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The Future of Development is Visual
The Future of Development is Visual

The Future of Development is Visual

How traditional development is enabling the new generation of citizen developers and innovators 💡

No code is a bit of a buzzword in 2024. The idea behind has been around for a lot longer than the term itself (WordPress launched 21 years ago - i.e. WordPress can legally drink now).

But the term 'no code' is actually a little bit outdated. Take Webflow as an example: on launching they were touted as a game-changing no code platform, but slowly they changed their tune from 'no-code' to 'build with the power of code — without writing any'. This is true, the way Webflow's designer is configured is exactly the same as HTML and CSS, but instead of a div block looking like <div/>, it simply just looks like a box.

This isn't some future fantasy. Real people are using no-code to achieve mind-blowing things. If you've heard of Coda, you may or may not know that this platform was built without code. Shishir Mehrotra - Coda's co-founder and CEO - created a powerful tool that merges documents, spreadsheets, and apps that had accumulated a reported $26.8M in revenue in 2023 - without code.

No code has brought about a cognitive shift and is fundamentally changing how people think and approach problem solving relating to technology. Latest advancements in this space are no longer fundamentally 'no code', no longer separate or a way to by-pass IT in the broader subject of web and app development. We're just changing how it looks, how it's understood, and how it's done.

No code is not advancing. Coding is.

The 'traditional' developer

This is not to say traditional coding and development is obsolete, not at all. In fact, no code has the potential to support traditional developers by supplementing skill shortages and enabling them to focus on the nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes stuff. In a survey by Appian in 2019, 80% of surveyed developers agreed that the no/low-code space can free developers time to work on higher-level projects.

There's a lot of inflammatory, divisive media out there about this. You may have seen articles with titles like 'the death of code' or 'the no code takeover'. In economic forecasts the growth of no/low code markets is often differentiated from tha of traditional developer/programmer ones.

Einstein did not invent relativity (I know this already sounds eye-rollable but hear me out) he figured out how to codify a complex phenomenon and translate it to everyone else in a simple, usable manner, so they could go on to make light bulbs and telephones and self-driving cars (i.e. Edison, Bell and Musk are technically-very-loosely-very-generally-speaking "Citizen Inventors").

I believe that no/low code is actually a transformation and revolution forged by developers, a way of innovating and streamlining development as a practice: the metaphorical 'handing-down' of development to the citizen is perhaps necessary in order to enable developers to move up and forward and continue to transform the digital world. We need developers' skills, knowledge and ideas to build the platforms to faciliate this.

Indeed, development and the idea of 'building' technology or technical processes has rapidly begun to move out of just the IT department. IT departments are recognizing their role is evolving, too. Instead of being the solution-builder, the technical problem-solver, the hardware specialists, the all-round technical every-thingers, they're becoming facilitators and enablers for these problems to be solved outside of the IT department.

Technology is no longer extrinsic

Think about Apple's latest announcement, Vision. Rather than a new piece of hardware, Apple has developed technology that is embedded into the human experience. Parents are less and less frequently asking their kids how to use phones and "the internet", because less and less "the internet" has become more intrinsically involved in how we live our lives.

Source: Apple Vision Pro

If you build in Webflow, you (perhaps unknowingly) have a high-level understanding of HTML and CSS. If you use AirtableNotion or Bubble, as some examples, you understand the foundational ideas behind backend DB's like Postgres. Though we're not all the way there yet, and there are still risks and significant gaps between citizen and professional developers, it illustrates an emergence of platforms working to slowly close that gap.

Airtable is one of the earlier platforms to inadvertently begin this process. If you're familiar with it and have used it asx something more than an excel alternative, you have interfaced with a lot of the foundational ideas of object-relational databases and Structured Query Language. As an (very over-simplified) example of this, below is a quick glossary of terms to illustrate what you may not know you know about object-relational databases (yes - it's certainly more complex than this when you're actually in a backend DB like PostgresSQL, but you have interfaced with these ideas in abstracted ways):

  • Primary key: Record ID
  • Foreign key: Relationships/links to other records
  • Cron job: Automations in your base tables
  • CRUD: Integrations (built-in or set up in tools like Zapier)

The term 'bytea' is an interesting one to elaborate on this. In PostgreSQL, bytea is a data type that allows for the storage of binary strings, which are sequences of bytes. This means it can hold raw binary data. This may make no sense to you.

However, consider how email attachments work. When you attach a file to an email, the email system stores that file somewhere so that it can be sent along with your message. In a similar fashion, when you use an application that saves attachments to an app (in this scenario one specifically built with PostgresSQL), those files are stored using the bytea data type in the app's backend.

Platforms like Airtable and Bubble are abstracting away the complexities of database management systems by changing how backends can be translated to the citizen eye and mind.

Why you should stay on top of these developments

The accessibility being enabled by what are currently touted as 'no/low code' platforms lowers the barrier to entry for innovation. SMBs and entrepreneurs can quickly build and test prototypes, launch new services or automate processes without significant financial investment in resources and/or talent. Further:

  • They allow for rapid prototyping, which means businesses can quickly develop and iterate on new ideas. This agility is crucial in today’s fast-paced market, where being first can provide a significant competitive advantage.
  • They foster new kinds of problem-solving skills and enable the creation of niche-specific solutions.
  • Development no longer require years of expensive formal education, allowing those who may have never been able to access formal education or time off work (and salaries) to learn development to bypass economic barriers, creating amplified diversity in the market and a significant reduction in skill shortages in the technology sector.

To better access the level of digital transformation made available by these tools:

Continuous Learning: To leverage the benefits of no-code, staying updated with the latest developments and tools is crucial. At Stackradar we vet new innovative tech tools every week and regularly publish curated stacks by industry and profession to help you better understand how to leverage new technology to scale.

Practical Tips: Engage with communities, participate in online courses, and experiment with different no-code tools to find the best fit for your needs. Some useful platforms and content creators enabling digital transformation and upskilling in this space:

Final thoughts

The future of citizen development is incredibly bright. As AI and machine learning continue to advance, these technologies will integrate more deeply with citizen-friendly platforms, enabling even more sophisticated applications.

Ultimately, this is all thanks to developers, who from this revolution should begin to see their own workforce transform as a wave of opportunities emerge to continue to drive this global shift.

No code as a term might be a 'trend', but the foundational ideas behind it are not. It’s a new way of thinking about development. It’s about making technology accessible and empowering everyone to innovate and create in the digital age. In this sense, 'no code' isn't the death of code, it's its evolution. It's about empowering everyone to build, to think differently about technology, and ultimately, to transform our entire digital landscape and workforce.

Below we've included some of our favourite platforms enabling broader access to digital transformation, up-skilling and scaling 👇

Webflow
the site you want without the dev time.
Webflow is used by more than 3,500,000 designers and teams to create, collaborate on, and scale beautiful websites in a completely visual canvas — no coding needed. So everyone can focus on what they do best.
Webflow
Webflow
Webflow
Features

🎨 Content-driven designs

🛒 Launch custom ecommerce stores

📚 A CMS that works for everyone

💸 Monetize members-only content

🕺 Immersive experiences with interactions & animations

🌐 Optimize SEO

💡 Build flows with logic

⚙️ Connect all your tools

ClickUp
is one app to replace them all.
The next evolution of team productivity and collaboration is here. Unlock the next generation of productivity with the infinite possibilities of ClickUp. Tasks, Docs, Goals, Chat, and everything imaginable to make you more productive. ClickUp's #1 rated productivity platform is making the world more productive with tasks, notes, projects, and time.
ClickUp
ClickUp
ClickUp
Features

🪐 Spaces, Folders & Lists

✅ Customizable Tasks

🪺 Nested Subtasks & Checklists

🚀 ClickApps for Tailoring Tasks

🤖 Automations for Routine Work

📚 Hundreds of Templates

💗 Relationships for Virtual Databases

⚙️ Over 1,000 Integrations

Airtable
is powerful apps that connect your data, workflows and teams.
Discover the single platform where teams can use shared data to build their own apps, connecting work and teams across the organization.
Airtable
Airtable
Airtable
Features

⚙️ Design interactive applications with a drag-and-drop experience

📊 Actionable data views

⚡️ Workflow automation

🌐 Sync information across teams and tools

📝 Flexible reporting

👉 No code necessary

Relume
websites designed & built faster with AI.
Relume is on a mission to help web designers win in the era of no-code and generative AI. Originally formed as an agency, Relume has evolved into a product company that provides tools and resources used by thousands of Figma designers & Webflow developers.
Relume
Relume
Relume
Features

📍 Sitemaps

🎞️ UX wireframes

🤝 Cross-team collaboration

🚀 Export to Figma & Webflow

🌐 Webflow library

🎨 Figma library

✧ Relume ipsum & icons

Glide
create powerful custom tools without code.
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Turn your data into software. No coding or design skills needed. Glide lets you build powerful custom tools with no code, in minutes.
Glide
Glide
Glide
Features

⚙️ Build business apps with no code

📊 Sync your spreadsheets

🚀 Powerful action sequences

🔐 Safe & secure data

💡 Basic & advanced API

🔗 iFrame embedding

📇 Barcode scanner

📚 Theme & components libraries

Softr
to build software without devs, blazingly fast.
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Stop waiting for developers. Turn your Airtable into modern business tools you need. Equip your teams and clients with the tools they need. From portals, project management tools, and lightweight CRMs to content calendars, applicant trackers, and more. All without code.
Softr
Softr
Softr
Features

🎁 Build sites from Airtable data

👋 Membership Portals

✅ 30+ dynamic list layouts

💸 Accept Payments

🌐 SEO optimized

🔎 Dynamic search, filtering, sorting

Notion
is a workspace that adapts to your needs.
One workspace. Every team. Notion is more than a doc. Or a table. Notion is a single space where you can think, write, and plan. Capture thoughts, manage projects, or even run an entire company — and do it exactly the way you want.
Notion
Notion
Notion
Features

🚀 Web, desktop & mobile apps

🔲 40+ block content types

🗂 50+ starter templates

📝 Wikis, docs & notes

📅 Now with Notion Calendar

📊 Databases with rich property types

🌀 Synced databases

🔗 Link previews

⚙️ API & numerous integrations

Framer
is to ship sites with style.
Framer believe everyone should be able to ship blazing-fast and beautiful sites. They’re building the web design platform to help you do that.
Framer
Framer
Framer
Features

🎨 Design canvas

📚 CMS

⚙️ Prototyping

📝 Code editor

💥 Custom fonts

🔐 SSL Certificates

🌐 Custom domains

Bubble
is the best way to build tech without code.
Bookmark
21
stacked
star filled
stars
Building tech is slow and expensive. Bubble is the most powerful no-code platform for creating digital products.
Bubble
Bubble
Bubble
Features

⚙️ Build any web app with no code

🎨 Drag and drop editor

📈 Scale with robust, hosted infrastructure

🚀 Expand, engage, measure

🤝 Share the workload with collaboration

🔗 Integrate with all your tools

Draftbit
create any app, 10x faster.
Bookmark
10
stacked
star filled
stars
With Draftbit, you can build native mobile apps, responsive web apps, and internal tools visually and collaboratively. Source code included, so you're never locked-in.
Draftbit
Draftbit
Draftbit
Features

🛠️ Components (bits & blocks)

📝 Add Custom Code

🎨 Themes

💜 Fonts & Icons

🚗 Navigation

⚡️ Actions & Interactions

✅ State Management

🔗 APIs & Integrations

Retool
is to build internal tools, remarkably fast.
Stop wrestling with UI libraries, hacking together data sources, and figuring out access controls. Start shipping apps that move your business forward. All internal tools are made up of the building blocks: Tables, Lists, Charts, Forms, Wizards, Maps and so on. Retool provides those blocks out of the box so you can spend your time assembling your UI, not inventing it from scratch. Instead of hunting down the best React table library, you can put together your app in a few minutes by dragging and dropping.
Retool
Retool
Retool
Features

🧱 Components

⚡️ Workflows

📲 Mobile

📊 Database

🗂 Templates

🌐 Self-hosted

Selldone
is the #1 operating system for business.
Build, manage & scale your business like pros with the enterprise-grade and no-code business operating system for handling millions of orders and automating your workflow. Selldone, as an ecommerce platform, operates like an angel for the growth of businesses. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or a large company, you need to showcase your product on the internet. Selldone used to build online stores with lower operating costs and greater flexibility.
Selldone
Selldone
Selldone
Features

🛍️ Ecommerce Builder

🪐 Custom Community

🌐 Landing Page Builder

📊 Smart Report Generator

💸 Payments & Accounting

📦 Logistics & Shipping

💵 Orders & Processing

🚀 Marketing & Campaigns

💳 Online POS

💥 Auto SEO Engine

🤖 Automation, IoT & AI

⚙️ App Builder

Ply
build features, not apps.
Supercharge work and streamline processes by building contextual, internal features into the apps you already use. Made for ops, loved by everyone.
Ply
Ply
Ply
Features

✅ Add buttons inside your apps

🚀 Bring your apps’ functionality out of your apps

⚡️ Custom, app-connected, post-click functions

💬 Build custom features into your command bar

🔮 Build powerful features in a simple UI

☎️ Hyper-personalize customer experience

Zapier
is automation that moves everyone forward.
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Zapier is on a mission to make automation work for everyone. With Zapier, you can integrate apps like Salesforce, Intuit, Google, and Dropbox, to move data between them automatically, so you can focus on your most important work.
Zapier
Zapier
Zapier
Features

✅ Automate work without code

⚙️ Connect 5,000+ tools

🚀 Custom automations in minutes

⭐️ Pre-built workflows from Zapier

🕺 Flexible logic and filters

n8n
automate without limits.
Bookmark
15
stacked
star filled
stars
Secure, AI-native workflow automation. n8n is the world's most popular workflow automation platform for technical teams.
n8n
n8n
n8n
Features

🎨 Visual workflow editor

💬 Conditional logic and branching

🔌 Plug into your own products

🚀 Multi-trigger workflows

🤌 Code when you need it, UI when you don't

🔮 Host on your own infrastructure

🌀 Import cURL requests

✶ Environments, synced via Git

🤌 Customize error handling

Wized
is web apps in Webflow, no F*in code.
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12
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Wized is the layer between your Webflow build and your database, by Finsweet.
Wized
Wized
Wized
Features

🌐 Connect your apps

⚡️ Load single items and lists of items from apps

🚀 Make your web app interactive with Actions

☁️ Send data to any connected app

🔐 User Auth with sign up, log in, content, and Stripe

🐛 Debugger to see & understand problems

Xano
the no code backend to power & scale any app.
Launch a complete backend in minutes. Xano comes with everything you need to quickly launch a Backend without worrying about scale.
Xano
Xano
Xano
Features

🔗 Integrate and Connect to Everything

💥 Create APIs with No-Code

💾 Store Data with no Record Limits

🔎 Search, Filter, and Aggregate

🚀 Scalable by Design

🔐 Secure and Compliant

Boost Space
to centralize & sync anything.
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6
stacked
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Imagine a world where you can manage and automate your data on a single platform. Boost.space is that world, combining a cloud master database and integration platform in one. It's as if Zapier and Airtable had a baby and named it Boost.space. Weird, but undeniably catchy, right?
Boost Space
Boost Space
Boost Space
Features

🌎 Centralize data

🔗 Combine data

📱 Connect 1803 apps

⚡️ Automated workflows

🥇 API Token Prioritization

📝 Custom fields with functions

🏖️ Sandbox environment

🚀 Custom triggers & actions

Appsmith
to build the tools you can’t buy off the shelf.
Thousands of engineers are using Appsmith to build custom software on top of their data. Technical users can quickly build, deploy, and share applications with end-users to run critical business operations.
Appsmith
Appsmith
Appsmith
Features

🪐 Extend existing apps

🚀 Scales with your needs

👋 Secure sign-ups & logins

🌐 Securely self-hosted

🔐 Solid 256-bit encryption

🪩 Open-source

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