Handing over Low-Code Apps to the Experts: Exploring Collaboration between Low-code and Traditional Developers

Thesis (MA)

Advisor(s): Altus Viljoen (altus.viljoen@tum.de)

Context

Low-code development (LCD) is a software development method that provides users with a platform for visually creating applications with little or no coding (Yan, 2021). Workers with domain/industry knowledge, but without any technical programming skills, can now rapidly develop software without resorting to traditional time-intensive and costly hand-coding (Sahay et al., 2020). Growth forecasts and promises for LCD are significant: the global low-code development platform (LCDP) market size is projected to reach 39,79 billion USD by 2027, up from 5,86 billion USD in 2021 (Valuates Reports, 2022).

However, LCD is a very new technology, and with the term first coined in 2014 (Richardson & Rymer, 2014), there is much to still understand about it. While LCD is promising, scalability is often mentioned as a key challenge of LCD (Sahay et al., 2020). Research on LCD has shown that while non-programmer users can now take part in the development process, LCD cannot yet address all the needs of traditional software development, and that assistance from traditional expert developers is still necessary during the software development process (Bhattacharyya & Kumar, 2021; Lethbridge, 2021). For example, assistance from traditional experts may be needed for customizing out-of-the-box code solutions offered by LCDPs as low-code developers cannot customize hand-code themselves (Luo et al., 2021). Furthermore, as low-code developers are not skilled in proper software engineering practices, low-code apps might be built inefficiently and require correction from experts later in the process (Lethbridge, 2021).

Therefore, this research seems to specifically explore collaboration patterns between low-code and traditional developers to answer the research question: When and how do low-code and traditional developers need to collaborate to create scalable software? This study aims to answer this research question by gathering and analysing interview data from LCD users, traditional software developers, and other relevant stakeholders.

Task(s)

  • Review relevant literature and existing research methods in the respective field
  • Review literature on similar phenomena in related research fields
  • Conduct interviews with relevant stakeholders
  • Cluster identified themes within the data
  • Derive a theoretical framework for low-code and expert developer collaboration
  • Discuss implications of findings for industry and academia

Requirements

  • High degree of autonomy and individual responsibility
  • Interest in research on low-code development and software development processes
  • Good communication skills e.g., to conduct interviews
  • Experience in qualitative research is beneficial

Further Information

The thesis can be written in English or German. The topic can also be adapted to your interests. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Please send your application including our application form, a current transcript of records, and your CV to altus.viljoen@tum.de. Please note that we can only consider applications with complete documents.

Literature

Bhattacharyya, S. S., & Kumar, S. (2021). Study of deployment of “low code no code” applications toward improving digitization of supply chain management. Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management.

Lethbridge, T. C. (2021). Low-code is often high-code, so we must design low-code platforms to enable proper software engineering. International Symposium on Leveraging Applications of Formal Methods,

Luo, Y., Liang, P., Wang, C., Shahin, M., & Zhan, J. (2021). Characteristics and Challenges of Low-Code Development: The Practitioners' Perspective. Proceedings of the 15th ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement (ESEM),

Richardson, C., & Rymer, J. R. (2014). New Development Platforms Emerge For Customer-Facing Applications.

Sahay, Indamutsa, A., Ruscio, D. D., & Pierantonio, A. (2020). Supporting the understanding and comparison of low-code development platforms 

Valuates Reports. (2022). Global Low Code Development Platform Market Size, Status and Forecast 2022.

Yan, Z. (2021). The Impacts of Low/No-Code Development on Digital Transformation and Software Development. arXiv preprint arXiv:2112.14073.