How a Java Low-Code Development Platform Drives Useful Innovation

 Can Java development teams have all the benefits of working with their development environment and also have the speed to market, best practices, and scalability coming from a low-code platform? The answer is yes, but it requires a Java-based low-code platform that has two-way code integration into the Eclipse IDE and supports UI, workflow, and API development. And now, there’s one platform that meets these requirements and enables technology leaders to accelerate their digital transformation, improve user experiences, and modernize applications. 


Java low-code development platform


Java’s importance as an application development platform stands the test of time. Its popularity grew in the early 1990s when it replaced C++ as the dominant web programming language. J2EE servers like Weblogic, Websphere, JBoss, and Apache Tomcat emerged as standard ways to deploy web applications, and the Eclipse IDE became the standard tool for Java software development. Today, developers consistently rank Java as one of the top software development environments and not only for just web and mobile applications, but also microservices, IoT, embedded systems,  AI, and machine learning. 

Java has a strong history and foundation of enabling reliability and security, but the barometer for measuring rapid development, innovation, and extensibility is always rising. Today, software development leaders and teams must demonstrate that they can rapidly develop, extend, and support innovative, reliable, and secure applications and microservices.  Leaders expect development teams to improve user experiences rapidly, leverage the flexibilities of client-side Javascript frameworks, improve the efficiencies of internal workflow applications, migrate off legacy technologies such as Oracle Forms, and develop customer-facing APIs. The question is, how should Java development leaders, from CIOs/ CTOs to application architects and software developers, respond to these growing expectations and business needs?

Accelerating Java Development Teams with Low-Code Capabilities

The answer comes from the intersection of what Java historically excels at – enabling developers to code using an open source and extendable platform that can deploy anywhere – with the ability to help developers simplify and accelerate their Java coding. 

What should rapid, scalable, and secure Java software development look like today?

For Java software development leaders, a boost in speed and capabilities can come from using a Java-based low-code platform that generates editable Java code and interfaces with the Eclipse IDE.   

Low-code Java is the foundation for a win-win between development leaders that require speed to market, innovation, and new capabilities, with the flexibility that software developers seek when implementing real-world business rules, integrations, and personalized experiences.

Here are the aspects of low-code development capabilities needed for a robust Java development environment.

1. Build and Maintain World-Class User Experiences

Should you require expertise in both Java and JavaScript to develop innovative user experiences built on best practices? Do you need a separate development tool for building mobile interfaces? Can you pair a Java developer with a UX designer on your scrum team to rapidly iterate on a fully functioning user interface, in other words, not just a wireframe mockup? 

Here’s a not-so-crazy idea. What about developing multiple user interfaces and running A/B tests with end-users to optimize workflows and better understand user preferences?

What about pairing a small Java agile development team with a product owner or subject matter expert and asking them to iterate through a prototype or proof of concept rapidly? When the development team implements user experiences quickly, it drives confidence and collaboration between business leaders and technologists. In many cases, writing some of the upfront requirements gets bypassed by building a functioning user experience that’s driven by users and with feasibility proven by developers.    

These are not far-fetched ideas. They are today’s requirements and business expectations. Your competitors are likely doing this already, and a low-code Java development platform can raise the bar by enabling teams to build, change, and deploy Java user interfaces efficiently.

2. Develop and Extend Efficient and Robust Workflows

Here’s a test to apply to low-code platforms. It’s one thing when you see low-code tools supporting CRUD operations and configuring forms, grids, reports, and charts. But last time I checked, most applications and enterprise systems involve some form of workflow and require different interactions across user personas and roles. 

Development teams can ill-afford to invest in low-code tools that can’t support flexible and easy to configure workflows. Furthermore, leaders want to visualize these workflows and get past the days where developers had no options but to bury business logic in hard to read code. Visual workflow tools drive several important capabilities and

  • Enable developers to iterate on the business logic easily but also have the tools to add or modify the underlying code when required.
  • Assist service desk and support teams to review workflows and understand the underlying logic when responding to end-user questions, requests, and incidents.
  • Empower application support teams to understand the implementations coded by the original developers and easily modify or enhance workflows.

CTOs and development leaders need alternatives to specialized workflow engines, BPM platforms, or dedicated SaaS tools for developing workflows. When Java development experiences include visual workflow tools, are extendable with code, and enable automation, then the capabilities lead to rapid development, supportable, and enterprise-ready experiences.   

3. Understand the Implementation and Edit the Code When Required

I’m old enough to remember some of the fist generation rapid development tools that exposed the underlying code. The best you could say is that the code worked, but it would never pass a code review, let alone be something that an average developer could read or understand. 

And forget about editing this code. You “voided the warranty” if you went ahead and modified the code because the tools only supported one-way code generations. One-way code generated allow defensive-minded technology executives to check the box and avoid vendor lockin, but they are terrible for development leaders and teams that require both rapid development and coding flexibility.

It shouldn’t be so hard to enable an Eclipse-sync, where developers can rapidly design user experiences and workflows, then review and modify the code in Eclipse, and then have these modifications integrated into the low-code tools. 

Here’s what an agile user story around this capability looks like:

As a developer, I want to shift between low-code visual development tool, the Eclipse IDE where I can view, modify, and extend code, and the rendered user interfaces, so that I can easily develop, iterate, and improve world-class user experience.  

4. Simplify building the APIs

When I was a CTO, I faced several difficult architectural decisions. Business leaders wanted rapid development of applications, but the best software architecture practices included separating business logic from presentation, developing web services, and exposing services with APIs. We justified developing services and APIs by longer-term supportability, extendability, and reusability benefits. But we weren’t always successful, and often left behind significant technical debt when leaders didn’t give development teams enough time to develop APIs. The impact is that applications without APIs are harder to maintain, support, and modernize. 

But what if low-code tools produced the APIs as part of generating the workflows?

The implication is that the developers can focus on the required workflow, while the low-code platform handles the API implementation and automating the code generation. Developers might still have to go into the code to either breakup APIs to atomic units or orchestrate higher-level APIs, but the platform provides the foundation for this work. 

5. Autogenerate and Maintain Useful Documentation

If APIs are one ingredient to extendable and maintainable applications, then having useful documentation is a close runner up. Unfortunately, development teams often skip or underinvest in documenting the code and leave behind a harder to support codebase to application support developers.    

Low-code tools that generate Java code can also create some of the underlying documentation. Just like APIs, it’s a start, and the documentation may require detailing and diagramming. But my experience leading development teams is that when an architect or system provides a starting template, they follow and support best practices.

And that’s exactly the value of using a low-code platform! They accelerate innovation while embedding best practices into the development process. A two-way code generating tool that plugs into the developer’s primary IDE? Well, that’s more than icing on the cake.

This post is brought to you by SIB Visions.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of SIB Visions.

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