The big comparison: ROQ or Low Code

Let's look at the pros and cons of different coding approaches for web applications.

220331_roqvslowcode.jpeg
Web Development
Low Code
Features-as-a-Service

Web applications are true marvels. They work on all common operating systems and devices, are easier to develop than native apps, and can now be implemented using a single programming language. One and the same web app can easily be provided to many users at the same time. The application is always up to date, as it is provided via the network and no software is installed that would have to be updated manually. The only requirement is Internet access. Accordingly, web applications have an appeal for companies of all kinds.

There are many options when it comes to implementation. With the appropriate personnel, a web application can be programmed from scratch. Not all companies can - or want to - take on this time-consuming and financially expensive process. More and more providers of so-called low-code solutions want to remedy this situation.

We take a look at the development process for web applications, when low-code development platforms can make sense and what options are available if you want to develop a scalable and customizable web application.

What is a web app?

A web application is an application that runs on a server. Unlike conventional applications that are launched locally, e.g. from a computer or smartphone, it is accessed online. The only technical requirements are an Internet connection and an up-to-date browser. The same web application can be accessed from the desktop PC, the Android phone and the iPad.

More and more companies are developing their own web apps

In contrast to static websites, web applications are largely characterized by interaction with the user. Let's take the example of a classic corporate website on the one hand and a customer portal on the other. On the website, the user can primarily call up information, for example, about the supplier's product range, the address for directions, or contact information. In the customer portal, they can view the order status and contact customer support directly via the chat function; the operator of the customer portal benefits from the direct customer relationship and can feed collected data directly into the CRM, for example.

Today, everyone has probably had some contact with web applications, maybe even without knowing it. They have numerous forms, uses and applications. We encounter web apps here, for example:

  • a customer portal like the Customer Portal of HELM AG

  • a platform for lending and renting like the Flexcavo rental portal

  • delivery platform like the Quick Commerce app from VOLY

  • an educational app or e-learning

  • a scheduling software

  • a production dashboard, e.g., to overview company-wide performance

  • But also online banking, e.g. from DKB or the Sparkasse bank

  • The email client of Gmail or GMX

  • Or car sharing and rental platforms such as DriveNow or Sixt

The possibilities that web applications offer today, both technologically and in terms of business opportunities, are huge. That's why more and more companies are developing their own web applications. The new, digital points of contact with customers are tempting. Especially in the B2B sector, more and more services are being extended or completely translated into digital with the help of web applications. Here you can find out how a web application can become the hub for your other digital projects.

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Requirements: What users expect from a modern web app

A digital service is expected to work everywhere. On the smartphone, in the browser, both on the move on the mobile Internet and in the office and at home on the sofa. Hybrid devices such as convertibles, a mix of laptop and tablet, blur the boundaries between end devices in technological terms as well.

For modern apps, this means that they need to work on a variety of devices and operating systems, while being able to provide the same functionality and data on all of these platforms. Web apps eliminate the need for purpose-built iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac apps.

Customer expectations play a big role in companies with a digital business model. If customer requirements change, it is important to be able to react immediately and adapt business-critical applications.

From the company's point of view, the integration of in-house IT is also an essential requirement for the application. Only if it can be coupled with existing ERP and CRM systems can it offer tangible added value.

Apply best practices from e-commerce in B2B sector

Why is e-commerce - a traditionally B2C-heavy industry - important for web apps and B2B? Quite simply, many features that are best practice in e-commerce translate directly to other industries and enterprise applications. Even large-scale platforms like those used in B2B can benefit from these best practices:

  • Support and contact options directly on the website

  • Individualized product recommendations

  • Additional information, e.g. on the origin of raw materials

  • User profiles and login function

  • Payment function and invoicing via the app

Better safe than sorry: security features in applications

As soon as an interaction with a company takes place, e.g. via a customer platform, data is exchanged. In the B2B environment, this often involves sensitive data - from customers and companies.

In addition, there are legal frameworks such as the DSGVO. Security standards in the form of authentication, authorization, asset handling, checking and analysis functions should therefore be considered during data processing.

In many cases, app construction kits are not sufficient to meet the complex security requirements of enterprise applications. This is where in-house app development comes into play.

How to develop a web application

Web applications are often developed based on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, using technologies such as React or NodeJS. Web applications are also, at their core, websites. They run in the browser and do not require a native application.

Web apps bring the functionality of "classic" software to the browser. The two basic functionalities of a web app are:

  1. 1

    Data processing: the collection, retrieval and evaluation of data.

  2. 2

    User management: the definition of different user groups and their permissions (e.g. admins, customers, support staff...)

There are several options for web app development, depending primarily on the company's ambitions, the available team of developers, the scope of the application, and the timeframe.

Low-Code or Pro-Code?

Before development can begin, ideas must be generated and a decision made as to what the application should be able to do in the end. Different functions are required for the development of a customer portal than for a web app that automates internal processes.

According to the type of application and the available capacities, the platform for development is determined. A distinction can be made between these approaches:

  • Low-Code: development is possible (almost) without programming knowledge and is based on standard modules.

  • Pro-Code: development from scratch, starting with an empty code file.

  • Feature-as-a-Service – the best of both worlds: the flexibility of pro-code paired with the modularity of low-code.

There are good reasons for all three approaches, which mainly depend on the intended application and the available resources. We provide an insight into all three types of web app development below.

With ROQ, our customers develop better projects, at a significantly lower cost and in a fraction of the time.
With ROQ, our customers develop better projects, at a significantly lower cost and in a fraction of the time.

The best of both worlds: Development with ROQ

ROQ's approach combines the modularity of low-code with the flexibility of complete in-house development. ROQ enables fast and affordable development of web applications, in the highest quality.

Sounds too good to be true, but is based on Feature-as-a-Service. Elements such as user management, notifications or chat functions are integrated in a straightforward manner via API and only need to be adapted to individual requirements.

Instead of developing a login function, for example, which has already been developed thousands of times in this form, the development team can devote itself to the functions that turn the web application into the individual, customized solution: the implementation of the company's own business logic.

The advantages of web app development with ROQ at a glance:

  • Feature-as-a-Service saves development time without sacrificing features.

  • Shorter time-to-market, faster return on investment.

  • Lower risk and at the same time higher quality by using ready-to-use, proven functions and infrastructure

  • Flexibility and scalability by building on a well-designed architecture

  • The sovereignty over data and code remains with the user.

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Innovation platform instead of single-purpose app

Companies are constantly evolving, driving innovation or adapting to the changing needs of their customers. The web applications - for example, in the form of a customer portal - must keep pace.

The Feature-as-a-Service approach enables web apps to be continuously expanded and adapted to individual needs, rather than developing new applications for new areas of application.

ROQ One: Your code is yours

At its core, the entire ROQ Suite is designed to be as customizable as possible. That's why ROQ One was designed as an open source kickstarter. This means that frontend, backend and database functions can be developed individually and adapted to the user's own needs. The sovereignty over the code lies with the user at all times.

Scaling on rubust and secure infrastructure

All provided features are continuously developed by ROQ and correspond to the latest state of the art. The entire ROQ Suite is designed for functionality and scalability. The application can be launched on the very first day - and grows smoothly with the company and the user.

The best of both worlds - Development with ROQ
The best of both worlds - Development with ROQ

Low-Code-Development

Low-code development is aimed at users with little programming knowledge or low developer capacities. Low-code solutions are helpful when a company's own business logic has few unique selling points that need to be implemented in the web application. At its core, low-code development is an attempt to translate the complex development process of web development into a system that is easier to manage. Instead of writing functions in code, low-code development is largely based on standardized modules that are configured via a graphical user interface.

Well-known examples of low-code platforms are:

  • Mendix

  • Appian

  • OutSystems

In addition, there is a large and steadily growing range of tool providers for low-code development. The market is certainly worth it - Gartner estimates it at just under 14 billion dollars.

The difference between low code and no code

No-code development is a special feature. With this approach, no programming knowledge is required at all. Accordingly, no-code development is aimed at non-professionals. The core is also here a graphic surface, for example by drag & drop or similar WYSIWYG editors.

No-code platforms are used for their beginner-friendliness, e.g. for rudimentary applications in the B2C sector. In return, the user has to make noticeable sacrifices in terms of functional scope, data sovereignty and scalability. For companies with more ambitious digital projects, this is not enough in reality. 

Well-known and much used no-code platforms are for example:

  • The online store system Shopify

  • The app builder Bubble

  • Website building kits like Wix or Squarespace

  • The automation platform Zapier

Lego in code form: the benefits of low-code development

Less coding does not mean less expertise. Low-code platforms (LCDPs) also require developers and programming skills - especially in the B2B environment. LCDPs open up web app development to users with less IT knowledge or companies with simple requirements for digital solutions.

This is because the modular approach primarily saves development effort. With the help of low-code, applications can be realized inexpensively and the time to deployment can be shortened. Ideal for testing a proof-of-concept, automating processes or implementing smaller projects, for example.

The disadvantages of low-code approaches

Many companies view low-code platforms as an opportunity to cost-effectively create the first version of a web app, but underestimate the development effort that will still be required and the costs that will be incurred beyond a basal use.

The Vendor is the Limit

The decision for low-code development is always also a decision for the respective provider. All developed functions are within the scope offered by the platform - functionally or for the selected price package. What is sufficient for the development of a prototype may be too little for enterprise projects.

The sovereignty over the code and the data is on the side of the provider. This makes it impossible to migrate an application, e.g. to one's own server. The web app is de facto tied to the provider.

Inflexible and cost driver Scaling

Low-code development platforms offer little flexibility. The available functions are selected from a predefined catalog, cannot be added later, or do not meet individual requirements. To individualize low-code apps beyond the basic functions, individual elements can be developed - depending on the provider. However, this requires developer capacities, which in turn cancels out the advantages of the low-code approach.

Because the provider has sovereignty over functions and infrastructure, they are expensive to expand. Often, prices for entry-level models are temptingly low, but increase dramatically with the size of the application and the infrastructure required. Instead of benefiting from economies of scale, this makes it difficult to scale or expand an application. High additional costs can arise or projects are put on hold because they would have to be developed from scratch for the next evolutionary step.

In addition, the market is confusing. Several providers offer platforms with a similar range of functions, and new providers are added virtually every week.

Pro-Code: Develop a web app from scratch

What comes to your mind when you hear the keyword "web app development"? Despite all the tools and visual platforms, probably a developer who starts the project in the empty code file.

In reality, an entire IT project team usually implements the idea that was previously developed. The company takes full responsibility for the development process, but in return has full control over the developed web application.

Want to learn more about IT projects? You can find a comprehensive guide to IT project management in our blog.

As attractive as the development looks on paper, as complex is the implementation in reality. The development of a web application can be divided into these phases:

  1. 1

    Decision about the tech stack

  2. 2

    Setup of the infrastructure

  3. 3

    Design of the UX & UI

  4. 4

    Development of the basic functions

  5. 5

    Definition and implementation of data sources

  6. 6

    Testing & bug fixing

ROQ speeds up your web app development, eliminates risks and saves you money
ROQ speeds up your web app development, eliminates risks and saves you money

Advantages of development from scratch

Good news first: developing a web application from scratch is no longer as from scratch as it once was. Frameworks such as NodeJS, Angular, Laravel or Ruby on Rails facilitate server-side development in particular. With the spread of JavaScript as a programming language in the backend, the boundaries between frontend and backend development are now also being increasingly broken down.

The advantages of the complete in-house development at a glance:

  • Maximum control over the end product

  • High degree of flexibility

  • Sovereignty over the code

The biggest advantage of in-house development is control. The company can determine every aspect of the application itself. This starts with the programming language used and ends with granular customization to the exact functional needs.

Disadvantages of complete development

Despite modern frameworks, widespread standards and programming languages, developing web applications is not easy. The high level of flexibility also means a high level of complexity. Depending on the project type, between 50% and 70% of enterprise IT projects are unsuccessful.

There are reasons for this - and the two biggest are time and cost. At the beginning of the IT project is the decision about the tech stack and the infrastructure to be used. Not every company has the necessary tech know-how to make a safe decision here that meets its own requirements for functionality and future security.

Experienced solution architects and DevOps are needed to develop the infrastructure. Developers with the appropriate skills are needed to implement the features - a back-end specialist with PHP expertise, for example, cannot easily implement front-end functions. You don't build a developer team like this overnight.

Building your own development team is time-consuming, and maintaining it is costly. The thinner the development team, the more difficult it is to absorb delays.

In practice, the development of additional features, bug fixing and stress testing is weighed against the inevitable delay in the schedule. Often in favor of the schedule - and at the expense of usability and usefulness to the end user. At the same time, resources must be devoted to redeveloping standard features such as login or chat.

Using service providers such as tech agencies, the development work can be outsourced. However, this service is expensive and agencies also require a high degree of control, especially in enterprise IT projects.

The disadvantages and risks of your own web app development at a glance:

  • Many possible points of failure

  • The smaller the development team, the higher the potential for failure

  • The limited resources are spent on the development of redundant features

  • Externalization, e.g. via agency, is expensive

  • The extension and scaling is not considered functionally and budgetary

It's no wonder that IT projects don't meet with much approval from either decision-makers or controlling - at least if you don't have a well-oiled IT team that is experienced in developing new solutions.

For SMEs and startups, however, this can also mean not tackling an IT project at all. The result is untapped digital potential.

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Web app development with ROQ vs. low-code at a glance

Web apps are applications that run in the browser. From a technical perspective, they are apps that are developed using web development tools.
The key difference between a website and a web app is the interactive element. Websites provide information, for example, whereas web apps enable a level of interaction with other users, content, or a company.
Web applications can have many functions and forms. Well-known examples include social networking platforms such as LinkedIn, Pinterest or Facebook, cloud providers such as Dropbox or Google Drive, or for business users Hubspot, Google Workspaces or Salesforce.
Modern web applications should be state-of-the-art, have a high level of security (authentication, authorization, asset handling, etc.) and modern UI/UX. Users also expect navigation or quality-of-life features such as shopping carts or product filters.
The most comprehensive solution is complete development from scratch. For small projects, UI-based modular low-code development platforms can be considered. ROQ combines the modular approach of low-code with the flexibility of complete in-house development.
Today, there are numerous ways for companies to develop web applications. Web apps can be used, for example, to deepen customer relationships, extend business models into the digital realm, or open up entirely new business opportunities.
Web applications can be created on a low-code development platform using a graphical user interface. They are based on standardized modules and are closely linked to the platform provider.
Pro-code is the code developed by a developer (team). The term is often used in the context of web development and to distinguish it from approaches such as low-code and no-code, which, unlike pro-code, require little or no programming knowledge.
No-code refers to a development approach that does not require any programming knowledge. Tools such as Wordpress or Shopify thus enable even non-professionals to implement rudimentary applications.
Both approaches offer a modular approach to developing web applications. ROQ combines this modularity with the flexibility to develop custom elements without compromising control over the project and code. Low-code development platforms, on the other hand, are suitable for smaller application areas such as process automation. They tend to be locked in to the provider and are difficult to expand and scale.
Feature-as-a-Service is the approach of providing the functions of a web application on demand. In the ROQ Suite, features are integrated into your own application via API.

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