No-Code—A Brief History of Enterprise Application Development

No-code is everywhere you turn nowadays, but that wasn’t always the case! Let’s go back in time and highlight some important moments in enterprise application development

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No-code is an enterprise application development approach that allows anyone, regardless of prior experience or skill level, to build applications without writing a single line of code. Since no-code platforms are visual abstractions of programmatic functions, it’s faster and easier for developers to change the function, flow, and feel of the software.   

The no-code era is here, and it’s not going away anytime soon. In fact, the no-code market is expected to be worth $52 billion by 2024. How did we get to this incredible point? Let’s turn back the clock and look at the history of no-code before we look ahead to its future.


Enterprise application development in the ‘80s 

It all started in 1982 with tech visionary James Martin. In the preface to his 15th book on the software industry, Application Development Without Programmers, he wrote: “The number of programmers available per computer is shrinking so fast that most computers in the future must be put to work at least in part without programmers.” Martin correctly predicted the tech skills shortage almost 40 years ago and got people thinking about what could be accomplished if (and when!) you eliminated code.

The ‘80s are also a significant time period in the history of no-code for two other reasons. First, it’s around this time that the original version of Excel is released, which many people consider the first tool that allowed users to manipulate data without code. In fact, many no-coders today still compare the experience of building on a no-code platform to working in Excel. Second, this is also the time that visual programming starts to pick up steam. 

Visual programming is much older than no-code—the first visual “Flow Process Chart” was invented by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth in 1921, and that logic was first used to develop computer programs in 1949—but you can’t have one without the other. No-code development platforms based on visual programming languages instead of code wouldn’t be a major part of enterprise application development until around the 2010s. However, it’s interesting to see how these two technological advancements progressed on parallel tracks before coming together. 


The coming of no-code ‘90s–‘00s

In the early ‘90s, anyone could use the World Wide Web but only those who knew HTML could build websites. By the mid-’90s, websites like Geocities made it possible for people to create personal pages, fan blogs, and other web pages using visual programming. However, programs like these wouldn’t be recognized as no-code until later. Before we move into the aughts, it’s also important to note that the trademark application for the term “cloud computing” is submitted in 1997. Cloud computing is the backbone of modern no-code tools like Unqork and sets the stage for bigger and better technological advancements in the field.

In 2003, no-code becomes mainstream with the launch of WordPress. Code-free website builders like WordPress are an important part of no-code’s history since they are how most people came to know no-code. Sure enough, “no-code development platform” starts popping up in Google Trends data only one year after WordPress launches.

By the end of the aughts, no-code is an established way to streamline email marketing and data analytics by allowing people to create quickly, easily, and without any coding necessary. Today, the no-code space is far bigger—there are many different types of no-code tools available including “super spreadsheet” applications, integration tools, and classic web application platforms. In 2018, the no-code market hit a valuation of $6 billion. And that’s just the beginning!


What’s next for no-code?

Here we are at the height of no-code’s popularity! Where do we go from here? We grow bigger, get more advanced, and push the boundaries of what no-code can accomplish. Unqork is the first no-code enterprise application development platform designed specially to handle the needs of the enterprise. Our entirely visual platform makes it easy to bring your ideas to life and view your progress in real-time throughout the application development process. Our drag-and-drop functionality is accessible to anyone and everyone, so more of your teammates can build enterprise applications confidently, independently, and at lightning-fast speeds.

Scaling up or down is effortless on the Unqork platform thanks to our cloud-native, highly elastic architecture, schema-free databases, and effortless integrations. Our pre-built templates and connectors let you jump right into new projects and easily build upon older ones. Unqork’s release management capabilities also help your team manage complex release processes, and deploy applications securely and rapidly.

No matter what comes next in the future of no-code, your enterprise will be ready for it with Unqork! We constantly update our platform to bring our clients the latest and greatest features so they can create, accelerate, and innovate like never before. Schedule a personalized demonstration with one of our in-house experts to see our cutting-edge platform in action.

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