The proliferation of low-code and no-code applications is changing the software landscape. Over the past decade, the growth in these areas has enabled employees, regardless of their technical background, to develop solutions at the speed of a digital world.
This raises several questions: What kind of programmers do companies really need? Should they still rely on programmers who have been formally trained at four-year universities – so-called “white-collar” programmers? Or are blue-collar programmers with self-taught skills or those who learned from bootcamp more valuable? What does the right mix of programming skills bring to companies?
The short answer is that Everyone Programmers can be of great value. In general, blue-collar programmers connect things within the computing environment, while white-collar programmers create the things that are connected. The essence of low code is that it enables more people to connect things and use their creativity to become more productive. But it doesn’t make professional programming and tools unnecessary.
At its core, low-code and no-code are about democratization. They enable people without technical skills to be creative in such a way that everyone essentially becomes a programmer. A parallel to an earlier generation of computers is the Excel spreadsheet, which enables people without programming knowledge to do arithmetic tasks and ultimately work their way up from simple formatting to full-fledged programming. But at some point, sophisticated programming skills are still required, no matter how easily no-code or low-code some of these elements can be made.
In the breakneck speed of cloud-based computing environments, with new services being developed and deployed at the edge all the time, it pays to consider the differences between white-collar programmers and their training.
Four-year colleges vs. training camps
A career as a programmer can be intimidating to viewers. This is especially true when these jobs involve complex languages such as C ++ and Java, which are often used in large projects that can take years to develop and involve millions of lines of code. Some of this is still true, but the evolution of programming over the years, towards languages that require less code, such as Python, and to domain specific languages (DSLs), has also started to lower the barriers to entry into programming.
It’s true that as a programmer you never needed a four-year degree in computer science. In fact, many who dropped out of college or never attended college have made significant contributions to the industry. However, universities offer a foundation in theory and algorithms that has always served programmers well and enables them to enter new areas such as artificial intelligence or other disciplines such as bioinformatics. Coding bootcamps, for their part, can provide in-depth training on DSLs or frameworks like Rails or React.js that benefit corporate plans and give blue-collar programmers the practical skills that white-collar programmers may not have. They also attract career changers with four-year degrees in other subjects, including the humanities and science, bringing much-needed new ways of thinking into the profession.
While either method is valid, 4-year institutions and bootcamps both have their shortcomings. Universities delve deep into software development theory, but often do not emphasize critical aspects of work, such as teamwork, testing, and agile processes. They don’t focus very much on core business areas like cloud computing today, either. Bootcamps, targeting specific areas and emerging technologies and languages, can help people find internships or entry-level jobs, but they don’t provide broader theoretical knowledge about programming. And they can be hit-or-miss, with some of them employing sketchy payment and job placement practices.
The inherent weaknesses in both commercial and commercial training can be remedied through training and internships, but only to a certain extent. The question remains: Who will train low-code programmers in modern development and coding practices? Many companies toss around terms like agile and CI / CD, but they are often just new labels for old, inefficient practices. Businesses will need white collar programmers to bring blue collar programmers up to speed.
Programming for the masses
No-code software is a great enabler that enables people with no formal training or experience to master a programming environment. On the other hand, for those with a formal education – be it formal education or bootcamp experience – low-code simplifies their work and leaves time to focus on more complex projects. But, programmers or not, no-code and low-code solution users need to understand more than just deployment and testing if they want their software to be reliable and useful.
Professional developers can make a difference by building and maintaining the pipelines used to build, test, archive, and deploy low-code software. You need to develop new tools to support low-code frameworks. And while they become familiar with current development techniques, they could become teachers of basic computing practices that do not involve coding.
A collaborative, productive relationship between white-collar and blue-collar programmers is essential to advancing software development as it will allow both to continue to acquire new skills and experience outside of low-code, the only product of programming is no matter how ubiquitous it may be.
Establishing the connection
Today we are entering a business world where virtually everyone has to code, which requires low-code and no-code frameworks, especially for users without formal training. However, the importance of professional programmers will also remain.
We are likely to see a proliferation of DSLs designed to solve specific problems that will eventually evolve into universal programming languages. Programmers need to build web frameworks, cloud features, and more, including everything from web widgets to high-level tools that users can work with. This is the only way we can meet the demand for more programmers as more devices come online, more connections are made, and the world increasingly relies on automation.