Forget No-Code, the next big wave is Low-Code
NoCode tools are a trending category, and everyone wants to be a part of it. Recently Webflow had a NoCode conf too. From the likes of Webflow, Airtable, Bubble, and many more, all of them aim to give non-developers the power to create applications.
But I do have some issues with the phrase noCode, some of the best noCode tools actually shine when you know some coding or you can understand computing concepts. Even Vlad Magdalin, the founder of Webflow mentions the same on the NextView Ventures podcast
This is where lowCode tools come in. They are tools, which enable you to get started with next to no coding knowledge or computing concepts required, but if you do, they have a massive multiplier effect. One of the examples of this is WebFlow, A product I have been using since 2015. Webflow starts off by being a better page builder, but as you start learning it, and using its features like the CMS, it outshines everything on the web today. Another tool I recently started playing with is Retool, an internal tool/app builder. It allows you to connect to various databases and build any app. I am currently building a Simple Personal CMS. Here are some screenshots
This is my main timeline view, where I track who I met
This is my tab to add a new interation
This is my stats/information tab
I actually started on this on Airtable, another great no-code tool. I started with their personal CRM template as many folks on Twitter recommended it. But as I used it I realized it was not the best tool for the job. It is a great place to store all the data around a personal CRM, but not the best to showcase or view that data. For example, they don't allow rollup or lookups on the primary field, which is a need I had, as I wanted to count the number of times I met someone, and when was the last time I met someone. I do think I was limited by me knowing this would be easier in SQL thus not pushing too hard to find a solution. Either way, I still decided to stick to AirTable, but use a simpler, timeline sheet which noted who I met, when, why and notes from that interaction.
Then a week or two ago, I happen to learn about Retool, a product that allows one to build an internal dashboard and use databases as backends/data stores. My first thought was "Yes I can use SQL" so I started playing around with it and fell in love with the product. The screenshots you saw above are just early efforts, I have a lot more add to it. Currently, I am using Bigquery as by database (another product I love) even though it is not meant to be used for the tiny scale I am at, but it works, and it is free.
As I used retool, I came to the realization of how lowCode tools can actually change the face of computing. Many small apps where are posted on product hunt can simply be apps built on platforms like Retool. Even my own side project (which I have not touched for months) Airmeet can just be an app built on Retool. CRMs, Hiring Platforms, OKR tools, 1-1 assessment tools, meeting room booking apps, surveys and a lot more, can just be stand-alone apps purpose-built for each organization.
LowCode tools might not get computing to the masses, but it removes the drudgery of rebuilding the wheel for high skilled computer science majors, who can then work on more important things.