12 Oct 2016

OutSystems 10 Sets High Bar For Low-Code Mobile App Development

Building mobile apps presents numerous challenges to developers more comfortable with more traditional enterprise applications – especially given the shortage of savvy mobile developers. To address these issues, several vendors have rolled out low-code and no-code platforms for simplifying and accelerating mobile app development.

In spite of this crowded, dynamic market, one vendor stands alone:OutSystems. Its new OutSystems 10 addresses each of the challenges with mobile app development in turn, delivering remarkable capabilities that check all the boxes for enterprise mobile applications.

Low-Code for Mobile App Development

Analysts like Forrester lump low-code and no-code platforms together, but in reality, these two capabilities are at opposite ends of a spectrum.

Low-code platforms like OutSystems accelerate the work of developers, improving both quality and time to value. In contrast, no-code platforms are more for nontechnical business users to assemble applications following ‘drag-and-drop’ techniques.

In spite of the terminology, the primary difference between the two is more about a basic understanding of systems architecture than the ability to type out lines of code.

There are several no-code mobile app tools on the market, but they generally focus on basic capabilities like forms entry and simple workflows. OutSystems, however, took a different approach, looking at the capabilities that state-of-the-art enterprise mobile apps should exhibit and building those capabilities into its platform.

As a result, OutSystems not only automates the easier tasks of building mobile apps, but excels at the more difficult ones – the more difficult, the better.

In fact, OutSystems raises the bar for all other low-code mobile development platforms. “OutSystems brings automation to things that were very difficult to automate, but shouldn’t be,” says Paulo Rosado, CEO of OutSystems.

Excelling Across the Spectrum of Mobile App Development Challenges

Other vendors excel in one area or another, but OutSystems takes each of these challenges and takes them to the next level:

Support for specialized device hardware. OutSystems empowers developers to incorporate native device capabilities and sensors, including cameras, gyroscopes, motion sensors, GPS, and so on – what Rosado refers to as “fancy stuff.” Developers simply drag and drop sensor functionality into models without writing any code.

One-click native deployment to iOS and Android. Typically, native mobile development requires a separate development team for Apple iOS and Google Android devices. With OutSystems, developers can deploy to their mobile device OS of choice with a single click.

Furthermore, while the resulting apps will share the same functionality, each version will take advantage of the user interface elements unique to each platform. In other words, menus and buttons will look and work like iOS menus and buttons on iPhones and like Android menus and buttons on Android devices.

Seamless offline functionality. Most mobile apps built with low-code platforms require connectivity to their respective back end to work properly. In contrast, OutSystems-based apps cache relevant data to support extensive offline behavior, and then synch with the server automatically once you restore connectivity.

High performance user experience (UX). As device users, we’ve all come to expect fast, smooth performance from our device interfaces. OutSystems has squeezed every last millisecond of performance from the UX for slick transitions and animations as well as highly performant interactivity.

Full no-code support for gestures. Mobile developers know that coding for gestures can be surprisingly difficult. Gestures can include both touch mechanics (what your fingers do on the screen) as well as touch activities (the results of specific gestures).

Touch activities typically combine multiple touch mechanics, for example, pinch open, double-touch, or double-touch and dragging. OutSystems implements all of these interaction modalities – no coding required.

Simplified testing and deployment. With OutSystems, developers can test apps instantly on any device, package apps for the app store with a single click, and update apps automatically over the network – all essential capabilities for implementing DevOps.

One-click native deployment of mobile back-end. Automatically creating and deploying native apps for iOS and Android devices is hard enough – but OutSystems simultaneously deploys the server-side components that support mobile apps as well.

Remember, the OutSystems 10 story focuses on mobile, but versions up through OutSystems 9 centered on enterprise apps, including integration with existing APIs as well as on-premises and cloud-based deployments.

All that enterprise goodness is still part of the OutSystems platform – simplifying the creation of mobile apps that front-end any SaaS or legacy enterprise app an organization might wish to incorporate into its digital efforts.

Last but definitely not least, this enterprise goodness includes security: end-to-end from device to system of record, once again without needing to write a single line of code.

Understanding the Dynamic Low-Code Market

OutSystems is a low-code vendor with plenty of no-code capabilities, but the market confusion doesn’t end there. Gartner puts it in the Enterprise Application Platform as a Service market as well as the Mobile Application Development Platforms market, and it put them in the Integrated Service Market as recently as 2006.

With OutSystems 10, however, the platform is squarely in the Low-Code Mobile Application Development Platform market, as its offerings are quite different from vendors of now-traditional mobile application development tools as well as the application PaaS vendors.

Furthermore, given the sophisticated mobile back-end technology that OutSystems automatically generates, it is also a player in the Mobile Backend-as-a-Service market – even though that market hasn’t intersected the Low-Code Market before.

This confusion over markets, however, reflects more on the limitations of the IT analyst firms than it does on OutSystems. Segmenting technology markets has always represented tradeoffs, as vendors in each segment focus on certain problems at the expense of others.

Today, however, we want it all. “The tradeoff between robustness and speed is no longer acceptable, Rosado points out. “You need to give us both.” With OutSystems 10, the company is showing they can deliver on that promise. Now it’s up to the other vendors to catch up.

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