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Is Low-Code the Future of Development?

low code development

Low-code development is increasingly being used in the marketing of a wide range of software products. The term refers to the use of a graphical user interface to build something that a developer would usually have to custom code.

“Low-code development� is somewhat deceiving. One might think it is going to solve all our development problems but in reality, each low code platform has a very specific set of capabilities.

These low-code sites are domain-specific and target areas like web or mobile applications, BPM or CRM, and give us large pieces of predefined functionality to build with. This makes us more efficient at delivering functionality as long as we stay within the platform domain.

To put it into context, let’s have a look at how code evolved. Low-code is after all just code with an adjective indicating we will somehow have less of it. Maybe the past can give us a glimpse of the future.

Machine code

A long long time ago we had to think in machine code, 0s and 1s, and toggle switches or feed punch cards into room-sized computers.

“Hello world� on a punch card:
punch card

Obviously that’s not ideal. Imagine having to find a bug amongst 1000s of those.

So — the assembly languages are born. A thin abstraction on top of machine code where every line represents an instruction to the computer. Now we can write code in something that is slightly easier to understand.

“Hello world� in assembly:

hello world in assembly

That’s better. At least something we can read it — Sort of.

Assembly languages are the most granular way of giving a computer instructions. The assembly languages are specific to a particular computer architecture and obviously not very human friendly.

What this means is that developing your new creation in assembly and then porting it every time Intel/Apple/AMD brings out a new chipset is not going to be very pleasant.

Language

Then comes the third-generation general-purpose programming languages (GPL). Languages like C, C++ and Java. With more human-like syntax and a compiler to translate it to machine code, they express computing concepts in a human-friendly way.

“Hello world� in C:

hello world in C

That’s more like it. In later languages like Python that five-line code is reduced to a single line:

Fantastic, now we’re down from 13 lines of gibberish to 1 line of English.

But that doesn’t mean we have more time for coffee and croissants, instead, we use the efficiency gains to just produce more complex systems.

Soon we find that languages that express computing concepts do not necessarily translate well to other domains. Drawing a user interface pixel by pixel or adding data to disk bit by bit soon becomes unfunny.

What is born next is domain-specific programming languages (DSL). Languages like HTML and SQL are created to solve problems in a specific domain. They can’t do everything a GPL can do but they are easier to understand and work within their domain.

“Hello world� in HTML:
hello world in html

The domain-specific programming languages look more verbose but now it’s not just about the language but also about the domain.

HTML, and its friends CSS and Javascript, tells browsers what to render. It takes a modern web browser more than 20m lines of code to render what HTML, CSS and Javascript describes.

A slightly contrived “Hello world� in SQL:

hello world in SQL

Nice. Reads like English. Mostly does exactly what it says. But you need a database server to make it work and a very small one like SQLite has 139,000 lines of code. Once again the domain language is just the tip of the iceberg.

Up to this point we’ve evolved from Assemblers to GPLs by giving computing concepts a human language at the cost of losing a tiny bit of granularity. Still a huge net productivity win.

We’ve simplified programming for specific domains by adding DSLs that work with pre-built infrastructure. A big productivity win in those domains.Something that we haven’t changed is the medium of communication. Lots and lots of text in lots and lots of files.

Visualization

Low code development platforms take the evolution forward by adding a visual way of representing computing and/or domain concepts. They come with the underlying infrastructure to support their visual language and remove any friction between the building and the running of the final application.

We can now create a mobile application by dragging and dropping some controls, filling in properties, and then publish it with a couple of clicks.

 

“Hello world� in Microsoft Power Apps:

hello world in power apps

No low-level developer tools, SDKs or infrastructure concerns. There are limitations to what our application can do, but for the domain, it covers it seems pretty nifty.

Another example is in the world of APIs. We can now create a REST endpoint by filling in properties, implement it by dragging and dropping some components, and then publish it to a server with a couple of clicks.

“Hello world� REST endpoint in Linx:

hello world in Linx

No syntax to remember, build steps to run or servers to set up. We’re never going to develop Photoshop with Linx but it makes building an API easy.

The future or just a fad?

Is this the future or just a fad? Well — maybe a bit of both.

If we think of low-code development platforms as visual DSLs then there might be a future where standards emerge, and a handful of big players capture each domain.

There might even be a long tail of products catering to/for niche domains. The value proposition of low-code productivity gains combined with bundled infrastructure is certainly compelling.

However, if we think of them as replacing programming or solving all our development problems then we will be disappointed.

The more programmable the low-code platform the more complex it has to be, and the more our low code developer will have to know about the underlying concepts that are being abstracted away. The developer is still coding, just with bigger pieces.

History shows that we’ve made impressive productivity gains by making it easier to code.

Hopefully, some of these low-code development platforms will emerge with the right recipe to give us another boost.

The post Is Low-Code the Future of Development? appeared first on ReadWrite.

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API chatbot Customer Service IoT Platforms Startups WhatsApp Business WhatsApp Business API

5 WhatsApp Business features to Elevate Customer Experience

new whatsapp features

WhatsApp rolled out an additional feature called interactive message template a month back for WhatsApp Business API. As the name suggests, this feature allows one to include interactive components to messaging like a button. WhatsApp Business Account users can now build two types of pre-defined buttons:

  1. Call-To-Action: The call-to-action button enables users to either call a phone number or visit a website.
  2. Quick-reply: The quick reply allows users to respond with a simple text message.

WhatsApp Business was rolled in 2018 for small to medium businesses, and WhatsApp Business API became accessible to WhatsApp trusted partners for building chatbots so enterprises could leverage automated conversation with their customers. A revolutionary step in the business engagement world. Let us look at some cool features of WhatsApp Business account, which makes it now the oxygen of business world:

Business Profile

The business profile gives the company a familiar “face� and identity that helps in gaining faithful customers. To have a “Verified� badge next to your company name, WhatsApp has to confirm first that this is a verified business account. You can create messaging templates that are much needed if you want to send messages to your customers. But most crucial, it aids your customers to get information like

  • Business name
  • Business hours
  • Store/business address
  • Corresponding location pin
  • Email ID
  • Website links
  • Contact details
  • Brief business description

To edit your business profile:

  • Open WhatsApp Business > Tap Settings > your business name.
  • Tap on any field to make an update > Save.

Quick Replies

WhatsApp is the new advanced SMS system. WhatsApp platform is preferred by over 2 billion people across the world. The Quick Reply feature by WhatsApp lets you save a lot of energy and time. You can set up often, send messages to answer frequently asked questions in a jiffy. You can add texts and emoji’s in your quick replies.

How to set up a Quick reply?

To set up a quick reply, follow these steps:

  • Go to settings>Business Settings> Quick Replies.
  • Click on the plus(+) icon, on the top right corner to create the reply.
  • Click under message to add your message.
  • Set your keywords to locate the messages easily.
  • Click- Save

Label

Whenever a customer sends you a message, and you wish to save the chat, utilize this cool feature “Label” by WhatsApp. You can set up Labels to your chats, to help you remember and organize your messages.

Labels can be set up according to your preferences, such as order, location, new customers. You can even add cool colors to differentiate your labels. WhatsApp allows you to create up to 20 Labels.

Applying a WhatsApp Label

Tap and hold a message or a chat > Tap Label > You can add an existing label or a new label.

Finding a WhatsApp Labeled Content

  • Go to your Chats screen > More Options > Labels > tap a label.
  • Alternatively, from your Chats screen, you can also tap on a contact’s profile photo or group icon to see all labels associated with that chat.

Managing WhatsApp Label

To manage your labels, go to your Chats screen > More options > Labels.

Here you can:

  • Take actions over labeled items. Tap a label > Tap and hold an item > Choose an action on the top bar,
  • Edit a label: Tap the label > More options > Edit label.
  • Add a color: Tap the label > More options > Choose color. If more than two color-coded labels are applied to a chat, they’ll be stacked one over the other. When stacked, the color of only the most recent label will be displayed.
  • Delete a label: Tap the label > More options > Delete label.
  • Create new broadcast: Tap the label > More options > Message customers.

Creating a broadcast list from labels.

You can create broadcast lists for select audiences from your labels. To create a broadcast list from labels:

  • Go to More options > Labels.
  • Select the Label you want to create a broadcast for.
  • Go to More options > Message customers.
  • Tap the green checkmark on the bottom right of the screen to draft your message.

The broadcast message will be individually sent to all the chats tagged with that label.

Greeting Messages

WhatsApp allows you to set up automated greeting messages for your customers when they message you the first time or after 14 days of inactivity.

Setting up WhatsApp greeting messages:

  • Tap More options > Settings > Business settings > Greeting message.
  • Turn on Send greeting message.
  • Edit the message by tapping on it.
  • Under Recipients, tap and choose between:
    • Everyone: to send the greeting message to anyone who messages you after business hours.
    • Everyone not in the address book: to send the greeting message to numbers that aren’t in your address book.
    • Everyone except: to send the greeting message to all numbers except a select few.
    • Only send to: to send the greeting message to select recipients.
  • Tap SAVE.

Automated Messages

Set up automated messages on the WhatsApp business account, such as greeting messages, FAQs, and much more. This helps your customer to connect with your business and get answers quickly leading to customer satisfaction.

WhatsApp is the clear winner in terms of cost, efficiency, interface, and customer preference. You can set up WhatsApp Chatbot with the help of WhatsApp partners such as Yellow Messenger. With the help of WhatsApp Chatbot, you can automate all your business engagement and reduce any redundancy.

The WhatsApp chatbot platform is designed to integrate with CRM, ERP, and various other business systems and enables seamless communication between businesses and customers and promising enhanced customer experience.

Image Credit: Alok Sharma; Pexels

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