Over the past several months, there have been a re-emergence of low or no code applications as a means to reduce the technical barrier required to get new products and services into the marketplace.
While low or no code applications can certainly make it easier to launch an idea, this does not mean that you don’t need to have technical acumen. In many ways, low or no code applications are not unlike programs like Simulink which was developed by MatLab. This software elegantly broke down key functions and parts into more digestible chunks. Once you were able to do this, you could create simulations to model behaviors that you were interested in studying. But, you still have to understand how to solve problems using technology.
In essence, its like utilizing Lego pieces. Its clear how the Lego pieces fit together and almost anyone can build a basic structure. However, the best builders understand not just how the pieces fit together but why you should have a strong wide base when you are making a building. Or, that you should use reinforcements when you have a long span when you are making a bridge. Or, that if you are making a vehicle that you should put the wheels at the corners.
These fundamental insights are still much easier to accomplish with the Lego pieces than they would if you had to mold the individual pieces yourself. However, that doesn’t mean that anyone will simply be able to create a next generation application that has millions of customers without ever understanding computational thinking.
Prior to the low code or no code applications, that have been low or minimal code websites. Companies like Wix and SquareSpace have built great businesses by simplifying website creation into a series of powerful templates. For many businesses, this has worked extremely well. However, for some companies, they reach a point in the evolution of their product where they want to move beyond just the features and the functionalities of the standard templates that are offered. In these cases, you are able to edit and modify the underlying code.
Low or no code applications will likely offer similar capabilities in order to let customers fully customize their offerings. So, instead of thinking about low or no code applications as eliminating the need to learn computational thinking, it’s better to consider that it simplifies the on boarding into building technical products and services until you learn enough to begin to customize independently.
This solves for one of the most difficult challenges in technology development. When most people are learning how to code and build with technology, their projects are necessarily simple. As they go further along in their development, they are able to to learn more and more about how to modify the code to further customize their projects. Low or no code applications can result in a higher quality set of initial projects which can be extremely motivating and encouraging for someone who is just getting started.
As long as these technologists recognize that this is just a different on ramp into the space then they can have the right mindset of needing to learn as much as possible about how their product or service works even in a low or no code environment so that when they are ready to move beyond, it is not such a massive leap or subsequent let down.
For those who have started with low or no code applications, what has your experience been like? What has been helpful for you as you got started. And, what suggestions would you have for someone who is looking to utilize one of these emerging low or no code platforms to bring their ideas to life?