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April 25, 2022

AWS addresses the melding of front-end and backend developers

AWS (Amazon Web Services) are empowering front-end developers with backend provisioning, via a visual full-stack app development environment, called Amplify Studio, GA’d last week (21 April) during AWS Summit in San Francisco. The platform addresses key front-end developer struggles, but the new solution lags rivals’ broader low-code platforms and consolidated automation solutions.

While Amplify app development tools have been around for several years, AWS officials admit the focus of the framework has been primarily on addressing the needs of backend developers. Amplify Studio, rolled out late last year, aims to address the evolving needs of the front-end or UX designers.

This is critical because while front-end and backend developers maintain entirely different skill sets, there is increased need for end-to-end application platforms which ensure that the intended app design is indeed delivered. The mobile and web application build process has become increasingly complicated in recent years. Performant and feature rich apps (think Airbnb and Spotify) require increased manual back-end API integration, problematic for developers without deep integration and cloud expertise. Steps involve rationalizing designs into components, binding the UI to back-end data, and building custom logic to behave in the way that’s expected by the designer—not to mention end users.

More automation

Amplify Studio aims to put more automation capabilities into the hands of the developer in the form of hosting services, CLI, and libraries to ensure minimal coding requirements and speed the design and delivery of cloud-connected apps with scale (via serverless features).

Despite the obvious advantages stemming from the evolving Amplify platform, the low-code visual environment stops short of addressing the broader market of citizen developers. These folks represent a growing force of application modernization participants who are increasingly valuable to IT operations and DevOps teams for their role in digital transformations. AWS does not appear interested in targeting that market with this offering, deferring instead to its late-to-market low-code initiative branded Honeycode, which in and of itself is very short on details and strategy.

A problem for AWS

This represents a problem to AWS whose low-code rival solutions include highly popular Microsoft Power Platform, Salesforce Flow, Google AppSheet, Appian Platform, and Mendix 9, among others. Those competitors would argue that more-so than full-stack development platforms, the low-code platform space plays a prominent role in the digitization solutions set alongside AI, intelligent automation, and MLOps ensuring accelerated software delivery for enterprises and prompting continued investment in this market. AWS needs to address its broader low-code strategy as part of its Amplify conversations and messaging.