Lo-Code, No-Code, ZeroCode?

Lo-Code, No-Code, ZeroCode?

Simon Jenner

Thursday, 5 December 2019

The revolution in low-code/no-code is making it easier for founders to get ideas to market. Here's my experience.

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I’m not a developer, I thought I’d better admit that right at the top of the page. For the past twenty years I have been the guy that owns the business proposition in development teams. My title has changed and the projects have varied in size but my role has always been the same. If I had to pinpoint what has made me good at my job its that I understood really quickly that I needed to embed myself amongst the engineers building my business if I wanted to succeed.

Communication between product owners/marketeers and the technical teams that deliver their products and services has always been a bit of a challenge. Being ‘multi-lingual’ helps the business to understand that sometimes something simple on paper is hard in code. Likewise it helps the engineers to understand that just because the scope doesn’t explicitly say the payment button triggers the payment module it’s probably implicit.

Two years ago I started working on a new Fintech start-up and our CTO introduced me to Bubble.io a low-code, no-code, ZeroCode (ugh) platform. It’s been somewhat of a revelation… but before I dig into why I suppose I ought to provide some background and context.

What is Low Code, No Code, ZeroCode?

Low-code, no-code (sometimes LCNC) and ZeroCode are all terms used to describe the ability to deliver an application, website or other piece of software without first having to learn to write JavaScript, Python, SQL, C++ or any other programming language. From now on I’m going to use the funky ZeroCode as shorthand just because I like the way it looks written down.

ZeroCode platforms are visual integrated development environments (IDE) that allow the user to drag and drop preconfigured components onto a canvas and configure the way they interact with each other and stored data using a simple graphic user interface (GUI). In simple language that means you can build an app on something as simple to use as MicroSoft Excel or PhotoShop.

Incidentally there is probably some dogma surrounding what constitutes low-code or no-code but I see it as a scale of simplicity. ZeroCode platforms are often fully hosted on the cloud and allow a user to create an account and get building without having to install or configure any complicated software.

Some Examples

I’ve already mentioned Bubble.io a fully hosted solution with good connectivity through a library of API and great workflow and data management capability. Some other platforms include:

Betty Blocks: the first truly no-code platform, betty blocks has been around long enough to have a good eco-system of partners and resources.

Dropsource: Dropsource focuses on developing mobile apps and so it’s toolkit is focussed on building, testing and releasing to app stores quickly and efficiently.

Wappler: Wappler is a downloadable visual editor that bridges the gap between code and ZeroCode. You’ll need your own hosting for this one.

At some point I’ll do a proper review of the available solutions. Right now I’d encourage anyone that’s interested to give Bubble.io a try because (full disclosure) one of my companies is now a ‘Bubble Pioneer’ — which I translate as them being our buddies.

Why ZeroCode?

We run a Meetup in Birmingham called ZeroCode Mondays. Last month a chap developing an eCommerce platform in Wordpress asked me why he would move to a ZeroCode platform. It’s a perfrectly reasonable question. Wordpress is, after all, the grandaddy of all low-code solutions.

I think the exact moment you abandon a website builder like Wordpress or Squarespace etc. is when you having to read up and copy code examples to make the available plugins/modules do what you want them to.

For me ZeroCode is the start of a far more important trend. It has lowered the bar for what Betty Blocks called ‘citizen developers’ to build whatever they want, however they want. It means that a proposition owner like me can roll up my sleeves and develop a prototype either with my developers or as a scope to hand over to them. More than that it has allowed me to rapidly deploy prototypes and test them with real customers, gaining invaluable data and feedback early in the development cycle.


ZeroCode is disruptive. Two years ago the number of startup businesses that had a working application with live customers was limited because the cost of software development was prohibitive. Now that cost on entry has vanished. Competition for investment and customers will increase exponentially. This is good news for end users, less so for existing business owners that don’t have a defensible proposition.

Of course ZeroCode isn’t a panacea. The functionality still has its limits and there is always a learning curve. Bubble isn’t as quick as a proprietary development and we have some questions around SEO. We still use ZeroCode for prototyping and developing minimum viable products (MVP) but tend to then hand these over when we are happy with the functionality so that they can be developed on a more efficient technology stack that we own. This speeds up the development and testing cycle considerably.

Nonetheless, this is the start of a new revolution and things can only improve from where we are today. I would encourage everyone to build an application in ZeroCode and see if people will use it. You never know it might make you into a millionaire.

About us

We are Million Labs. We build things for ourselves and for our clients and see if we can get people to use them. We use ZeroCode and Google Ventures Design Sprints to rapidly develop ideas and get them to market. You can find us at https://millionlabs.co.uk

Our founders Jof and Simon are serial entrepreneurs and have owned everything from banks to pants factories. They can be found most days in Simon’s coffee shops laughing at each others silly ideas.

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