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Low code vs no code

Low code vs no code
By Aron Korenblit • Issue #35 • View online
Today I’ve got Joe Krug of Finsweet fame, on to come talk to us about how Finsweet manages all of their clients out of Airtable live on Twitch. We’ll also dig into the Airtable <> Webflow block that Finsweet is building!
Last week, I streamed Automating Flowmingo with Mackenzie Child. We showed off automating website submissions from Airtable to Webflow including taking a full page screenshot automatically!
I’ve shared before that I wanted to explore new formats and keep the best one. Excited to share that the base design with my colleague Victoria session is going to happen every Wednesday starting in December. You can find the two previous sessions here and here. You can submit your base for review by replying to this email!
That also means, that I’m hoping to find a 2nd weekly session! What content would bring you to the stream? Tweet at me or reply to this email.

I recently came across this ebook from Unqork titled Low code vs No code (they’ve also got a webinar ). I don’t know much about Unqork. From their homepage, Unqork is an enterprise no code tool that works with a wide array of enterprise clients ranging from insurance to big banks. They also recently raised at a 2B dollar valuation. In the ebook Unqork aggressively positions themselves against low code tools.
This post isn’t about Unqork itself but reading that ebook, I thought, do I not understand “low-code” like everyone else does? Why would they position themselves so heavily against low code specifically? In opposition to low-code really.
I’ve always thought that low code–the ability to add custom code to a no-code stack–is a boon! It fills holes in a no code platform. Can’t accomplish something with our existing building blocks? Well, here’s, you know, code! You can do anything with it. It’s the ultimate escape valve so if someone really wants to do something, they can go ahead and invest the resources to code it. Why would anyone be against that?
What I realized is that low-code means different things to different people!
Aron Korenblit
Friends, if I say "low code" what do you think that means?
I got a lot of responses (thank you for that)! Folks were split into the following camps:
1/ low code tools are simply no-code tools that enable coding (what I thought!). Things like Webflow, Airtable, Zapier are all low code in that they let you do most things without code but use code as an escape valve.
Jonas Urbonas
@aronkor Not a friend, yet, but for me it's working with something like @webflow and dipping into the code from time to time to do a few extra bits.
@aronkor A no code tool which allows advanced users to further configure by taking limited code aka DSLs Ex. Excel
2/ Then there were folks who saw low code as no-code tools that had a higher barrier to entry where code was in some sense necessary to getting the tool to work, dashboarding tools like Retool were mentioned.
Helen Ryles
@aronkor Software that supports customization using a coding language that also has a low barrier to entry.

You can learn the specific pieces you need without background coding knowledge.
@aronkor I suppose like anything its a spectrum and people that dont want to code can use low-code / people that code can use no-code.

I'd say @retool / @wapplerio are firmly in the low-code category.
Thomas Christensen
@aronkor For a product, I'd expect a more advanced no-code tool that I need to write bits and pieces of custom code to operate
3/ Then there are tools aimed at developers that speed up the output of code. This could be something like IDEs or even Autocode (but not utilities like Stripe) which abstract some annoying parts of writing code. They make developers more efficient.
Lasha Krikheli
@aronkor Something like a website template/theme that allows custom overrides with basic JS or CSS, but most of the work is already done, or the APIs to tweak things are already built out and you write some code to utilize them
This third bucket is what’s interesting: if you’re talking to a developer, low code is a completely different concept than if you’re speaking to someone with experience with no-code tools! On the developer side, low code requires dev resources. To avoid being lumped in, you’re saying we’re not low-code! We require no developer resources, just give this to your business folks and they’ll build whatever they need themselves! You don’t want to be bucketed in the low-code side of things. On the other hand, no-code folks are worried about power, will this tool be able to do everything I need it to do? Is it actually as powerful as what I can build with in house developers?
The reason I bring this up, is that this is another example of how the name “no-code” is doing us a disservice. Most “no-code” tools today have such a diverse user base that custom code is necessary to serving a lot of those use cases–they’re all actually low-code tools (if we follow our naming logic).
Therefore, we’re lumped with a bunch of developer tools that have very little to do with our goal of letting users create their own software. And may explain why some companies –top down companies especially– have to aggressively position themselves against a low-code category!
Note: this is my monthly allowance for complaining about the word “no-code”, thank you for indulging me!
PS A huge thanks to Stephen O'Grady (@orishnal) for giving the newsletter a review every week before it goes out :).
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Aron Korenblit

Weekly thoughts on the working smarter not harder using no-code tools + a weekly Airtable tip. Written by Aron Korenblit

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