LOW-CODE AND NO-CODE:
A THREAT TO REAL DEVELOPERS?
Low-code and no-code are ubiquitous. At developer conferences, Microsoft cannot shut up about its Power platform, Slack wants everyone to be able to build apps and workflows without a line of code, parent company Salesforce shares that vision, and specialists such as Mendix and OutSystems are finding more traction in the market than ever. Sometimes it seems as if no vital role is left for traditional developers. What is the impact of low-code and no-code on the traditional programmer?
No more boring programming
First, the good news; code gurus need not fear for their jobs. On the contrary. Low-code and no-code are an almost desperate response by fellow developers at technology giants to persistent staff shortages. So-called citizen developers can build simple applications from pre-built modules with low-code and no-code frameworks. Solutions such as Microsoft’s Power Platform are primarily intended to allow everyone in a company to build the simple applications that you simply don’t have time for today.
OutSystems and Mendix want to make the developer more efficient. Their solutions are like a set of Lego blocks that allow you to build the desired result quickly. Can you develop a better application without ready-made building blocks? Probably, but it will take a lot longer and therefore be a lot more expensive. Some applications don’t require customisation: sometimes prefabricated assembly is good enough. No-code and low-code have the potential to save the developer from boring or repetitive programming work.
In theory, this frees up more time to make full use of your expertise. What the citizen developer can’t do or the low-code platform can’t handle, that’s what you focus on. And rest assured: there are plenty of such challenges. This doesn’t mean that you can rely 100% on your unparalleled knowledge of Java. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to build up some experience with no-code and low-code platforms.
There are two reasons for this. First, more and more employers expect their developers to be able to quickly deliver a simple application when they have a low-code framework at their disposal. Secondly, working with such tools is a piece of cake for any programmer, but a little experience certainly doesn’t look bad on your CV.
Together around the table
Sooner or later, you will inevitably be confronted with the creations of your citizen developer colleagues. Perhaps Mark-Philip from Accounting has built a handy application that speeds up the input of invoices, but he is running up against the limits of his no-code platform and his capabilities. It’s up to you to tune the app and perhaps connect it to the APIs of your self-built invoicing system.
Most platforms are built so that developers can easily continue tweaking the automatically generated code, but you will have to sit down with Mark-Philip to discuss the app’s design. The rise of low-code and no-code brings your business colleagues closer to you than ever before. Anyone with a bit of business lingo behind them has an edge.
From apps to components
Finally, organisations expect their IT staff to build applications with low-code and no-code in mind. Just look at Slack: developers can now write applications that run on the Slack platform itself, then business users can click components of those applications together to simplify their own workflows. The more you develop using low-code and no-code frameworks, the easier it is for colleagues from other departments to use modules to speed up their own workflows with apps they have clicked together.
Low-code and no-code are by no means a threat to the job of the real developer. You can safely assume that there will be more vacancies than applicants for a long time to come. The developer’s job will evolve a bit. Building simple apps from scratch will no longer be necessary, but especially the closer relationship with colleagues from departments other than IT promises to have a significant impact.
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