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Will Low-Code Replace Developers? Here’s 5 Reasons It Won’t!

Dan O'Keefe, Appian
April 22, 2023

You’ve spent years honing your craft as a software developer. Maybe you earned a computer science degree, attended a coding bootcamp, or were self-taught. You’ve picked up new languages, code libraries, and frameworks. In short, you know your stuff.

Then along come low-code development platforms that claim to allow “anyone” to become a developer. You may have started to wonder, “Will low-code replace developers?”

Will low-code replace developers?

Let’s be clear upfront: low-code will not replace high-code developers working in languages like Java, C++, or Python. Citizen developers won’t replace senior developers with decades of experience or even junior developers with a year or so on the job. Though low-code is for every developer, it’s actually especially useful for professional high-code developers. Low-code makes building applications far faster—and who needs time savings more than IT developers working on mission-critical apps? Think of low-code as one more powerful tool in your software development toolkit. Low-code can make your life as a developer easier (and your job more enjoyable, more lucrative, and more successful).

Don’t fear low-code—embrace it. Here are five reasons why:

  1.  Low-code doesn’t mean no code:

    If you’ve spent your career working in Java, C++, or Python, that won’t necessarily change. While low-code platforms can quickly automate monotonous development tasks, it is just one tool, not a wholesale replacement for high-code. Even when working with a low-code tool, you can still modify code or build new features using your old programming skills, and you can write innovative code rather than wasting time refactoring older work. Pro tip: Low-code solutions should offer the option to modify code if needed. Be wary of solutions that don’t allow you to do this easily, as it would put an anchor on the flexibility, power, and sophistication you need to build truly enterprise-level applications.
  2.  You’ll never lack work:

    As long as businesses have issues to solve, developers with low-code skills will remain in demand. And organizations never run out of potential improvements and use cases. Not only will they need people who can use low-code development tools, but they may also need you to write your own code in areas the low-code platform doesn’t natively solve. And IDC Predicts that the global population of low-code developers will have a compound annual growth rate of 40.4% between 2021 and 2025, which is 3.2 times the growth rate of the general developer population. In fact, some low-code solutions include process mining features that automatically discover process inefficiencies and bottlenecks. The results of process mining can be used as input for your next feature, to change an existing application, or to inspire a brand new application that improves process efficiency.


  3.  You’ll collaborate more effectively:

    If you’ve ever taken a company survey, odds are you’ve seen “communication” on the list of “areas to improve.” Low-code platforms with strong workflow capabilities allow you to collaborate on features with non-technical stakeholders in a language they understand: visual diagrams of business processes and workflows. Plus, low-code platforms help IT teams build strong applications the first time around. With the ability to rapidly develop applications and iterate faster, IT can collaborate with business users to quickly gather feedback, show early iterations, and verify an application works as intended. This capability aligns with the agile principle of breaking down work into multiple sprint-length tasks and allows any contributor to gauge progress on an application’s functions without having to decipher lines of code. With low-code, you will collaborate better, make changes more quickly, and avoid wasting time on miscommunications during the design phase.


  4.  You’ll spend more time innovating:

    The average developer spends six hours per week dealing with technical debt. Nothing can fully eliminate technical debt, but low-code platforms handle a lot of the work that would introduce this debt in the first place. Take mobile development, for example. Each time there’s an operating system (OS) update on a platform, you may have to refactor code. Low-code platforms can take care of this element of mobile development for you, so you can stop focusing on older OS’s and instead shift to writing code for new features that will improve your stakeholders’ experience. Odds are good you entered this field to build new things, not maintain and fix the old; low-code can help you get back to doing what you love—developing features that change your company for the better.


  5.  Your job outlook will improve:

    Studies have shown that low-code developers have higher job satisfaction rates and earn more on average than their counterparts who use high-code exclusively. A recent survey showed that 42% of low-code developers were “very satisfied” with their jobs, compared to just 31% of high-code-only developers. Plus, of those respondents making six figures, 72% were low-code users and only 64% were high-code-only developers.


Software developers are still in high demand.

Industries are still facing a software developer shortage, with businesses hiring for more positions than they can fill. Low-code platforms can support software developers by letting them produce applications and features faster, mitigating some of the overwhelm they may be feeling due to labor shortages.

So rest assured, software developer jobs are here to stay. Don’t worry about losing out to a citizen developer. Instead, try embracing low-code—your job satisfaction and career prospects will likely thrive in response. 

Explore low-code, build your own apps 10x faster, and learn through hands-on tutorials with Appian Community Edition. Sign up for your free development environment.