No-Code Platforms: Solution Or Poor Substitution?
What is a no-code platform?
No-code is the new kid on the block in software development. Its purpose is to strip away the need for technical coding knowledge when creating software. Its benefits are numerous including saving time, money and increasing overall efficiency.
Learning to read and write code can take years of hard work, particularly to become a full-stack developer. So when that is out of the question, you either have to accept you’ll have to fork out the cash to build a team of software developers or hire a software agency. Well, that may not be the case anymore and it is for that reason no-code platforms are currently riding on a huge wave of popularity.
In 2018 Forrester has predicted that no/low code solutions will be a 22.1 billion dollars industry by 2022. However, this prediction could now be incorrect, as their most recent stipulations have indicated, unsurprisingly, that the pandemic has sped up the adoption of low/no-code solutions.
Furthermore, developers and programmers are in relatively short supply compared to the current demand for digital products. No-code solutions remove this obstacle entirely so it is easy to understand why there has been an increasing trend in its usage.
Low code vs. No-code
You may have noticed the distinction between low code and no-code, but what is the difference? The two are often incorrectly conflated, so it is important to recognise the difference between the two.
Low code differs from its cousin no-code as it still requires a basic understanding of coding concepts. It still aims to simplify the job overall, while increasing accessibility to product development. However, it is still likely that you will need to interact with a developer at some point in your product development roadmap. The benefit of low-code, however, is it offers more flexibility and customisation.
On the other hand, no-code platforms remove the need for any coding knowledge at all.
It is a branch of declarative programming that removes complex considerations by focusing on ‘the what’ and not ‘the how’ of programming. They are a great opportunity for anyone who has an idea for a digital product to dive straight into its creation. No-code platforms are designed to be intuitive and easy to use. Consequently, the platforms are set up to be a drag and drop answer to building digital software. Practically, you are designing a user interface with a collection of pre-coded elements that will remove ANY need for a developer.
No-code pros and cons
There are always two sides to every coin and this is no exception. Now we’ve made the distinction between low code and no-code, let’s examine the major benefits and drawbacks of no-code platforms.
Easy to use:
The most obvious advantage of no-code is it doesn’t require any prior coding experience or understanding to get the ball rolling. Small businesses, startups and CEOs alike can all jump onto these platforms and start making changes, adding new features, and making an immediate impact.
No code is going to cost less in the long run. Without the need to hire any external assistance or beef up internal resources, no code is going to be budget-friendly. On top of this, the time it requires to build a digital product for release will be significantly reduce given the ease of use. Cutting down what could have been months into weeks.
Do you need to make any changes to cater to new demands? No code can make it easy to make speedy changes to adapt to changes in business needs or pivot to meet the needs of new customers and audiences. Alternatively, do you need to make a simple user-facing application or a complex piece of software? No-code has the versatility to be able to take on a multitude of tasks.
They have their limitations:
Despite their ability to be extremely flexible, before you start using a no-code platform you must account for their restrictions. There are many different no-code platforms available and making sure you choose one that can accomplish your task is crucial. By using no-code, you will be limited to the templates, elements, and structures available to you that are dictated by the platform you use. Furthermore, you will have absolutely no control over the tech stack you use, which could create further issues further down the road (see next point).
You don’t own the source code:
Owning your source code is a powerful asset. And one you must forfeit should you choose the no-code pathway. Getting started with no-code is easy, however, distancing yourself from it becomes increasingly difficult when you have no written documentation related to your product. It may be your software, but you will never truly own it. Therefore, you can become reliant on a no-code provider and any change from that provider will see you starting from scratch.
Ensuring the safety of your software and user’s data is vital. A major drawback of creating and managing your software through a third party is that you have zero control over potential security breaches. Furthermore, you cannot account for other continuity factors like the company being acquired by another firm or the chance they could out of business.
Will no-code replace developers?
No-code is certainly disrupting our industry and that’s a good thing! Shaking things up keeps everything competitive and the quality of resources available to us extremely high. No-code is tipped by many to be the future of code. Having said that, however, a common debate surrounding the no-code is its relationship to ‘traditional’ software development and if it could replace/overtake it in popularity.
No-code will never replace the job of a developer for two reasons:
We will always need developers to engineer the code for a ‘codeless’ world.
Different projects require different solutions.
The best way to describe the no-code vs. code debate is this:
No-code is like a box of lego: You can create millions of different creations and the sky is the limit for creativity, but your creativity is limited to the contents of the box.
An all code solution is like a pile of clay: You can do whatever you like with it. It can be easily moulded and shaped in any way you desire, but, it takes more skill and expertise to get it right.
Whatever way, you look at it, each business will have different challenges to overcome. Many will benefit from no-code’s price and accessibility, while others will require a more nuanced solution that can only be achieved by working alongside a developer.
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