Developer Discussion Topics on the Adoption and Barriers of Low Code Software Development Platforms

by   Md Abdullah Al Alamin, et al.

Low-code software development (LCSD) is an emerging approach to democratize application development for software practitioners from diverse backgrounds. LCSD platforms promote rapid application development with a drag-and-drop interface and minimal programming by hand. As it is a relatively new paradigm, it is vital to study developers' difficulties when adopting LCSD platforms. Software engineers frequently use the online developer forum Stack Overflow (SO) to seek assistance with technical issues. We observe a growing body of LCSD-related posts in SO. This paper presents an empirical study of around 33K SO posts containing discussions of 38 popular LCSD platforms. We use Topic Modeling to determine the topics discussed in those posts. Additionally, we examine how these topics are spread across the various phases of the agile software development life cycle (SDLC) and which part of LCSD is the most popular and challenging. Our study offers several interesting findings. First, we find 40 LCSD topics that we group into five categories: Application Customization, Database, and File Management, Platform Adoption, Platform Maintenance, and Third-party API Integration. Second, while the Application Customization (30%) and Data Storage (25%) topic categories are the most common, inquiries relating to several other categories (e.g., the Platform Adoption topic category) have gained considerable attention in recent years. Third, all topic categories are evolving rapidly, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. The findings of this study have implications for all three LCSD stakeholders: LCSD platform vendors, LCSD developers/practitioners, Researchers, and Educators. Researchers and LCSD platform vendors can collaborate to improve different aspects of LCSD, such as better tutorial-based documentation, testing, and DevOps support.


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