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What is no-code exactly and how does it work

Developing an application (or having it developed) in the traditional way can be an expensive, spirited and time-consuming task. Traditional forms of application development require developers to enter every line of code manually. Intensive work that requires extreme accuracy.

Fortunately, today application development can be a lot easier and faster by using no-code. But what exactly is no-code? How does it work and what are the main differences with another popular method like low-code? And last but not least, what are the key benefits of no-code? In this blog article we explain it all.


What is no-code?

“The future of coding is no coding at all.” That statement comes from the mouth of GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath and actually captures the essence of no-code programming in a nutshell. No-code offers the possibilities and means to develop software applications without having to write complicated code. Platforms using no-code provide a set of basic building blocks that can be used to quickly assemble complex applications.

No-code is the next step in the steady democratization of the development of smart software and application solutions. The development method also enables citizen developers (process experts who develop with no-code, but have no IT background or specialization) to design applications and software. No-code is closely related to low-code, but goes just a step further in terms of development speed and citizen development.

In addition to the above distinction, there are a few more differences between low and no-code.


What is low-code?

No-code and low-code are closely related. Low-code requires knowledge of programming. However, compared to traditional software development, much less code needs to be written, hence the name. Like no-code, low-code involves dragging visual blocks of existing code into a workflow. Low-code is primarily intended to make application development faster and easier. Because 90 percent of the application can be modeled visually, developers can focus on the 10 percent of the application that really makes a difference. Examples of low-code platforms include Thinkwise, Mendix and OutSystems.


How does no-code work?

One feature of no-code is its visual development method. Developers can use drag-and-drop to select functional components from a digital library and then organize the elements they need to build an application into a visual workflow. No-code models business processes in the form of flow charts. Using that information, a visual composer builds an initial, immediately deployable version of an application. These prototypes can be changed, adjusted or optimized in the meantime by users of the platform.

Many aspects of an application, such as the data structure, can be built directly from any context. So you don’t have to switch to the data structure builder. Things like logic and validations can be added easily, usually via a visual flow.

A no-code platform houses a number of fixed elements and functionalities. We list the most important ones.


Interface builder and visual modeling

The interface builder allows users to use a drag-and-drop system to select the components to be included in an application. You can also immediately view the result, whether on a desktop, laptop or mobile device. Visual modeling takes the place of complex coding, allowing data to be processed and managed quickly. Fast, pleasant and easy development with virtually endless possibilities.


Interface builder en visueel modelleren

The interface builder allows users to select the components to be included in an application using a drag-and-drop system. The result can also be viewed immediately, whether on a desktop, laptop or mobile device. Visual modeling takes the place of complex coding, allowing data to be processed and managed quickly. Fast, enjoyable and easy development with virtually endless possibilities.


No-code allows you to build the application types listed below.

Back office applications. 

With these applications you improve internal business processes within an organization. This type of application uses a back office module and provides the functionality needed to use and manage important business data internally.


Portals and web applications. 

These are applications that are directly focused on the customer (customer-faced) and bridge the gap between the back and front office. The applications allow you to create your own user interface that works smoothly with the main functionalities in the back office.


Mobile applications. 

Shopping or surfing the Internet; we do it more and more today on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. No-code is a good and fast way to build web applications that are perfectly suited for mobile devices. Frameworks in no-code generate applications that scale perfectly to phones and tablets.


When is no-code not appropriate?

No-code is not necessarily the best option for all the software problems we encounter in business. For example, the method is not as well suited to the applications listed below:

  • photo and video editing
  • complex billing systems
  • scientific calculations
  • traffic management systems
  • onboard software
  • video games
  • data warehouses

Other processes are available for specialized processes such as creating graphical games or apps for video editing. These, however, can often be supported using no-code.


The benefits of no-code

Developing with no-code has a number of important advantages over low-code and traditional programming techniques. We list the most important benefits for you.


Faster development

No-code is a lot faster than low-code, which is also not exactly slow. Application development is about 8 times faster with no-code than with traditional programming techniques. This speed advantage naturally leads to lower development costs. Because with no-code you spend much less time programming and debugging applications, you can ultimately free up more time, money and space for innovation. This accelerates progress, but also ensures that developers stay more closely involved with important business objectives.

Rich integration capabilities The better no-code platforms offer rich integration capabilities with virtually all IT landscapes and networks. For example, you can use them perfectly in combination with popular platforms and tools such as Slack, Salesforce, Exact, Dropbox and Mollie.

Everyone’ can learn to develop

No-code platforms are extremely suitable for citizen development because of the small amount of programming and accessible design. This means that applications can also be designed and built by people who are not IT professionals. The result is often that original insights emerge (after all, there are more people with different backgrounds who can think about what the final product should look like) that improve the functionality and usability of an application.

More scalability

By employing no-code platforms, your IT infrastructure becomes more scalable. You can more easily monitor and update projects and applications. By reducing development time and using a shared infrastructure, you can maintain an extensive application portfolio without losing sight of essential issues such as transparency and security.

More commitment from stakeholders

With no-code, working features can be delivered and displayed to stakeholders and employees within hours or days. This short turnaround time ensures a higher level of commitment from all parties because visible results can be seen immediately. Especially in the user testing phase you involve all employees of a company in smart automation solutions, an advantage that applies to both no-code and low-code. Moreover, working with no-code does not always require a thorough knowledge of specific programming languages. This reduces differences in knowledge levels. Moreover, you need to spend less outsourcing space on expensive support services such as IT support.

Less shadow IT

The term shadow IT refers to using technology that has not been approved by an organization’s IT department. Using shadow IT seems harmless at first glance, but in practice it can lead to serious privacy issues or wasted resources. By using a no-code platform, you can better monitor the use of IT solutions from the development phase within a controlled environment.

Dynamic development with no-code

The dynamic IT environments within which many modern business processes take place require digital transformations that make companies agile. In many ways, developing key applications using no-code is an excellent answer to that challenge. It largely removes the traditional complexity of software development. This allows companies to build the right business applications in a fast, easy and natural way, and together with all stakeholders involved. Thanks to no-code, applications mold themselves to your needs instead of the other way around.

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