Bi-annual report from global software consultancy Thoughtworks highlights the benefits and the pitfalls of empowering nonprogrammers to build business apps
Thoughtworks, a global software consultancy, has released Volume 23 of Technology Radar, which this time highlights the democratization of programming. Thoughtworks has charted the emergence of a new breed of tools that is empowering nonprogrammers to complete tasks that would have previously needed coding expertise.
We’ve seen Amazon Honeycode gain momentum as a way to build mobile and web applications without writing any programming code. There are also platforms such as IFTTT and Zapier that allow a less technical audience to wire up a variety of devices and SaaS-platforms to do interesting and useful things.
“This trend has the potential to unleash a wave of productivity in the enterprise, as some of the emerging low-code and no-code tools have the potential to ease the development burden on the IT department. However, these tools also come with risks”, says Dr. Rebecca Parsons, chief technology officer at Thoughtworks.
“These tools can be incredibly useful when it comes to very specific problems in limited domains but typically make it impossible to apply good engineering practices — such as versioning or testing — which makes them difficult to use in rapidly changing enterprise environments”, she says. “The challenge companies face is in identifying when projects are becoming too large or complex to be a good fit for low code,” says Dr. Parsons.
Typically, organizations turn to low code because they lack the developer expertise needed to meet their business plans. But spotting when a project has exceeded low-code’s capabilities is just the sort of problem that developer expertise could solve.
Technology Radar Vol. 23 also highlights these noteworthy themes:
- Adolescence of Infrastructure as Code - Infrastructure as code has hit adolescence. Thoughtworks Technology Radar tracked huge advances in tooling that enables companies to manage their infrastructure as code. And enterprises are seeing the benefits of automating infrastructure, consequently creating an innovation-adoption feedback loop for the creators of tools and frameworks. But we’ve also seen many companies struggle to find the best use of this capability. As with most teenagers, there are both positive and negative patterns emerging.
- GraphQL Grandiosity - GraphQL is having a moment. It solves some common problems that are manifest in modern distributed architectures such as microservices. We encourage teams to use GraphQL and the burgeoning tools around it but also to exercise caution when using narrowly focused technology to solve too many problems.
- The Struggle with the Browser Continues - Originally designed for document browsing, the web browser today primarily hosts applications. To overcome the many headaches inherent in this mismatch, developers keep rethinking and rechallenging established approaches for browser testing, state management and building fast and rich browser applications.
- Visualize All the Things - All kinds of innovative visualization tools have emerged for myriad purposes, including infrastructure, data science and cloud resources. As developer ecosystems become more complex, a picture often goes a long way toward taming the inevitable cognitive overload.
“At Realestate.com.au we are always interested in using the latest technologies and evolving our ecosystem as well as we possibly can. And the Thoughtworks Technology Radar allows us to compare our expectations with someone who's a thought leader in the industry and has an unbiased opinion. So it helps us to guide our decisions and what we're going to be adopting next,” says Daniel Aragao, lead architect at real estate company, REA Group.
Visit Thoughtworks.com/radar to explore the interactive version of the Radar or download the PDF version.