Low, pro or no? It’s time to bring all coding platforms together!

Low, pro or no? It’s time to bring all coding platforms together!

Originally published on Forbes Technology Council by Roland Hörmann.


Every day in my line of work, I get this sensation that we’re truly living right in the heart of a digital transformation. It’s really taking off now! Large enterprises were the first ones to digitalize their operations – but now more and more small businesses are also daring to make the leap. Considering that SMEs make up for more than 50% of total value-added and around 60-70% of employment, this naturally causes a booming demand for all sorts of software platforms.

To cater to this growing demand, the industry has seen a rise in more accessible development platforms with the number of low-code and no-code platforms now surpassing the 200 mark. With this whole array of options out there now – some that let people build stuff without any coding, and others designed for coding experts – there seems to be something for everyone.

Such a huge number of choices should ideally empower every aspiring developer. But in the meantime it also leads to segmentation, forcing individuals and organizations to choose a side.

Now, you too might wonder: “What platform is the right choice for my business?” That is tough to answer, because if you consider the insatiable hunger for digital solutions, it seems rather restrictive to confine yourself to a single platform. You might keep going back and forth about which one is the ultimate best for you, and there is quite the debate going on between the camps, each trying to pull you to their side!

In the middle of all this chatter, I’ve been thinking: Why don’t we just merge the best parts from all these platforms and call it a day?

To truly understand the scope and potential of these platforms, let’s look at the three major categories:

  • Pro code environments (also called IDE: integrated development environment) are the epitome of detailed software crafting. They cater to seasoned developers and offer unmatched flexibility, depth, and control.
  • No code platforms, on the other hand, are the gateway for regular business users without formal coding expertise into the realm of software creation. Designed with these so-called citizen developers (CDs) in mind, they’re meant to be straightforward and intuitive. However, this often comes at the cost of reduced functionality and adaptability.
  • Finally, low code platforms offer a middle ground. They try to bridge the gap by offering tools that can be employed both by CDs for rapid application development and professional developers for more intricate tasks.

The foundational challenge with a sizable chunk of all these platforms is their modus operandi. Most do not churn out standard, universally-understood code. Instead, they put applications in a proprietary mold. For the pro developers, this often feels like being handed a sealed black box. They can’t peek inside, can’t tinker, can’t enhance. If they attempt to append standard code, the platform either transmutes it into its own cryptic format or tacks it onto the main application like an ill-fitting puzzle piece. Such an approach is not just cumbersome but counterproductive, sidelining both CDs and experienced software engineers.

So what we would need is a platform that acts like a Jack of all trades, meeting everyone’s needs. In my opinion, such a tool must surely check all the following boxes:

  • A visual environment seamlessly transcribes actions into standard code in a popular programming language, all while being in perfect sync with a standard IDE.
  • Every line of manually inputted code can be intuitively visualized in the development environment, preserving its essence.
  • Developers, irrespective of their proficiency, can transition between raw code and visual interfaces, watching the magic unfold in real-time.

The perks of such an integrated approach would be considerable:

  • Democratization of Development: The playing field gets leveled. Whether you’re a budding developer or a seasoned pro, there’s something for everyone. This could catalyze a boom in software solutions, addressing the ever-growing demand.
  • Fluidity: Individuals aren’t bound by constraints. They can flow between tools, selecting what’s best for each task at hand.
  • Educational Paradigm: For CDs, it’s a golden opportunity. With every visual tweak, they can follow corresponding changes in the underlying code, gradually demystifying the world of programming.
  • Synergized Workflow: This vision promotes collaboration. CDs and pro developers aren’t adversaries but allies. With each complementing the other’s strengths, they can reach new heights in functionality and efficiency for their applications.

A one-size-fits-all approach isn’t just a lofty aspiration. It’s a call for innovators, platform designers, and the global tech fraternity. In an age where digitalization is not just an advantage but a necessity, the walls between no code, low code, and pro code platforms need to be torn down. The future beckons for platforms that merge the vast spectrum of developer talent for more efficient software development.