No-Code and Low-Code software program creation is here and this is what you can do with it.
I explain what is “coding” in a prior blog post so if the concept of software programming is still new or “fuzzy” to you, give that a read. You may be hearing and seeing the rise of what is called the citizen developer and low-code or no-code software development. Whether you have or have not, I explain it here. You do not need a degree in computer science or software development to understand this.
Coding? Low-code?? No-code??? Citizen????
There is a quote that seems to be used alot when you do some research on “no coding”.
Why pay attention to Chris Wanstrath over at Github? Github is a platform that exists at Github.com where software coders come together and share their code and discover new ideas. It has become an incredibly popular resource for those who write code, teach code, study code, and simply geek out.
When I was a freshman computer science major in 1986, I can recall my professor telling us there will be code that writes itself someday. We all sat there wondering when that someday was and if we should change our majors.
I asked the GetMeCoding Facebook Community (be sure to join!!) where we have a wide variety of backgrounds. A few chimed in reminding me we have been hearing this or something like this for a very long time.
What are your thoughts about this?
That college class was over 34 years ago and during my career, we never saw that happen…well kinda. We are seeing the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) assisting in creation of code but that is a whole other story for another day. What we did see was the rise of block coding (watch What is Block Programming) and a need for more software developers. Often dismissed as toys for kids, we saw wonderful coding platforms such as Scratch and Blockly become common in many STEM classroom environments.
But we didn’t see block coding hit main street for corporate America. There have been tools that have existed for a while that use block coding such as MIT’s app inventor. We have also seen an industry begin around low code or no code with tools.
Why do we need no code or low code tools?
GetMeCoding.com was created to help inspire curiosity about learning to code and then get you on a path to continue learning about coding and technology. It was out of observing the declining number of people studying it or learning it to become a professional.
Other software companies stepped in to address this need with a no code or low code tool approach. Whether code, low code, or no code, you still must be able to think logically, break down a problem, communicate, and deliver a finished item.
Sample List of Low/No Code Tools
This is just a sample of companies and websites offering Low Code/No Code solutions. Visit the website NoCode.tech for an always changing list. Some are free to try but most require a subscription. You can easily become a citizen developer and build out your first app with these!!
The Rise of the Citizen Developer
The term citizen developer has an odd sound to it like something from the sci-fi movie like Starship Troopers. But it is important to note that businesses need apps to be built. Apps can be software programs (eg. software applications) that run on a mobile device or a web browser and perform helpful tasks.
Anyone using these low code/no code tools are known as “citizen developers“. They are also often referred to as “Shadow IT” as they operate by building apps without the Information Technology department’s knowledge.
If workers need to have something done and do not have software developers and do not know how to code themselves, the no code approach is very appealing and is getting better every few months as more tools appear to fill this need. Companies or organizations that embrace the Low Code/No Code approach see benefits that include:
How is no code and coding related?
At the heart of these visual no code or low code platforms is programming code. It may be a programming language like C# or Java or possibly. These are ‘coding’ languages and not drag and drop. The drag and drop approach of no code generates this code underneath and sometimes invisible to the citizen developer.
Some no code platform tools are allowing software developers to use API (application programming interfaces) to connect different software programs or data to their no code application. So knowing how to code is very helpful if you application become complex.
If a business has a limited budget and no experienced software developers, then a no code approach may make perfect sense. It allows for quickly building a app that can capture data. The data is then stored without anyone even needing spreadsheet skills.
If workers need to have something done and do not have software developers, the no code approach is very appealing and is getting better every few months as more tools appear to fill this need. Companies or organizations that embrace the Low Code/No Code approach see benefits that include:
What does low code or no code look like?
Whenever we discuss coding (aka programming) we often mention the word platform. A platform to a software developer is exactly what it sounds like, something you can build or place something on. Software developers use various platforms to build their apps.
When we talk about low and no coding we will be using a platform. For the young people in my courses, they get the opportunities to work with block coding platforms such as Scratch, Blockly, MIT App Inventor or other block coding apps that are growing in numbers.
How it looks is where some of the low code or no code tools begin to differentiate themselves.
Here are just a few screen shots.
But it isn't flexible! Does it need to be?
This is the million dollar question and answer. Should I bother learning to code? Yes and no.
When you look at a majority of the apps on the market today, most do some very basic things. The model most software apps follow is one of collect data, store data, process data, display data. That is a pretty common process.
So maybe you don’t need that complex software app. Notice I didn’t say you don’t need that sophisticated aviation flight control. Many of the no code tools are not capable of handling the complexity of a software system. But they can be used to build apps for churches, small businesses, or organizations looking to put information in their employees or customers hands.
It all comes down to understanding what you need to build. If you are going to need an app that automates a repetitive task and is to be used in a mobile environment, then this is definitely an option.
But if you plan on developing large systems that control other complex systems, that app approach may have limitations.
Breaking Down A Problem - It is all in the logic and analysis!
Ultimately, programming languages are tools. You always start by understanding the problem and then crafting a solution. This is an incredibly important skill and quite frankly….it is a boring skill to most. But if you can develop this skill and be aware of these tools, you may find yourself becoming very very valuable.
If you are new to coding, I would highly encourage you begin here with my 5 minute exercise with block coding which is a low coding approach. If you get it, then maybe you take that next step…..
Happy Coding or…Happy Low Coding!!!!
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