Low-code environments offer the chance to build your ideal application with little to no coding experience. Companies can create their own custom calendars, inventory trackers, task management system, or really anything depending on the software. You don’t need to be the genius developer from the MIT stereotype from every 90s movie. The only requirement for low-code tools is you and your team just need to be willing to learn.
What Is Low Code?
Low-code means less coding is necessary. With low-code platforms, you would only have a few situations where you might need to do hand-coding. Some light research and helpful websites have ready-made code templates available. You can also ask for help on sites like StackOverflow or Reddit. Low-code development platforms (LCDP), also known as low-code application platforms (LCAP), offer frameworks with a graphical user interface (UI).
This UI is a common staple in modern software today. You would recognize it as a drag-and-drop interface. With software like LCDPs, non-programmers create enterprise-grade apps. You don’t have to be an expert in frontend or backend programming languages because you don’t need traditional coding to develop custom applications.
Low-code platforms are great for citizen developers who don’t have extensive experience in software development but are tech-savvy enough to be able to add in the missing pieces. Those with zero background in app development are more suited to No-Code Development platforms that won’t have situations where you need to hand-code.
Professional developers can also benefit greatly from low-code tool’s rapid application development environments because it speeds up their workflow and makes the overall process easier. If you have a DevOps team then low-code application platforms that offer high-code development with an integrated development environment (IDE) will be ideal. IDEs make hand-coding a much smoother process.
If you plan on making apps to sell to your consumer base it’s important to take into account usability and web accessibility. Without considering accessibility, you could make hard-to-navigate dashboards or color-important warnings that color-blind end-users can’t see. It’s important to consider the user’s needs or your low-code app might be frustrating 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.
How Much Do Low-Code Platforms Cost?
LCDP/LCAP can oftentimes be referred to as business process management (BPM). This is because many low-code app builders are made to meet business needs. Those platforms let teams build business applications for internal use, like improving the performance of business operations.
These would be custom apps for project management, scalability, online database management, and improving process automation. With low-code app development tools, you can even build mobile applications for team members and customers.
Huge benefits of low-code app builders can be high-end automation through artificial intelligence and machine learning. Another major benefit is more flexibility and personalization in functionality and appearance.
Business users with no coding skills will actually be able to create their own applications or have a hand in the development process. Your team can make what fits them and their workflow rather than searching every nook and cranny of the internet for a software package that barely helps productivity.
Software development teams and IT departments will also be able to automate processes and streamline tasks thanks to the fast and easy-to-use UI.
Microsoft is a prolific software giant that has a solution for just about everything, including low-code app development platforms. Microsoft Powerapps is their LCDP for development teams of all sizes.
Microsoft PowerApps can be especially challenging even for professional programmers. They are a low-code environment so users expect to need to hand-code in some situations. Business users can be surprised by how hard writing formulas can be.
In general, the structure of Microsoft Powerapps is very similar to their cloud computing, which means multiple applications and resources are required to create apps. This can be frustrating. Reviews from their B2B customers have shown a lot of issues with formulas and the overall UI.
One user reported they need to “sacrifice a live chicken to get PowerApps to accept a complex formula” and also found loading the powerful software to be a long and painful process.
Another end-user wrote, “For context, this is a low code platform, I am a developer, not a citizen developer, and I have found the PowerApp platform is not suited to customizations.” They said it took a significant amount of time to perfect their app and the programming model was far from intuitive to use.
This person did note that Microsoft Powerapps was actually great for mobile app development. Their mobile apps worked well across devices like Android or iOS. The UI of the app came out especially impressive; it was just painstaking to build.
We recommend more experienced teams for this LCDP solution. It is not impossible for citizen developers, but more experienced citizen developers will have an easier time. This means having the skills to research and find resources to figure out the formulas you need to create what you want. Professional devs will likely also need to research and problem solve when constructing high-end enterprise apps on this complex platform.
Microsoft PowerApps subscriptions can fit any use case because they are straightforward and flexible for a variety of development teams. The subscriptions are credit-based which means each month you get a number of credits you can use when building your app.
The different user licenses have different amounts of credits and you can mix and match licenses for different team members. This way people who need more credits to start while those who will need less can have different plans. For more information about licensing see their documentation here.
The plans all offer a different combination of apps and portals per user. Portals are a user’s ability to log in to your custom app. This means each plan is best suited that needs either more apps/portals or less, with the number of users you can buy being unlimited. All the plans are unique and not a small to big tier setup.
|Subscription plan per app
|Subscription plan per user
|Pay-as-you-go plan per app
|$10per active user/app/month
For the per app plan, you have the option to access one app or portal and 250 AI builder credits for development. The software offers ready-made connectors and on-premise connectors for your data as well as custom storage options.
The plan comes with a 50MB database and 400MB file capacity in Microsoft Dataverse (previously called Common Data Service). Dataverse is the low-code environment you create in. It gives you access to Microsoft’s Common Data Model, which lets you build data models with AI and machine learning. The downside is you need a Microsoft 365 subscription for the admin center roles.
This plan is great for teams that need to either work on the application or access the application. Each user can work with multiple data sources in their own database. You can add more users when needed. This plan is good for internal app building rather than consumer products.
The per user subscription is for unlimited app building and has 500 AI builder credits. This is best for the team members doing the most work on the app. Each user has a 250MB database and 2 GB file capacity in Dataverse.
The best use case for this subscription is developer teams, especially ones making a whole tech stack for the company or for customers. This wouldn’t be for teams that need limited access or apps.
The Pay-as-you-go option is priced per active user a month. For billing information about active users see the documentation here. In general, the cost is calculated based on the number of users and the number of different apps those users are running monthly. You don’t get allotted AI builder credits since you are charged per direct use. This makes the plan perfect for those that hate credit systems.
It comes with 1 Gb for database and file capability in Dataverse. Teams that will have a variety of users going in and out of the platform for various reasons and amounts of time. If your teams working on these applications will be inconsistent in usage, this plan is a good fit.
The plan is also good if you want unlimited apps and users without buying individual licenses for every employee or freelancer/contractor. You should also know this plan requires a Microsoft Azure subscription for cloud computing access.
Microsoft Powerapps is a high-end software that isn’t the most user-friendly. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to achieve amazing results. Tech-savvy startups and enterprises can definitely benefit from this platform.
For a quick overview of Microsoft PowerApp see the tutorial below.
Kissflow is a simplistic low-code/no-code platform for automating forms. They are not for developing software products but can create codeless and personalized workspaces to handle your team operations. LCDPs that double as no-code solutions tend to have a great ease of use and are incredibly beginner-friendly. Kissflow definitely falls into that category.
One user that rated Kissflow a 9/10, points out that if you are not computer literate at all and come from a background of just paperwork there is definitely a learning curve. They observed visual learners picked up on Kissflow’s UI the fastest.
Many verified user reviews praised Kissflow’s functionality for being very easy to use. Some still do think the UI is somewhat slow and outdated. Many wanted more customization for organizing task workflows like font or color changes.
Kissflow plans are very straightforward but don’t go into too much detail on features or special functions for individual plans. You can view their general features here but they don’t explain which plans have what features. You need to contact sales for that information.
The features Kissflow offers end-users include AI/ML, task management, collaboration tools, and real-time analytics in dashboards. Their visual design low-code tool makes building and editing intuitive, especially for less experienced teams.
Their different tiers are very affordable for all types of business users. They have plans with flexible pricing for monthly or annual as well as plans more suited to enterprise pricing.
|$18 per user a month billed monthly
$9.90 per user a month billed annually
|$20 per user a month billed annually
For the Small Business tier you can choose between monthly and annual billing with a discount. This plan is recommended for small teams or startups.
The Corporate plan is only billed annually for a year lock-in. They recommend this plan for teams expecting strong growth that will be creating apps for a number of different reasons and business users.
Enterprise is a customizable plan that requires a quote based on your team and needs. The plan is recommended for bigger teams looking for powerful scalability for their company.
Again it’s hard to consider what plan is for you without feature comparisons but they do this to encourage consulting with sales.
In terms of satisfaction with plans, the majority of Kissflow reviews show positive feedback, with capability and functionality in accordance with the price they paid. One review reported that Kissflow was “a fair price” for what they got, and another review noted it was overall great value for its capabilities.
For a peek at how to automate business processes in Kissflow see the video below.
Appian is a cloud computing software company. They offer low-code tools for automated tasks and applications.
User reviews for Appian have reported positive feedback for the no-code/low-code options but generally negative sentiment on the AI and ML functionality. One user still recommends Appian as a good all in one BPM for their AI and ML, but did admit it could be better. In general user reviews are very happy especially with the ease of use with their system.
All Appian subscriptions offer no-code and low-code tools, analytics, devops, and content management.All their apps are mobile compatible with Android and iOS as well. The difference between plans is the amount of users allowed and enterprise features allotted.
|FreeAppian Community Edition
|Application (Includes 3 separate tiers)
|Standard – $75 per user/month
Infrequent – $9 per user/month
Input-Only – $2 per user/month
Appian’s Free tier comes with process mining, automation and AI as well as community support. This plan allows 15 total users and is great for startups and small businesses. Free is not for teams that want more support, more users, and more apps. It also doesn’t have any enterprise deployment options like on-premise hosting.
The Application plan is flexible with user costs per month and has a minimum of 100 users. This is a big jump in capacity and amazing for medium and large teams that want affordable rates. Multiple temas like IT, devs, product design, research and more could access the platform.
The different user prices for this plan allows teams to save on members that don’t need a standard license because they won’t be constant users. This is ideal for dynamic organizations with multiple projects and teams.
The plan also has enterprise features like 99.99% uptime for cloud hosting, and offers hybrid and on-premise hosting options as well. For support, you are able to purchase standard, advanced, or enterprise. For more about this see their customer support plan breakdown here.
For Platform and Unlimited, they are both custom plans with custom pricing. They have the same support and enterprise options as in the Application. They both have unlimited apps per user, but the Platform has a minimum of 100 users while Unlimited is limitless on users.
You would go with a platform with just unlimited apps, and Unlimited if you want no restrictions on users and apps. Both plans are great choices for enterprise teams that want custom pricing. Companies that are making applications as consumer products can also benefit greatly from the lack of caps on app development.
Below is a short tutorial on how to create a timesheet application in Appian.
Google App Maker
Google, like Microsoft, is another tech giant that by no surprise, offers a low-code/no-code application platform. Their low-code solution is called Google AppSheet, which is an LCDP they acquired. They offer the ability to use all the low-code features for free and the ability to share the apps you build with up to 10 users.
When you are ready to deploy the app so your team or customers can actually use it, then you need to purchase a subscription. This can be a life-changing option in particular for teams that have found they overspent on app development features.
This pricing structure makes it much more affordable for teams to get started. You only need a subscription when the app is done. The main difference between tiers is the availability of features, ranging from basic to complete.
User reviews report that Google AppSheet is fast, user-friendly, and easily connectable with databases or integrations. Some noted negatives were with natural language processing (NLP). Overall most are very satisfied with cost and capability.
Another general issue among AppeSheet’s B2B users is the lack of cloud storage provided. This is likely because you can integrate with other storage options.
|$5 per user a month
|$10 per user a month
The Core has basic automation, and support. Some noteworthy automation features include branding, email, and connectors for integrations like Microsoft Excel, or Airtable.
This option is great for teams that don’t need all the bells and whistles. Use cases for this are startups, small businesses that aren’t interested in deploying the app for a huge consumer base. They would most likely be for teams inside the company.
For Standard you get more security, and some advanced automation features like NLP. It also comes with email support. The added security includes encryption and the ability to manage users. In comparison, Standard is not a huge step up from Core.
If you stick with Core you won’t have to worry about operations being limited, but if you want more powerful features like team collaboration or machine learning you will need to skip over Standard. If you are working with sensitive data then you might want to upgrade for the added security. Use cases with sensitive data can be apps for contact management for employees or partners.
Enterprise Standard comes with machine learning, advanced data, collaboration features, and priority customer support. It does not have governance policies or enterprise data services like Google Doc AI.
Teams that want the best capabilities for long term growth will appreciate a stacked plan like this one. It would be better if there was an indication of the cost, but at least user reviews don’t cite price as a main issue. One user said that “the price is reasonable.”
When it comes to Enterprise Plus the only difference is it has governance, alerts, and access to enterprise data features previously mentioned. If you do not need to keep a close eye on your team to ensure they are following rules with data and development, then this step up can be avoided.
If you want a look at AppSheet UI or a crash course in how the platform works see the tutorial below. It offers a quick beginner run-through of how to use the no-code app builder.
Kintone is a Tokyo-based low-code/ no-code platform that is best suited for BPM app development. They are often used for creating internal business applications to improve team productivity.
User reviews of the platform report great ease of use, especially for those who don’t have a coding background. Negatives that users noted were the UI and dashboards not being intuitive to navigate, or wanting more functionality in app building.
One user described Kintone as a robust app development program but felt it could use more end-user training and more user controls.
Another user that rated Kintone with a high score of 9/10 said the platform was intuitive and had enough training for them, but the platform had bugs where categories in their team app translated to Japanese and was not able to be fixed. This was not the only time users noted the language bug issue.
If you’re worried about whether or not the platform is user-friendly enough, one business development manager that is not tech-savvy, raved about how easy and cheap the platform is.
They stated, “I am a pretty old dog who has never taken even one spreadsheet or database class and after 2 scheduled phone calls, I am building useful tools. Oh, and it’s so affordable I just charge it on my card and add it to my expense report.”
It’s so affordable that users are still likely to continue using the app builder, even when they encounter bugs. That makes the apps best features a double-edged sword since there can be errors but it’s not worth it to discontinue use. We can only hope they are still motivated to fix the errors mentioned in the reviews.
Kintone has one subscription available with flexible pricing for monthly or annual billing. They are nonprofit-friendly and encourage those interested in custom pricing to contact them or schedule a meeting at this link.
|$24 per user a month
*Minimum 5 users ($120/month)
Kintone’s subscription requires a minimum of five users and comes with a plethora of great features. It has templates, collaboration tools like messaging, as well as mobile app development.
Temas can build up to 900 apps and 300 workspaces. Records are capped at 50K, and fields at 150. The storage offered per user is 5GB. Teams can expect limitless productivity with access to custom data graphs. There is also a strong security password policy setup and account lockout.
This plan is one of the best combinations of affordable costs and extensive capability. You are able to have an unrestricted workflow for software development teams and access to the apps you create. There’s also the benefit of not having to choose between tiny little differences with big price changes in plans. There is one plan that’s simple and clear about what it offers as well as its cost.
If you want to learn more about Kintone see the video below. Kintone’s youtube series created a half-hour tutorial walkthrough about how to create an app.
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 with 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.
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