By Nils Klute, IT Editor and Project Manager Communication Cloud Services at EuroCloud Germany
Low- code is revolutionising software development. Today, programmes can be written by anyone at the click of a mouse. How low-code platforms are filling skills gaps, bringing artificial intelligence (AI) to SMEs and bringing Gaia-X to life.
The blinds go up when the sun rises. In the garden, the awning retracts when rain approaches, and the stereo system sounds an alarm if someone opens a window from outside at night. Low-code platforms such as IFTTT, Zapier or Node-RED play a crucial role in making smart homes more comfortable, pleasant and secure. Devices and services can be connected and processes automated across the board. The principle is that instead of writing lines of code to intelligently interconnect sockets, thermostats and lights, users develop their software via graphical interfaces.
Visual programming instead of writing lines of code
What used to require special know-how is now performed by amateurs. Those who programme visually link application modules, services and databases with the click of a mouse and by dragging and dropping. In this way, services can be logically interlinked and connected via rules and if-then functions. A process that requires neither experience nor know-how. “This allows users to quickly and easily develop an app to represent, optimise and automate everyday processes,” dev-insider.de writes in an online article (in German). “It requires a minimum of manual coding, if any at all.” Low-code makes everyone a citizen developer – and not just when it comes to networking devices in the smart home.
Automate and intelligently support processes
Low-code platforms are now available whether in production, on construction sites or in offices – wherever processes need to be automated. Those who have so far documented defects on machines via Excel will find, for example, with Spreadsheetweb a solution to support the procedures digitally and intelligently. The low-code application generates web applications from any tables. Files with several data sheets and multi-layered functions are also suitable for this. Those who work with it later no longer click through Excel sheets, but enter numbers, measured values and texts via tidy browser interfaces. Results can also be retrieved online and processes can be smartly automated, for example to send emails or export databases.
Low Code brings artificial intelligence to SMEs
Low-Code brings AI to industrial services and SMEs in no other way. Example AI-Playground from KI.NRW: The Artificial Intelligence Competence Platform North Rhine-Westphalia has set up a design studio through which companies can realise their own AI services. All services are available in so-called Docker containers, which can be connected modularly and individually on an open-source basis. The low-code environment, on which users can assemble, configure, test and further develop their own AI pipelines, emerged from fundamental work by the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS.
WYSIWYG solution for the skills shortage
Just as WYSIWYG editors have redefined text editing, low-code is revolutionising the way programming is done today. And – as far as possible – without IT experts: In times when, according to the digital association Bitkom, 96,000 IT jobs remain unfilled in this country, low-code helps companies to close skills gaps. Where the limits of technology lie: If individual, special software is required that is adapted exclusively to the company’s own needs, trained developers who are familiar with Java, Python and the like are still in demand. If, on the other hand, you want to use applications quickly, you can reach your goal quickly and agilely using low-code based on open source.
Node-RED is no different: Just as naturally as smart home enthusiasts use it to interconnect their devices and services, the open source software networks Gaia-X’s decentralised data infrastructure: The GXFS project led by the eco Association works with the low-code platform to orchestrate workflows and processes – and again, largely without programming skills.
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