What is The Low Code & No Code Movement?

As the term no code because more and more popular, you might stop yourself to wonder, what exactly is the no code movement? Perhaps you may have also heard of low code and low code platforms. And lastly, what's the difference between no code and low code? In this post, we'll take a look at what the two terms are, what the no code movement is, and the difference between no code and low code.

No code - what does it mean?

The term no code quite literally translates to software development without needing to write code. The no code movement has been around for many years, but has only recently seen tremendous growth as an industry as no code platforms become more and more advanced.

When you think about no code development, think of a graphical user interface where you drag and drop visual elements or building blocks onto your app design.

Then, you simply connect the app design elements with actions and workflows, such as when this button is clicked, the app should do this. Sounds easy, right?

As no code platforms and no code apps become more and more advanced, we're seeing clear growth in the space as a whole - both from the software development side and business processes side.

Low code - what does it mean?

Low code is very similar to no code, however there can be instances in low code platforms where users need to be writing code. While not absolutely necessary, sometimes you may need to write custom code to build a specific feature for your no code apps.

For example, in FlutterFlow, you may need to write custom scripts to be able to combine data sets from your database. This is just one example of a low code development platform.

What is the difference between low code and no code?

As you can see, no code and low code is almost entirely the same thing, however the small nuance where custom code and coding skills may be needed for low code platforms.

With both no code and low code, the use of graphical user interfaces is needed. Both development process and platform vendors allow you to use drag and drop.

While you may not need to use the low code portion of a development platform to create apps, professional developers typically will. When you are using low code platforms, you want to use them to their full extent, which is why using the custom capabilities is helpful.

When you start with application development, make sure you look across all web development solutions to see which platform works better for you - whether that be no code development platforms or low code development platforms.

The differences between the two movements

Low code vs. no code - which is better?

We're big fans of both low code and no code, they have both contributed to blowing open the capabilities of citizen developers and business users being able to create software and building apps.

No matter if you are an individual, a development team, and it department, small and large businesses, or come from traditional programming, low code and no code has opened the ability for anyone to build apps without knowledge of programming languages.

In our opinion, there is no "better" method. Our view is that the main difference between low code and no code is primarily the addition of being able to code for low code application platforms.

At the end of the day, what matters is you choosing the right platform for your app development. Low code and no code can both build most software applications, mobile apps, and a web app. They both easily build landing pages and basic applications, drastically saving time for non programmers.

The one thing we'll note is that if you think you need the low code ability, you may want to look into a low code solution available to you for app development. No code platforms will not have this solution, meaning you would be forced to integrate software outside of your application.

If you don't have any programming knowledge, or don't want to learn, then no code platforms may just be enough for you. That's not to say, however, that no code tools are inferior in any way.

What is the no code movement?

The no code movement, while not being limited to only application development, is the method of abstracting away the code layer to a feature or product.

When you think about tech development, right now you probably think of code and programming languages. With the no code movement, software developers think one layer up, meaning the underlying code is already written, and now the end user or citizen developers simply use the pre-built components and elements.

Moving away from no code development platforms, let's use payment processing such as Stripe or PayPal as examples.

When you're building websites and need to incorporate payments, Stripe allows you to very easily add in payment processing into your application with very few if not a single line of code (provided to you by Stripe). This is one example of the no code movement, as Stripe has pre-built and abstracted away all the code for you, so that you and other non developers can very easily incorporate payments.

Another example being live chat features when creating websites. Instead of building it natively, non coders can use simple no code tools like Drift or Intercom. Again, these no code tools will provide you one simple javascript code to add to your website.

The no code movement means the only people that need to actually code are software developers or development teams. Individual users and small businesses simply won't need to know programming due to the no code solutions.

Image Credit: Webflow
Image credit: Webflow

No code development pros and cons

When using no code platforms, like all things in life, there are pros and cons. In our opinion, there are many more pros than cons.

For one, the time to market is drastically faster. The software and no code platform allows you to develop complex projects blazingly fast. What this means for you is A) faster time to market and B) reduced costs. If you don't need to hire it departments and developers to build out an application, you are saving a ton of capital. Being able to be a citizen developer yourself and build your own application provides you a level of flexibility and freedom you just cannot get with a development firm or IT team.

When we think of cons, one very true objection is that you are limited to what the no code platforms provide. If a pre-built component is not available or no such workaround exists, you may be stuck not able to develop a specific feature. With traditional code, you are able to code anything, so there is no vendor lock in or reliance.

We do see this con being a thing of the past soon, however, with digital transformation and as AI for app development becomes more and more real. We see digital innovation constantly improving and making the no code movement and low code movement a likely choice for all software developers.

No code platforms

While there are many no code platforms out there today, we would only recommend just a few.

The no code movement is still relatively new, so tools and platforms still need time to mature and become feature rich.

Our top recommendations for no code platforms would consist of:

  1. Bubble
  2. Webflow

You can see more of our recommendations here.

Low code platforms

When it comes to low code platforms, we only have one recommendation at this time, FlutterFlow.

At this point in time, FlutterFlow is our top recommendation for low code as it allows you to build web and mobile apps, but also introduces custom script developers can use. The only downside is that FlutterFlow, at this point in time, is geared towards mobile. We would not recommend using the low code platform for web apps.

No code tools

When you're building a no code app, there are plenty of no code tools you can think to incorporate. We recommend to only implement tools that you actually need, and not implement tools just because you now can with no code development.

When it comes to no code tools, you most likely will need some form of:

  1. Payment Processing - We recommend using Stripe
  2. Live Chat - We recommend using Intercom or Drift
  3. Analytics - We recommend Google Analytics
  4. Heat Maps - We recommend using Microsoft Clarity

Of course, this list is nowhere near the exhaust list for no code tools. As the no code movement flourishes, we'll see more and more tools and services you can integrate into your no code app or website.

Low code tools

Low code tools and platforms have been around longer than no code, as the use of some code is typically needed or required.

When it comes to tools, we suggest taking a look at:

  1. Microsoft Power Apps
  2. Salesforce
  3. Retool
  4. Quickbase

There's really no shortage of both tools and platforms out there.

Risks to trying these platforms

When it comes to app development using this methodology, the only risk that truly matters and one that you need to be aware of is vendor lock in.

This is when the platform does not allow you to export your application's source out. You are "locked" into using this vendor, otherwise you will need to completely rebuild your application elsewhere.

While this throws off some businesses and founders - we do not think this is a big deal. Use the platforms to test your idea, generate some cash flow, and then perhaps move off to another vendor if needed.

How to start

To start, simply do some reason into the right platform for you and your app Idea.

We've outlined the top 7 platforms for development, take a look and see if one catches your eye.

Additionally, for some folks bouncing ideas off a mentor can help speed things up. We're happy to talk about your idea with you and provide general advice.

As we mention throughout, we typically always recommend for most non-technical developers. We highly suggest you to look into Bubble when doing your research for the right platform.

Best of luck building your apps and projects!

Photo of blog post image about no-code app development,
January 4, 2023
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