There was a time when setting up a website on the internet required a set of specialized skills and in-depth knowledge of alphabetical terms, like HTML, CSS, and PHP. But today, anyone can build and launch their own website in a matter of hours, with platforms like WordPress and Wix simplifying the process a lot.
Something similar is happening with another aspect of modern life: application development. Creating and building apps, whether on the web or mobile, has long been the domain of developers, requiring years of study and a comprehensive knowledge of programming languages like Python and Java. .
However, the arrival of nocode development could change that.
What is no code?
According to Ryan Chew, chief executive officer of Singapore government-backed deep-tech ecosystem platform Tribe, defines nocode in the broadest sense as the ability to do any kind of computation or development without having to do any kind of work. use any kind of code.
“Nocode, you have an intuitive way to develop apps where you can drag and drop and perform calculations without thinking about the actual programming language. You just use your own logic,” he explains.
Nocode development platforms are very similar to website building platforms like Wix. In the same way that it allows users to build websites simply by clicking and dragging elements, and making adjustments to the site on a fully visual platform, the nocode platform does the same with development. application development. There are many nocode tools available in the market like Bubble and Airtable among others, but at their core they all do the same thing: allow users to build apps without any formalities. which encoding.
According to Hum Qing Ze, product manager at Tribe, nocode provides a less time-consuming and lower-cost way for companies to build apps. No-code has seen increased interest in recent years, due to the growing push towards digitization among businesses – a push made more urgent by the Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses are increasingly aware of the importance of going digital and the value of being able to build applications that can benefit the business without going through a lengthy development process. has been amplified.
Case in point: With the trend of digital transformation in Vietnam, many businesses have launched web applications where customers can view menus and place orders, to increase operational efficiency. Such apps often take months to build and code and require business owners to hire a developer to build an app for them. However, the use of nocode tools means that companies can do it themselves at a fraction of the cost and time.
If you want to launch your web application right now, you have to consider things like where it will be hosted, what its framework will be, what the user interface will look like. "But with a nocode app, you don't have to worry about those details."
Democratizing application development
In Chew's view, the use of nocode tools can play an important role in helping real entrepreneurs get started, especially those with great ideas for app-based businesses. .
“People like you and I can easily take our next app idea and make it a reality. Anyone with a good idea can now implement it on their own without finding a chief technology officer or investing large sums of money in building the product,” he said. "It's democratizing app development."
Founders often find themselves in a chicken and egg situation when they are just getting started. They need to demonstrate that there is a demand for their product and, ideally, they want a prototype before knocking on investors' doors. However, creating a product requires money, especially if the founder doesn't have the know-how to do it himself.
The nocode developer tools help solve this barrier, as startups can build the product prototypes they have in mind using these platforms without hiring a developer or using it. any complex coding language.
This allows them to create a minimum viable product (MVP) at a much more affordable price and in a shorter amount of time. Founders will also have more flexibility to change and adapt the product according to feedback and avoid investing too much in building an app that may not actually be what users are looking for.
According to Chew, no-code “puts the power of app development in the hands of business owners.” It lowers barriers to entry for new startups, allowing them to stay ahead of slower competitors and move forward faster.
This will have the effect of fostering more competition and creating more technological solutions for all of us.
How far can NoCode go?
But while nocode can enable new applications to be created, allowing people to start their app-based businesses in a faster and more cost-effective way, there are limitations to what it does. can do.
While many nocode platforms offer a high degree of customization and support to scale as the business grows, that support only goes so far as user needs.
Hum likens app development to coffee roasting. In his view, No-code is the equivalent of buying ground or instant coffee at the supermarket and using it for your morning cup of coffee. However, if you want a more sophisticated experience, you can seek out more complex roasts from specialty stores or even embark on your own roasting process for full control. experience.
“If you want something more unique, more customizable, then you will eventually need to move away from the nocode platform and build something of your own,” explains Hum.
Also, while nocode is a great choice for building an MVP, it shouldn't be the basis on which founders build their companies.
Most applications built on nocode, especially web apps, are hosted on the platforms themselves, which manage most of the backend details involved in the process. If one day these platforms go down, they will take with them the businesses built on them, unless the companies can effectively move their apps out.
“If technology is your core business, you’ll want to keep control, and you still want a high degree of customization,” says Chew. "You don't want your business to depend on the success of another."
Hum adds: “Think of no-code as a trigger and a force factor. It makes the application development process easier and more accessible at an early stage, but for companies operating in the technology sector, it is best to use it as a starting point.
The future of app development
While not likely to completely replace traditional coding and application development, the way these tools lower the barrier to entry has an important purpose, primarily by making the process easy. and more accessible to non-technical people.
“Developers will always have demand, but with nocode anyone with a good idea can implement it themselves, and nocode will be able to do that,” Chew said. “You allow more ideas to flow, more innovation.”
In Hum's view, nocode will change application development in the broader scheme of things by enabling a more efficient process. Developers will focus on the higher-level aspects of coding, as nocode tools can already help address the fundamentals of the process.
“In the same way that architecture moved from having 1,000 drafters working on building designs to using programs like AutoCAD, in the future, instead of having a whole team of developers to launch an app, you'll only need a handful,” he said.