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No-Code Development

Jenna Phipps
Last Updated May 24, 2021 8:04 am

No-code development is a method of application development that allows people without programming experience to design apps. Along with low-code development, it’s become a popular method of creating in-house applications without requiring the presence of developers or programmers. No-code isn’t the only solution in the field of application development—there are many situations where it’s good to build an app from the ground up with newly written code. But it permits a wider range of people (known as citizen developers) to design apps without programming experience.

How does no-code development work?

The basic concept of no-code development is that users drag and drop items on a no-code platform to design their own application. It’s not only a drag-and-drop system, though, as some no-code software providers will clarify—many no-code platforms provide more sophisticated options as well, such as integrations with other apps. As users place content and set up an app or page, they can view how it will look on mobile devices or computers.

No-code platforms do use code to create the interfaces that citizen developers use to put an application together. All of those elements have to be coded. But the no-code software takes care of all that, allowing users to design the app without coding what has already been done on the back end.

No-code development is very helpful for businesses that need to create a lot of apps quickly, especially simple apps that serve a specific purpose. The demand for application development has risen for enterprises, and no-code provides a way to keep up with that demand. We also discuss a couple of other uses for no-code.

No-code development for small businesses and startups

Because it allows small business owners and entrepreneurs to create applications without having IT support, no-code can help them run a new business more effectively. Sometimes, entrepreneurs are held back by not having technical expertise, knowledge, or someone to help them develop a website or app. With no-code as an option, they can create mobile and web apps with no code and still have solid platforms without a dedicated IT team.

No-code development in education

No-code development can also be used to teach the basic building blocks of programming. Scratch, an MIT Media Lab creation, is an open-source website geared toward school-age children that teaches them to build objects online. The code is created using “blocks” that contain different elements, including sounds and variables.

No-code vs. low-code and potential challenges

Low-code is a similar concept but differs from no-code in its requirements. It’s still a helpful tool for businesses that don’t have a lot of people with dev experience, but those businesses will still need someone with programming knowledge to put the pieces together. Low-code platforms have predetermined chunks of code, which someone with limited experience could piece together, but a good-quality low-code app will still need a developer at some point.

There’s some difference in opinion about no-code development—some claim it’s mainly useful for simple applications, while others say it’s a good solution for more advanced uses and integrations. If businesses need to customize an application and have programmers do so, low-code will allow more flexibility—developers can tweak the program by adding their own code.

Which brings us to a couple of drawbacks to no-code development:

No-code doesn’t make customization easy—it’s complicated to change and add things on the back end of a no-code app, since someone else wrote all the code and it’s not designed to be changed. In some platforms, it may not be possible to add your own code. Also, a particular no-code software may not have all the features a business wants. Businesses have to know details about the apps they need and no-code platforms before they even make a purchase so that they aren’t stuck with something that doesn’t serve their needs in the end.