In another life, I ran the publications department for an early entrant into the Rapid Application Development space. My small team and I were tasked with documenting an ultra-sophisticated development platform, which, back in the day, amounted to creating four-color, hard-copy books. It was a huge undertaking, and to get it done, we needed a desktop publishing solution. What it came down to was a choice between the two leading products in the space.
What should have made my job easy was the fact that there was clear delineation between the products. One offered a shallow learning curve—get up and running quick was its mantra. The other was all about power and sophistication. I did as much research as was practical and decided on quick-to-learn solution. I was, in essence, seduced by the siren’s song of simplicity: With out choice, we would be up and running quickly, without a lot of time spent learning the complexities of an over-powered system, or so I reasoned.
Now, if we had been publishing newsletters for the bridge club, the product we chose would have been just the ticket. But to put it in perspective, the reference manual alone for this documentation set was 600+ pages long and required sophisticated pagination. Long story short, within just a few months, we had written off our investment and moved to the more “powerful” product, which turned out to be just what we needed.
The moral of the story is this: “simple to learn” is often just another way of saying “not a lot of features.” And if this adage is true for desktop publishing software, it’s all the more true for low-code application development platforms. The fact is when it comes to application development in today’s almost liquid IT environment, it’s just about impossible to project how much complexity you’ll need to build into a business app that has to span platforms, devices/browsers, and environments. And if you want a low-code platform that won’t leave you high and dry, take powerful over simple every time.