Are you looking for an Outsystems alternative? Owing to an increased need for business agility and growing pressure on IT teams to deliver faster solutions, the market for low-code platforms has flourished in the past few years, However, for SMEs and large Fortune 500 companies alike, choosing between the best low-code development tools can be challenging. These platforms come in all shapes and sizes for different business types and needs.
Linx is often compared to Outsystems as they both go beyond basic app creation (Zapier, IFTTT) and workflow automation (Mendix, Kony, et al) to deliver and manage complex business applications. So let’s jump in:
OutSystems is one of the most popular Rapid Application Development (RAD) platforms for business application creation, deployment, and management. It mainly relies on the visual development environment so users can quickly develop mobile and web applications. It is generally used for creating web and mobile apps along with full control over services, integration adapters, and other resources.
Linx is a low-code development tool for experienced IT professionals. It enables the rapid development and deployment of backend applications like APIs, integrations and automations. In essence, a visual backend programming tool, Linx is built for developers to design and debug solutions in a familiar procedural style, using a drag and drop interface. The plugin architecture (like Nuget or NPM packages) replace many high-level programming functions, reducing 1000s of lines of code to a single visual function with properties that guide the developer to success. Solutions are deployed with one click to servers running in the cloud or on-premise, with monitoring, access control and versioning as standard.
Hitting the software sweetspot
OutSystems specialises in pre-coded SOAP & REST API integration for web services using WSDL (Web Services Description Language) files. Most REST APIs implement communications and data transfers using JSON standards. The OutSystems IDE automatically detects web API requirements and generates the JSON code required to build new software applications. Low-code options speed web database development and it supports the SQL Server, SQL Azure, Oracle, MySQL, and DB2 iSeries formats.
The optimal use of Linx is as a single platform for software development, data center automation, and hosting. It has several use cases, but by far it is its ease of use as an API builder that grabs the attention. The philosophy behind Linx encompasses two concepts: “Don’t reinvent the wheel” and “Design once, run non-stop”. Linx is low-code, allowing you to create, call REST, and SOAP web services, freely integrating them with nearly any of your existing technologies using prebuilt plugins.
All development (including debugging) is easily accomplished within the visual IDE with one-click deployment to-premise or your cloud of choice (Azure, AWS, & other public cloud environments) for automatic product launch and management.
Given there are several ways to develop an application, how do you decide where to start? As an IT pro, you probably already know the latest and greatest products out there, but selecting the right development tool for the job may not always be straightforward.
Onboarding & set up
Available online, OutSystems provides a free trial but recommends that developers participate in a highly structured 12-month adoption process that includes full-time tutoring to develop competency.
Linx uses the same high-level concepts (Functions, Types, Services and Events) that define programming languages. Plugins are prebuilt, with the input and output flows defined by setting properties and chaining up different functions to work together.
Outsystems offers no-code capabilities with a few dozen predefined actions through a flowchart metaphor. Low code blocks can be interspersed with traditional coding.
With Linx, your logic is executed on the server. This can be on-site or cloud hosted with all solution settings handled via the settings panel. Deployment is a one-step process to a server with monitoring, access control and versioning as standard.
Outsystems does not provide a Server-Side editor. Developers must use Eclipse or Visual Studio – general-purpose tools that are not specific to OutSystem in order to add custom code.
Users can test applications in Linx directly within the IDE via the built-in debugger. Changes are available instantly with errors highlighted in a granular fashion.
OutSystems requires you to use their “1-Step Publishing” system, which requires files to be pushed to a remote server – adding significant wait times and reducing efficiency in the develop/test cycle.
OutSystems has more built-in integrations with third-party apps like PayPal, ZenDesk, and Okta Integration tools are not built into OutSystems and functionality needs to be coded by hand. OutSystems does not support quickly changing data sources.
Linx provides one-click install to your preferred hosting environment, cloud or on-premise.
Outsystems does not offer one-button deployment to the cloud.
The Linx Server is a fully managed application server used to deploy and run Linx applications. Linx applications can be hosted in public or private clouds, or on-premise.
Certain editions of the OutSystems platform allow a self-managed infrastructure where a customer may choose to host OutSystems environments in different cloud infrastructures from different providers, and even on-premises.
Customisation and scalability
There are no limitations to the size of your application and any given application can be scaled to include many different database entities, processes, and functional components – all built via drag and drop. Cloud hosted applications can be upgraded to include any of the several 100s of services offered by the provider (Azure, AWS etc).
The IDE allows programmers to implement custom-coded solutions using enterprise ASP.Net development libraries and frameworks. Scalable cloud architecture can be configured using the OutSystems development environment console for device management and multi-version control.
OutSystems licenses are determined by the number of application users, and the number of application objects.
Often, the modern business expects its development tools to be fast and powerful, but more so, to meet the organisation’s needs via customisation. Low-code is often seen as too constrictive with the tools themselves requiring some level of customisation to achieve the job at hand. Linx and OutSystems are both excellent choices that can cater to a wide range of business users and use cases, but the more you dig into the detail, the more you realise that they are distinctly different.
OutSystems can manage the end-to-end app life cycle from app creation and deployment to ongoing maintenance and analytics. More significantly, Outsystems lets the user build apps with modern, responsive UIs for native mobile and reactive web.
Linx, on the other hand, offers many similar attributes, but it is backend-specific and does not have a UI for the user to interact with. Instead, the power of Linx is in its ability to provide the developer with a platform to leverage their existing resources – in a familiar programming pattern – to create backend applications for a wide variety of projects. Linx ignores the notion of tying its user to a single programming language or framework, but instead allows the user to focus on logic and flow of the application, as you would in custom coding, just faster.