Code? No-code? Visual-code?

I’ve been thinking about making this post for a long time. I haven’t for fear that it could be considered trolling or simply pontificating on something completely pointless.

The “no-code” movement, that Bubble is staunchly leading, is misleading. There is no such thing as “no-code”. I believe it gives the wrong impression to a lot of different potential users right out of the gate.

Consider this quote:

Bubble is a “no-code” web app development platform that began in 2012. At face value, Bubble shares many similarities with the visual UI-building tools for websites and prototypes listed above. But Bubble is, at its core, a true visual programming language

So is it that we are making a distinction that “Visual Programming” is now not “Coding”? Coding is by definition writing (translate as typing) code for a computer program. There is no one here who can claim they have built a Bubble app without having to type anything. Less typing, 100%. No typing, 0%. I know it’s a great phrase to use in magazines, etc but it’s just misleading and not true. Bubble requires you to learn it’s own visual language (e.g. Do a search for, Format as text, etc).

And the most convincing argument that the no-code movement terminology is completely bogus is the sheer number of development firms, no code coaches and no-code coders selling their services here on the forums.

If it is the case that once you have a legitimate no-code platform you don’t need any developers/coders why do we still need so many of these non-development/development/visual programming/whatever we are calling (or not-calling) them firms?

Happy to be enlightened by people smarter than me.

(Full Disclosure: I love and believe in the Bubble platform. It is an amazing tool. I just feel strongly the terminology is at best misleading and at worst extremely confusing.)


I agree :+1:

For what it’s worth, @bubble.trouble, I don’t think you are trolling, I couldn’t agree more with what you wrote, and I have never liked the term no-code because there is no way what we are doing in Bubble isn’t a form of coding.

The above being said, I understand the use of the term no-code because it has probably helped to remove a barrier to entry for a lot of users by making them more willing to try something that is potentially intimidating. I mean, if Bubble referred to their platform as a visual programming language, do you think as many folks would have given it a shot over the years? I’d bet not.

The thing Bubble has done right, in my opinion, is to try to help folks understand that the platform’s learning curve is steep, and users shouldn’t expect to be proficient on day 1 (or day 10 or even day 100). The problem, I think, is that the message about the steepness of the learning curve has gotten lost in all of the fanfare around the no-code movement, and therefore, a lot of folks have come to the platform with unrealistic expectations about what they should be able to accomplish in a short period of time. Again, I give Bubble a lot of credit for what they have done to try to address this issue, but in my opinion, it’s not necessarily working, and the main evidence of that (as you mentioned) is the insane number of services that have spun up to either train/coach folks or build their apps for them.

With regard to that last point, well, don’t even get me started. I think what is going on when it comes to Bubble-related services is downright silly, and I think Bubble needs to do something about it. That being said, I think the problem might be out of their control at this point, and it’s only going to get worse. I actually feel bad for anyone who is looking for some sort of Bubble-related service these days because they don’t have a prayer of being able to figure out which services are legit and which ones are, well, garbage.

Anyway, that’s probably enough out of me, but again, I agree with your post, and I think it’s a super interesting topic.



@mikeloc I appreciate the genuine response. And I think you are probably right about the lack of adoption had it been called Visual Programming. This is my follow-up response. And yes, I know I have spent way too much time thinking about this.

When we, as application builders, are asked to make a choice between coding (This is the evil enemy!!!) and no-coding (This is the long awaited messiah!!!), we are boxed into a black or white decision, asked to choose one extreme or the other. But rarely in life is it true that picking one end of the spectrum over the other turns out to be the best option. We live in a very “grey” world and the truth is that the best choices are usually the options that move us away from dualistic either/or thinking and into a both/and frame of mind. It is admittedly easier to rally around an extreme position, but rarely is that position unifying.

Bubble is boldly going where no one has gone before, forging a path beyond the no-code space where coders and no-coders are unified by a common platform. Bubble is defining the domain and it needs a phrase/category that encapsulates and properly describes the totality of the platform. Call it omni-code or the “Internet of Code (IoC)” or pay someone smart to come up with some new catch phrase. Call it anything that clearly communicates to Bubble users (and potential users) that it is not an either/or no-code framework but a holistic inclusive both/and framework that unites people from all backgrounds and empowers them to work together. This is the direction that will inevitably lead to changing the entire paradigm of application development. This is the holy grail that Bubble knowingly or unknowingly is seeking. It is the place in time and space where Bubble becomes the largest development platform prefered over React, Node, Angular and the other prominent Javascript frameworks. The distinguishing feature of Bubble is not the ability to build applications without coding, but rather the ability to build applications with or without code, the latter being more fun and less time consuming.

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I think even Emmanuel has stated he doesn’t like the term “No Code” but that’s the term that is now popularised and he’s not going to battle against the tide,. On a positive note, having a simple, commonly used phrase helps rather than hinders the growth of the sector, however misleading it may be.

The most misleading perceptions being put out there however are regarding the learning curve & development speed. The perception is almost that you can learn it in an afternoon and build your unicorn app in under a week in your spare time. It just ain’t so.

As for the learning curve, I’m a coder with multiple decades of experience & used to constantly having to learn new concepts. It still took me a while to get my head around it, maybe I had to unlearn & get over a lot of my coder preconceptions, but it was no trivial task. After nearly 3 years since discovering Bubble & 15 months using it as my full-time primary development tool, I still wouldn’t say I’ve truly"mastered" it as such. I still spend at least an hour a day learning & trying to find better techniques.

As for development time, where Bubble truly wins in my opinion, when you’ve got a year or two under your belt with Bubble then 10x or 20x development speed over coding is possible. But initially while still in the learning curve, it’s more like 2x - 5x. If you’re developing a decent sized app that would take an experienced coder 12 months to write full-time, then even at 5x speed, it’s still over 2 months full-time work to build that app.

Bubble visual programming is still programming, it still requires the same mindset and logical thinking to build an app. The idea that it’s like using Excel is wrong. Now using Amazon’s HoneyCode is like using Excel and that’s about as useful as a chocolate oven!


Totally agree with not agreeing that building on Bubble is “no-code”. When people ask me to describe Bubble i use “Visual Programming” or Illustrator for programming (i come from a video production background so I embrace visual editors).

Honestly i was early on my coding learning journey when i discovered Bubble. At that point of time i was always annoyed at how I have to remember all sorts of syntax just to do something simple like a to-do list and wishing i could use something more visual to build apps

Too bad the term “no-code” is here to stay cause it oversimplifies what you can do with Bubble.