Low-code platforms are software development environments that use visual design tools and methods instead of text-based programming languages. This reduces development effort and allows to make apps available more quickly. One of the most prominent representatives of this group is the Microsoft Power Platform. The advantages of this environment, why real developers are still needed despite its ease of use, and how ugly apps can be turned into beautiful ones are the topics of this article.
Maintenance and Support
"Power Apps Godfather" Frederick has seen numerous apps created by our customers using the Power Platform's main tool - all in the spirit of Microsoft, with no developer knowledge or clue about code.
This was not absolutely necessary for the creation, the whole thing worked for now. It gets difficult when it comes to maintaining the apps. Or when the creator leaves the company and a successor has to deal with his Power Apps.
Frederick explains that he gets called in every now and then when customers stand in front of such a self-created Power App and think, oh God, what is this? That's exactly what he thinks, too.
Because everything that is essential for a developer - the properties, methods and guidelines - is missing from these Power Apps created by amateurs. This makes them virtually unmaintainable. One of Frederick's daily tasks is therefore to rebuild such apps according to developer rules.
The reason for app creation is usually the need to find a solution for handling larger amounts of data, such as Excel files that have become too cluttered. Canvas Apps are the most commonly used. They provide users with a canvas for their ideas. Compared to traditional app development, creating Power Apps is much faster because the infrastructure is already included. The app creator only has to worry about the input screen and the content. Design is secondary for many at first and can still be done later - which usually ends up in a complete new development.
To avoid something like this, Frederick has moved to suggesting hand-in-hand development to customers. A lot depends on the licensing model. But with the capabilities Power Apps offers, he can quickly see what the customer wants and estimate whether the path they're taking is the right one. And he can build beautiful apps with Power Apps, which means incorporating creative and design-oriented elements from the start that not only make a difference visually, but also make it easier to maintain and make changes later.
Power Apps is a good tool for app development. You get usable results quickly, the infrastructure is included, and you don't have to worry about data strings. But tools alone are not enough, you also need the developer skills. Now Microsoft would only have to simplify the licensing models...