Have you ever had an idea to build something but put it on the back burner as it takes time to develop even a simple app without a team? Or you should be a full stack developer who understands frontend, backend, databases, DevOps, and more. Even if you are, developing a web app does take time. Especially, if it has to be put in public and used by people other than you. Plus, most of us have our day jobs, beyond which there is little energy to pursue such ideas.
Of course, there are exceptions, if you are one such, then kudos to you 🤩.
If you are not, still kudos to you 🤨. Because the world of No Code and Low Code tools has grown so much, spinning out a simple web app can happen in days, if not hours 😂.
What exactly is NoCode?
No code tools are anything but tools with which you can build applications, websites, forms, and databases visually. In other words, without writing any code. Sounds cool, huh 😎. Trust me, it is.
Building websites without writing a single line of code has been around for quite a while, it's nothing new. WordPress is a popular open-source content management system (CMS) used for creating and managing websites and blogs. It is extremely powerful and there are 1000s of WordPress developers out there who build beautiful websites without writing a single line of code. There are an unimaginable number of themes and plugins with which one can build a website.
It then moved to a SaaS model (think Wix) where layers of abstraction were added making the developer's life a little easier. Not free though 😅
Today building web apps and mobile apps is also possible through No Code tools. Take Bubbles, Adalo, one can build complex digital products too. Community, Resources, and Support are huge with these tools. There are tools like Webflow to build custom websites, bildr that can be used to build scalable apps, softr that can be used to build CRUD-type applications very easily.
Even databases can happen with just drag and drop, Check out Airtable, it's a mix of spreadsheets and databases.
There is another important piece to the puzzle, the big world of automation. So what are they? These are the joining dots between products. To give a simple example, I receive invoices every month for the products I subscribe to. Eg., GitHub, Azure, Airtable, Softr, Brevo, etc., I manually download the attachment and move it to my Google Drive every month in a particular folder so that my accountant can use it for tax calculation. How nice it would be if this whole process could be automated 💡. Automation tools precisely do these. We create connections between Gmail and Google Drive, write a bunch of steps and conditions, and boom it happens automatically.
Who uses it?
Case studies and Customer stories present in any of their websites are solid proof of the type of usage these tools have. Sharing a few of those:
Each tool has a lot of case studies and success stories. These prove that No Code tools are not meant for just side hustles and pet projects, they are used in the real world by real paying customers.
How to navigate?
Here's a framework that I came up with:
Understand the different types of tools in this space. In other words, get a big picture to get the endless possibilities. I highly recommend checking out 100 days of no code.
Decide on a practical use-case. A simple way would be to think about where you spend time doing manual work that can be automated. For example, we store tons of files on Google Drive, most of which are rarely used. If we keep accumulating, it eats up space and shoots the bill amount. Instead, you can automate the task of checking the age of the file and deleting them. Or, emailing the list of old files so that you can check them and delete them.
Once you decide on a use-case, list down the tools required. Is it just automation, or do you need a database? Or, if you plan to build a form, then the toolset becomes different.
Sign up for the required tools on a free plan.
Check out the resources section and if possible join the associated community.
Spend some time learning the tool
Start building your use case
Ask questions in the community if you get stuck. Do not forget to answer as well once you learn something new ⭐
If you plan to build a Customer-facing app, then make sure to ship it soon.
If it's for your internal purpose, make sure to keep adding use cases so that you can explore more scenarios and tools
No Code is a powerful world. Since I come from a tech background, I found it even more intuitive. End of the day if one has some programming acumen, it makes picking up such tools a lot easier.
Even otherwise, anyone can pick up these tools. One needs to tend to visualize breaking down things into nuts and bolts, more a common sense approach. Then it is just a matter of joining all of those 🧵