A low-code development platform (LCDP) is software that provides an environment programmers use to create application software through graphical user interfaces and configuration instead of traditional computer programming. The platform may focus on design and development of a particular kind of application: such as databases, business processes, or user interfaces such as web applications. Such platforms may produce entirely operational applications, or require additional coding for specific situations. Low-code development platforms reduce the amount of traditional hand-coding, enabling accelerated delivery of business applications. A common benefit is that a wider-range of people can contribute to the application's development--not only those with formal programming skills. LCDPs also lower the initial cost of setup, training, and deployment.
LCDPs trace their roots back to fourth-generation programming language and rapid application development tools of the 1990s and early 2000s. Similar to these predecessor development environments, LCDPs are based on the principles of model-driven design, automatic code generation, and visual programming. The concept of end-user development also existed previously, although LCDPs brought some new ways of approaching this development.
As a result of the micro computer revolution businesses have deployed computers widely across their employee bases, enabling widespread automation of business processes using software. The need for software automation and new applications for business processes places demands on software developers to create custom applications in volume, tailoring them to organizations' unique needs. Low-code development platforms have been and are developed as a means to allow for quick creation and use of working applications that can address the specific process- and data needs of the organization.
Research firm Forrester estimates that the total market for low-code development platforms will grow to $15.5 billion by 2020. Segments in the market include database, request handling, mobile, process and general purpose low-code platforms.
Low-code development's market growth can be attributed to its flexibility and ease. Low-code development platforms are shifting focus towards general purpose of applications, with the ability to add in custom code when needed or desired.
Mobile accessibility is one of the driving factors of using low-code development platforms. Instead of developers having to spend time creating multi-device software, Low-code packages typically come with that feature standard.
Because they require less coding knowledge, nearly anyone in a software development environment can learn to use a low-code development platform. Features like drag and drop interfaces help users visualize and build the application.
Concerns over low-code development platform security and compliance are growing, especially for apps that use consumer data. There can be concerns over the security of apps built so quickly and possible lack of due governance leading to compliance issues. However, low-code apps do also fuel security innovations. With continuous app development in mind, it becomes easier to create secure data workflows. Still the fact remains that low-code development platforms that do not apply and strictly adhere to Normalized Systems Theory (Herwig Mannaert, Jan Verelst, Peter De Bruyn, 2016) do not solve the challenge of increasing complexity due to changes.
A Forrester report about low-code development platforms ("The Forrester Wave(TM): Low-code Development Platforms, Q2 2016") featured 14 providers in a 26-criteria evaluation.
An updated Forrester report charting the growth of the low-code market was published in July 2017 (Vendor Landscape: A Fork In The Road For Low-Code Development Platforms) highlighting 3 industry trends:
Gartner published an evaluation on enterprise high-productivity application platforms (HPaPaaS) in April 2018 (Magic Quadrant for Enterprise High-Productivity Application Platform as a Service). It evaluated 20 vendors in the low-code market, including four recognized leaders. 
A G2Crowd report about low-code development platforms evaluated market share and user reviews for 46 products.
Forrester published an updated report in August 2018 highlighting 14 vendors. The report also covers key trends including the continuing adoption of low code platforms by enterprise companies and the merging of low code platforms with existing developer tools into a broader application development ecosystem. 
Some IT professionals question whether low-code development platforms are suitable for large-scale and mission-critical enterprise applications. Additionally, some CIOs have expressed concern that adopting low-code development platforms internally could lead to an increase in unsupported applications built by shadow IT.
No-code development platforms are closely related to low-code development platforms as both are designed to expedite the application development process. These platforms have both increased in popularity as companies deal with the parallel trends of an increasingly mobile workforce and a limited supply of competent software developers.
The distinction between no code and low code development platforms are often quite blurred. However, there are a number of key distinctions that set apart the design and use cases for each type of platform.
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