“Low-code” means different things to different people – and to different software engineers. For example, take a comparison of Mendix vs. OutSystems vs. Pillir. They are three great platforms, but they are also three very different platforms. So if you are tasked with vetting low-code, rapid application development solutions for your business, you need to dig deeper than merely finding a solution that enables development via a graphical interface. You also need to understand user experiences, requisite skills, and the types of apps the platforms support.
Read through this 8-point comparison of Mendix vs. OutSystems vs. Pillir that shows some of the questions you need to ask to find the right low-code application development platform for your business.
Mendix vs. OutSystems vs. Pillir Comparison
1. Approach to low-code development?
Understanding how the platform was developed can help you understand whether it was created for businesses like yours.
Mendix: This platform takes a transformative approach to application development. The Mendix platform is designed to enable people with a range of skill sets to develop apps. Using Mendix it's possible for nearly any team member, even those without any knowledge of coding, to take part in the delivery of enterprise-grade apps.
OutSystems: For development teams who want ways to use traditional software development processes – but do it faster and more efficiently, OutSystems is the answer. This platform takes traditional code and makes it visual, speeding up the development process as well as increasing consistency and accuracy.
Pillir: Pillir’s founders didn’t set out specifically to create a low-code rapid application development platform. The primary goal was to solve real-world business problems enterprises were facing when they tried to customize their ERP software. Pillir sees low-code development as a means to an end, such as reducing technical debt, accelerating ERP modernization or easily creating modern business applications. It’s designed for SAP and other ERP users, with or without development expertise, to extend capabilities and optimize workflows, easily creating modern business applications, and enabling teams to convert ABAP (SAP’s programming language) into modern low-code objects jumpstarting brownfield app developments.
Read our other comparison piece - Appgyver vs. Pillir.
2. Platform timeline
It’s common for a purchaser to confirm that a vendor is well established and has a history of meeting users’ needs and providing great customer service. When it comes to cloud solutions, however, a company’s history is important for other reasons.
Mendix and OutSystems: Mendix was founded in 2005 and OutSystems in 2001, which means they have long track records of successfully competing in the low-code space, but it also means their platforms were developed before using cloud services was common. The platforms were developed with monolithic architecture -- composed all in one interconnected piece – and the companies later pivoted to the cloud.
Pillir: Pillir was founded in 2013, and its platform is born in the cloud and based on microservices architecture. This makes Pillir easy to deploy and maintain, and it scales automatically. Additionally, if the Pillir team sees that a process needs to be adapted or updated, they can work on that feature without having to update and test an entire monolithic software platform.
3. Programming Language
The programming language that the platform uses can not only impact the simplicity of development processes but also how restrictive the platform is for professional developers.
4. Ease of ERP integration
When comparing Mendix vs. OutSystems vs. Pillir, integration processes are markedly different.
Mendix and OutSystems: These platforms, which are primarily focused on low-code development itself rather than using it with a specific core business system, use APIs to interact with SAP and other ERPs and require developers to build OData endpoints to connect, which can be quite labor-intensive.
Pillir: To create a low-code development platform that works with an ERP, the Pillir team developed the SAP certified EdgeReady Plugin, which includes various native adapters that enable integration with ERP applications and components. Pillir’s platform is designed for deep integration with SAP or other ERPs – it communicates directly with the system without reliance on connectors or appliances. Also, like other features of Pillir, they’re graphical, making integration processes faster and easier. While integrating other low-code development platforms may take days or weeks if the necessary APIs are not already developed, Pillir automates the entire process and takes less than an hour.
5. User experiences
One of the primary reasons businesses consider implementing a low-code development platform is to make app development easier, enable citizen developers – people without development experience – to create apps, shorten the timeline from idea to implementation, and give operations more agility to solve problems and meet new demands. When you compare Mendix vs. OutSystems vs. Pillir, you will find that user experiences vary significantly.
Mendix: Designed to bring citizen developers and professional developers together in one platform, Mendix provides an intuitive, graphical app creation experience. Users can build an app on their own or start with prebuilt apps and have access to a wide range of customizations that pertain primarily to the look and feel of the app. This platform also allows users to preview their apps on PCs, tablets and mobile devices.
OutSystems: With OutSystems, users need to decide in advance how the app will be used –whether, for example, a web app or a mobile-native app. Once the course is set, however, OutSystems’s feature-rich visual designer and AI assistance guides development, and users have extensive resources and tools at their disposal. Workflows align more with professional developers’ processes.
Pillir: Pillir has worked to be a leader in app creation flexibility. Pillir uses graphical “building blocks” that guide any user, even those without an understanding of coding or syntax, to develop apps. Additionally, apps developed on the platform can be deployed in any way – e.g., progressive web apps, hybrid, or native – from the same model, so developers aren’t committed to a particular type, and they can change their minds. Pillir also allows users to create embedded applications for specific devices, such as Zebra handheld computers, without additional coding. Pillir enables regression testing on any device using any communications service, both in a test environment and on the devices themselves.
6. Offline applications
In industries such as oil and gas, supply chain or mining, connectivity may be intermittent or not possible at all. Applications developed for technicians in these fields need to work offline and then orchestrate data uploads when a connection is restored.
Mendix and OutSystems: Both platforms enable users to create apps that work offline; however, the application will not have access to the rich set of business rules and logic mandated by the ERP system. A technician’s workflow may be entirely blocked unless the developer rebuilds the business logic in the platform so that it works the same way offline as online.
Pillir: Pillir’s EdgeReady plugin and deep integration with SAP enables developers to create apps that automatically understand and mirror the business logic in the ERP, resulting in no change to the technician’s user experience when the app is offline. When the connection is restored, Pillir orchestrates data synchronization and manages conflicts. All of these capabilities are included out of the box -- no additional coding required.
7. Ability to reduce technical debt
Businesses can use low-code development platforms as a tool for reducing technical debt – the cost and rework associated with cleaning up legacy code which may no longer be necessary or that developers should modernize for optimal performance. However, the process of reducing technical debt can be substantially different when using different platforms.
Mendix and OutSystems: Although these platforms provide developers with a tool that enables them to modernize applications for better performance and functionality, Mendix and OutSystems require you to re-create all applications from square one. Developers can use the platforms to rebuild apps more quickly, however, they must work to understand the business logic in the existing business process, which is often poorly documented.
Pillir: The Pillir platform includes a free ABAP analysis tool, which provides users with the ability to identify unnecessary code as well as evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO) if they choose to migrate that code from an on-premises application to the cloud. Furthermore, using the dashboard users can select the apps with the highest technical debt and start modernizing. EdgeReady Cloud mines and interprets the existing business logic, and then converts the existing SAP business processes, business logic, and applications into their modern, low-code equivalents.
8. Pricing structure
Although all three low-code development platforms are offered through the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, pricing structures vary.
Mendix: Mendix users choose between different editions to meet their needs – for example, to support one app with backups and uptime guarantees vs. unlimited app building with a more extensive feature set, such as private cloud deployment, failover testing, and deploying on-premises. deploying on-premises. Customers also need to purchase infrastructure resource packs from Mendix to host their applications, and there is an additional license fee for deploying apps in a private cloud or on-prem.
OutSystems: OutSystems users also choose from among different plans, from a single development environment and shared infrastructure to unlimited app capacity to a plan for users in the millions for developers who plan on deploying their apps to consumer app stores. Customers should also ask about fees if their apps are complex, i.e., if fees will change depending on the number of development objects in the app.
Pillir: Pillir offers a pure consumption model. Businesses pay only when users log on and use the platform – they aren’t required to pay a set monthly fee or pay regularly for seats that team members rarely use. There is no payment for the development platform or the training.
9. Organization and management
As you evaluate low-code platforms, look forward as well as at your current needs. Once you deploy and use the platform, it will be challenging to switch without disruption to your operations – and it will take a significant investment of time and resources. Learn all you can about the vendor’s business, their goals, and the direction their company will take in the future.
Mendix: Siemens acquired Mendix in 2018 and made Mendix part of its Digital Factory division. Since that acquisition, Mendix has begun to shift focus from broad low-code use cases to more product lifecycle management (PLM) and other digital factory use cases.
OutSystems : In 2018, OutSystems received funding from KKR and Goldman Sachs. The company secured new capital in 2021 in a round led by Abdiel Capital and Tiger Global, which industry analysts suspect is putting the company on an IPO path.
Pillir: Pillir is not owned by an outside entity or a part of a larger enterprise. As with its founding, the company focuses on solving app modernization, reducing technical debt among ERP users, and helping its clients create the app functionality they need quickly and effectively. Pillir continues to maintain its agility — if the company receives feedback or identifies ways to enhance the platform, the team can respond without approval from a parent company.
Mendix vs. OutSystems vs. Pillir – Which Low-Code Platform Will You Choose?
Each of these platforms is a valuable tool for their target use cases – but it’s clear that any one of them isn’t the right choice for all use cases.
Define your needs, the level of development expertise you have on your team, and the types of apps that will make your operations more efficient and your employees more productive. Then, use that as your guide to evaluate and choose a low-code development platform for your business.
See Pillir's solution in action.