What Exactly is No-Code? A Beginner’s Guide to No Code Development

4 March 2021

‘No-code’ is the new buzz word in the software development world. But, what exactly does it mean? Is it the same as low-code?

“The future of coding is no coding at all,” says GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath. If you’re new to the world of ‘no code,’ you may think it’s a contradiction. But, in some sense, it’s true.

With no-code development, you can build prototypes without writing a single line of code. Not only that, but you can also build websites, software, and entire businesses without any programming skills. 

Although there are limitations to what you can achieve, you don’t have to attend programming classes to get cracking with low-code. 

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about this new kid in town.

What Exactly is No-Code? A Beginner’s Guide to No Code Development

What is No-Code Development?

No-code means developing software programs without coding. It’s a promising alternative to traditional software development approaches where you must write multiple lines of code (sometimes thousands) to create a software product.

No-code solutions target non-technical business users looking to build their full-fledged applications. For instance, think about a small business that wants to develop an invoicing software but lacks the budget to hire a professional software developer. 

No-code tools would allow the business to create the software without having any prior programming skills.

No-code vs. Low-code: What’s the Difference?

You might notice people using these terms interchangeably. Although the terms are closely related, they are more nuanced.

With low-code development, you require some coding knowledge, albeit minimal. A low-code platform typically features pre-built functionality that enables users to partly build the application, beyond which a professional developer is needed to complete the process. Often, the developer will define “how” the application behaves.

With no-code development, you don’t need a developer at all. It’s a declarative approach to programming that focuses more on “what” instead of “how.” 

In traditional software development, codes exist to tell the application how to behave. With no-code development, however, the focus is on what the app does.

How No-Code Development Works

You may be wondering how it’s possible to code without code. How can you code without code? It feels confusing, right?

Well, it shouldn’t be. Whenever you’re coding with no-code, you’re “actually” using code. The only difference is you’re not the one writing the code. Like low-code platforms, no-code platforms have pre-built codes you can use and re-use at scale.

The lines of code lie in the background, behind the interface. The no-code builder doesn’t need them. Instead, you’ll interact with elements pre-built using the underlying code.  

To build a product, perhaps a website or app, all you need to do is drag and drop the elements in the right place. Pretty much every element you need to build the apps and software you desire is available (as long as you choose the right low-code platform). 

Moreover, most no-code development platforms support cross-platform development. You can use apps and other products across all the major operating systems and devices without any impediments.

Contrary to common perception, no-code development isn’t exclusively for simple apps. The best no-code development platforms offer sophisticated elements to build complex apps and software products for your organization. 

Some developers even build end-to-end enterprise applications on no-code platforms.  

No-Code Pros and Cons

No code development comes with multiple advantages, including convenience and reduced risk, plus a couple of limitations.

Advantages

No-code development can be a valuable tool for developers, businesses, and individual users for the following reasons;

  1. Increased agility: Low-code development is a drag-and-drop process that allows developers to create effective solutions quickly. Testing is automated, thus cutting development time further.
  2. Reduced development costs: The cost of professional coding is relatively high. Organizations wishing to bypass such costs can consider low-code development where even non-pros can develop delightful apps.
  3. Increased productivity: Productivity means getting a greater return on investment from the same input. Low-code is the embodiment of such a low-cost/high-reward work approach. 
  4. Exceptional flexibility: A significant challenge with the traditional software development approach is rigidity. Why? Because modifying the app’s functionality can be a complicated and tedious process. With no-code, changing functionality is as simple as dragging out one element and replacing it with a different one.

Limitations

The inherent convenience of no-code development would be an instant appeal to organizations and small businesses. But, beware, a few limitations exist.

  1. You must understand what you want: Although you’re excused from writing multiple code lines, low-code development still requires you to recognize your business requirements and the parts needed to build the desired product.
  2. Challenges finding the right lowcode platform: Hundreds of low-code platforms are available in the market, each with its unique strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, finding the right platform for your product development isn’t a straightforward process.
  3. Rigid templates limit what you can build: This is perhaps the biggest challenge with low-code development. You can only use the templates available on the chosen development platform. If a particular element is missing, your product can’t have it either.
  4. You don’t own the source code: It’s a painful reality that may cost you more than you’d ever imagined. The vendor owns all the programs built on their platform. It’s like selling on Amazon. Who owns the store? Easy. Amazon.   

Choose Prudently

The trick lies in choosing your no-code development projects wisely. Experts recommend no-code when developing simple, internal mobile applications. 

However, if you need to develop large or customer-facing applications, consider alternatives such as low-code and traditional software development.

More importantly, be careful when picking a low-code platform. A few tried-and-tested options include Outgrow, Nutshell, Betty Blocks, Microsoft Power Apps, and the Salesforce platform. Contact NIX Solutions for further inquiries.