There’s a divide in the world of computer technology, where we have consumers of software (users) and producers of software (programmers).
During the entire history of computers, this division has been very apparent. Why has this divide existed? Because before YouTube was created, someone had an idea for a website that allowed people to share videos. In order to bring that idea to life, programmers had to build it.
That’s what programmers do. They build solutions that didn’t exist before. These things were too complicated to simply put in an Excel sheet or compose in Photoshop. But once programmers built the new software, then users could use that software to produce other kinds of value.
But now we’re seeing a shift. Users now have the tools to solve the same complex problems that programmers do, without needing to write any code. These are often referred to as “no-code” platforms because they allow you to build software without writing code- or at least not much code.
Top No-Code Platforms
Whether you’re an employee, freelancer or business owner, these tools can help to automate some of those pesky tasks that you do everyday. Here are some of the popular no-code platforms that you can start using today:
IFTTT: If This Then That
IFTTT might have a funny name, but it can be a powerful tool for automating your life. You can create your own chain reactions where “If X happens, then do Y”.
Do you find that you often send yourself photos by email so you can access them on your computer? Then you can create a “recipe” for that with the IFTTT app so that it happens automatically. If you spend a lot of time watching Craigslist for good deals or gigs, then you can have new craigslist posts automatically added to your own Google Spreadsheet.
It’s one of those things where you have to see the magic for yourself. You can save a tremendous amount of time by automating repetitive tasks with IFTTT. No writing code required.
Airtable is for more advanced use cases where you need to build your own software. But it still makes the process simple nonetheless.
If you run an e-commerce store, online blog or any website that collects user data through forms, then you probably have a database full of customers or subscribers. There’s all sorts of information you need to know about your data so that you can make well-informed business decisions.
Historically, people would use a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) to handle these tasks. The issue is that CRMs get really complicated and expensive. Airtable is for humans who want to quickly create their own solutions.
The surprising aspect of Airtable is just how flexible it is. Whether you’re a legal professional, designer, marketer, real estate agent, or any other industry professional, you’ll find a solution to a problem that you didn’t know you had!
Bubble allows you to build a website as complex as Facebook or Airbnb. Content sharing websites like those with multiple users are pretty tricky to build with code because you need to manage user accounts and how they can signup/login to the website. Bubble provides the database management tools to get it done easily.
Glide is another no-code platform- and arguably one of the simplest available. You can build your own apps by starting off with a Google Spreadsheet that contains your data. The spreadsheet can include product inventory, contacts, finances and more. The Glide platform can automatically generate an app that uses your spreadsheet as the database. Then you can use a beautiful WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) interface to polish up your app and make it look like a professional custom-coded app!
Don’t Learn To Code
If you actually want to become a computer programmer, that’s great news! Then you can skip this article and check out which programming languages can make you some money. Otherwise, keep reading!
The “learn to code” movement has gotten a lot of flack because it assumes that everyone has the time to learn how to code and can easily make the career transition into programming. If you’re going from being a restaurant chef to a programmer, that’s a really big jump. It’s likely that sitting at a desk staring at a screen for several hours isn’t in alignment with how you want to live your life.
The nice thing about online platforms like IFTTT and Airtable is that a restaurant chef can use them and reap the benefits in a much shorter span of time than it would take to learn how to code. The chef isn’t interested in a career as a computer programmer. But the chef still wants to keep track of their top customers, most popular meals, and most profitable business hours. With no-code platforms, the chef can easily accomplish those goals, while still focusing on the thing that they do best- cooking delicious meals.
So We Don’t Need Programmers Anymore… Right? Wrong.
With the advent of no-code platforms on the rise, does this mean that no one will ever need to write code again? Absolutely not.
Companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter have millions of users and billions of database records. To manage that many users requires custom infrastructure and optimized code solutions. Additionally, their platforms have so much complex functionality that it’s actually easier to manage with code than with a no-code solution. These companies need software engineers (AKA computer programmers) to build and maintain the applications.
But even outside of the big megacorporations, there are hundreds of thousands of companies that fall into a similar category. These smaller businesses might not have millions of customers, but they have industry-specific needs that a generic no-code platform can’t solve. They require the skills of programmers too.
However, for the majority of individuals and small businesses who just want to spend 10 minutes to make their life more efficient? These no-code platforms are perfect for them. It’s all about finding the right solution that fits your problem.
To Code… Or Not To Code
That is the question. And the answer is pretty simple: you should not write code until you need to. Try out one of these no-code platforms first. If the tools they provide aren’t sophisticated enough for your needs, then it might be a good time to start learning to code.