Will The No Code Movement Doom Software Engineers?

February 12, 2020
Photo by Charles on Unsplash

“Imagine if only 1 out of every 400 people knew how to write.” 

That’s a line delivered in a video Webflow posted to YouTube titled ”Welcome to the Age of No Code”.

You’re probably already familiar with Webflow, a platform used to design, build, and deploy websites without having to write a single line of code. The company is one of many launched in the last decade that are accelerating the No Code Movement. 

No code tools are democratizing software development by allowing anyone to create application software even if they don't know how to read, write or understand programming languages. 

Companies like Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, and Wordpress have been around for some time to help Average Joes create their own e-commerce stores, work portfolios, or small business website using ready-made templates. But modern no code tools including Airtable, Bubble, Zapier and, of course, Webflow are so powerful and intuitive that anyone with the will can create a reactive, enterprise-level online platform like Turo, Tinder, or Uber all by themselves.

Speaking of Uber, the technology company released an open source, no code machine learning product, Ludwig, that can generate predictions – no data scientist necessary.    

The No Code Movement will only gain momentum each year, with new tools coming online and more and more people discovering they can create their own websites and apps sans coding literacy. This movement surely spells doom for the careers of all those well-paid software developers who are fluent in programming languages, right?

Well, not so fast. 

Firstly, no code tools are great for emerging startups deploying websites, apps, and online platforms, but coders are needed to add features and make the site more robust for the product to really scale. Then, at a certain growth stage, a business’s needs will change such that it becomes more practical to migrate away from third-party tools altogether, which means adding coders to the team who can build the product from scratch and maintain it. 

But let’s just imagine consumer-facing websites all started using no code platforms. Even then, software engineers will still be in high demand as the world becomes ever more automated. All those self-driving cars in the not-so-far-flung future are going to need wizard software engineers to bring the technology to fruition. 

As of this posting, Tesla’s jobs board lists dozens of openings for engineers needed to work on the company’s self-driving Autopilot software. Just about every global automaker has announced electrification and self-driving ambitions, which means demand for software developers by the automotive industry will continue to increase as the vehicles become more high-tech.  

Then, there are the numerous flying taxi projects in development. Airbus, Boeing, Bell Nexus, Ehang, Lilium Jet, and Joby Aviation are just some of the names working on bringing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to market. The companies all rely on software engineers to make these vehicles autonomous and give them the ability to connect to customers’ devices. 

While we’re on the topic of flight, aerospace companies launching rockets with payloads (and soon people) into orbit are all being outfitted with automated controls that can pilot the spacecraft to its destination. Each year, the spacefaring industry gets bigger and that means employing software developers skilled in writing code to engineer everything from guidance to landing systems. SpaceX, Relatively Space, Rocket Lab, and Astra are just a few companies that require a few good computer programmers to help them reach low-Earth orbit, the moon, and beyond. 

Finally, it's worth noting that as digital systems become more integrated into vehicles and even industrial machines, software engineers relying on their honed skills will be the ones creating the user interfaces. They'll also be building the internal portals companies of all stripes use in their day-to-day operations.

The No Code Movement is gaining traction with each passing day, but developers have nothing to fear. Their talents will continue to be coveted not just by traditional tech firms, but also industrial tech companies and OEMs who are building next-generation hardware and require the programming language fluency that only software engineers possess.

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