"No-code" is totally gonna replace software developers

I can only assume that you have also heard the news. Software developers have two, maybe three years left before their jobs are made obsolete. It's finally coming true; no-code development will replace us all.

It's called citizen development. Too long have the arcane mysteries of development been concealed within the programmers' ivory tower. By simply obscuring the incomprehensible glyphs of code behind a visual interface, any member of an organization can harness automation power once attainable only by the most sage software developers.

The great insight here is that it's the end users who best understand their own requirements. As everyone knows, knowing specifically what you want is simple. One can only expect some learning curve in translating requirements into a system, but when the intimidating task of typing code is replaced with dragging nodes on a graphical interface, these systems become a lot simpler. Requirements rarely change, but when they do, it will certainly be easier for citizen developers to edit their no-code solution, than for a programmer to restructure their codebase. Maintaining these systems across operating system upgrades and dependency changes has always been nothing more than busywork for developers, and by abstracting all of a system's dependencies behind a simple interface, it will surely not be a problem anymore.

Inevitably, some will become more adept with no-code platforms than others. Interest, experience, and talent in any field are valuable assets for business, and no-code is no exception! When one person's ability grants them the productivity of five of their colleagues, there will be a great incentive to assign them more of the no-code development tasks. Before too long, some business might even hire people with specific experience in no-code platforms.

At this point, when sufficient abstraction has made the building of complex systems attainable to all, when the citizen developers have determined the requirements and architecture of their systems, and when knowledge of the abstracted platform has become a valuable specialty, software development will finally be made extinct.

The push towards"no-code"/"low-code"/"citizen development" is often criticized as being driven by an ignorance of the real work of programmers. Beyond the concerns of maintainability, licensing, security, performance, and all the rest, though, is the most deeply ironic form of ignorance: an attempt to replace something with itself. Programming is already an industry built on human-friendly abstractions, and the demand for specialization within those abstractions increases constantly. No-code platforms don't reduce the demand for people skilled in designing and maintaining systems - they're just easier to sell to management.

← Read my other thoughts | Written 2022-07-18 | License