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A Quick Guide to No-Code

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Live streamed on: 
August 5, 2020

Episode Rundown:

What I learned this week:

First off, no-code isn't going to replace code. No-code is simply a set of tools and products that allow someone to do previously difficult actions without hand-writing the code involved.

Most websites are built with a common set of building blocks, so a few companies got together and made tools that package those building blocks and let you assemble them however you want - namely Wix, Wordpress, SquareSpace, and Webflow.

Most web/phone apps are built with similar base structures and rely on simple backend databases, so a few companies created tools that made organizing those structures and databases easy - namely Glide, Adalo, and Bubble.

Then, on a deeper level, there are tools that tie other tools together, creating workflows between components and letting you build larger structures. A few companies that do that are Zapier, Integromat, and Parabola.

But let's get one thing straight, all these tools work within expected parameters. They were created to solve simple development problems people had over and over again, and thus, they can't go outside those expected parameters. If you have an insane idea for a software product that breaks a ton of new ground, you probably can't build it with no-code. If you have an app idea that's super insane and unique, you probably can't build it with no-code.

But, if your idea even remotely fits into the building blocks of what's been done before, no-code can be extremely powerful. With a tool like Adalo, and a little practice, you can whip up a fully-functional marketplace app with payment processing, backend databases, and everything else in about two hours. Your idea doesn't have to be incredibly unique to be successful - and no-code can help you build and perfect that first MVP insanely quick. That's what it's good for.

As an example, ProductHunt is a super successful company - but their site could be built on Webflow and Zapier in less than a day. It's not the tech that's the valuable part, it's the market gap they filled.

So, no-code is useful for anyone looking to quickly make a piece of technology come to life. I especially love it because you don't need to learn an entire programming language to get started. You do need to understand some basic programming logic to get into advanced functionality, but you're no longer dealing with syntax, you're just building. No-code is also incredibly useful for businesses looking to automate some simple tasks - if you're not trying to build some entirely new product.

This does replace some code, in the sense that you might not need a technical co-founder right away, or need to hire a consultant to solve a simple tech problem. You may be able to prototype your idea quickly, and start testing. In a lot of cases, even if you're already incredible at programming, you might want to use no-code to start. Often times, no-code tools work off pre-built templates that already optimized for UI/UX and design - you won't have to worry about any of that, and you can always re-build it from the ground up later if you want. I personally think all minimum viable products should be created with no-code to start (if possible) so if your initial draft doesn't stick (and it rarely does) you can change everything super rapidly.

I was personally able to spin up a small app from a google sheet in less than 20 minutes using Glide, and now I can quickly publish that and start messing with it until something sticks.

I'm no expert on no-code, but I've been learning a ton from some lessons at Makerpad - would recommend you check it out if you want to get started yourself.

Also, if this was valuable at all, a retweet would help me spread the word a ton - no pressure though, of course. :)

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