No Code!


We’ve recently explored the world of low/no code. A feeling of fear (it’ll replace us!) and a little sneering (it’ll never replace us!) was felt as I entered my email and signed up to the platform of choice. It was really easy to get started and I had a great internal tool in mind; tracking hours logged by developers in our project management software, and displaying some key project metrics.

Time was already saved, no messing about setting up servers or code repos, or choosing which technology to use. The prescriptive nature puts you on rails. Yak shaving avoided!

Retrieving the data required from the project management tool was task number one. Connect to the API, pull the teams (groups of developers), pull the time sheet entries for each team member, and then iterate over them getting details of the task the entry is logged against. The last sentence demonstrates my first point: for someone who can’t code, understanding how to get the required data would be tricky.

In order to get this data you have to understand the API documentation, send along the required authentication header, and then figure out how the responses tie together in order to combine the sets of data. This is where I struggled to keep it no code. The teams were retrieved into a table from the first endpoint, but without writing JavaScript and understanding Promises, looping through these to make the requests for their time sheet entries and the matching tasks was impossible. This makes my second point – as a non-developer you will quickly get stuck and need to write some code.

At this point I began to wonder just what the point of this wonderful, propreitary ecosystem is. So far I’d had to: formulate requirements, figure out how to implement those requirements, wade through technical API documentation, understand web concepts, send authentication headers, and write some non-trivial (certainly not beginner-friendly) JavaScript.

Hoorah! It’ll never replace us…. but wow, we can most certainly make use of this. As a competent software developer, code is a side effect of: critical thinking, gathering and understanding requirements in detail, sifting through and comprehending complex and sometimes incomplete documentation. But writing code and configuring the ecosystems around it can take significant time.

The above example took me 45 minutes in the no code platform, having never even used it before. I estimate that to write this with langauges and tools I’m familiar with in code would have taken at least half a day, maybe longer. I wrote the title of this post before trying out the no code platform, and I’m happy to say – it’s not quite right. I now believe that no and low code platforms can be a huge asset to software developers for rapidly prototying and building tools for clients who have an eye on the clock, and an eye on the bank. They can’t replace us, or hand crafted software, but they’re a great tool in the box.

If you’re struggling to get your no code platform to do exactly what you require, we’d be more than happy to help apply our software development skills to your project.