History of No-Code Platforms | Democratization of Software

  • https://assets.caisy.io/assets/reupload/5550fb17-438f-42c2-93da-4b7b1304cf41/18808bab-8a4d-43b0-a419-6043c41aa636denizavatarMelek Deniz Tarhan
  • April 8, 2024

For a long time, programming has been considered a specialized field reserved for professional developers. However, what if anyone, regardless of their technical background, could create powerful applications, automations, app integrations, websites, and more? This is where the no-code movement comes in. This movement that aims to democratize software by making it accessible to everyone. In this blog, we will explore the interesting history of no-code platforms and its ability to bring about transformation. We will also discuss how no-code has empowered a new group of citizen developers. Additionally, we will highlight the main differences between no-code and low-code tools for citizen developers. Get ready to tap into your potential and discover how the no-code movement is revolutionizing the way we work!

history-of-no-code-platforms
History of No-code Platforms: Democratization of Software

History of No-code Movement

The no-code movement is a trend in software development without the need for coding. These platforms typically offer visual interfaces, drag-and-drop functionality, and pre-built components. So they allow users to create software solutions through simple configurations rather than traditional development. The goal of the no-code movement is to make software development accessible to individuals without extensive programming experience. It enables business users, entrepreneurs, and non-technical professionals to create custom software solutions tailored to their specific needs. This often results in reduced time and costs compared to traditional development methods. Let’s discover the history of no-code platforms.

1980s-1990s: Foundation of No-Code Technology

The term "no-code" may not have been used until the 2000s. But the concept had been around for quite some time. Microsoft Excel, for example, had already changed the game in 1985 by introducing a visual formula-based interface. It made data manipulation more accessible to non-programmers. Then, in the early 1990s, the World Wide Web emerged, leading to the creation of website builders like Geocities in 1994. This software allowed users to easily create basic web pages using point-and-click interfaces. Although these tools were not very advanced, they showed the potential for visual development.

2000s: Important Developments in History of No-Code Platforms

The 2000s witnessed a significant growth of no-code technology. WordPress, launched in 2003, enabled millions of users to create and control websites without using code. Shortly after, platforms such as Shopify (2004) and Squarespace (2004) made e-commerce accessible to individuals without technical expertise. Additionally, workflow automation tools like Zapier (2012) and Integromat (2016) emerged, linking different applications and streamlining repetitive tasks. These pioneers paved the way for the subsequent surge in no-code technology.

History of no code platforms
2000s: Important Developments in History of No-Code Platforms

2010s: No Coding Knowledge Needed

In the history of no-code platforms, during the 2010s, no-code platforms advanced beyond just web design and automation. For example, Bubble (2012) and Appian (2008) tackled more intricate applications, giving users the ability to create personalized, web-based software without the need for coding. Additionally, Microsoft Power Apps (2016) introduced no-code capabilities to the corporate world. They allow non-professional programmers to build internal applications within Microsoft's framework. Webflow is centered on the design and development of websites and it provides users with the ability to create intricate designs. Addition to that, it include interactive elements, and even integrate dynamic content without the need for programming. By the end of the decade, the global market for no-code technology reached a value of $5.4 billion, and its potential for corporate and non-professional development was increasingly acknowledged.

2020s and Future of No-Code: Citizen Developers

The upcoming ten years offer the prospect of even more thrilling advancements in no-code. The incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) is opening up new opportunities, such as the automatic creation of code and intelligent support for design. Outside of AI, some apps, like Monkedo, have started to incorporate multiple no-code features. For example, on this platform, users can develop softwares and dashboards and create automations between apps. Moreover, the movement towards citizen development is steadily picking up speed, as businesses adopt no-code to enable non-technical staff to tackle issues and create valuable resources.

How No-Code Movement Democratized Softwares in the History of No-Code Platforms?

When we look at the history of the no-code platforms, we can see that the no-code movement has democratized software development in several ways:

Accessibility: No-code tools offer user-friendly interfaces and easy-to-use tools. They make it possible for a wider group of people to engage. Even if they lack formal programing knowledge or expertise. This level of accessibility enables individuals from diverse backgrounds, including business, marketing, or operations, to actively participate in the development process and make valuable contributions to the creation of software solutions without writing a line of code.

Monkedo has drag and drop interface
Monkedo has drag and drop interface.

Empowerment: Through the elimination of the necessity for conventional programming abilities, such as proficiency in programming languages, the no-code movement grants non-technical experts the authority to manage their digital undertakings. They can swiftly create initial versions of ideas, make improvements to designs, and implement applications without being too dependent on developers, IT departments, or external contractors.

Speed and productivity: No-code platforms enhance the development procedure by offering preexisting features, models, and automation tools. This expedites the development of software solutions. And it shortens the time it takes to launch them, and empowers organizations to promptly adapt to evolving business requirements or market demands.

Monkedo creates automations between apps.
Monkedo creates automations between apps.

Economical viability: Conventional application development can be costly, demanding the employment of skilled programmers, investment in infrastructure, and ongoing upkeep. No-code tools often present subscription-based price structures that are budget-friendly for individuals and small enterprises, eradicating the need for substantial initial investments.

Innovation: The user-friendly and readily-available nature of no-code tools promotes experimentation and originality. People are able to try out fresh concepts, delve into various ideas, and make improvements to designs more openly, which in turn cultivates an innovative environment within companies and enhances creativity in software development.

Citizen Developers on History of No-Code Platforms

As you can see in the history of no-code platforms part, with the foundation of no-code and low-code platforms, a new term emerged: Citizen Developer.

Citizen Developers
Citizen Developers

A citizen developer refers to a person who creates software applications or automates processes using platforms that require little or no programming skills. These individuals usually do not have formal training in software development and come from various backgrounds such as business, marketing, operations, or other fields. They utilize user-friendly tools and visual interfaces offered by these platforms to build websites, web apps or applications with no-code development platforms. They enhance the capability of spreadsheets to perform analytics without code.

Citizen developers play a critical role in the digital transformation of organizations by swiftly designing, refining, and implementing applications to address specific business requirements. They often collaborate closely with IT teams or professional developers to ensure that their solutions adhere to compliance, security, and scalability standards.

In the history of no-code platforms, the idea of citizen developers arose in concert with the no-code trend. This concept is in line with the objective of making software development accessible to all individuals. It empowers people in various roles within organizations to contribute to innovation and flexibility, even if they do not possess advanced programming abilities. By acting as a liaison between business requirements and IT capabilities, citizen developers facilitate faster adaptation to evolving needs and market situations for organizations.

Differences of No-Code Platform and Low-Code Platform for a Citizen Developer

In the history of no-code platforms, we should also consider low-code platforms. As a citizen developer, it can sometimes be perplexing to decide between a no-code and low-code platform. Both options provide opportunities to construct applications, design website templates, handle user onboarding, create automations, build user interfaces, and more, without requiring advanced coding skills. However, it is important to note that these platforms cater to varying levels of expertise and project requirements. Below is a breakdown of the primary distinctions:

Programming Requirement

  • No-code: In line with its name, a no-code software does not necessitate any programming. They rely on user-friendly interfaces where you can simply drag and drop elements, utilize pre-made components, and employ visual workflows to create solutions. This makes it an excellent choice for individuals who are new to programming and have no prior experience.

  • Low-code: Although primarily visual, low-code technologies may allow for some limited coding using simpler programming languages or scripts. This provides greater flexibility for customization, yet still requires a basic understanding of programming concepts.

Complexity of Solutions

  • No-code: They are perfect for simpler solutions such as creating internal tools, data visualizations, basic workflows, or even designing website templates. The availability of pre-built components restricts the complexity level, but is highly effective for these needs.

  • Low-code: On the other hand, low-code platforms are capable of handling more intricate and complex solutions. These may include creating mobile apps, implementing intricate automation processes, developing customized integrations, or crafting advanced websites. The option to utilize coding allows for tailoring and the inclusion of unique features, giving you endless possibilities.

Learning Curve

  • No-code: The easiest to learn option, ideal for beginners. You'll quickly grasp the intuitive interface with minimal training.

  • Low-code: Although it may require a bit more effort, learning this option will be worth it. It may help to have some basic programming knowledge, but it's not necessary.

Customization

  • No-code: While it may not offer extensive customization options, you can still create amazing projects using pre-built components. It may not be the best fit for highly specific features.

  • Low-code: This option provides more flexibility for customization, allowing you to tailor components and even add custom code to meet unique needs.

Examples:

In the history of no-code platforms, you can find different softwares for different purposes.

  • No-code: Explore modern no-code tools like Wix, Zapier, Airtable, and Monkedo to unleash your creativity without programming.

  • Low-code: Expand your possibilities with platforms like Mendix, Microsoft Power Apps, and Creatio. Get ready to bring your innovative ideas to life.

Choosing the Right Platform

Choose the best no-code or low-code software for you.
Choose the best no-code or low-code software for you.
  • Begin with the complexity of your project: For straight-forward tasks and pre-designed website templates, using a no-code platform might be more convenient. However, for more intricate solutions or personalized automatic processes, the low-code option provides enhanced capabilities.

  • Take into account your technical abilities: If you are just starting out with no programming knowledge, it may be wiser to opt for the no-code alternative as it is more secure. Nevertheless, if you possess some programming experience or are open to learning, the low-code option presents a multitude of opportunities.

  • Assess your specific requirements: Thoroughly examine the features and customization choices presented by each platform to ensure that it aligns with your project needs.

Additional factors to consider:

  • Are there any integrations available for the platform to connect with the tools and systems you are already using?

  • Can the platform expand and adapt as your needs and requirements increase?

  • Is there sufficient security measures and features in place to ensure the safety and protection of your valuable data?

  • What are the different tiers of pricing models and the features they offer?

It's important to consider the advantages of both no-code and low-code options. By understanding these differences and considering your specific needs, you can effectively choose the platform. This choice will enable you to efficiently create solutions as a citizen developer. The history of no-code platforms just getting started, and their potential is boundless. While it isn't meant to completely replace traditional coding, it empowers individuals with new perspectives and unleashes endless creativity. Whether you're a business owner, entrepreneur, or simply bursting with ideas, no-code provides a pathway to bridge the gap between your aspirations and reality. So, dive in, explore, and become a part of the future where anyone can bring their software dreams to life!