No code

When I wrote about democratising dev, I made brief mention of the growing “no code” movement:

Personally, I would love it if the process of making websites could be democratised more. I’ve often said that my nightmare scenario for the World Wide Web would be for its fate to lie in the hands of an elite priesthood of programmers with computer science degrees. So I’m all in favour of no-code tools …in theory.

But I didn’t describe what no-code is, as I understand it.

I’m taking the term at face value to mean a mechanism for creating a website—preferably on a domain you control—without having to write anything in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or any back-end programming language.

By that definition, something like (as opposed to WordPress itself) is a no-code tool:

Create any kind of website. No code, no manuals, no limits.

I’d also put Squarespace in the same category:

Start with a flexible template, then customize to fit your style and professional needs with our website builder.

And its competitor, Wix:

Discover the platform that gives you the freedom to create, design, manage and develop your web presence exactly the way you want.

Webflow provides the same kind of service, but with a heavy emphasis on marketing websites:

Your website should be a marketing asset, not an engineering challenge.

Bubble is trying to cover a broader base:

Bubble lets you create interactive, multi-user apps for desktop and mobile web browsers, including all the features you need to build a site like Facebook or Airbnb.

Wheras Carrd opts for a minimalist one-page approach:

Simple, free, fully responsive one-page sites for pretty much anything.

All of those tools emphasise that don’t need to need to know how to code in order to have a professional-looking website. But there’s a parallel universe of more niche no-code tools where the emphasis is on creativity and self-expression instead of slickness and professionalism.

Create your own free website. Unlimited creativity, zero ads.

Make a website in 5 minutes. Messy encouraged.

unique tool for web publishing & internet samizdat

I’m kind of fascinated by these two different approaches: professional vs. expressionist.

I’ve seen people grapple with this question when they decide to have their own website. Should it be a showcase of your achievements, almost like a portfolio? Or should it be a glorious mess of imagery and poetry to reflect your creativity? Could it be both? (Is that even doable? Or desirable?)

Robin Sloan recently published his ideas—and specs—for a new internet protocol called Spring ’83:

Spring ‘83 is a protocol for the transmission and display of something I am calling a “board”, which is an HTML fragment, limited to 2217 bytes, unable to execute JavaScript or load external resources, but otherwise unrestricted. Boards invite publishers to use all the richness of modern HTML and CSS. Plain text and blue links are also enthusiastically supported.

It’s not a no-code tool (you need to publish in HTML), although someone could easily provide a no-code tool to sit on top of the protocol. Conceptually though, it feels like it’s an a similar space to the chaotic good of,, and with maybe a bit of thrown in.

It feels like something might be in the air. With Spring ’83, the Block protocol, and other experiments, people are creating some interesting small pieces that could potentially be loosely joined. No code required.

Have you published a response to this? :


1 Bookmark

# Bookmarked by Zachary Dunn on Thursday, August 18th, 2022 at 12:09am

Previously on this day

1 year ago I wrote Upgrade paths

If you’re going to deprecate a feature on the web, at least give us an alternative.

9 years ago I wrote August in America, day thirteen

San Diego, California.

11 years ago I wrote Re-tabulate

Combining responsive design with CSS table layout to rearrange the display of content and navigation.

11 years ago I wrote Re-flex

Putting content first by combining responsive design with the CSS3 flexible box layout module.

15 years ago I wrote Wireframework

Frameworks have their place… but that place probably isn’t on the Web.

16 years ago I wrote API changes

Heads up. Flickr and have made some changes.

17 years ago I wrote Joe Clark in the flesh

Ryan Carson, one of the minds behind BD4D, has started putting on some pretty darn excellent one-day workshops in London. He’s already had Eric Meyer over for CSS training. Next week, Cal Henderson will be talking about the building of Flickr.

17 years ago I wrote Blogging from Word

In April 2004, Tim Bray wrote:

18 years ago I wrote A gaggle of geeks

This weekend, Brighton was the setting for Geekend 2: Electric Boogaloo.

19 years ago I wrote Swimming

Swimming is just like riding a bike: life-threateningly dangerous but good exercise.

20 years ago I wrote Betrayal

Take a look at the photo in this PR story from the White House.