(this article originally appeared in Ionic and was written by Max Lynch)
Today Google announced the shuttering of their App Maker product, a no-code app building tool focused on helping business users build simple apps around a primarily no-code drag and drop and data modeling experience.
While many will see this as yet another nail in the coffin of Google’s enterprise-ready reputation, I see it as a warning for the entire no-code market.
You see, there’s one tiny problem with App Maker: none of the code it used under the hood was built on standards or could be taken out of App Maker.
And as if this were even a question, the shutdown announcement made it clear as day:
Due to the specific source code used for App Maker, you can’t directly migrate your apps to another platform.
Oof! Talk about a disaster.
Lock-in for days
The worst kept secret in the No Code market is that the code nearly every No Code tool builds under the hood is unusable outside of the confines of the tool.
Talk to users at an industry or Gartner conference and you’ll hear horror stories of lock-in, of services that shut down effectively killing heavily used apps, of the inability to expand the features and compatibility of a heavily used No Code app to account for changes in the organization, of developers unable or refusing to work on the mess of hacky, tool-specific code, and of IT unable to take over apps that have seriously embedded themselves in the organization.
With App Maker shutting down, I think of all the teams that invested in building and adopting apps built on App Maker, that will now have no way to modify them, a painful process to export any relevant data created in the app, and the reality that they cannot move the apps to any platform nor export the code.
And to think it all could have been prevented by picking a different platform to build with! This is truly the tragedy of No-code app development.
The future of No-code, Low-code, and “Full-code”
Today, the market for app development products spans the gamut between tools promising zero coding (No-code), those promising minimal coding (Low-code), and those promising only coding (what we’re calling “Full-code”, also known as traditional engineer-built apps).
Predictably, the apps created with each platform go from basic spreadsheet apps and hard-wired code (No-code), to slightly more dynamic data-driven apps (Low-code), to industry-defining consumer apps (Full-code).
What if you didn’t have to decide between those, but could find a platform that could scale up to the most mission-critical and consumer-facing use cases, on top of open standards and quality code that engineers approve of and want to use, all while offering easy to use visual and rapid app dev tools to enable non-engineers to participate?
Building the future
At Ionic, we see a different future for this market and we’re getting to work creating it.
We think the future of No-code and Low-code is a platform that starts first and foremost as an engineer-approved, open-source, standards-based, and scalable technology platform. Then, Low-code and No-code features are built on top of that platform, enabling developers and non-developers to build apps side-by-side. These tools create engineer-quality code and can be worked on both in a code editor and in a visual tool, without ever hitting a wall or making concessions.
With Ionic Framework, we have the first piece of that puzzle: a very popular, developer-approved app building platform, but one focused on the “Full-code” part of the market. Where we’re going next is building amazing new Low-code and No-code features and tools that build on that foundation and go back and forth without losing fidelity or functionality.
We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on. If this interests you, we’d love to chat! Check out our Ionic X landing page for more details and get in touch.