enough program. It can also take a long time to hire a developer experienced in what your business needs.
One amazing solution modern development offers is low-code platforms where both experienced and inexperienced users can create the apps they will actually use. Many companies even develop software for consumers using low-code tools. We dive into some of the most popular low-code software in the market and just how they can help your team.
What Is Low-Code In Simple Terms?
Low-code refers to an environment where you code less often. Instead of having to write the code by hand (referred to as hand-coding), you can use tools to build the code faster. Low-code application development platforms come with a fast and beginner-friendly user interface (UI).
This UI is a modern drag-and-drop style interface that most people are familiar with. Users only need to manipulate a mouse for high-quality software development. They are called a graphical user interface framework.
This type of framework expedites low-code application development for professional programmers. It also allows less experienced citizen developers to bring their ideas to life without having a strong coding background. This can allow those who are often left out of the development process greater direct input.
These platforms are intended to make development easy for any user but there can be issues. If you don’t take design, usability, and web accessibility into account the platform will be hard to use especially for those with disabilities.
For a more in-depth definition of low-code and how it compares with no-code and high-code, see our article here.
What Are Some Low Code Software?
Many low-code development platforms (LCDP) are also called low-code application platforms (LCAP). These platforms refer to any software that can be used to create applications. It could be for a database, project management, or an organizational application. The low-code tools we are focusing on are mainly business process management (BPM) apps for improving companies’ productivity.
These low-code tools can also be no-code platforms which means you can choose not to do any coding whatsoever. The platforms can come with powerful capabilities like artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Some will have the option of high-code development or hand-coding by offering developers an integrated development environment (IDE). IDE makes coding by hand faster and easier.
One downside is this type of software can get very expensive very fast. Costs can range from $20 all the way to over $1000 a month.
Creatio is a powerful tech company that makes intuitive business software. They have a low-code application development platform that offers diverse premium features. This includes no-code tools, mobile app capabilities, and AI and machine learning data models.
They are BPM and offer automation options to help speed up software development for both professional and citizen developers. Creatio also makes customer relationship management (CRM) software for interested marketing teams
Their products require a minimum of 3-year contracts. They offer an alternate option of on-premise deployment for the Studio Enterprise plan only.
|Creatio Studio Plans
|$25 per user per month
For the free Process Designer subscription, they offer unlimited users, a process library, collaboration, and documentation features. It also comes with a business process model notation (BPMN). A BPMN is a visual representation of the activities and goals of the business. It allows both citizen developers, IT departments, and business users to be on the same page.
This plan is perfect for startups, small businesses, and bigger companies that want to try out the software. This free version does not have Creatio’s strong analytics or advanced features like AI and machine learning. Process Designer is a great drag-and-drop interface if you need to build apps for an internal business application. It’s not ideal if you want enterprise-grade functionality or mobile app development.
The Studio Enterprise subscription has a powerful arsenal of capabilities for teams. In this plan, you pay per user per month so it can get costly. The cost is worth it for many because you get access to Creatio’s no-code platform, their application hub with pre-built apps, templates, and easy connectors for rapid application development.
The plan has workflow automation to streamline enterprise application development as well as no-code tools for mobile apps. You can create business applications for Android and iOS devices so teams can work on the go.
With their no-code interface, you can add AI and ML data models for integrated predictive analytics. The software has complete enterprise scalability so your apps can be used by a wide range of business users. You’ll also be able to add integrations of your choice so your team doesn’t lose any data sources.
Creatio’s Studio Enterprise plan is stacked and very affordable compared to some other packages on this list and in the market in general. They are great for both big and small businesses that want both a low-code and no-code application development platform.
The only downside is it can get pricey the more team members that need to access the software. It’s important that both your developers and IT team communicate on the software development so you may need to add quite a few users. $25 per user is actually considered a super low cost compared to most LCDP enterprise plans.
Below is a tutorial showing you how to use and navigate Creatio’s UI.
Zoho is a massive technology company that produces all sorts of business software. Zoho Creator is their BPM solution. Their LCDP is designed for a complete digital transformation of your techstack. You can build a lot from the ground up, partly because Zoho really offers a lot of functionality for DevOps. Zoho Creator also easily integrates with Zoho CRM. You can see how that works here.
One of the most important things you need to know about Zoho Creator is they use their own private scripting language called Deluge. Low-code does mean there will be times that a dev needs to use this language. The completely inexperienced will be overwhelmed. Zoho is also designed for high-code and has an IDE for the developers to use at their discretion.
Deluge is integrated with Python and C++, so object-oriented programming experience will help. You can learn all about Deluge on its separate site here. You can also check out this wiki article for Deluge’s fascinating specs here. Well, fascinating for nerds anyway.
If your team will mostly be citizen developers with no programming background then Zoho Creator is going to be challenging. It can be a pretty complex platform so it’s good to have junior devs, and professional programmers available for help.
The bright side is if you have some experience and want to learn, Deluge is meant to be intuitive even for beginners. If you are unsure, this review from Renewables & Environment Company provides very detailed feedback on the complexities of Zoho’s UI and dashboard.
|Zoho Creator Plans
|$25 per user a month with annual billing
$37 per user with monthly subscription
|$400 per user a month billed annually no monthly billing
The Free tier is a good choice for beginners but definitely not teams. It comes with 1 user seat, 250MB of storage, and only 30 days of history. The account really is only for one developer and has very limited collaboration features. This means your developer would need to communicate with others outside of the Zoho dashboards. For projects with extremely limited scope, this may be enough
If you’re a small startup or curious to see what Zoho is then the plan is worth it. You can create 1 app in Free, 5 workspaces, and 100 tasks per month. This plan isn’t incredibly advanced but it does offer a taste of some very strong capabilities.
They allow 1000 API units a day and limited augmented analytics like predictive analytics for data models. You get up to 10K rows of stored records and unlimited dashboards and reports. We weren’t just being nice by saying it’s good for early startups, they really do have worthwhile features; the problem is just the limits for teams. If you need to create multiple apps and have several teams that need access the plan won’t work.
For the Professional you do get quite the step up. You are allowed to have more users and are able to add additional users for $25. This plan gives teams almost all of Zoho Creator’s features that it’s easier to say what it doesn’t have.
There are limited options for portal permissions, no business app connectors for importing data, no advanced data prep, and no 5x boost in performance speed. You can only create a total of 5 apps. The main differences between Professional and Ultimate are going to be the number of certain metrics. In Professional you get 10 workspaces but in Ultimate you have unlimited workspaces you can create.
With the high volume of features for professionals, you can get some serious work done. You have 90 days of history and can collaborate with mobile apps and advanced data storytelling. Professional is the best plan if you want an array of capabilities to create some high-quality business apps. This is not the plan if you need to create more than 5 applications.
When it comes to Ultimate, you are paying a super steep dollar amount. Is it worth it? Only if you want unlimited apps, and the Zia AI insights. In general, the differences are small but they do add up. Professional only allowed 15 private links but Ultimate has no limit. You get more tasks, more records, and pretty much more of everything that was limited.
This difference is only worth it for big development teams that will be making apps for a huge range of business users or a product for end-users. Most companies don’t need a plethora of features and unlimited app creation. This is a truly awesome choice for developers building enterprise-grade software.
Below is a tutorial to help you get started with Zoho Creator basics.
TeamDesk is the only low-code development platform on this list that is not a BPM. They are actually for creating your own custom database without coding. We added them to the list because all major companies need to organize a lot of data, but many powerful cloud databases require SQL coding. They can even be considered no-code because of how easy the UI is.
TeamDesk is a simple solution to create multiple data sources that are easily accessible to your team. Obviously, if you don’t need to develop your own databases you won’t need them. If you find that you could definitely improve your current data sources then this is a development software you could use.
TeamDesk plans are pay-as-you-go which in this case means they won’t lock you in with long-term contracts. You can get a monthly subscription and end it anytime. It is not the same as per-per-use, you have a set amount each month no matter what you use.
The Starter Edition is basic but also perfect. You have unlimited tables, records, storage, and customer support. Most basic plans won’t have that many unlimited necessities let alone support. The plan does limit you to 5 user seats.
This is best suited for small teams that plan to create straightforward databases for other users to reference. It’s uncomplicated and comes with templates and easy import options for spreadsheets like Excel.
Next up is the Team Edition. The big difference is 10 included users and the option to buy packs of users if you need to fill more seats. Otherwise, the functionality is the same as in Starter Edition.
For the Enterprise Edition, you can create unlimited databases, brand them, and have extra security. You will be able to buy more users’ packs as well. Otherwise, the subscription is just like Team Edition, right down to 10 included users.
As you can see, TeamDesk has no bells and whistles. You get a database builder with plans that vary the slightest bit. They are a great choice for teams that have a lot of data and get easily overwhelmed. The decision-making process is pretty easy as well since you don’t need to choose between advanced features or more affordable ones. Functionality is equal across the board.
Below is a tutorial for creating a new database.
Quickbase is both considered a low-code and no-code platform. This means you don’t need to have teams with tons of experience. Tech-savvy citizen developers and beginners can create freely. With the platform, you can build business applications for your team and consumers.
All plans are billed annually. Quickbase offers a free trial for 30 days. The trial can allow teams to explore Quickbase’s capabilities like their low-code tools for custom app building and collaboration. All subscriptions have the same access to support but do not include phone support.
|Starts at $600/mo
|Starts at $2,000/mo
For the Team plan you are allotted up to 50 custom business apps. It comes with workflow automation, mobile app configuration, and flexible licensing. You can choose a per-user license or per-user license depending on what works for your team. Larger teams are likely better off with usage licensing over per-user rates. Quickbase costs are not for light budgets as you can see.
Things you won’t find in the Team subscription are custom branding, a sandbox environment for secure testing, and on-premise connectivity. You also won’t find custom encryption or HIPAA compliance with this plan either.
Some noteworthy features that can make the plan worthwhile are platform analytics and an admin console. These are great for teams that need to monitor progress and usage from an admin dashboard.
We should acknowledge that for $600 a month there really shouldn’t be anything missing like security compliance for data. There are plans much cheaper than this that offer more and you should 100% consider those.
One thing is that most subscriptions limit the number of apps you can create. For Quickbase’s lowest plan they offer the capability to create a total of 50 business apps that optimize almost any team’s tech stack.
If all you need is custom project management or organization for apps for internal business needs then this plan works for big teams. If you are building aps to be used by a consumer or partner or any other end-user that isn’t an employee then you should pass. If the data you want to work with is sensitive you should also pass.
When it comes to Business, you can create 100 custom applications. You get all team features, mobile connection offline, and advanced security. You would be able to use single-sign-on, HIPAA and FDA compliance. You won’t have custom encryption options.
This plan also comes with the sandbox, data classification labels, and custom branding. This plan is good for teams that plan to build quality apps that clients or customers may be using.
These consumers would be a limited contact base. You would want unlimited apps if your team was planning to offer services to a high volume of clients. The capabilities of this plan are also good for large interconnect companies that need private internal applications.
The cost is very high so it won’t be a good investment if you want to save on your budget. This software would be for a company that really wants to put in resources for app building. You would not use Quickbase at all if you didn’t want to create apps for a big range of users.
The Enterprise plan is fully customizable. You would choose how many apps you want to build and figure out the cost from there. Enterprise has the benefit of coming with all features including custom encryption, and a performance optimizer.
This plan is definitely for multiple teams that are going to be making a series of enterprise applications. The cost will vary depending on business needs but it will be fitting that of a corporation rather than a small business.
We do want to point out that Zoho Creator Ultimate is $400 and allows unlimited apps. It’s a very complex platform so definitely for tech-savvy teams but it is worth a look before spending thousands of dollars.
The video below is a tutorial showing how to use Quickbase.
OutSystems is a low-code application development platform that is well suited to the tech-savvy. Their plan has a few features suited for junior and professional developers. This doesn’t mean citizen developers can’t use it but some experience with hand-coding in an IDE will be useful. The plans are billed annually.
For their Free tier they have simple options but will be enough to create one application. They offer an IDE for devs that will be hand-coding, free training, and community support. This is more for getting a feeling of what you can do with OutSystems rather than a long-term option for teams.
When it comes to Standard you get a lot more mobility. As you should because it’s over 1,000 a month. You can create an array of different applications for your teams, clients, and consumer base. There is professional support and 99.5% uptime.
Your devs get multiple testing environments and DevOps automation for a streamlined workflow. This plan is far more functional than free and best for budgets that will be dedicated to app creation.
The Enterprise plan is your best choice if you want the most flexibility in cost and features. This is for companies that expect to make a significant portion of revenue from building apps. It comes with 24/7 support, more runtime environments, and the option to host on-premise with your own server. Teams that need more control over their software and storage would want this subscription.
Again we are going to point out Zoho Creator Ultimate is $400 per user a month and you get unlimited apps on a high-end platform. You would need a tech-savvy team for app building in both OutSystems and Zoho Creator, so they are worth considering.
Below is a tutorial showing how to build an app in OutSystems.
Quixy is an LCDP with flexible plans for different use cases. They have 3 plans and just one with pricing. The other two subscriptions are very niche and designed to be flexible but do require consulting with sales.
All plans have access to a 14-day free trial without requiring a credit card. They are all billed annually. Each plan comes with unlimited workspaces, fields, and user actions (like rejections, approvals, etc.)
The Solution subscription is multiple teams and low about the number of apps needed. One use case for this would be if IT and other departments working on the design and capability of a few apps for business needs. These would be apps to help with internal productivity and less likely for consumers, or clients.
This means the number of apps for this plan is limited but not disclosed until a consultation. The features of this subscription include low-code designer, document generator, reports, and an advanced dashboard. For the app building, you can create for Mobile Android and iOS, and use integrations to access other data sources. Support offered is the Gold package which is phone, chat, and email communications.
The plan won’t have options like on-premise hosting with your own server or custom security. Security will not have IP filtering, single-sign-on, or custom password policies.
The solution is best for operations that stay internal and won’t be accessing incredibly sensitive data. Teams that need personalized productivity apps for workflow and tasks can benefit from it. If you need more security and a higher volume of applications then you should pass.
The Platform subscription is almost exactly the same as the Solution plan. There are two main differences. Platforms come with unlimited apps, and 5GB of storage per user. The plan requires you have a minimum of twenty users.
The reason Platform has different limits but the same exact features is because the use case is different. The subscription is for big teams or several teams involved in app development.
The plan is best for companies that plan to sell the software they build as a product as well as those that need a high volume of internal applications for employees. If you have zero need to sell the applications you make or only need a limited amount of apps for your team this is not your best choice.
Enterprise, you guessed it, is a subscription designed for large enterprises. There is no upfront pricing, unfortunately, but it does have significant benefits. The plan includes access to all of the LCDP’s features, 10GB per user, and comes with Quixy’s Platinum support.
With this subscription, you get options like hosting on-premise, offline billing, theme studio for customization, IP filtering. The plan has a lot more security and personalization for your original apps. It’s not the plan for you if you don’t want unlimited apps or enterprise-grade applications.
If you want to see the full list of low-code development platforms you can go here. To learn more about LCDPs, we have some recommended articles.
TechRepublic offers a great article explaining the reason behind the demand for LCDPs here. OutSystems is an LCDP that offers a guide for potential users to learn more about the software in general here. Creatio is another popular LCDP that provides a comprehensive guide of information about LCDPs here.
For those that have used any of the platforms discussed here please leave a review to help other buyers make informed decisions.
Was this helpful?