Low-code and no-code builders have increased in popularity over the last few years, but is that a good thing, a bad thing, or just a thing thing?
Where did all of these things come from?
It seems like just yesterday, the only real low-code/no-code products we ever heard about were Wix and Squarespace. And while it’s most certainly true that others existed before them, the reality is that the rise of these easy-to-integrate builders has also coincided with the massive shift in the workforce we’ve had over the last couple of years.
Arguably the largest benefit to these is the amount of time they save production teams, whether that’s in the course of building a full-blown product or just by automating some tasks that make their jobs easier. It’s an easy way to boost productivity by utilizing something that another team has already put the R&D into.
The other reason they’ve become so popular is massive developer shortages. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that there will be a shortage of over 85 million skilled tech workers by 2030, up from the paltry 40 million we have today. So what do you do when the most skilled person for the job doesn’t exist? You work around it. You find a low-code or no-code solution, and hire someone skilled enough to understand the development concepts, but without the lengthy background you may have been originally hunting for.
Pros to low-code and no-code solutions
In the long run, it all comes down to money: the faster you can get to market and the less you have to spend to get there, the better your bottom line looks. And if you’re a small business, the bottom line is going to be the main focus as you grow.
For projects that aren’t terribly complex, utilizing these solutions can help get a minimum viable product built fast, saving time and money. It also allows for bigger changes in future iterations to happen quickly, which makes stakeholders happy. For growth teams, they also present an opportunity to make updates to help prove out experiments without having to rely on the development team to make changes.
If end-to-end isn’t what you’re looking for, the advent of AI code bots to speed up production times is another great option. If you could get a complex solution in a fraction of the time, why wouldn’t you take advantage of code completion?
Cons to low-code and no-code builders
The common trope of “you’ll be replaced by a robot” has never really hit the software community as hard, because…who is programming all those robots? Even the most sophisticated options will never be able to fully and perfectly replace a developer with years of experience. There are too many nuances to the human experience that no amount of automation can account for.
Another big detractor for these builders is the fact that they are built to suit the largest number of clients possible, which means specific integrations can get iffy in a hurry. Even within a single language, there’s not necessarily a way to ensure that something built with one version of a library won’t explode on impact once the newest version hits the streets. Add to that the fact that there are new languages and libraries being developed every day, and it just feels overwhelmingly impossible that any low- or no-code solution could keep up.
What does this mean for developers?
Using existing tools and programs can save developers a lot of time by automating some of the more mundane tasks involved in the day-to-day, which frees up time to work on more interesting and complex tasks. If you could save time in building out a chatbot by installing a solution, wouldn’t you rather get those precious weeks back and put them towards something more fun? Many of these tools were designed to help make life easier for a certain group of users, and maybe you’re just the target user they wanted.
It can also feel like, well, robots are taking over. And who wants to be replaced by a robot? Our suggestion is to take what works for you and your project, and leave the rest. For businesses: you will never NOT need a development team of some sort, whether that’s full-time staff or part-time contractors. For developers: there’s no need to reinvent the wheel (even if you think you could have invented it to be smoother or better functioning). If a solution exists that fits the bill for you, take advantage of it.