Characteristics and Challenges of Low-Code Development: The Practitioners' Perspective

Yajing Luo, Peng Liang, Chong Wang, Mojtaba Shahin, Jing Zhan

Background: In recent years, Low-code development (LCD) is growing rapidly, and Gartner and Forrester have predicted that the use of LCD is very promising. Giant companies, such as Microsoft, Mendix, and Outsystems have also launched their LCD platforms. Aim: In this work, we explored two popular online developer communities, Stack Overflow (SO) and Reddit, to provide insights on the characteristics and challenges of LCD from a practitioners' perspective. Method: We used two LCD related terms to search the relevant posts in SO and extracted 73 posts. Meanwhile, we explored three LCD related subreddits from Reddit and collected 228 posts. We extracted data from these posts and applied the Constant Comparison method to analyze the descriptions, benefits, and limitations and challenges of LCD. For platforms and programming languages used in LCD, implementation units in LCD, supporting technologies of LCD, types of applications developed by LCD, and domains that use LCD, we used descriptive statistics to analyze and present the results. Results: Our findings show that: (1) LCD may provide a graphical user interface for users to drag and drop with little or even no code; (2) the equipment of out-of-the-box units (e.g., APIs and components) in LCD platforms makes them easy to learn and use as well as speeds up the development; (3) LCD is particularly favored in the domains that have the need for automated processes and workflows; and (4) practitioners have conflicting views on the advantages and disadvantages of LCD. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that researchers should clearly define the terms when they refer to LCD, and developers should consider whether the characteristics of LCD are appropriate for their projects.

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