BLOG | Citizen development flourishes due to COVID-19 crisis, but can your organization maintain its output?

BLOG | Citizen development flourishes due to COVID-19 crisis, but can your organization maintain its output?

PARTNER BLOG | This blog has been written and published by our partner KPMG Nederland on June 5, 2020

Original publication | View original publication

Authors | Dennis Stam & Joost Koedijk

Citizen Development is flourishing under the COVID-19 crisis, but has a direct impact on the maintainability of the application landscape of your organization.

Recently, Dutch newsletter ‘Het Financieele Dagblad’ reported[1] on a substantial growth in the usage of low-code application platforms during the COVID-19 lockdown. Low-code platforms, sucvelopment work, as well as minimal upfront investment in setup, training, and deployment. They are offered as platform as a service (PaaS) and are intended for developing and delivering enterprise web and mobile applications, which run in the cloud, on-premises, or in hybrid environments.

The article by Het Financieele Dagblad points out that low-code vendors identify similar growth with every (economic) crisis – low-code is regarded by many organizations as a means to develop applications on a smaller budget. Furthermore, the Corona-crisis has led to an increasing demand for applications related to logistics due to the difficulties many organizations are currently facing.

Expectations from Gartner show an increase of the use of low-code platforms over the upcoming years, presumably leading to a situation in which low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity by 2024[2]. Imagine what impact this trend could have based on the expectations Gartner posed.

Despite the many advantages of low-code platforms, such as enabling business users to velop simple applications tailored to their needs without much training, the following aspects of software development are not surpassed:

  1. Low-code development remains software development.
    Nowadays’ applications are rarely standalone applications. Applications interface with each other to exchange data, process, enrich and feed back to others. Even with low-code development, attention to architecture remains important to prevent an equivalent to the ‘spaghetti’ created between Legacy systems and Client-Server applications with increasing networking possibilities in the early 90s.
  2. Low-code development also does not stop after a first release.
    Every newly deployed application immediately becomes part of the organizations application portfolio. Most, if not all, applications continue to be developed further to support changing business needs and undergo technical changes (e.g. with regard to changing interfaces, implemented fixes towards security exploits or updated libraries or re-used components). So, as soon as an application is delivered, it is part of the legacy and application maintenance commences.

Citizen developers

Low-code platforms have led to an increase of citizen developers: non-professional software developers who build applications for use by other people. Citizen developers, often business users, do not report to IT but merely make use of tools such as low-code platforms that are, at best, sanctioned by IT. This oversight by IT distinguishes citizen development from so-called ‘shadow-IT’, which takes place without the knowledge or control of IT. Although the risk remains that some business-valuable shadow IT is created and the IT department becomes responsible for the proper and undisrupted functioning of these applications without being aware of their existence. If shadow IT is created within your company expect budget overruns of your IT department within a few years.

The introduction of low-code platforms works as a catalyst for citizen development: the ease of use and abstraction from traditional programming that these platforms offer, almost invites tech-savvy business users to start building their own applications. With non-professional developers added to the equation, the technical quality of delivered applications may be in jeopardy.

A survey by OutSystems conducted in 2018[3] shows that approximately 50% of organizations claimed not to have any citizen developers within their organization at that time. Under organizations that already apply low-code platforms, 60% of all respondents confirmed citizen development. The actual share of citizen developers in the IT landscape might be even higher as it is questionable how many of these respondents are even aware of business-led development or subject to wishful thinking.

Infographic Increasing IT Control

In the survey conducted by OutSystems, out of the 52% of respondents that claimed citizen development in their organization, 31.8% claimed to have little or no control or oversight in the development efforts and delivered quality of citizen developers, and identified a risk for the organization. All-in-all a rather large population of (often) less tech-savvy users is adding applications to your application landscape, especially with the sudden increase due to COVID-19 in mind.

Citizen development under control

Nowadays, a lot of different tools are available to developers. Some tools cover the functional testing of software where others focus more on evaluating and enhancing the quality of the actual coding of an application.

Static analysis tooling, such as offered by KPMG and Omnext, uses quality models to assess, in an automated manner, the application sources based on the ISO/IEC 25010 standard for software quality. By analyzing the application sources and evaluating its quality based on industry standards and good practices, metrics on quality aspects such as maintainability, security, reliability and performance can be acquired – without putting a burden on the citizen developer, IT can gain insight in the technical quality of the developed applications and, from there, take action if needed.

As the aim is to create high quality, easy to maintain and easy to adapt software, tooling can be of great help for developers to double check their work in a very time and cost-efficient way and make their lives a bit easier while enhancing the quality in one go.

Static analysis: enabler or tool?

However, the old saying ‘A fool with a tool is still a fool’ remains valid in this scenario as well: without proper understanding of the value of high quality applications and what level of quality is to be achieved, a tool is nothing more than a gizmo with limited purpose.

The use of tooling to address rather technical issues such as overly complex applications is a great way to enhance software sustainability which can be implemented on an organizational level. Moreover, the insight gained through the dashboards and reports generated by this tooling helps the organization (both developers, as well as IT and business managers) to understand the quality of their software and specifically the hidden cost in terms of technical debt.

The sole fact that dashboards with insight in the quality of applications are created, often already triggers the discussions between IT and business on what is deemed to be important quality aspects for the business or a specific system. The outcomes of these discussions are not only valuable for (citizen and IT) developers to determine how they should spend their time and effort, but caters to the entire IT delivery factory. Business analysts are more focused on gathering the requirements for the quality aspects that matter most; architects and designers tailor the system to the right requirements ensuring the system can deliver to the selected quality aspects; testers verify that the system is suitable for usage by the business not only in terms of delivering the right functionality, but also the non-functional aspects. This way, conversations on the architecture and overall quality of the developed applications can be kick-started and lead towards a closer cooperation between business and IT rather than forming a form of shadow-IT operations.

In conclusion

The Corona-crisis will probably have an impact on the way we work and what applications we use to support that. Frustration often leads to innovation, and thus the application development efforts by business users to deal with the constraints these times have put upon us should be embraced and lead to great, yet controlled, opportunities.

Code-Less test automation: Omnext Fit Test and Curiosity Test Modeller

Code-Less test automation: Omnext Fit Test and Curiosity Test Modeller

Curiosity Software, Omnext and Specialisterren announce “code-less” test automation for low code applications

The integrated solution converts analysis of low code applications into rigorous scripts and data, with specialist services available on demand.

By: Curiosity Software Ireland

BRAY, Ireland – May 14, 2020 – Curiosity Software Ireland, specialist vendor in model-based testing, announces its partnership with Omnext, experts in software quality monitoring, and Specialisterren, a pioneering Social Enterprise dedicated to test automation. The joint offering builds rigorous tests directly from low-code apps, delivering quality at the speed of low code development.

Low-code development accelerates software delivery, enabling “Citizen Developers” to release software without manually coding. This rapid innovation requires equally rapid QA, testing each release within short iterations.

Manual test execution cannot match the speed of low-code development. QA therefore requires test automation, as otherwise releases risk costly bugs. However, automated testing typically requires slow and complex scripting – precisely what low-code seeks to avoid.

This is why Curiosity Software and Omnext have integrated Curiosity’s Test Modeller with the Omnext Fit Test Platform, offering rapid test automation that is accessible low-code developers.

The automated approach enables Citizen Developers to rigorously test fast-moving apps, moving from automated application scans to test execution in a few simple steps. The Omnext Fit Test Platform first analyses the quality of low code applications using recognised standards, providing granular risk-based insights. This furthermore analyses the app’s components and underlying logic, automatically building a model of the application under test. Curiosity’s Test Modeller converts these models into intuitive visual flowcharts, applying “coverage” algorithms to generate a complete test suite.

This “code-less” automation designs tests built to expose bugs that have arisen in the planned release. The tests are also customisable, generating scripts even for complex systems, with Specialisterren on hand to provide expert test automation services.

Bryan de Vries, Chief Commercial Officer at Omnext, comments:

“As todays organizations are becoming increasingly dependent on software, both development speed and overall quality have become key factors for success. Low-code platforms such as Mendix and OutSystems already offer the required development speed. On top of that Omnext already enables organizations to monitor their application’s non-functional quality in fully automated way. However, there was still a gap to fill in: ensuring functional-quality, at speed. This is where code-less test automation comes in. It allows low-code developers to apply existing skills when testing applications rigorously in-sprint”.

James Walker, Director of Technology with Curiosity Software adds that:

“Curiosity are very familiar with the challenge of testing fast-changing, increasingly complex systems. It’s a problem posed previously by iterative development, and one for which model-based test automation is well-equipped. The addition of Fit Test further increases the velocity and simplicity of model-based test design, making it even easier to maintain test suites in short sprints.”

Specialisterren Managing Director, Sjoerd van der Maaden, observes how:

“To test at the speed of system change, system modifications must be mirrored seamlessly in tests and data. Fit Test and Test Modeller offer a first-of-kind solution for low code applications, requiring little to no manual test maintenance. The flexible approach will already be familiar to low code developers, with Specialisterren on hand to help you test rigorously today.”

CAST announces partnership with Omnext

CAST announces partnership with Omnext

CAST and Omnext bringing together Software Intelligence and Fit Test capabilities  to Measure and Reduce Software Low-Code Risk

Paris and Veenendaal – 26/03/2020 – CAST, the leader in Software Intelligence, today announced a partnership with Omnext, a software company specializing in low-code software analysis to provide clients with the insights needed to continually improve the security, resiliency, and quality of their software assets.

Today’s shift to digital comes with the challenge for organizations to be able to rapidly react to their changing environments and client needs. Low-code platforms such as Mendix or OutSystems offer a way to deal with this challenge. However, the balance between speed and quality is a fragile one. Thus, software quality of low-code applications has become more important than ever for these fast-changing organizations. 

We see that these organizations are increasingly harnessing the power of low-code, which cohabitates with more traditionally built software systems. Therefore, we are excited to provide objective measurement across the business, operations and software development with Omnext’s low-code analysis, enabling faster and safer digital transformations,” said Alexandre Charlet, Managing Director of Northern Europe at CAST.

Omnext will leverage CAST’s unique Application Intelligence Platform to analyze source code in greater detail and deliver objective visibility into entire software systems comprised of both low-code and traditional languages to help clients modernize quickly and with confidence.

CAST will add insights from Omnext’s robust low-code analysis capabilities into its existing Software Intelligence offering  dubbed the ‘MRI for  software.’ The additional insights will augment CAST’s existing software analysis capabilities around analyzing application security, cloud readiness, and  enable easier in-depth system visibility on a broader range of applications.

Right from the start, it became clear that Omnext and CAST share the same DNA. We don’t just share the same point of view on software quality and risks, but also on how we aim to add value to our customers. Therefore, a collaboration felt like the most natural step to take. We see this partnership as the ideal stepping stone to further increase our position in low-code software quality analysis. In addition, a collaboration with an internationally renowned partner as CAST fits in perfectly with our international ambitions,” says Jaco de Vries, CEO of Omnext.

This partnership aims to bring a unique offer to customers who wants to get the most visibility on their portfolio regardless of technology choices. Integrating Omnext’s Low Code offering into CAST’s MRI for software will provide IT organizations with the facts needed for informed decision making, based on a holistic analysis not dependent on technologic orientations. Now, IT organizations can rely on a unique platform to modernize quickly and with confidence”.

About Omnext
Omnext has a history in rebuilding legacy-systems to new systems. An organization build over time, that gathered knowledge and experience through practice. In the past 15 years, Omnext build its reputation as a specialist in source code and low-code analysis. We support over 40 different technologies, including the leading low-code ones, and have hand-on experience with each of them. This makes our expertise real, and only this expertise makes us able to understand our clients’ problems, software risks and, at the same time, opportunities. Our flexible and customer-oriented approach helps us to achieve the highest result for our clients. Learn more at www.omnext.com.

About CAST
CAST is the pioneer and category leader in Software Intelligence, providing insight into the structural condition of software assets. CAST technology is renowned as the most accurate “MRI for Software”, which delivers actionable insights into software composition, database structures, architectures, critical flaws, quality grades, cloud readiness levels and work effort metrics. It is used globally by thousands of forward-looking digital leaders to make objective decisions, accelerate modernization and raise the security and resiliency of mission critical software. Visit www.castsoftware.com.

KPMG is to partner with Omnext

KPMG is to partner with Omnext

KPMG is to work closely with Omnext, a Dutch software analysis services provider and the first OutSystems-recognised Code Review Partner. The partnership will enable KPMG to provide organisations using OutSystems-based software with a better understanding of the maintainability, reliability, performance and security of their application portfolio. In particular, KPMG will use Omnext’s Fit Test 4 OutSystems tooling for the static analysis of applications built using the OutSystems platform.

Long-term relationship

KPMG has a long-standing relationship with
OutSystems. “OutSystems and KPMG Portugal have been providing a number of
special IT solutions together since 2010,” says Joost Koedijk, Digital
Enablement partner at KPMG Netherlands and
globally responsible for KPMG’s Software Quality practice. Koedijk: “This
resulted in an official partnership in 2011. The companies are working together
closely to steer the digital transformation efforts of a number of highly
regulated industries in the right direction. This applies, for example, to both
the banking sector and telecommunications. KPMG Portugal employs more than 70
OutSystems-certified professionals. In 2018, we expanded our partnership with
KPMG Netherlands and developed a new Center of Excellence for OutSystems based
on the existing capacity. In the same year, KPMG was named Partner of the Year
by OutSystems.”

Jaco de Vries, CEO of Omnext, adds: “Our Fit Test 4 OutSystems platform allows us to continuously, automatically and transparently monitor the quality of our clients’ software developed with the OutSystems platform. In 2018, Omnext was already recognised by OutSystems as its first official Code Review Partner and, in our view, the collaboration with KPMG is the next step in enabling organisations at an international level to make the most of the power of the low-code platform by guaranteeing quality. In addition, KPMG offers a high level of OutSystems knowledge, enabling us to continuously improve our Fit Test platform. In other words, a collaboration with a future-oriented perspective.”

Decrease maintenance burdens

For more than a decade now, KPMG has been helping
customers gain insight into the technical quality of their applications on traditional
platforms, such as .NET, Java and PHP. Koedijk: “With Fit Test 4
OutSystems, KPMG is expanding its software quality consulting services to include
the OutSystems platform. When applied correctly, OutSystems offers a platform
that can relieve developers of a lot of work. Implementations entail challenges
that are similar to traditional development platforms, and in general errors
will occur. A tool such as Fit Test 4 OutSystems enables us to perform a
thorough automated analysis of the technical quality of the software. In this
way we can help our customers to improve the quality and maintenance of their
software solutions.”

Omnext and BlueMeme (JPN) partner up!

Omnext and BlueMeme (JPN) partner up!

More Agility with “Fit Test 4 OutSystems” for App Development in OutSystems by Enabling Automatic Team Review

Automatically Analyzing Information for Development Team Review Based on OutSystems’ Development Best Practices.

BlueMeme Inc., a Tokyo-based IT corporation specialized in Low-Code Platform “OutSystems” (HQ: Tokyo, Japan, CEO: Masanori Matsuoka) and Omnext B.V., a source-code analytics tool providing company (HQ: Veenendaal, Netherlands, CEO: Jaco de Vries) officially announce to provide “Fit Test 4 OutSystems”, which automatically analyzes applications developed by OutSystems, in Japan on January 31st.

  It has 6 years passed since 2012 when BlueMeme introduced OutSystems to a Japanese company for the first time, and now the number of OutSystems users in Japan climb up to more than 110. OutSystems’ visual modeling feature enables developers to review their progress in team more easily; however, the more the size of applications grows, the more difficult and time-consuming it takes to review. Also, many OutSystems users wonder what standard or metrics to use for development in OutSystems. To overcome such challenges, BlueMeme and Omnext have a partnership in Japan to provide Fit Test 4 OutSystems (FT4O), showing analyzed information for users based on OutSystems development standards and best practices. Main characteristics of FT4O are as follows;

Main characteristics of FT4O are as follows;

Main Characteristics of FT4O

  • “Scoring” your application based on best practices.

 Omnext gathers its core sources of best practices not only from OutSystems but also many of OutSystems partners and embed them to the product. Based on the best practice items, the portal shows “which element violates best practice items” and “how much impact such violation gives on the targeted application”.

  • Specifying what and how to fix

In case applications are not followed by best practice rules, the portal shows level of impact and difficulty to fix. Developers can easily understand what to fix next and plan it in the next splint. As the portal describes how to fix each violation, it is easy for them to follow unified rules during development.

  • Enabling team review in short time without troubling development leaders

FT4O performs analytics of applications automatically by uploading OutSystems application in OAP file. Users can view the result of not only single scan, but also of comparison with previous scan history, it is very useful and easy for them to check what has improved since the last scan. Also, it does not involve any developers or team leaders in this analytic process, so it helps them to standardize the development and speed up team review in splint.

About BlueMeme Inc.

Name  :BlueMeme Inc.

CEO     :Masanori Matsuoka

HQ       :2-3-12 Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan

Founded in:December, 2006

Capital :368.5 million yen (including capital reserve)

URL     :https://www.bluememe.jp/

BlueMeme is the first company in Japan to introduce the low-code development platform “OutSystems” in 2012 and has provided customers with related service, sales, localization, training and product support while providing business system development and consulting service with the combination of OutSystems + Agile Development. We also started a new service “agile SDK (Service Delivery Kit)”, organizing Agile Development methodology and technology into “architecture”, ”process”, ”team”, for Japanese companies starting Agile Development. This “agile SDK” has variety of new generation technology and will be adjusted to customers’ IT environment. In addition to the technology, by accelerating the growth of team members, BlueMeme will further support the delivery of business systems which are flexible to respond to rapid changes in business environment to improve the company’s competitiveness.

LINK TO ORIGINAL BLUEMEME PRESS RELEASE (Japanese)

https://www.bluememe.jp/outsystems/news/news-post_20190131.html

Maintainable Code in the Era of Low-Code

Maintainable Code in the Era of Low-Code

Omnext just announced a new service for customers to help them understand the code maintainability of applications they build with OutSystems. This begs the question, what is maintainable code when we’re talking about a low-code platform? In this post we’ll highlight why this is a very relevant question to be asking, and why companies like KPMG (who build many low-code applications and happen to be “OutSystems 2018 Partner of the Year”) take this seriously.

Speed vs. Quality

Speed versus quality is a classic balancing act that applies to the process of building software. For those who prioritize quality, it makes sense that there would be a healthy skepticism of development platforms that promise greater speed. “If a platform helps a developer build software 10 times faster, surely this will lead to quality issues,” might be the thought process.

To address this concern, it’s helpful to substitute the word “speed” with “automation.” The speed increases delivered by low-code development platforms relate to things developers no longer have to do. Various studies show that as much as 60–80 percent of development time is spent on repetitive activities. The way we write code to take data from a database table and present it on a screen doesn’t vary much from screen to screen. The way we ensure a screen displays well regardless of form factor tends to be the same for each screen. The way we ensure security, internationalization, accessibility… you get the picture.

There are many accelerators already built into the leading IDEs to help automate these types of activities by generating various snippets of code. Low-code development platforms extend this further by allowing developers to visually model solutions without even having to write code. The platform takes care of all the repetitive stuff. Does this mean the developer is no longer coding? Absolutely not. The developer still has to model the logic and data of the application, design the screens, connect to data sources, maintain good architecture, and so on.

Speed vs. Control

Assembly Language Macros

This claim of 10x development speed is often perceived negatively by developers who worry they are losing control over the “code” of their application. I think of it differently. My first coding job was in assembly language, and it took forever to do even the most basic things. When macros were introduced to automate instruction coding for assembly, there was a similar concern from developers: “I don’t like it! I’m losing control!” When I transitioned to C++, I didn’t once miss loading registers or trying to squeeze code into a 4k segment—I was able to focus instead on what the software needed to actually do. Then came Java. No more worrying about garbage collection or wrestling with apps that needed to run on more than one operating system or platform. This felt like nirvana compared to before.

Each of these language evolutions automated many of their predecessors’ tasks; tasks that consumed so much of my time as a developer. Instead of hunting down memory leaks, I could focus on solving the business problem. The automation that low-code development platforms provide is the reason teams are able to deliver software substantially faster. I would say that those who worry about this being a loss of control are just kidding themselves. To me, that’s like worrying about what happens to your Javascript code after it is written.

Back to Quality

Growing up in the U.K., the phrase “more haste, less speed” was commonplace, and I never really thought too much about what it meant. Thanks to automation, low-code enables a much higher degree of “haste” than lower-level programming languages. You can deliver meaningful outcomes to the business faster compared to manual coding. But, like any programming language, a developer rushing to deliver solutions with low-code can make mistakes. “Speed” without quality can result in a poor architecture that, in turn, leads to issues in areas like performance, security, or maintainability.

So, how do you ensure quality with a low-code development platform? It turns out that it isn’t really that different compared with traditional programming languages. Best practices are defined that have to be checked, either manually or, better yet, with automation.

Enter Omnext

Omnext is a company focused on providing automation solutions that ensure the quality of software written in over 30 different languages. They have developed a solution for OutSystems customers based on the ISO-25010 guidelines for software maintainability and quality supplemented with OutSystems-specific best practices. They help organizations answer the following types of questions across a portfolio of OutSystems applications:

  • How has the maintainability changed since the last sprint?
  • How do the code quality and productivity of my scrum teams differ?
  • How can I reduce my maintenance costs?
  • To what extent are components re-used?

Omnext Fit Test provides a snapshot of an app’s current software risks. Customers can also sign up for a regular cadence of risk scans with the Stay Fit program. Results of the analysis are presented in an elegant dashboard within the Omnext Portal. A point-based scoring system makes issues easy to identify.

Omnext Dashboard

Omnext has developed their own ORQA index, a quality score based on the impact of any best practice violations and the effort required to resolve them. Adapted to include OutSystems best practices gathered from years of experience across large portfolios of applications, this index can be used to help prioritize any remediation efforts.

By comparing points-in-time, you can see whether new issues are being introduced as your teams deliver new releases. To facilitate the fixing of issues, the Omnext Portal provides more detailed views to help pinpoint exactly where in your OutSystems model those issues were found. Since organizations may have different standards, custom rules are also supported to further tailor the results of the analysis.

Omnext Code Analysis Dashboard

Tangible Benefits of Understanding Quality

Intuitively, we want our software to be of higher quality. When it comes to security and performance, the potential repercussions of low quality are self-explanatory. Low-code maintainability may have some less obvious benefits, but they, too, are important.

Future Readiness

Applications that are built following best practice guidelines are likely to last longer and add value to their users for a longer period. They are also easier to adapt to changing requirements.

Reduced Maintenance

It is easier to maintain an application that is built well. Less time spent on maintenance means extra time available to deliver new, high-value functionality.

Enhanced Reusability

Well-architected elements are more likely to be used again, and reuse can increase productivity.

Improved Skills

Sharing quality insights with your development team helps them understand how to architect higher quality applications, raising the overall skill level of your team.

Ultimately, while the higher level of abstraction enables much greater speed, developing with low-code is not that different compared to writing code by hand. Quality still needs to be built into your development practices, and by automating your quality checks, further efficiencies can be gained.

To find out more about how Omnext can help you identify opportunities that might be hiding in your OutSystems applications, check out their website. For a limited time, they are offering a free Quick Fit Test scan of an application. For those who need more assistance, Omnext has partnered with KPMG so you can take advantage of their depth of experience with OutSystems. KPMG will conduct expert reviews of an organization’s applications and draft up detailed improvement reports.

Now, go in haste.

Written by Mike Hughes – Senior Director of Product Marketing, OutSystems.

Link to original post: https://www.outsystems.com/blog/posts/maintainable-code-low-code/