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Code. Pro code. Low code. No code.

Updated: Mar 9


Spoiler: I'm going to conclude that you should try No-code platforms to build out that simple app idea you were sitting on (even/especially if you're non-technical), through a long story; if engineering details are not for you, just skip to the bold section heading "No code", but if you're technical, I'm hoping you'll enjoy it all


So my own focus in my career has evolved quite a bit since I started, from being primarily technical to now where I am primarily business outcomes focused and planning tools/processes accordingly. Interestingly, the role code has played in my own career has paralleled the evolution/zeitgeist of the software industry. Let me explain, but first some context.


I know a physicist-electrical-engineer couple and the husband once said to his wife, half-jokingly: "the entire life's work of a physicist is a small graph on page 443 of an electrical engineer's text book". This stuck with me because that kinda fits the logic of an API, the building block of modern software engineering: I call foo() and someone else spent an year coding foo, hiding all its complexity away from me. Consider the following over-simplified levels of abstraction:


Physics --> Electrical Engg --> OS/Systems software --> Software Application layers


As you go from left to right, you'll notice the impact of painstaking innovation at every stage empowers the next consumer stage to do big things easier/faster/cheaper, but also leading to the creation of disproportionately more product offerings and jobs at that level. With that in mind, onto the story.


Code.

I started my career as a systems software developer writing code for kernels, device drivers and distributed systems. The primary reason I got into it was the school I studied CS in (Clemson) which revered systems software, largely due to a super-star OS professor. Turns out, systems technologies has seen a lot of changes since I started: thanks to the Linux kernel, various levels of virtualization and developments in large scale distributed systems that led to Cloud computing becoming the go-to architecture. There is still a ton of innovation happening in systems, but it has enabled way more jobs at net new companies that use these systems to build their own businesses -- building software applications. Within software engineering, kernel is about as "code" as it can get -- complex, but also an area with the least amount of visual tooling, by design (because WYSInotWYG). Onto the next stage.


Pro Code.

My next stop was my first startup, where I was building platform-agnostic, location-specific mobile user experiences -- that do not require installed apps -- using Wifi captive portals (that tiny sign up window you see when you connect to a public Wifi) and Mobile web. This was purely application code written in PHP/JS/etc.. Traditional mobile native apps, which came of age to take center stage of tech around this time, used Java/Objective-C. Opening up the mobile app platforms to developers led the app economy to create millions of jobs and changed our lives dramatically. This is all pro-code, where code got written, but there's friendly IDEs -- still very, very technical.


Low-code.

When I'd decided to move on to take a full-time Product Management job, I joined a company that did very well in that mobile wave with a USP of "write code once, compile it for 6 mobile platforms". 6 eventually became 3 (Android, iOS and Web). The core product was an app development platform that provided drag and drop visual/WYSIWYG tooling, where you could still write custom code for advanced use-cases/workflows, which in the enterprise market is inevitable. And same goes for the backend -- the product came with easy out of the box middleware integrations. To be a low-code developer, you still need to be technical, but the tooling gets you considerable head-start for accelerated app development. But low-code platforms are expensive and enterprise grade. Friendlier Open-source, JavaScript stacks made leaps of progress during this time, primarily for web and even the backend, which kept simplifying developer recursively leading us to the present.



No-code

When I set out to build Yuga, with limited resources, I learnt about the slew of no-code platforms out there. When I poked around, I realised these are legit, literal no-code -- you can build sophisticated features (both frontend and backend workflows) without a line of code! Yuga is a SaaS product -- basically a web-app version of a business-flow -- and is a perfect match for these platforms. No-code means your time+cost to build is super low, cost to tear down is super low and "total cost of ownership" is super-low.


You hear all kinds of products/businesses claim "leave X to us, so you can focus on your business" -- no-code is the peak of that claim. And guess what -- you don't have to be technical -- for context, my team-mate who built our app is a premier school MBA who can, but does not want to do technical work and he didn't mind no-code :)


No-code is the culmination of a looooooot of innovation and evolution of developer tools that finally made app development for non-tech people genuinely possible. These are still early days and no-code does have limitations (it is mostly web-only/no-mobile and is obviously not suited for a TON of things) with possible issues of scale -- in my own case, my plan is to build out my roadmap assuming a JS stack/team. But to get started on a new project or for rapid prototyping/validation, no-code is perfect: this article's purpose is only to spread the word. Our Career Planner app, (https://app.yugahq.com), is built on Bubble (bubble.io) -- check out our app, but definitely check out Bubble, Webflow or any other no-code platform. You know you've been sitting on that idea for too long -- at work or as a personal side-project -- now is the time to build something fun. Enjoy!


#code #lowcode #nocode #software #softwareenginering


#EmployeeRetention #FutureOfWork #SaaS #NewNormal #EmployeeEngagement


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