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Programming Without Code: The Rise of No-Code Software Development

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Code is the backbone of most software programs and applications. Each line of code serves as an instruction—a logical, step-by-step mechanism for computers, servers, and other machines to perform an action. To create those instructions, one must know how to write code—a valuable skill that’s sometimes in short supply

But what if you could build software without writing a single line of code? That’s the premise behind no-code development, a software development method that has been gathering momentum. With the help of no-code platforms, it’s possible to develop software without writing any underlying code.

Webflow
Image: Webflow

“No-code allows people who don’t know how to write code to develop the same applications that a software engineer would,” says Vlad Magdalin, co-founder and CEO of Webflow, a no-code platform for building websites. “It’s the ability to do without code what has traditionally been done with code.”

No-code development could also be regarded as a form of visual programming. Instead of text-based development environments, users manipulate code elements through drag-and-drop user interfaces. A popular example is MIT Media Lab’s Scratch programming language, which uses graphical programming blocks to teach children and adults how to code.

“It’s more like using building blocks that have logic,” says Lacey Kesler, co-founder of the Visual Dev School. “It’s a way to empower people to create for the web without learning how to code.”

No-code programming is a natural progression in the realm of software development. What began as low-level programming using assembly language—which is as close as programmers can get to machine code instructions—evolved into Java, Python, C, JavaScript, and the other programming languages of today. This evolution involved adding layers of abstraction to hide the complexities behind machine code, making programming easier for software developers.

Despite being a product of technological evolution, no-code development isn’t a novel concept. The computer-aided software engineering (CASE) tools of the ‘90s predate today’s no-code platforms. But CASE tools, as their name suggests, only aim to aid certain activities in the software development life cycle—and not the actual coding itself. Microsoft Visual Basic and Adobe Dreamweaver—which still require knowledge of code—are considered earlier iterations of no-code tools.

Microsoft's Visual Basic used to program a virtual agent.
Image: Microsoft

Today, various platforms exist to enable no-code development. These include Microsoft’s Power Apps and Oracle’s Visual Builder to create mobile and web apps, Oracle’s Application Express to develop business apps, and Salesforce’s Lightning Platform for customer relationship management apps. Even Google is getting in on the action with its recent acquisition of AppSheet, a no-code platform for building mobile apps.

These tools and the applications built with them are gaining traction in the tech world. According to research from Gartner, low-code application development (which also encompasses no-code) will make up more than 65 percent of application development activity by 2024, with three-quarters of large enterprises using at least four low-code development tools.

So what’s behind the growth of programming without code?

“With more powerful computers, more accessible cloud computing services, and better programming languages, you can start building software that allows you to build software,” says Victor Kuppers, vice president of marketing at Betty Blocks, a product that enables no-code assembly of applications from components known as “blocks.”

No-code development is also a solution to a supply-and-demand problem: a rising demand for generating more software, but a limited number of developers who can create that software. “There’s a clear need in the market for more people to create software, and what you can create with code is so valuable,” Magdalin says. “Yet coding is such a difficult skill to learn that the world just can’t catch up. No-code tools are emerging because they’re much easier to learn compared to getting a computer science degree or going through a coding boot camp.”“No-code allows people who don’t know how to write code to develop the same applications that a software engineer would.”—Vlad Magdalin, Webflow

Aside from this minimal learning curve, no-code platforms allow for faster application development, which could lead to lower costs for businesses. It could also eliminate any issues between a person’s vision of a product and how a software engineer brings that vision to life through code. “Software is designed to meet a certain purpose, solve a particular problem,” Kesler says. “With visual development tools, we’re able to do that without handing the project off to a developer or learning how to code it ourselves. It gives us the ability to solve our own problems.”

But perhaps the most important advantage of no-code over code is making software development more accessible. “We’re moving into a world where people who understand the business situation the best or those who interact with customers the most will be building the product themselves,” says Emmanuel Straschnov, co-founder of no-code platform Bubble. “Given that technology is such a central part of our lives, more people should be able to create it. No-code development takes the power of creating software and spreads it among everyone.”

Programming without code is still not a one-size-fits-all solution, though. It won’t have the same precision and won’t offer as many possibilities as code does. “Because it’s a higher level of abstraction, it will be limiting in some ways. You won’t have the same flexibility as code,” says Straschnov.

Moreover, no-code platforms aren’t meant to replace software developers. “I’m a former software engineer, so I used to have the same fear,” Magdalin says. “Just because coding has been automated doesn’t mean the entire skill is gone. In fact, it may even be more valued now. Every business will have something unique that can’t be addressed by a no-code solution. You still need developers for the exceptions that these visual tools don’t support.”

When it comes to the future of no-code development, Straschnov sees it as becoming a natural part of the software ecosystem, with more companies switching to no-code platforms and software engineers extending these platforms to make them more powerful. 

“I hope the future of no-code is one framed in a positive light because it’s democratizing software development,” Kesler says. “I know how to code—I was solely dedicated to Ruby on Rails, but I realized that’s not how I like to create. Once I found visual development, it changed everything for me. No-code development allows others to create in a way that feels natural to them.”

Source: https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/software/programming-without-code-no-code-software-development

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The Motivator

Spotify finally gets this most-wanted feature – and real music lovers will be relieved

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Music lovers rejoice – Spotify has removed the cap on how many songs you can add to your personal libraries, meaning you can save as many tracks and albums as you wish. 

Previously, users has to adhere to a 10,000 song limit when saving songs to their ‘Your Music’ collections – a cap that could be quickly reached if you like to collect full albums and compilations. 

If you did hit that 10,000 track limit, you would receive a message saying: “Epic collection my friend. There’s no more room in Your Library. To save more, you’ll need to remove some songs or albums”.

According to The Verge, Spotify users have been requesting an end to the cap for years, although the company had argued that “less than 1% of users” reached that cap. 

That 1% is clearly important to the streaming platform however, and the ability to save an unlimited number of tracks to their personal library will surely appease Spotify’s most dedicated users. 

There are some caveats, though; in its announcement, Spotify points out that you’ll still only be able to download 10,000 songs on five different devices for offline listening, and that playlists are still capped at 10,000 tracks. 

You may still find that ‘epic collection’ message pops up for the time being; Spotify says that if this happens, “you’ll get the new experience soon”. Presumably it will take the company a little while to roll this out to its 286 million regular users (as of March 2020).

Source: https://www.techradar.com/news/spotify-finally-gets-this-most-wanted-feature-and-real-music-lovers-will-be-relieved

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The Motivator

4 Things to Consider When Choosing Video Conferencing Software

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If you run a small business, then you may have already considered getting video conferencing software. For remote workers especially, staying engaged with colleagues and peers is essential to maintaining work relationships and staying productive.

Considering the major changes currently taking place around the world, businesses are looking for convenient ways to connect to their teams and keep operations moving. On a regular basis, 55 percent of organizations allow their staff to work from home. Now more than ever, the demand to connect is at an all-time high.

However, it’s important to know what to look for when searching for video software. Otherwise, you may end up using an application ill-suited for your business and its employees.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the things you need to consider before choosing conferencing tools to guarantee success for your small business. Let’s get started.

Cost

Perhaps the most important concern for most businesses is what certain technologies will cost them. Unexpected costs are responsible for 56 percent of all cart abandonment, which makes it a pressing issue for many businesses. Luckily, many video conferencing tools are available for free if your company is small or doesn’t have strict requirements.

Before committing to anything, estimate how much you may need to spend on software so you can budget for it. The worst thing you can do is purchase without planning, which may leave you paying for something you don’t need. Keep in mind that 95 percent of marketers plan to increase their video spending next year, so it may be worth it to pay more for what you need.

Group Size

Take a look at how many people you expect to attend online meetings and how much space you’ll need. If you run a small-to-medium-sized business, then most video tools will work for you. However, if you need something that will seamlessly host hundreds, or even thousands, of attendees, then you’ll need to do more research.

Consider how big your conference sizes will be. If you think you can get away with hosting smaller sized meetings, try to organize it. If not, there are options available for larger gatherings.Hosting a meeting you aren’t prepared for makes your company look unprofessional. You want to show your team that you’re a competent leader, and choosing the right tools will keep all of them on track.

Features

Do you know what features are non-negotiable for your company? Some can’t do without the ability to chat while others want to record their live sessions for future use. It’s important to identify what features you need and which ones you can do without. That way, when it’s time to make a decision, you’ll make the best one for your company.

Some popular features you may want to consider include:

  • Recording: Many companies prefer to record their meetings, especially longer ones, so people can rewatch it and continue to learn from it. It’s also resourceful for those who couldn’t attend certain meetings but want to learn the information.
  • Chatting: Speaking up can waste valuable meeting time and steer you away from the main topic, which is why chatting is useful for video conferences. It also reduces interruptions as people can simply type what they’re thinking.
  • Screen sharing: Many companies hold internal webinars and quarterly reviews that require them to show attendees their screen. It’s much easier than navigating users through words and instructions alone.
  • Background images: Recently, companies like Zoom have implemented the ability to upload custom background images. This makes for a fun environment during meetings.
  • Emojis: Some software lets attendees use emojis to express their feelings and avoid interruptions.

Support

If there’s an issue using video for you or your team, you want to make sure you have a backup to find a solution. Most businesses can’t afford to skip conferences where they exchange essential information that keeps their operations afloat.

So, the software you choose must come with excellent customer support. In most cases, you get what you pay for, so if you opt for a free service, you may not receive the help you’re looking for.

Research your software’s ratings and reviews to gauge how well it takes care of its customers. Seeing recurring complaints is a good sign to steer clear and find other options.

Back to You

You want the best for your business and that includes its tools. When it comes to video software, considering things such as cost and customer service ensures that you pick the right fit for your company. How will you decide what elements are most important for your brand?

Source: https://www.business2community.com/communications/4-things-to-consider-when-choosing-video-conferencing-software-02314004

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The Motivator

Wearable device can tell if your cough is the coronavirus

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Researchers in Chicago have developed a new wearable device that can track a person’s coronavirus symptoms, possibly alerting health authorities of new cases before patients are confirmed to be sick.

The small, soft patch adheres to a person’s throat and can monitor a person’s cough, breathing patterns, heart rate, and body temperature, among other factors. It transmits the data to what the developers have called a “HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act )-protected cloud” for monitoring.

Researchers said the device could be used to detect COVID-19 symptoms from home, identifying sick patients before they ever step foot in a hospital.

“These sensors have the potential to unlock information that will protect frontline medical workers and patients alike — informing interventions in a timely manner to reduce the risk of transmission and increase the likelihood of better outcomes,” said Arun Jayaraman, the research scientist at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab who led the algorithm development, in a press release.

Northwestern University's wearable tracker
Northwestern University

“This opens up new telemedicine strategies, as we won’t have to bring in patients for monitoring,” Jayaraman said. “Physicians can potentially review the patients’ data for hours, days, or weeks immediately, through a customized graphical user interface to a cloud data management system that is being set up for this purpose, to see an overall image of how the patient is doing.”

Researchers said the device was developed to sit at a place on the body — the dip in a person’s throat called the suprasternal notch — where it can track the maximum number of COVID-19 symptoms at once.

“Nobody has ever collected this type of data before,” said John A. Rogers, a faculty expert at Northwestern University’s Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science who led the technology development, in the press release. “Earlier detection is always better … for patients who have contracted the disease … the data [is] a mechanism to track the progression and/or the effects of treatments.”

Researchers said they are already making dozens of the devices each week at an in-house production facility in Chicago, and are working to expand deployment of the trackers through a company set up by the team.

Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com/news/covid-health-wearable-tracker/

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