In our classrooms, children are being taught how to code. Yet in our workplaces, adults can now build their own applications – without having to code. So what are the parallels? In this article, we look at the changing face of computer code and its opportunities for generations at each end of the spectrum.
As parents and carers, we will be well aware of the government’s thrust towards teaching children ‘how to code.’
According to Michael Gove, the new curriculum teaches children, “how to code, and how to create their own programs; not just how to work a computer, but how a computer works and how to make it work for you.”
Using visual programming languages (VPLs) such as Scratch, children as young as five can create everything from a moving monkey to an animated birthday card – without having to “hand code” the required logic.
Using Scratch, business logic is all taken care of through blocks; puzzle piece shapes that are used to create code. Each data type has its own shape and slot.
Blocks can be quickly and easily built into connected ‘stacks’ that create fully functional scripts. The code is all there – it’s just wrapped in a way that enables regular users (and children) to achieve what they set out to do, unhindered by “lines of code.”
Scratch was brought about in part as a stepping stone to the more advanced world of computer programming – with the hope that more children will develop the skills needed to become brilliant software developers.
At some point, those that make computer science their career will of course exchange Scratch for specialist languages such as C++.
But it’s not all about trying to create the next generation of whizz kids. Campaigners argue that learning programming skills will teach our children logic, reasoning and develop a confidence to try new ideas – undoubtedly invaluable life skills.
The rise of the Citizen Developer
So what’s happening at the other end of the spectrum? Every forward-thinking organisation appoints people whose job it is – officially or otherwise – to draw out efficiencies. In the past, these people had no choice but to go to IT to get the requisite systems implemented: from reporting to process management.
And now? As part of an emerging trend towards end-user development, increasing numbers are creating their own software applications. But this group is unlikely to know how to code.
They are the “citizen developers” – which, according to Techopedia, “is not a professional developer who is paid to code applications, but an “amateur,” someone who uses the tools available to him/her for building applications that his/her team can or will use during the course of their work.”
In this sense, there are some interesting parallels between what we see happening in our schools and what’s going on in our companies.
Turning ideas into apps
Driven by the need to produce customer-focused applications, a new breed of software allows business users to create useful IT applications without having any particular coding skills.
Take Business Process Management (BPM) packages like FLOvate’s LEAP platform.
In a parallel to Scratch’s funky building blocks, components are used to quickly create fully functional scripts without programming – hence the ‘zero code’ label. The idea here is not however to inspire a long-term move towards computer wizardry, but to encourage those driving business decisions to get what they want – and to get it fast.
Coding Across The Generations: 3 Final Thoughts
So while learning to code vs zero code development seems paradoxical, there some interesting parallels to be drawn…
- You don’t need to learn a programming language to build something useful.
- IT should allow you to add value quickly – and give you the framework to get there
- IT should be an enabler – not a barrier to innovation.
Intrigued by the possibilities of the LEAP platform?
Book a demo today and see for yourself how easy it is to build complete processes without learning code.