The future of software development is no-code for everyone
By Wout van Helvoirt on Jan 12, 2021
In the last few years, we have made significant changes to the way we work and communicate with each other. Tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams have made older communication methods, like sending emails and making phone calls, look like primitive dinosaurs. We have started to use more cloud-based services to accompany us in our daily work routines. We are even starting to leave our bulky computers at home in favor of compact mobile devices like phones and tablets. At the end of the day - and outside of work - we ultimately shift our focus from technology for productivity to a means of entertainment and relaxation. In short, technology is in deeply embedded into our current society, but how did we get this far?
In the old days, getting started with web development was just a matter of inspecting the source code of a website in the web browser. This was a great and easy method for customizing existing websites with plain HTML and CSS code, and even for reverse engineering some of the webpages for your own purposes. However, nowadays the web browser doesn't really reveal exactly what's going on behind the scenes.
Websites are no longer build with just plain HTML and CSS code. Instead, they have been able to flourish using frameworks, like React, Vue.js, Gatsby, and many others alike. While these frameworks add many great and complex features to the web, they have also made it harder to understand the inner workings of a website. Modern web development can be quite overwhelming and is hard to to master, especially for beginning developers.
The modern 'no-code' movement tries to reverse this trend with tools that do not require additional code. Tools, like Airtable, allow anyone to create flexible databases as if they were basic spreadsheets. Webflow empowers web designers to create stunning websites through a simple drag and drop interface, without the need to hire an expensive web developer. Zapier can be used to connect multiple services together, without understanding how API's (Application Programming Interface) work. For example, you could have Zapier automatically send a message to a Slack channel whenever a document in your company's Google Drive would change.
These modern tools are much more capable. They avoid writing code and allow users to connect multiple services together. You therefore don't have to learn large and complicated applications, and can instead rely on smaller, more intuitive applications. This is important because the current generation of people have grown up - or are still growing up - entirely using these types of tools, and without the need to learn how to code.
Over the more recent years, communities have started to embrace these no-code platforms. There are many sites that provide information and tutorials on how to get started yourself. Just 'google' and you will find ... or head over to this website for a nice overview.
From a developer perspective, no-code might not yet be fully up to the task of completely replacing the need to write code. It does, however, make sure that developers don't have to spend so much time - and therefore money - on repetitive tasks like building an API or setting up a CMS (Content Management System) for delivering dynamic content on websites. Instead, they can spend their time elsewhere, or even better, create no-code tools for the rest of us.
In the end, a set of simple tools doesn't reduce the need of writing code; it just gives more and more people the ability to accomplish their dreams, whether they are small or big dreams, that's all up to you.
I’m curious to know what my writing evokes in you. What’s your view on this subject, and what possibilities do you observe? Join the conversation and share your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!