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Jason Leow ~
Jason Leow ~

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Nocode vs no-code, nocode vs code

It’s been fascinating to watch the nocode trend/movement play out on Twitter. I’d seldom caught on to a movement this early, so it’s been super educational and a curious study of how a new movement takes shape, takes hold in people’s minds, and then fight between themselves to be the dominant narratives. And yes, the culture wars. There’s a few culture wars in the #nocode circles that’s interesting to observe, mostly down to polarized thinking (when in actual fact, there’s room for everyone to live comfortably side by side):

  • “Nocode” vs “no-code”
  • Nocode vs code
  • Nocode is for MVPs vs fully-featured
  • Nocode uniformity vs customizability
  • Nocode vs WAMZstack

“Nocode” vs “no-code”

Is it “no-code”, or “no code”, or “nocode”? Right now many are going with the hyphenated compound of “no-code”, but if past observation on the history of how human beings use the English language is correct, “no-code” will eventually evolve into the closed compounded word “nocode”, just like how in the early Internet days, it was “on-line” but now we use “online”. With popular use over long enough time, it tends to happen. I’m hedging my bets on the cultural long-term staying power of “nocode”. But the negative framing of the name is problematic. “Visual developer” is another worthy contender, but it too falls sort of what nocode is truly capable of. Time will tell if it will eventually be nocode, visual developer, or something else altogether.

Nocode vs code

Some people who can code get offended by when they hear things like “nocode is the future”. Understandably, nocode folks are giddy with excitement, because they can now make apps and products when they previously could not, all without needing to learn how to code. But nocode tools are still made with code. If anything, we need more people who can code to create these tools for everyone else. And coders can also benefit from nocode tools, evident from how Webflow—a nocode tool—is now used in class to teach to-be professional developers about front-end development. Chill guys, there’s room for nocoders and coders alike.

Nocode is for MVPs vs fully-featured

There’s a school of thought that nocode is great for building scrappy, lightly featured MVPs for market validation, after which you get a developer to code it properly if there’s product-market fit. Kind of like insinuating nocode is for making toys, and if it proves worthy, get an adult to make it professionally. Maybe that was the case when nocode started. I certainly felt that way just 2 years ago. But nocode had come a long way since, and the list of what can’t be done with nocode is rapidly decreasingly by the day. In time, one will be able to use nocode to build fully featured apps and SaaS. And look out for that first billion-dollar nocode unicorn coming up.

Nocode uniformity vs customizability

Similar to the previous point about MVPs. The perception that nocoode looks very uniform and template-y is often true, because you need scaffolding like templates to help nocoders build stuff easily. But all that is changing too. With Webflow, you can use templates yes, but you can also customise the look and feel with ease once you’re more familiar with the interface (developers can export the HTML code even). Zapier, Integromat and IFTTT are allowing for behind-the-scenes custom software integrations and automations that would take months to custom develop.

Nocode vs WAMZstack

There’s LAMPstack, MEANstack, MERNstack, JAMstack, and for nocode there’s now WAMZstack. It just means your technology stack comprises of Webflow for front-end, Airtable for back-end, Memberstack for authentication and access, and Zapier for integrations and automation. All four products are popular nocode tools right now because they cover almost all the basics of what a product needs, but certainly not the dominant ones by the tech industry’s standards (ala Google’s monopolistic dominance in search). WAMZstack has a punchy ring to it though, like *wham ? haha. I’m still holding my breath for market consolidation where a few tools become so ubiquitous that it becomes industry-defining. Fascinating to watch it unfurl.

What other pillow fights do you observe in the nocode space? DO share and let's discuss!

Follow my daily writings on Lifelog, where I write about learning to code, goals, productivity, indie hacking and tech for good.

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