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What is No-code? Full guide to No-code development

What is No-code?
Written August 18, 2022

What is No-code? How does it work? Do I need to know code to No-code (pun very much intended)? Let's find out whether No-code is the new hype for development.

If you work in IT or Marketing, chances are the terms "Low-code" and "No-code" have been circling around your professional circle in recent times.

Find out more about Low-code here!

In reality, this rise has come as no shocking news for the tech-savvy. Both No-code and Low-code are terms coined from a dim and distant past (but if you want a number, about 18-20 years ago). However, they got picked up again lately as the new hit in the IT world, promising to be the turning point for what we know about app development.

Gartner (a technological research and consulting firm) predicted that by 2025, 70% of all new apps will by built by business users with Low-code/No-code technology - a spike-up from 25% in 2020.

This technology is steadily spreading everywhere and constantly evolving to adapt to the needs of developers, laying the foundation for the adaptation of these technologies.


What is No-code?

What is No-code?
What is No-code?

Does "No-code" really mean "no code"? Well, technically yes.

But that's not the full picture.

More accurately, No-code is used to describe the process of building and developing applications without needing to rely on the use of codes. In technical terms, this is a software development approach with a prioritization on intuitive GUI (Graphical user interface) that allow even non-technical users to build software.

These platforms concentrate on converting complex programming languages into a user-friendly interface with drag-and-drop interactions to pave way for fast and simple web app, mobile app or chatbot development.

The fact that No-code allows users without specialized programming skills to still be able to build websites through simple operations is considered the main advantage that helps this technology gain popularity from the majority of users today.

The evolving society requires technology to also catch up to meet consumer's criteria, especially with 2021 having been the year of the "Great Developer Drought". The No-code trend quickly became popular due to the shortage of skilled programmers and the need to improve turnaround times between projects.

According to a CNBC report, the software developer shortage will be even more alarming in 2022. The rate of unfilled IT jobs already increased to 918,000 vacancies at the end of 2021.

The presence of no-code applications has helped businesses and developers solve important problems of time as well as significantly save their budget when building applications.

These platforms make it faster and easier to build apps, thereby paving the way for easy automation and digital transformation in the organizational process.

So when did no-code come into existence and how has it evolved up to the present time?


The history of No-code

The launch event of Microsoft's first version of Excel in 1985 can be considered the beginning of the "industry" of No-code. Excel tool helps users to perform statistics and data analysis without requiring any code.

However, this version was only applied to Mac, the Windows version was born later (1987).

Phiên bản Microsoft Excel 2.0 cho Windows
Microsoft Excel version 2.0 for Windows (1987)
Source: winworldpc.com

Nearly 20 years later, Google more or less shook Microsoft's throne when it announced the release of Google Sheet - Excel's arch nemesis. It can be considered as an online version of Excel, allowing users to store data online and manipulate professional skills like on Excel, especially in data analysis and finance.

Here, users can interact and analyze data visually without a single line of code.

However, Excel still retained a loyal user base when it came to overcoming limitations on the number of Google Sheet features. Around the same time, 2004, WordPress pioneered the trend of creating online websites without coding. With WordPress, you can actively build your own website even if you are not a technology major.

So how does No-code function exactly?


How does No-code work?

When you want to build a web or mobile app:

With traditional programming (Pro-code): Programmers will write lines of code (code), thereby creating the desired functionality and properties. This job requires a large amount of in-depth knowledge of programming and information technology.

With a No-code platform: Users (specialists or non-specialists) only need to select and connect application components - representing specific functions and features - with drag and drop, thereby creating a complete application without a single line of code.

Example of a drag-and-drop interaction
Example of a drag-and-drop interaction

With an intuitive development orientation, this technology helps users build and test applications easily with a more holistic view of the construction process, helping to optimize time and effort.

This is also why many centers will teach children no-code before introducing them to the traditional world of programming.

Of course, this is just the "tip of the iceberg" or in other words, users are interacting with no-code applications through simple operations. The true inner nature of it requires a lot of specialized programming skills or a multitude of complex, abstract processes.

To name a few common features of no-code platforms:

Ready-made design templates

The platform provides ready-made templates, app categories and features to assist in the process of building your website.

Integration capabilities

Email or other applications will be integrated on the no-code platform.

High uptime

The no-code service provider will ensure the quality of hosting as well as the up-time on the server.

Built-in workflow

There are common workflows available on these apps and you just need to follow them.

If you need support in the process of self-learning and No-code application development, CitizenDev provides free consulting services as well as outsourcing with only 30% cost and time compared to traditional approaches. Contact now.


Advantages of No-code

Advantages of No-code
Advantages of No-code

No-code changes from the core the way businesses build apps, allowing users to build complex workflows without writing a single line of code. Here are the top five benefits of using a No-code platform in an enterprise.

1. Speed: Reduce time to market

Developers often have to limit features to ensure speed when developing applications. In today's saturated app market, consumers expect fast delivery and a seamless product experience every step of the way.

To keep up with demand, developers often have to do all they can to get their products into the hands of consumers as quickly as possible in order to maintain a competitive edge.

No-code offers rich functionality and the ability to turn projects around in a fraction of the time compared to traditional and low-code. No-code's intuitive interface bridges the gap between ideas and possible applications, helping developers bring products to market faster and with fewer bugs.

2. Collaboration: Reduce Communication Barriers

In the traditional application development process, there is often a certain "misalignment" between business leaders and IT teams. Sales departments will often outline directives, then pass them on to the IT team, who will build a project that may or may not be up to the mark.

Traditional coding solutions (or even low-code) widen the gap between the IT team and the business, keeping the workflow in silos. No-code changes this with platforms that promote transparency and cross-departmental collaboration.

No-code allows sales departments to see what's being built by the IT team in real time, ensuring that everything goes according to their vision. And, since no-code platforms require no programming experience, the sales department and engineers themselves can also be directly involved in bringing the product to market.

3. Accessibility: Breaking down structural barriers

IT is often a scary job for the uninitiated - something strange, out of their world and best "left to the IT guys". Within the enterprise, the manifestation of this is the strict division of labor. Business teams come up with ideas and IT teams turn their visions into reality.

How one turns them into reality, no one really knows...

This framework creates project bottlenecks and backlogs, as business teams fail to consider the effects of delegating increasingly complex projects to IT teams with limited resources.

No-code completely erases this culture, making everyone a part of the app development process, regardless of experience. By increasing the number of people who can contribute to app builds, businesses can start tackling their backlog projects, saving time and money along the way.

4. Flexibility: Build in your own way

The traditional way of coding is constrained by legacy code and rigid data models. Programmers have to define all the entities (e.g. which third-party apps need to be integrated) at the outset, causing bottlenecks to the project launch. This creates the need for revisions, updates, and other labor-intensive processes later on.

With no-code, your data is stored in a JSON document instead of a data model, allowing you to load data faster and more streamlined. The platform gives you the flexibility to start building right away, with the flexibility to make quick adjustments and redirect as needed.

In a schema-free database, you are free to store your data without interacting with the previous structure. This allows users to easily group data together. These data will take a lot of work in a relational database. In short, with no-code, you won't spend hours a day processing your document structure.

5. Cost savings: Reduce legacy maintenance

Complex projects can take a toll on a business, not only in terms of hiring specialist engineers but also in terms of future legacy maintenance.

Legacy maintenance can be a huge drain on IT department resources and company funds. Modifying or repairing an engineer's job requires digging deep into the code to perform time-consuming reverse engineering. In the long run, this means that businesses are hiring expensive programmers just to maintain the status quo of the application.

No-code eliminates the need to maintain legacy code. Platforms like Unqork or Bubble.io allow you to build custom apps without coding. They can also work alongside existing legacy systems, allowing your developers to keep what's still working well.

This results in faster builds with zero maintenance and more time for business and IT teams to focus on what really matters - creating a competitive edge in the marketplace.


Disadvantages of No-code

Disadvantages of No-code
Disadvantages of No-code

After all, developing no-code applications is a big investment for businesses because of their outstanding advantages. However, along with the advantages, these three disadvantages of this technology are also aspects that need to be carefully considered before making a decision. So, let's take a look at some of the limitations of these codeless app development platforms.

1. Users lack a certain understanding of the software

These platform allows users to use with simple drag-and-drop operations even without professional knowledge. However, users still need a certain amount of expertise to be able to analyze where the platform can meet their needs and solve the problems they pose.

2. Limit the need for application development

There is no guarantee that the features or configuration on these platforms will be suitable for your product's purpose. You will be dependent on the provided features available to determine “What can I build?”.

3. Security concerns

Unlike traditional custom development, control over the application development process is very important when you decide to go for no-code. Not having control or even being able to understand the details of the application can lead to security risks.


Who is this technology for?

Target users of No-code
Target users of No-code

These platforms are widely used in the fields of all industries. However, based on the mechanism of operation, they are divided into two types:

  • External-facing: Application for non-programmer customers
  • Internal-facing: Application for internal circulation

No-code application is the key to solving business problems to increase work efficiency. There are a number of areas where it is often used in the operation of the apparatus such as:

  • Finance: Methods of linking customers with banks such as online banking apps or e-wallets, etc.
  • IT: Back-end platforms help application developers save time building an application's foundation and focus on critical issues and application improvement.
  • Retail: No-code applications provide retailers with a friendly, easy-to-use interface in the checkout process, control the quantity of items or the source of money in/out, etc.
  • Health: Health applications that store information about patients' health for medical facilities.
  • Enterprise: CRM is no longer strange to businesses in managing human resources and controlling the work progress of each employee in that business.

Some popular No-code platforms

Choosing the right platform is the first step you need to think about when you want to design a website without using a programming language.

There are a myriad of platforms on the market currently with varying features and strengths, let's take a look at the top 5 best no-code platforms with CitizenDev.

If you want a more in-depth look into these 5 platforms, check here!

1. Glide

No-code platform Glide for mobile apps
No-code platform Glide for mobile apps

Glide is a useful platform for creating mobile apps for internal business processes, e.g. apps for inventory, tracking sales processes or maintaining employee contacts.

All you need to create an app with Glide Apps is an account with them, a Google Drive account so you can use Google Sheets, and some time.

2. Airtable

Organizing and data management tool Airtable
Organizing and data management tool Airtable

Airtable is a project management software that works on spreadsheets and databases. Management interfaces help you work as a team effectively. You can see how your own and other members' work is progressing.

Airtable can store information in spreadsheets in an attractive and easy-to-use way, but it's also powerful enough to act as a database that businesses can use to manage customer relationships (CRM), task management, project planning and inventory tracking, or whatever business you want to build.

3. Webflow

Webflow platform with diversified designs
Webflow platform with diversified designs

Webflow is an interesting hybrid between two traditional website building tools like Wix and classic content management systems like WordPress.

A growing demand is the need to quickly build good quality websites, or even a simple app, that can be given to users to introduce a new product. Webflow is a great tool for idea generation and theory testing. It can even be used in user testing sessions.

4. Zapier

Automation tool Zapier
Automation tool Zapier

Zapier is a site that automatically links to all your favorite apps, from which you can create workflows that include multiple daily tasks that take up your time. Automation tools like Zapier will greatly reduce manual workload, save time and ensure you don't miss any action.

You can use Zapier's Free plan for up to 100 jobs/month or pay extra to unlock other plans with more benefits.

5. Bubble 

Bubble is the leading no-code platform today
Bubble is the leading no-code platform today

Bubble is at the forefront of the no-code movement. Bubble's Visual Programming Tool (visual programming tool) helps you create UI easily by dragging and dropping, in addition, you can also design the database closely, thereby creating many different web services with just point-and-click operations.

Over 750,000 users have built websites with the Bubble no-code platform for their businesses. Not only that, there have been many startups successfully raising capital when building apps with Bubble (Y Combinator is an example).

Plugins developed by the Bubble community will help extend your app by enabling third-party functionalities, like billing, SEO, analytics, and more.

To better understand what Bubble.io is, CitizenDev has published a comprehensive analysis of the platform. You can read it here!


Conclusion

Above is an overview of No-code with the advantages and disadvantages of the movement that is reshaping the technology and software development market.

Learning a new programming language always requires a lot of dedication and patience, a series of notes as well as diverse low-code platforms can sometimes make you feel confused. and need support.

If you need support in the process of self-learning and No-code application development, CitizenDev provides free consulting services as well as outsourcing with only 30% cost and time compared to traditional approaches. Contact now.


Reference

No-Code Is The Future Of Software: Here Are Five Critical Things To Drive Success In 2022 And Beyond - Forbes

Developer shortage fuels rise in low-code/no-code platforms - TechTarget

Gartner Says Cloud Will Be the Centerpiece of New Digital Experiences - Gartner Press Release

The rise of the No-code economy - Formstack

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