Embracing the low-code / no-code-continuum as a pro-code developer
As a pro-code developer, I’ve always been a little skeptical when it comes to low-code / no-code development environments. In my personal experience, in the past these type tools either generated (inefficient) code to be deployed or were too complicated for people without development experience.
With the recent announcements and absolutely great demos at SAP TechEd of the SAP Build portfolio, I was triggered to give low-code / no-code another shot.
In this blog, I’ll give you my personal insights and experiences with the SAP Build portfolio and my learning journey towards getting certified as a Citizen Developer.
How I got started
In my role as SAP Innovation Architect, I’m always interested in keeping a broad view over the available (technical) SAP solutions. I’m less interested in each and every detail, but I at least want to understand what is available, what the use-cases are and how products work / integrate together.
Around TechEd, I started with setting up my own personal SAP Lab using free-tier services. So, right after TechEd, I started by enabling the services needed for my own low-code / no-code lab.
Enabling SAP Build Process Automation & SAP Build Apps is just a matter of executing the right boosters and configurating SAP Identity Authentication Services. Technically, I was up and running very fast!
Next, it was time to dig into the details. For that I used the Utilize SAP Build for Low-Code/No-Code Applications for Citizen Developers learning journey. (Which is also the learning journey to get certified as a Citizen Developer!)
The Learning Journey
The learning journey consists of 6 bite-size units, each unit building on top of knowledge gathered in the previous unit. I’ll give you a high-level overview of each unit in the learning journey.
1. Becoming a Citizen Developer with SAP Learning
This unit really was an eye-opener for me personally. Although I had some basic knowledge about low-code / no-code technologies, this unit gave me a really good overview of:
- What low-code / no-code technology is
- Going from basic simple task automation to hyperautomation
- The difference between code-first and no-code / low-code platforms
- The how and why low-code / no-code developers and pro-code developers need to work in a synergy
- Use-cases for low-code / no-code platforms
Next to that, the unit also provides the necessary pre-requisites you need setup to be able to do the hands-on part of the next units.
2. Developing a Process with SAP Build Process Automation
In this unit you’ll get an introduction to the process orchestrator of the SAP Build portfolio, SAP Build Process Automation.
Starting from a real-life example, an order approval flow, you’ll see how SAP Build Process Automation can be used to orchestrate your process using:
- Forms & Approval Forms
- Automations to read data from Excel files
- Conditions to influence the branching of the workflow
- Decisions to determine the approver(s) based on the workflow context
Furthermore, you’ll see how you can:
- Release, deploy and monitor your process
- Get insights into your process using process visibility scenarios
Resulting in your first process:
3. Composing a No-Code Mobile App with SAP Build Apps
Building applications / user interfaces is one of the most important (if not the most important) part of the user experience. In this unit you’ll be introduced to another part of the SAP Build Portfolio, SAP Build Apps.
Starting from a simple use-case, a barcode scanner for food products, you’ll see how you can easily create a mobile application from scratch. In this unit you see:
- How you can handle events in an application without coding
- Integrate a REST API to get data from an external source
- Handle data in your applications using data variables
- Test your application directly from your mobile phone
And the greatest part of it all, you won’t write a single line of code!
4. Developing a No-Code Extension with SAP Build Apps
Starting with an introduction to SAP Sales Cloud and again a real-life use-case (displaying public webinars from SAP Sales Cloud using an app), this unit builds a little further on the knowledge gathered in the previous unit. You’ll also see what an extension to SAP software is.
I’m not diving into the details of this unit since it’s quite similar to the previous unit, but basically this unit shows you how to:
- Create small custom component
- Integrate an OData API
5. Creating a Business Site with SAP Build Work Zone
In this unit you’ll dive into the features of SAP Build Work Zone, advanced edition. This unit is handled from a theoretical perspective, since there’s no free-tier edition available.
6. Continuing your SAP Citizen Developer Learning Journey
After seeing some real customer cases, you’ll get some more information on where to continue you learning journey. and learn even more about the SAP Build portfolio.
To sum up the learning journey, it was exactly what I’d hoped for! Kudos for the SAP Learning team behind this learning journey!
Looking at the topic areas of the certification it’s very clear that the focus is towards a Citizen Developer only. You won’t see any questions about the administration and the setup within SAP Business Technology Platform.
The good news is: the learning journey contains everything you need to know to get certified as it promises, although I do recommend getting some additional hands-on experience.
After playing around with the SAP Build Portfolio, I do see where this can improve my life as a pro-code developer. The speed with which you can create applications and orchestrate processes using SAP Build amazed me quite a lot personally.
What I like most is that this SAP Build Portfolio is more then what I’ve seen in the past in terms of low-code / no-code, just building applications. SAP Build contains way more than that and building applications is only a part of the whole portfolio. Going from low-code / no-code application development with SAP Build Apps to process orchestration using SAP Build Process Automation and finally exposing everything to the end-users using SAP Build Work Zone, that’s what I call an end-to-end solution!
I think SAP Build can not only be used by Citizen Developers, but even by pro-code developers setting their first steps in cloud development. Adding this low-code / no-code portfolio to you toolbox / skillset as a pro-code developer won’t be a waste of time in my personal opinion.
As a pro-code developer, the steps to get started with low-code / no-code are limited. You have the big advantage that you already think as a developer, it’s just a matter of getting to know the new toolset you have available with SAP Build.
For me personally, my next steps with these solutions will be:
- Diving into governance
- Setting up end-to-end flows
- Combining these solutions with pro-code developments
The learning journey was absolutely great! I highly recommend you to go through the learning journey, so you can see the power of SAP Build in action with your own eyes!
Thanks a lot for your positive feedback, Geert-Jan Klaps! 👍🏻
It's been a pleasure working with SAP Build! I hope to see this evolve even more in the future!
thanks for sharing your experiences and your effort for this structured path.
Great starting point to dive into this topic and evaluate the tools.
Mostly we need to dev ui5 based service apps that does not fit well, but the workflow support seems to be worth a look into it.
Hi Holger Schäfer,
For sure, I do recommend to do an evaluation yourself.
Just to see what the possibilities are, although keeping an open mind to this new way of working. I myself have always been a little skeptical, towards low-code / no-code. But to improve innovation, I think it's important to keep an open mind.
The nice thing about this portfolio is that you don't need to buy each product. But e.g. just us SAP Build Process Automation to orchestrate your processes and trigger the workflows & automations from your custom UI5 applications.
So there's a lot of flexibility here in my personal opinion, definitely worth looking into!