No Code and Ruby-on-Rails

January 13, 2020

No Code products feel a lot like the early days of Ruby-on-Rails (a framework built on top of Ruby). Whereas a non-developer could come up the programming curve more quickly in using this new framework; lending a sense of progression. Prior to Ruby-on-Rails I had dabbled in #C, Java, JavaScript, and PHP. Never did I feel comfortable in my progression in these languages. But in digging through Ruby, and in time Ruby-on-Rails, my level of comfort in programming became clear. I could do this. And I had fun in doing so.

To me, this is what the no code "movement" feels like today. The step progression one needs to go from uncomfortable to comfortable. The ability for one to have an idea and to be able to step into the areana with that idea quickly. Triditionally, this step would be really hard - even if you were new to programming and came across Rails. Ruby-on-Rails did provide many novice-programmers the ability to take their turn in the areana, to build something elegant and powerful, quickly.

Alike that of the magic Rails brought to programming, in abstracting away some of the harder core concepts of Ruby, no code tools are abstracting away most if not all coding needed to build a product. For example, there are some really elegant and powerful no code tools providing non-developers an avenue to build products that would tridionally need a programmer:

  • (Airtable). Airtable was founded on the belief that software shouldn’t dictate how you work—you should dictate how it works. Our mission is to democratize software creation by enabling anyone to build the tools that meet their needs. Creators and creatives around the world use Airtable to do everything from cattle tracking to filmmaking, and they have great things to say.
  • (Zapier). We're a 100% distributed team helping people across the world automate the boring and tedious parts of their job. We do that by helping everyone connect the web applications they already use and love. We believe that there are jobs a computer is best at doing and that there are jobs a human is best at doing. We want to empower businesses to create processes and systems that let computers do what they are best at doing and let humans do what they are best at doing. We believe that with the right tools, you can have big impact with less hassle. We believe in small teams. Small teams are fast and nimble. Small teams mean less bureaucracy and less management and more getting things done. Learn more about how we work by reading our book on remote work. We believe in a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment. All teammates at Zapier agree to a code of conduct.
  • (Chargebee). The relationship between your business and your customer is no longer transactional it is continuous. This makes the relationship a constant work-in-progress. This continuous relationship is built with your core offering - product or service - as the foundation of your business. But there are additional components that are critical - like billing. That’s where we come in.
  • (Webflow). We're enabling everyone to create for the web — and leading fulfilling, impactful lives while we do it. We envision a world where everyone can create powerful, flexible websites and apps as easily as they create documents today. Because the only thing better than the internet is an internet we can all create for.

I am curious to see how the no code "movement" progresses in 2020. I'm sure there will be bumps in the road, and I predict some companies will fail becuase the fundamenal knowledge of programming will not be known to the founding team; no code will be an abstraction too far from the core. But I also predict there will be several more companies that succeed becuase of no code tools. Some of these companies will be launched as the result of ones knowledge of a problem, but a lack of programming experience. And in time these companies might introduce a hybrid of code/no-code to their stack.

I'll conclude this post for now with a parallel idea I believe is as interesting today as it was the first time I saw it in 2010 regarding Ruby-on-Rails: (Pivotal Labs[1]). I can easiely see an alike service[2] starting today but with no code at the core; the difference being that the core builders might not know how to code themselves, but they will be able to use no code tools like pros in shipping products people pay for.

Keep updated with my new projects and posts (here).

1. ^ In 2010, TechStars NYC launched and rented desks from Pivotal Labs. Pivotal Labs not only made a lot of money, it was also a really cool/pioneering service to companies that either did not have programmers on staff to build their products, or needed additional resources spun up like an AWS server.

2. ^ I'd be interested in investing in a company that is doing this. Could be a design/develop firm or something alike. Regardless, I'd love to learn what you are working on if it is in this domain.

If you want to hear a fantastic ~20-min podcast from the CTO/founder of Basecamp, and author of Ruby-on-Rails, David Heinemeier Hansson, talking about Ruby-on-Rails, you can check it out on the Rework Podcast (here).