What Is No-Code?

No-code is a class of development technologies that allows users to build and maintain software through a visual UI rather than by writing or editing lines of code. No-code dramatically simplifies software development and empowers organizations to build faster, at a much lower cost, and with fewer bugs than conventional code-based approaches. 

 

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How Does No-Code Work?

A codebase is a series of instructions translated into a language that a machine can understand. At its core, no-code is a layer of visual abstraction between the programmer and these instructions, so users design the look and behavior of a piece of software without ever having to write out any of the instructions. This simplification makes development faster and more accessible.  

For example, the process of applying for a loan online might include the following commands:

Present applicant with digital form X

Present applicant with digital form X

Ingest relevant financial information from bank Y after customer authorization

Ingest relevant financial information from bank Y after customer authorization

Calculate risk using all relevant customer data in custom algorithm

Calculate risk using all relevant customer data in custom algorithm

When building software in code, a programmer would need to translate each command into lines of machine-readable code.

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In a no-code-based application platform (the type of no-code tool we are focusing on), all key components of the software, including front-end elements, back-end processes, and third-party integrations are represented in graphical form, which can be readily ordered and manipulated in a visual UI. The platform then executes those graphic representations of commands as if they are written in code. 

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Even better, the same simplification and acceleration of initial builds also come into play when making changes down the road, so organizations can rapidly adjust their digital infrastructure to take on disruptions of any scale.

 

Is there still code in a no-code application?

Yes and no. From the perspective of the user building the application, there is no code, because they only need to access the visual UI. In many no-code systems, users don’t even have access to the editable codebase. But on the backend, the application is still very much running on code; otherwise, the computer would have no way of understanding what to do! The codebase is automatically generated and updated by the platform based on what the user does in the UI. With no-code, users can focus on UX and application logic and never have to think about syntax.

Not All No-Code Is Created Equal

No-code isn’t a new technology breakthrough. WYSIWYG web editors from the 90s were technically no-code. However, until recently, most no-code tools were focused on helping users with limited coding expertise build basic digital creations (e.g., static “brochure” websites) or to streamline niche business tasks (e.g., simple integrators). 

Today, a new generation of enterprise-grade no-code application platforms such as Unqork have radically expanded the scope and capabilities of no-code. These platforms empower large organizations to rapidly develop and effectively manage sophisticated, scalable solutions without writing a single line of code.

There are a variety of no-code tools on the market. While they all allow users to develop software without writing code, they aren’t necessarily suited to developing robust enterprise software.

 

Website Builders

Products like Wix, Squarespace, and Webflow all make it possible to build seriously great websites without any previous knowledge of engineering, code, or software development. These tools are great for getting a message across simply through a website, but they cannot incorporate advanced functionality and business logic for enterprise-ready applications.

“Super Spreadsheet” Applications

Various productivity-minded “super spreadsheet” applications empower users to build internal applications without writing code. Applications such as Airtable can help organize teams and basic internal workflows, but they cannot deliver the complex business logic (certainly not the type that would be necessary for dynamic, heavily regulated industries that Unqork services).

Integration Tools

Integration tools such as Zapier and Workato make it easier for users to pass data from one system to another using a library of APIs. These platforms can, without coding, ingest data from one application using a series of rules and pass that information on to other applications and perform an action.

Application Platforms

The final type of no-code platform is the no-code application platform. These platforms help users build more classical web applications with logins, multiple screens of functionality, and in many cases, complex logic routing data, workflows, or other functionality.

Enterprise Application Platforms

A new class of cloud-based development platforms, such as Unqork, have been specifically designed with the needs of the enterprise in mind. In an enterprise no-code platform, developers (or “Creators'' as we refer to them at Unqork) build robust solutions by visually connecting configurable components representing both user-facing elements and back-end business logic. Applications are developed completely visually from start-to-finish and run entirely from the platform after it’s deployed.

What Are the Benefits of Enterprise No-Code?

Traditionally, enterprise decision-makers have had to choose between speed, cost, or quality. With no-code, you can have all three—and then some.

Accelerated Time-to-Market

Accelerated Time-to-Market

With no-code, the process of taking a custom enterprise solution from ideation to production is measured in weeks, or even days, rather than months or years. No-code can be used to accelerate both initial builds and subsequent updates.

Lowered Cost of Ownership

Lowered Cost of Ownership

No-code lowers the cost of developing and managing enterprise solutions by 300%. When you build with no-code, you stop creating new legacy code that will have to be updated and stop falling deeper into technical debt.

Enhanced Collaboration & Access

Enhanced Collaboration & Access

While modern programming languages (e.g., Java, Python, etc.) can take a year to learn and a decade to master, no-code can be picked-up in a matter of weeks. Furthermore, Creators can rapidly build functional prototypes to ensure business requirements are correctly addressed early in the process.

Improved Quality

Improved Quality

No-code-built applications can reduce the occurrence of bugs by more than 600x compared to those built using code.

Unlocked Innovation

Unlocked Innovation

Because projects can get ramped up quickly and with lower costs, your organization can experiment without the built-in risk of a traditional development approach.

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Engaged Employees

Focus experienced engineers on complex solutions by amplifying business-led teams’ ability to address routine (but still important) development projects.

Peace of Mind

Peace of Mind

Security, compliance, RBAC, and infrastructure are all maintained and monitored out-of-the-box, allowing your teams to focus on other areas.

Increased Digital Resilience

Increased Digital Resilience

With no-code, organizations can rapidly append and amend their digital infrastructures to address business disruptions of any scale.

Why Now for No-Code?

Modern enterprises are under increasing pressure to drive operational efficiencies, meet rising consumer expectations for digital experiences, and fend off digital disruptors. However, it’s becoming more and more difficult for technology leaders to keep up with these demands. After decades of improved developer efficiency, developer productivity has decreased over the past 10 years. In fact, it took 20% longer to develop enterprise software in the 2010s than it did in the aughts.

 

Why is enterprise development so much more challenging?

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Complexity

Modern enterprise ecosystems include multiple teams around the globe and integrate with legacy solutions and external third-party services. Time must be spent effectively tying all these elements together.

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Legacy Systems & Technical Debt

Modern organizations dedicate an increasing amount of tech resources to managing legacy systems (some of which may be decades old and built by programmers who have long since moved on) and paying down technical debt (i.e., workarounds that must eventually be addressed to keep systems functioning).

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Compliance

At the enterprise-scale, business solutions must comply with an evolving patchwork of regional and industry-specific oversight. Compliance is particularly challenging in highly regulated sectors such as finance, healthcare, and government.

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Skills Gap

Organizations are forced to compete for developers within a limited pool of talent—and competition is particularly fierce when it comes to advanced fields like machine learning and data analytics.

Left Floating Expert

The technological status quo is no longer able to keep pace with the needs of today’s organizations, which is why organizations from a wide variety of industries have turned to no-code to streamline development and evolve their digital infrastructure at the speed of business.


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