The Myth of Low Code / No Code
You may have heard about new database software platforms labelled as “low code” or “no code”. The implication is that anyone can build what they need using one of these tools without learning to write code. Expanding the world of software development to nontechnical people is a compelling idea. Nonprofits needing a database may decide on a “do it yourself” approach and why not? Software
engineers are expensive, can be hard to find, and their projects may take months to complete. Bypassing all that and going straight to results would be a major improvement, right? Let’s take a deeper look.
While setting up the basic objects may be a mostly “drag and drop” proposition, most low code / no code platforms use a proprietary scripting language (i.e., code) to perform automated functions. Becoming proficient with the language can be complicated and time-consuming for nontechnical people. Also, those with no background or training in developing databases will not be familiar with the rules of normalization or the idea of linked table relationships. Not knowing these concepts will contribute to basic design mistakes that more experienced users will easily avoid. Also, these platforms usually provide a referral process for “experts” or “partners” to hire when help is needed. If creating their applications was so easy that anyone could do it, a referral process would not be needed. The fact is, while those with sufficient persistence and experience may be able to develop a functional database, the work will take a lot of time. If you’ll be doing the work yourself, will your nonprofit be able to stay on track while you take time to learn the platform and tweak the database?
Instead, your best bet is to bring in someone with proficiency in the platform you choose, even if you’re using low code / no code software. The more experience they have using that software, the better and faster they can create a system for you and allow you to focus on your core mission.