Sprout Labs

No code as an abstraction

Stephen Meriwether
Stephen Meriwether
Published on: 
July 7, 2020

From the advent of the transistor to now, programmers and computer scientists have been obsessed with abstractions. Abstractions, in the software sense, is a technique to make hard things a little easier by suppressing complex ideas into simple idioms. Software programming languages are abstractions.

Computers work by executing code written in the Assembly programming language yet few people today write code using Assembly. Writing Assembly is hard. So we’ve created new programming languages that can be translated into Assembly but are drastically easier to learn and use. Now, new programmers can write code in these newer, easier-to-use languages, without ever thinking about Assembly. In fact, most programming languages today are abstractions built on top of many layers of abstractions. And with every new layer of abstraction, the programming languages become ever so slightly easier to learn and use. As programming languages become easier to use more people are able to use them. More people are able to become programmers. More people are able to build software. More software is built. The software-dense world we live in today is due to these abstractions in programming languages.

I’d argue that no-code tools, like Bubble or Draftbit, are yet another layer of abstraction but represent a step-function improvement in usability. In a sense, no-code tools can be thought of as a new programming language. Like any other programming language, no-code tools come with building blocks that can be used and combined to create software. Like any other programming language there’s a learning curve and like any other programming language there’s limitations. Yet, no-code tools are drastically easier to pick-up and use. What would’ve taken months or years to learn can be learned in a weekend or two. Even more people will be able to become programmers. Even more people will be able to build software. And even more software will be built. If you believe, as I do, that software is a net-positive for society, no-code tools drastically increase the upper-bound of potential.

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