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Keynote: A Roadmap for Domain-Specific Low-Code Platforms

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Low-code development platforms aspire to streamline the development, deployment and maintenance of specific types of software systems, and to make these activities accessible to an increasingly digital-native workforce. In this talk I will discuss the importance of domain-specific (as opposed to one-size-fits-all) low-code platforms in this new landscape and I will focus on the main opportunities and challenges of assembling such platforms from existing open-source components.

Dimitris Kolovos, University of York

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Keynote: A Roadmap for Domain-Specific Low-Code Platforms

  1. 1. A Roadmap for Domain-Specific Low-Code Platforms Dimitris Kolovos dimitris.kolovos@york.ac.uk Automated Software Engineering Group Department of Computer Science
  2. 2. Outline • The case for low-code platforms (LCPs) • Components of a LCP • General-purpose vs. domain-specific LCPs • Implementing a domain-specific LCP with Eclipse Modelling technologies • Available capabilities • Future enablers A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 2 SiriusCon 2021
  3. 3. About me • Professor of Software Engineering @ University of York (UK) • ~20 years of experience in model-based software engineering • As a practitioner and a researcher • Lead of the Eclipse Epsilon project • https://eclipse.org/epsilon • Investigator in the Lowcomote Marie-Curie Training Network on Low-Code Engineering • https://www.lowcomote.eu A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 3 SiriusCon 2021
  4. 4. What are Low-Code Platforms? • Platforms that enable the development, deployment and management of cloud-based software solutions with little or no code • Aims • Reduce time and effort from ideation to deployment and operation • Enable non-programmers to develop software solutions that meet their needs • Minimise upfront investment (pay as you grow) A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 4 SiriusCon 2021
  5. 5. A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 5 SiriusCon 2021
  6. 6. Surging Demand for Software • More software systems will be built in the next 5 years than all systems built in the last 40 • Demand for mobile apps is growing 5x faster than IT departments can deliver • 1M developer shortfall in the US over the next decade • 86% of customers surveyed by Microsoft struggling to hire qualified developers A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 6 SiriusCon 2021
  7. 7. How are Businesses Coping? • Spreadsheets for long tail of lower priority and smaller scale activities • … or for activities where "official" systems are unfit for purpose (shadow IT) A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 7 Dedicated Systems • Admissions • Student management and monitoring • Assessment marking Spreadsheets • Timesheets/expense tracking for funded projects • Seminars SiriusCon 2021
  8. 8. Issues with Spreadsheets • Not great for long text/images etc. • No process • Data fragmentation • Uncontrolled replication • Error-prone • Not useful for user-facing applications A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 8 SiriusCon 2021
  9. 9. Citizen Developers • Growing digital native information workforce • Computing is part of the compulsory curriculum in many countries • Skilled computer and web users • Competent with non-trivial software (e.g. spreadsheets, word processors, image/video editors, e-banking/shopping), concepts such as drag and drop, users/profiles, authentication etc. A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 9 SiriusCon 2021
  10. 10. Components of a Low-Code Platform (LCP) A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 10 Application Definition Interface Sets up / migrates Generator Database Application Code Citizen Developer Deployed on Cloud Resources Application User Validator SiriusCon 2021
  11. 11. Components of a Low-Code Platform (LCP) A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 11 Application Definition Interface Sets up / migrates Generator Database Application Code Citizen Developer Deployed on Cloud Resources Application User Validator SiriusCon 2021
  12. 12. Components of a Low-Code Platform (LCP) A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 12 Application Definition Interface Sets up / migrates Generator Database Application Code Citizen Developer Deployed on Cloud Resources Application User Validator SiriusCon 2021
  13. 13. Components of a Low-Code Platform (LCP) A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 13 Application Definition Interface Sets up / migrates Generator Database Application Code Citizen Developer Deployed on Cloud Resources Application User Validator SiriusCon 2021
  14. 14. General-Purpose LCPs • Existing low-code platforms are general- purpose • Wide range of applications • Templates to get users started A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 14 SiriusCon 2021
  15. 15. General-Purpose LCPs • Lots of options and customization capabilities • Can be unnecessary for some classes of applications • ... and overwhelming for some citizen developers A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 15 SiriusCon 2021
  16. 16. Domain-Specific LCPs • Focus on specific classes of applications • Provide domain-specific • Application Definition Interfaces • Customisation points • e.g. LCP for local grocery stores • Application Definition • Name and contact details • Products + prices • Opening hours • Offers • Output: Static website A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 16 SiriusCon 2021
  17. 17. Domain-Specific LCPs • Exploit local/domain expertise • … and encode semantics in the LCP itself to minimise configuration • How can one build a domain-specific cloud- based LCP using open- source technologies? A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 17 SiriusCon 2021
  18. 18. Components of a Low-Code Platform (LCP) A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 18 Application Definition Interface Sets up / migrates Generator Database Application Code Citizen Developer Deployed on Cloud Resources Application User Validator SiriusCon 2021
  19. 19. Application Definition Interface • Abstract Syntax • Ecore • Emfatic • OclInEcore • Xcore • Graphical • Sirius Web • GLSP/EMF.Cloud • Textual • Xtext • Form-based • JSON Forms A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 19 SiriusCon 2021
  20. 20. Application Definition Interface • Form Builder • None in the Eclipse modelling ecosystem but several open-source options (e.g. formio, formbuilder) A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 20 SiriusCon 2021
  21. 21. Components of a Low-Code Platform (LCP) A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 21 Application Definition Interface Sets up / migrates Generator Database Application Code Citizen Developer Deployed on Cloud Resources Application User Validator SiriusCon 2021
  22. 22. Validation • Express and check constraints on the application definition • Languages: OCL, Epsilon Validation Language • Validation at the backend • Some effort to report error messages in the front-end A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 22 SiriusCon 2021
  23. 23. Components of a Low-Code Platform (LCP) A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 23 Application Definition Interface Sets up / migrates Generator Database Application Code Citizen Developer Deployed on Cloud Resources Application User Validator SiriusCon 2021
  24. 24. Code Generation • Transform application definitions to source code • Template Languages: Acceleo, Epsilon Generation Language • Target-language agnostic • Support mixing generated and hand-written code A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 24 SiriusCon 2021
  25. 25. What's missing? Future enablers for domain-specific LCPs A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 25 SiriusCon 2021
  26. 26. Future Enablers • Streamlined support for embedding textual expression languages in graphical ADIs • Possible within Eclipse with Sirius/Xtext A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 26 SiriusCon 2021
  27. 27. Future Enablers • Real-time online collaboration • Unification of approaches for real- time diagram, text and form-based application editing A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 27 SiriusCon 2021
  28. 28. Future Enablers • Streamlined support for reacting to changes made to application definitions • Incremental validation and code generation • Change-driven code generation • e.g. when property X changes, generate and run a migration script A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 28 SiriusCon 2021
  29. 29. Summary • Low-code development is growing • One-size-fits-all LCPs can become too cumbersome • Opportunities for domain-specific LCPs • Building blocks for domain-specific LCPs in the Eclipse modelling ecosystem • Future enablers • Hybrid graphical/textual ADIs • Real-time online collaboration • Incremental/change-driven execution A Roadmap for Domain-Specific LCPs 29 SiriusCon 2021

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