Replacing Legacy Apps (Mainframe Apps, Lotus Notes, Custom) with No Code Platforms
Many organizations are looking to give a face lift or do a full replacement on their legacy applications. This can be a daunting task, especially when confronted with the costs for a full rewrite. I am seeing more and more organizations using low/no code platforms to accelerate the process, reduce costs and leverage existing data assets. When looking at no code, there are some key requirements, “must haves”, and below is a quick list:
Adaptable Data and Integration Layer – providing no-code integration with an existing set of data is a critical requirement. You should have a broad set of existing integrations that you can leverage immediately to jump-start your project. An example? Last month we worked with a large law firm looking to replace a custom built set of applications to run their firm. All the data was housed in SQL, and they leverage several tables and stored procedures. With smartobject technology, the integration was point and shoot, with the table structure and SPs being auto-discovered and available in the designer immediately. Want to move the data to a newer line of business system? Having a selection of SQL, Oracle, DB2, and many others can help you rebuild or redesign a data layer quickly.
Flexible Web-based UI – With the broad range of devices workers leverage today to complete tasks, applications need to work on desktops/laptops, phones and tablets. Building an app that can span all these devices can be challenging. Leveraging a platform that can provide a responsive, modern web-based foundation can eliminate work, and the requirement to build separate UI for each independent device. The UI needs to be standalone, and able to deliver without a dependent technology.
UI Rules Engine – the ability to build rules based on form or user interface actions can help with automating data entry, provide seamless integration with line of business systems, and create a dynamic, responsive user experience. In addition, this can be key in mobile development where managing the limited real estate with regards to screen size and usability is paramount. The ability to do all of this without code can save days or weeks from build time. This functionality can also deliver validation, and prevent the entry of bad data. An example would be a triggered data pull from multiple back-end systems when a field is toggled.
Business Logic Process Engine – having an engine behind the scenes that can coordinate the flow of information, control human to system interaction and perform process automation is a critical facet. Some key items here include: automatic assignment of actions based on directory hierarchy (Active Directory/LDAP), “flow” based rules to control branching, and complex workflow pattern capability. Example: the automatic routing of an inbound referral based on a specific UI field.
Reporting/Dashboard Components – pre-built reporting components that tap into specific app data and process information can accelerate the process of gleaning insight from application activities and events. Typically, these components are just easily accessible modules within the web UI, and can be instantly added via the design interface. In addition, support for embedding 3rd party reports is necessary to facilitate and all in one report experience.
Complete SDK – no matter how many features you add to a “no-code” platform, there are still requirements for the extension of the platform. A framework for extending the UI, the data layer and process engine are required, as well as a well-formed method for tapping into these using custom code, or other applications.
Just a quick set of “must haves” when looking at platforms to rebuild you legacy apps. Thoughts?