Products that enable people to quickly and easily make useful things are on everyones mind. This is referred to as the no-code movement as of late. Closely related, WYSIWYG tools were and still are a big deal.
Before we dive into how all these pieces fit together, let's get the Wikipedia definitions out of the way:
No-code: Allows programmers and non-programmers to create application software through graphical user interfaces and configuration instead of traditional computer programming.
WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get is a system where editing software allows content to be edited in a form that resembles its appearance when printed or displayed as a finished product.
You might see where I'm going with this, but entertain me for a second. It's clear that no-code and WYSIWYG are different, but related. Before we explore this further, we need to go into why these concepts work independent of each other.
Why No-Code Works
In order to understand the no-code movement, you need to understand one of the core concepts in computer science: Abstraction. Believe it or not, we deal with abstractions each and every day.
When you drive your car to work in the morning, you're taking advantage of an abstraction. You don't have to think about how our car works in order to use it. All of the unnecessary details are abstracted away. We can focus on the parts that matter, like getting from Point A to Point B.
This same concept gets applied in programming. Languages, frameworks, and libraries are all built on top of confusing assembly code. Abstraction makes us more productive and makes our tools more accessible. No-code is just the next logical step in that same direction.
“The future of coding is no coding at all” — Chris Wanstrath, CEO of Github
Why WYSIWYG Works
A while back I came across a tweet from Suhail Doshi of Mixpanel that sums up the value proposition of WYSIWYG pretty well:
I like to use the example of Microsoft Word vs. Markdown. While there is a learning curve to using Markdown, I find that the most frustrating part is the feedback loop. When you make changes to a Word or Google doc, they show up immediately. The feedback loop is fast.
On the other hand, when I make a change in a Markdown file, it has to compile. This slows down the feedback loop and therefore slows me down as well. Being able to see the finished product while you are editing is invaluable.
Other examples of this are seen all over the place in Web Development. This is why the CMS is so popular and why products like Squarespace, Wix, and Webflow exist today.
A Perfect Match
If you squint a little, both of these concepts are getting at the same question: How do you make users more productive?
No-code abstracts away complexity to make the system simpler and more accessible for everyone. It makes it easier to do things.
WYSIWYG speeds up the feedback loop by making your development look like the finished product. It makes it easier to see what you did.
Both of these ideas tackle different bottlenecks in our workflow. We create then we iterate on what we created. If it's difficult to do things then we'll struggle. Similarly, if it's difficult to iterate on our work then we'll struggle.
When you combine no-code and WYSIWYG, you get a streamlined workflow where you can create and iterate in rapid succession. A match made in heaven.
The Next Frontier
There's more than enough work to be done in no-code and WYSIWYG, but I can't help but think about the other bottlenecks in creating things that matter. Some examples:
- No-code lets people do things easily
- WYSIWYG lets people see what they did easily
- ??? lets people see the impact of what they did easily
- ??? lets people get feedback on what they did easily
- ??? lets people how what they did relates to other things easily
- And many more!
It seems like we are decoding the development and productivity spaces one product at a time. No-code and WYSIWYG remove two crucial bottlenecks for creating, and there's plenty of less obvious bottlenecks that other products are trying to tackle.
I'm excited to see what the future holds. At the end of the day, the world really is a better place with more creators. Let's see what we can do to make that happen.