The world is simplified. The work of developers is to be.
Ever since we started using machines, there has been programming. The algorithm for the Analytical Engine is considered the first computer programming language. The English mathematician Ada Lovelace created it in 1883 for Charles Babbage's mechanical general-purpose computer.
And it never stopped there. The next leap in programming is visual programming/no-code development.
Visual programming lets users create graphical elements to build application logic. Several no-code online platforms offer this, and there's hope that this will be the primary mode of programming in the future.
Today you can find visual programming tools for almost any need. You have Microsoft Power Apps for general software development. If you need to develop data science apps, KNIME is an excellent choice.
Beyond visual programming, you have no-code options for famous use cases. For instance, using terraform, you can create and manage an entire cloud architecture only with a configuration file. No-code involved.
Yet, what do they mean to developers of the present and future?
Will no-code platforms reduce the need for trained developers? Or will developers have a better tool in their toolkit? Let's find out.
What are no-code platforms?
No-code platforms are a relatively new kind of software allowing users to create complex applications without coding knowledge.
These platforms typically provide a visual drag-and-drop interface, making them easy to use even for those with no technical background. While no-code platforms were initially designed for simple applications, they have become increasingly influential in recent years and can now support sophisticated workflows and business processes.
In many cases, no-code platforms can completely replace traditional coding frameworks, making them a popular choice for businesses that want to quickly develop and deploy new applications without incurring the cost and complexity of working with code.
When do no-code platforms do well over code-based development?
No-code sure lets you build apps and websites without coding knowledge. Yet, there are still many instances where code-based development is the better option.
As of writing this post, most no-code platforms are suitable for faster prototyping, yet not for production systems.
When planning the app for the first time, it's essential to visualize your ideas as soon as possible. Of course, you can have some Figma wireframes. But the next step would be to put up a minimum viable product (MVP.)
At this point, you still don't know if you're application has any potential in the future. You don't want to hire developers to get an MVP. It would only shoot up your initial investment.
The best way to get users to test your idea is by creating an app using a no-code platform. You'd only be spending a few hours, if not days. Then your users have a working product at hand for testing.
Some no-code platforms are great for production systems as well. For instance, you can use KNIME to build your pipelines faster when working on data science projects. But KNIME is capable of running production-grade applications as well.
Therefore the critical factor to consider is the complexity of the project. A no-code platform can likely suffice if you're trying to build something straightforward, such as a basic attendance app. But, if you're looking to create something more complex, such as a custom web app, then code-based development will be necessary to give you the flexibility and control you need.
Drawbacks of no-code development
Like anything, no-code development has its pros and cons. Here are five potential drawbacks to keep in mind:
Lack of Flexibility: No-code development platforms can be inflexible, making it challenging to customize your project to your specific needs. Think about the switching cost. After developing so much, and at some point in the future, when you realize you can't create a new feature that all your competitors have, you have to spend a massive chunk of your budget switching to a different technology.
Limited Functionality: While no-code development platforms have come a long way, they still offer limited functionality compared to traditional coding languages. You can get the basics for sure. You may even be able to connect it to your other systems. But you still have to wait for a very long time every time a new software concept sets the trend in the industry. That's because you can't develop them for yourself.
Difficulty scaling: As your project grows, managing everything within a no-code development platform can become challenging. You may not be able to install extra servers and database instances as you'd do in a traditional development environment. And most no-code platforms charge per user. Thus when you scale, the cost becomes massive.
Are no-code platforms a threat to programmers?
By now, you'd have guessed that the answer is no. But no code development can replace programmers in the future.
Even though no-code development platforms help a lot, they are not a direct substitute for more production-grade applications. You can create more scalable, efficient, and cost-effective applications with programming.
But with the rate of technological growth, this would soon change. In the future, you could directly translate the diagrams from a business meeting to an app. And with minor tweaks, they could become production ready.
Thus, it's primarily a question of what skillset developers should develop to stay ahead of the curve.
Skills developers need to work with no-code platforms.
No-code platforms have been gaining popularity in recent years, as they offer a way for non-technical users to create custom applications and solutions without writing code. However, working with no-code platforms still requires some technical skills. Here are five skills that developers need to work with no-code media:
Ability to explain things visually: Programmers do not care much about diagrams. They care about them to understand the concepts but do not explain what we build. Business Analysts usually do this.
Negotiation skills: This is another skill that developers long considered not relevant. But they do now. When diagrams become the code, the business team might not understand the challenges. Besides, these challenges are new to the developers too.
These are not new requirements. Articulating skills and negotiation skills are just as crucial for any job. But they will be more significant as no-code development platforms take over the stage.
No code platforms are a leap in the programming evolution. They are going to let everyone create software products with little idea-to-app time.
Yet, although the initial benefits are high, no-code solutions can be costly to scale up. In some instances, you may not be able to develop the feature you need.
But a code-based platform gives the flexibility to develop anything you want. Also, you don't have to wait till the no-code platform introduces the feature. You can set it for yourself.
Thus developers will be in the driving seat for a very long time. But what skills they need is going to be different. As a developer, you might need excellent skills to articulate ideas with diagrams and negotiate with business stakeholders.
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