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Why #nocode was inevitable

I just used Pory.io and Airtable to build hackerpromos.com in <4 hrs with 0 lines of code. I wrote a short thing about it.

But I wanted to write down my thoughts about the whole #nocode movement.

As computer science students and "software engineers", we tend to dive right into a new codebase. That feeling when you create a new Github repo gives a slight high.

But 9 times out of 10 this is a terrible idea.

Jumping straight from idea to solution, and investing weeks or months of effort to build something just to realize that people don't need it, is life-draining.

So in comes #nocode tools like Pory and Airtable.

The #nocode movement

To be clear, I actually don't know much about the "movement" or how this whole craze started. But it's apparent to me that the #nocode movement is effective in trying to avoid the aforementioned pre-emptive building.

If you are reading this and have no idea what I'm talking about, it's exactly what it sounds like - developer tools that don't require any code. Just search up #nocode on Google or Twitter to learn more.

Lego blocks

The saying goes, there's nothing new under the sun.

Web development is no different. These days, most websites have the same reusable 4-5 lego blocks:

  • Landing page
  • Header/navbar
  • Content (lists/grid views)
  • Footer

And maybe a few extra pieces:

  • Authentication (signin/signout)
  • User input (forms)
  • Notifications (email/push)

It just absolutely makes no sense to keep reinventing the wheel, and having to integrate all of the same old pieces together using code for every little project or idea we have.

And especially for validating a new project idea, it usually doesn't require much customization at all. Just use the building blocks! Use the library/framework/platform! Stop f*cking coding!

Just a basic black/white color scheme and font logo hacked together with Figma will do the trick for the little bit of branding needed in the beginning:

Unless you are selling design, it is probably not a big deal in the early stages.

P.S. If you are not a good designer, or have a good eye for design, then it's probably not a good idea to solve problems that necessitate good design...

Abstractions

Aside from the benefits of viewing #nocode as assembling a lego set, we can also think of it in terms of an abstraction.

Layers of abstraction inevitably grow as time moves forward. #nocode is just the newest layer.

The first basic one they teach you in computer science courses (at least at Rice) is the Python vs. C abstractions. Python was written in C, so in a way, it's an abstraction. C is then given the label as "low-level" and Python is given the label "high-level".

But this is just narrowing the scope in on one layer of the cake, because the layers go on, both deeper and shallower. Past C, we learn about assembly language, then machine binary. Then we learn that on top of Python, there's been built several layers too. Libraries, modules, and frameworks all built on top of Python can be considered even higher level abstractions.

So as time goes on, the layers of our computer cake grow taller and taller, it only makes sense that more #nocode tools are being built. It's just natural progression.

In the future, Python/Java/Javascript will be considered just as "low-level" as we consider C in our Rice computer science courses.

Ego

Now of course with the proliferation of simpler and simpler tools will come at the cost of the "low-level" programmer's pride.

This is because part of the allure of programming is that it's hard! Don't lie! It feels good to be building shit with tools other's can't even begin to understand. And don't feel bad! Movie screen zuck ain't immune to ego either.

It's sort of like the general disdain towards "non-technical" people within the tech industry.

But the thing to realize is, as time goes on, it will only get easier and easier to build things. On the other hand, as markets get more and more saturated, it will only get harder to come up with the best ideas.

Of course, I'm not saying the engineering career is doomed (I have far too little experience/knowledge to claim such a thing). I am just speculating that it is right now, and will be in the future, creativity/ingenuity that will trump pure engineering skills.

#nocode is just one more step towards that future. And it's looking bright.

#nocode

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