What web apps come with some core functionality and data entities, and then can be greatly expanded through configuration rather than requiring coding? Such functionality and data entities would include users, roles and permissions, some sort of workflow when-x-happens-then-do-y, and scripting.

I am thinking of apps like

How can I find others, and are there any FOSS web frameworks that would provide this without requiring a lot of technical server software installation and setup and coding?

A scriptable or codable API is a requirement, but it should be possible to create a functional app via point and click configuration, or at least relatively easy config files.

I've looked at so-called "full-stack" options like Meteor, but I have yet to find one that uses coding as an optional add-on rather than something you must do to get anywhere. Incidentally, I don't feel that setting up a data model -- identifying entities, their attributes, and relationships --- is coding. It's configuration or is at least easily configurable with the right tool.

"GraphQL" with "Relay" sounds very promising based on statements like this: "[Relay] allow[s] developers to specify what the UI should look like for a given state, and not have to worry about how to show that UI".

"Declarative" (versus algorithmic or programmatic) is a oft-used term related to apps that are largely configurable (versus those that require mostly coding).

2 Answers 2


Presently, "low-code" describes these kinds of apps, platforms, and architectures that can be largely set up through configuration rather than code. Related terms include "declarative" "meta-data-driven", and "aPaaS" (application Platform as a Service), and Business Process Management (BPM).


The following "14 most significant vendors" are from the April 2016 Forrester report by Clay Richardson and John R. Rymer entitled The Forrester Wave™: Low-Code Development Platforms, Q2 2016. (The full report is available through one of the profiled companies, Outsystems.)

  • AgilePoint (pricing is unclear)
  • Appian (pricing is unclear)
  • Bizagi (pricing is unclear)
  • Caspio (tiers range from $0/month to $1699/month; unlimited users)
  • K2 (pricing is unclear)
  • MatsSoft (pricing is unclear)
  • Mendix (tiers range from $0/month to $1675/month for up to 50 internal users or 500 external users)
  • MicroPact (pricing is unclear)
  • MIOsoft (pricing is unclear)
  • Nintex (pricing is unclear; $792/month - $1188/month?)
  • OutSystems (free tier for one developer; otherwise, pricing is unclear)
  • QuickBase (starts at $15/user/month, minimum 10 users; premier tier starts at $25/user/month, minimum 20 users)
  • Salesforce (starts at $25/user/month; goes up to $300/user/month)
  • ServiceNow (pricing is unclear)

You asked about FOSS options (Free and Open Source Software). None of the preceding appear to be FOSS or have any kind of FOSS option that includes access to source code, but the Outsystems free tier does appear to have full functionality. (Outsystems' Get Started for Free page says: "The free edition is designed for one developer to build and run small applications with dozens of users. With a 2GB limited database.")


According to Google Trends, "low-code" first appeared in any substantial amount in 2005, perhaps due to a Gartner article in November 2005 by Daryl C. Plummer, ClearNova's ThinkCAP Delivers Productivity-Laden SODA Development ("Highly productive, low-code Web development and deployment environments are becoming commonplace"). Forrester's Jeffrey S. Hammond et al. used it in August 2012, but just in reference to middleware. (KonyOne Offers A Flexible, Low-Code Platform; Going Hands On With KonyOne Shows How Middleware Is Evolving.)

The present 2016 surge in use of "low-code" is in reference to fuller-stack apps, and it appears to be rooted in the August 2014 Forrester article by Clay Richardson and John R. Rymer entitled New Development Platforms Emerge For Customer-Facing Applications ("Some firms are turning to new, "low-code" application platforms that accelerate app delivery by dramatically reducing the amount of hand-coding required").

  • 1
    Now, that is the sort of comprehensive answer that every S.E site wants to see !
    – Mawg
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 10:08
  • I would have liked some pros/cons of each as well. Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 11:24

I will also add Wavemaker to the above list that Jon has given. WaveMaker is one of the oldest Rapid app development platform and has off-late undergone big changes under its new management. Check it out.

Its pricing is around $249 per developer per month with no restrictions.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.