Software truth #1 is: there is a global shortage of software application developers and skilled software engineers at all levels.
Software truth #2 is: users often have trouble communicating their software ‘requirements’ requirements to those software application developers who do exist and are working to attempt to deliver production ready code to applications that people need.
Software truth #3 is: there ought to be an easier way of doing all this – sometimes at least.
The combined result of the above three software truths (if we accept them to be so) are perhaps some of the factors that have given rise to the development of so-called ‘low-code’ software platforms… we are now entering the low-code motherlode.
Among the various players in this space, Appian is among the more vocal right now… so, as we prepare for the company’s Appian World 2018 event, what can we expect?
Appian’s approach to low-code development runs closely parallel to its description of itself as a firm that is essentially focused on Business Process Management (BPM) technologies. Its low-code technologies offer drag-and-drop, declarative*, visual development for UX design, process design, rules design and other related development functions.
NOTE* : As clarified on Stack Overflow, “Declarative programming is when you write your code in such a way that it describes what you want to do, and not how you want to do it. It is left up to the compiler to figure out the how.” Essentially, we users will express the logic of a computation without describing its control flow.
Appian aims to both extend and augment the notions of low-code and BPM – and part of this is its development of the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) standard. This technology is intended to form the ‘substrate layer’ and base from which software applications themselves can be created. In real terms, it manifests itself as a collection of ‘process components’ that can be used to map and model any business process and bring forward the software functions needed to serve it. BPMN is a graphical flowcharting technique – and if you’re thinking Unified Modelling Language (UML) as a close comparison then you are correct.
Appian has also been classified as a company that provides Dynamic Case Management (DCM) – technologies that automate and streamline aspects of each ‘case’ and in this context, a case is a collection of information about a particular instance of something, such as a person, company, incident or problem.
In respect of its DCM capabilities, a Forrester report has stated: “Appian’s data designer is the most improved [DCM related feature], with an auto-discovery feature that allows you to quickly associate data fields in an external system and an interface design model for RESTful APIs. These tools – combined with the ‘record type’ abstraction – allow data to be easily modeled and brought together at various stages of the case life cycle.”
Appian World 2018
So then, apologies for the contextualisation and clarification, but it would have been superficial to simply call low-code a drag-and-drop approach, there’s a lot going on under the surface here.
The event (held in Miami April 23-25 2018) is described as suitable for C-suite exec, project managers, process improvement and business analyst professionals — and also for developers and software engineers.
Software engineers yes… there will indeed a code-fest. Appian is offering up to $10,000 for the winning projects in the Appian World 2018 hackathon, which is already open and accepting submissions through to March 27.
Finalists will be able to demo in-person to an ‘all-star’ panel of judges, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Other aspects of the show include innovation workshops devoted to IoT, AI and blockchain.
We can expect keynotes and lots of focus on Continuous Delivery (CD) as we start to attempt to convince other (non developer) users to start driving the software delivery process.
Will the speakers mention ‘digital transformation’ and not be able to stop themselves saying they are ‘super excited’ about ‘awesome’ innovation?
Ah come on now, welcome to Miami.