Developer Experience in Low-Code Versus Traditional Development Platforms - A Comparative Experiment

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Perustieteiden korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
Software and Service Engineering
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Master’s Programme in Computer, Communication and Information Sciences
Developer Experience stems from the concept of User Experience but focuses on software developers and their experience when using development platforms and tools to produce software. In recent years, as industries need more software developers with higher productivity to produce increasingly domain-specific and complex digital solutions, the concept of low-code software development has gained popularity. Low-Code Development Platforms (LCDPs) enable users with or without prior programming experience to create applications using model-driven or graphical user interfaces instead of writing textual code. Currently, there is limited research on the differences in developer experience between traditional and low-code development tools. This thesis explores the differences between developers’ episodic experience when using traditional development platforms versus low-code development platforms by conducting a comparative experiment using Salesforce Flow Builder (a LCDP) and APEX programming language. Participants with varying levels of programming experience but no Salesforce experience were taught the basics of Salesforce Flow Builder and then tasked to accomplish a number of tasks using the tool. Then they were taught the basics of APEX language and tasked to accomplish the same set of tasks using the language. Their experiences and thoughts were captured using questionnaires and interviews and their performance was graded by running test cases on their delivered solutions. The results indicate that past programming experience appears to strongly influence the developers' performance, experiences, and tool preferences, while most developers remain skeptical of the scalability and maintainability of applications developed using LCDPs. There are also polarized opinions on the efficiency of the tools. In addition to discussing the experiment results and findings, this thesis also provides insights for future research in this area.
Fagerholm, Fabian
Thesis advisor
Teronen, Aki
developer experience, low-code development platform, enterprise applications, salesforce, declarative development, programmatic development
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