Busting No-Code & Low-Code Myths

I am a HUGE fan of low-code and no-code tools. I always have been.

Even though I learned “low-level” langauges, my career as a developer has always tended towards the higher level tools.

Whether that was DBASE, CLIPPER & FOXPRO in the early 90’s, POWERBUILDER in the LATE 90s, various HTML builders in the early 2000’s or things like WordPress later on, I have taken advantage of all the latest low-code fads over a 20+ year period.

I am a HUGE fan of the concept.

And today’s new crop of tools operate in a similar vein. Except that they are far more inclusive than anything you would have seen even 5 years ago.

The generation that is being brought up on these tools will inter-operate with other tools and ecosystems as a matter of course – it’ll be second nature if you will. And any tool that tries to be a silo will look like a dinosoaur.

The next generation of technology and power users will be using these “low-code” and “no-code” tools to slice and dice data, invoke AI algorithms, present in 2D and 3D and more. And they will make it look as easy as if you were adding numbers in a spreadsheet.

But all the challenges that accompany software development projects will still remain.

Medium and large size projects will still need:

  • Planning & Forecasting
  • Data Analysis & Data Modeling
  • Data Scrubbing and Data Sanitization
  • Testing & QA
  • Documentation
  • Upgrade & Deployment Processes

None of these things go away simply because your tools are easier to use. If anything, they make it far more critical because it’s much easier to run down a road that will be expensive to reverse on.

Risk of Massive Costs

And, if you’re not careful, the costs will be far far higher than anyone expects.

In the past, you were usually tied to one or two vendors. With the newer crop of tools, integration is critical which means you’re now exposed to pricing and scaling policies of many many secondary vendors such as:

  • Zapier
  • CRM & Marketing such as Mailchimp or Hubspot
  • Segment
  • Transaction email providers such as Mailgun
  • Other providers such as Memberstack, Substack
  • etc . etc. etc.

The more you integrate best-of-breed functionality the more expensive things become.

And with tools such as Bubble.io, there is MASSIVE lock-in. Once you get over a certain volume, there’s a really good chance that you can’t back out easily and then your costs can increase based on the whims of the core vendor.

Suddenly “archaic” fully open-source technologies such as WordPress become a whole lot more attractive!

Maintenance Risk

In software development of any kind, there are a few things that influence the long term / life time maintenance cost of a project. In particular these two are going to be issues as no-code struggles to mature:

  • Version Control
  • Documentation

It’s currently EXTREMELY HARD to maintain a self-documenting no-code system that spans random connections between a bunch of vendors. And good luck trying to version control that project when critical “code” spans across vendor boundaries.

How do you apply a version label to a no-code project that starts on bubble.io and integrates workflows in Zapier & Twilio for example? What does “version 1” even mean in that context?

Wrap Up

Oh, right, this article has “myth” in the title. So what’s the myth that I’m busting?

That would be that classic software development is going away, is not needed any more and that no-code tools will be cheaper and faster and less complex.

If you’re in that camp or if that’s what you’re selling, well, you couldn’t be any more wrong about all that!