Who are citizen developers?
Citizen developers are not necessarily trained in computer science or software engineering but can create and modify software applications using low-code or no-code platforms. These platforms provide user-friendly interfaces that allow non-technical users to create and customize software applications without extensive programming knowledge.
First appeared in a presentation at the 2009 Gartner
The idea that non-technical users can develop technical solutions has been introduced previously. As early as 1987, Apple used a simplified programming language with a graphical user interface (HyperCard) to allow non-programmers to create simple applications. The term "citizen developer" first appeared in a presentation at the 2009 Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando to describe non-technical individuals who can create and develop software applications, five years before a Forrester report called "low-code" the new wave of platforms for building customer-facing applications. The first citizen developers were typically business users or departmental managers who could quickly create and modify software applications to meet the needs of their organization.
The rise of citizen developers can be attributed to several factors. One of the main reasons is the increasing demand for software applications to support business operations and processes. As technology advances, businesses become more dependent on software to automate and streamline their operations. It has led to a need for more trained software developers, making it difficult for organizations to create and implement quickly the software applications they need.
Much faster than using traditional software development methods
The increasing availability of low-code and no-code platforms has amplified this phenomenon. These platforms provide simple and intuitive interfaces that allow non-technical users to create and customize software applications without extensive coding and testing by providing pre-built templates and components. Low-code and no-code platforms enable citizen developers to make and deploy software applications in days or weeks rather than months or years, much faster than using traditional software development methods, which can be time-consuming and costly. Consequently, they can fill the gap left by the shortage of trained software developers. With the ability to quickly create and modify software applications, they can support business operations and processes. It leads to a more agile and responsive organization, able to quickly adapt to changing business needs.
Citizen developers do have some limitations
However, citizen developers do have some limitations. They may have different technical knowledge and expertise than trained software developers. The software applications they create are less robust and scalable than those made by trained developers. Low-code and no-code platforms may need help to handle more complex software requirements, which may require expertise. Another limitation is that they may not be able to provide the same level of security and compliance as trained developers, as they lack expertise in security and compliance best practices, which would leave software applications vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data breaches. Despite these limitations, the benefits of citizen development far outweigh the drawbacks.
Who are citizen developers?
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