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No Code vs Low Code: What’s the Difference?

Both no-code and low-code solutions come with big benefits. But when considering no-code vs low-code, what's the difference?

Some terms we hear so often, we don’t stop and question what they actually mean. The terms low-code and no-code are commonly used to describe abstracted, user friendly tools. But considering low code vs no code, what do they mean and how are they different?

In this article, we will dive into the difference between no-code and low-code, provide some examples, and discuss how these tools are changing the way organizations innovate.

Major movements toward a codeless future

For the past few years, the number of both low and no-code tools have been growing exponentially. These are platforms that allow non-technical users perform tasks most often associated with development roles.

  • Building Websites and user interfaces
  • Integrating between systems
  • Analyzing and reporting on data
  • Automating business processes

Organizations are pressed to continue innovating without increasing technical debt or increasing demand on already constrained technical resources. That’s where no-code and low-code tools come into play.

According to Statista:

Organizations already see the benefits of using these platforms, as almost 60 percent of them indicated that using low-code increases revenue and helps replace legacy systems. Other benefits include the monitoring capabilities of these platforms, as well as their cross-platform accessibility and speed compared to traditional development. Given these benefits and the wide variety of use cases for these platforms, low-code development technologies are increasing both in popularity and adoption. This is illustrated by the fact that the global low-code development market is forecast to grow by 23 percent in 2021, and not likely to slow down in the years ahead.

Just recently, Forbes published an article arguing the benefits organizations are realizing are adopting low-code and no-code technology:

The digitization of operations across all industries has created a situation in which the need to produce new software applications completely outpaces the capacity of trained developers, IT professionals, SREs (site reliability engineers) and other technical staff. However, there is a lot of untapped potential among non-technical workers, and no-code can help these employees bridge the gap of unmet software needs—while also better aligning business needs with IT strategy and implementation. Low-to-no-code tools allow enterprises to use automation to streamline their business and IT operations and take a proactive, preventative approach to digital operations across various environments.

When considering no code vs low code, the truth is that there are plenty of upsides to be had found with both. In short, when tools are abstracted, businesses win. Yet while both approaches are becoming increasingly common today, it’s important to understand the difference between the two. Let’s take a look at how they differ.

What is low-code?

Low-code is a development method, set of tools, and approach that enables the creation of software applications or solutions with limited programming needed. It simplifies the application development process by using visual interfaces, drag-and-drop components, and declarative programming options. With low-code development, individuals with limited coding experience and citizen developers can build functional applications without much oversight from developers. This makes scaling and building applications quicker and easier in some cases.

A low-code tool can play a role in many different aspects of an application’s development. You may leverage a low-code tool to deploy changes, write test cases, build user interfaces, or automate business process logic. 

They also typically provide a range of pre-built components, templates, and connectors, allowing developers to assemble applications by simply configuring and connecting these elements. 

The key distinction between low-code and no-code is that low-code will typically provide options to write code for more complex use cases. For example, a website builder like the wordpress engine may give you pre built components to build your website’s structure and pages, you may need to edit some HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to get the behavior you need. 

Examples of Low-Code tools

Let’s take look at a few examples of low-code tools:

  • OutSystems: OutSystems is a low-code platform that enables custom application development by providing a visual development environment. It offers drag-and-drop components and lets developers write custom code when needed, providing flexibility and extending the platform’s capabilities beyond visual configuration.
  • Salesforce: Salesforce is a popular cloud-based CRM and business platform. Although it enables customization through its own proprietary coding language Apex, as well as web design languages like Javascript, it has extensive low-code features that let administrators and developers automate business processes, design UI’s and integrate with external systems declaratively.
  • Mendix: Mendix is another low-code platform that offers visual modeling tools for designing applications. While it focuses on enabling business users and citizen developers to participate in application development, it also allows developers to incorporate custom coding using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Business analysts and citizen developers can work with developers to achieve alignment and accelerate delivery.
  • Microsoft Power Apps: Power Apps is a low-code platform within the Microsoft Power Platform suite. It offers a visual editor that allows users to build applications by dragging and dropping components. Power Apps also supports custom coding using a programming language called Power Apps Formula Language (similar to Excel formulas) and allows the use of JavaScript and TypeScript through custom components and connectors.
  • Appian: Appian is a low-code process automation platform for process mining, experience design and process and data unification. It provides a visual interface for designing processes, forms, and user interfaces. While Appian focuses on minimizing the need for traditional coding, it also allows developers to write custom code in Java, JavaScript, or SQL to extend its functionality.

What is no-code?

No-Code relies exclusively on declarative, drag-and-drop, and user interface driven tools to develop, design, deliver, and modify applications. There are no options to use code or extend functionality with code. Ideally, this is because the application is sophisticated enough to handle most use cases without the need for custom programming.

No-code is ideal when technical resources are limited or where development needs to be fast and iterative. No-code allows business stakeholders and citizen developers to quickly mock up prototypes, set up integrations, automate business processes, or even write mobile test scripts.

Examples of no-code tools

Here are a few examples of popular no-code tools:

  • Bubble: Bubble is a visual programming platform for building web applications without code. It lets you use a drag-and-drop interface, pre-built UI components, and a database backend. To create dynamic web apps with features like forms, workflows, user authentication, and integrations with external services.
  • Adalo: Adalo is a no-code tool for building mobile applications. It lets you customize mobile app screens, modify your data model, manage user authentication, set up push notifications, and more.
  • Sofy: Sofy is a no-code mobile testing platform that empowers you to record manual test cases on virtually hosted, real devices. With Sofy, you’re able to easily automate your test cases, integrate with CI/CD tools, and run them across dozens of other devices. Sofy leverages AI and Machine Learning to make testing without code possible.
  • Zapier: Zapier is an automation platform for connecting different applications and automating workflows. It provides a codeless UI to create “Zaps” that trigger actions in one application based on events in another. For example, you can create a Zap that automatically saves Gmail attachments to Dropbox, or updates a CRM from external files.
  • Airtable: Airtable is a spreadsheet/database hybrid for creating and managing data. You can create custom databases, design workflows, collaborate on data, and build applications with features like forms, views, and integrations.
  • Webflow: Webflow is a visual web design platform for creating responsive websites without code. It offers a drag-and-drop interface, pre-built design components, and powerful styling options. Users can create interactive websites, design custom animations, and build e-commerce solutions.

For more examples of no-code tools, check out our part one and part two of our series on the no-code full stack.

When should you choose low code?

A low-code tool may be ideal for you if:

  • You have in-house technical resources ready to extend with code when needed.
  • The no-code alternative does not fit your needs.
  • You need to make changes frequently. If you envision a rocky and iterative process, low code may be better.
  • Complexity. If you’re not sure what problems you might run into, it might be a safer bet to choose a low-code tool that can be extended with code. Consider the complexity of the application you plan to build. Low code platforms are generally better suited for developing more sophisticated and intricate applications that require advanced functionality and integration with external systems.
  • Integration Requirements. If your project heavily relies on integrating with external services or systems, low code may offer better flexibility. No-code platforms typically offer pre-built integrations and connectors but might have limitations when it comes to complex or custom integrations.

When should you choose no-code?

  • Well defined use cases. You know what you need from the tool, and your discovery of the tool has shown that it can do what you need.
  • Limited technical resources. If you can’t lean on consistent access to technical resources, no-code may be the way to go.
  • Speed of delivery. When you need to make changes quickly, or need to rapidly prototype and deliver a working piece of software, no-code is the best option.

The No-Code Revolution marches on

We’ve been covering the low-code and no-code Revolution for a while. We think that organizations will continue to abstract their development processes to stay flexible and competitive.

Just look at a recent study conducted by Gartner:

The worldwide market for low-code development technologies is projected to total $26.9 billion in 2023, an increase of 19.6% from 2022, according to the latest forecast from Gartner, Inc. A rise in business technologists and a growing number of enterprise-wide hyperautomation and composable business initiatives will be the key drivers accelerating the adoption of low-code technologies through 2026.


I hope we’ve cleared up the confusion between no-code and low-code solutions. Both are part of the abstraction continuum, and both have their own benefits and drawbacks. We hope you find the technology and tools that empower you the most. And if you’re interested in where no-code solutions are going, you’ll want to check out the latest from Sofy on this, especially SofySense

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed above are those of the contributor. They do not necessarily represent or reflect the official beliefs or positions of Sofy.