1. https://appdevelopermagazine.com/enterprise
  2. https://appdevelopermagazine.com/what-if-we-never-had-to-look-at-code-to-make-an-app/
5/7/2018 8:41:19 AM
What if we never had to look at code to make an app
Visual Development,Dropsource,Low Code
App Developer Magazine
What if we never had to look at code to make an app


What if we never had to look at code to make an app

Monday, May 7, 2018

Richard Harris Richard Harris

Visual development tools are what are needed for the future of mobile development says Nate Frechette, CTO and Co-founder of Dropsource, in an exclusive ADM Q&A he talks about why he understands some programmers have to be picky about which tools they use.

I find it humorous and a little dissatisfying that programming is sometimes defined as; “the action or process of writing computer programs ”, as if we are just sitting down to write a short story!

So here is my definition of programming. Programming is a complex set of engineered problem-solving ideas from the widespread neural network of the brain, that gets translated into un-readable human sentences, line by line, spanning multiple syntaxes, a.k.a languages, that computers interpret as executable actions, typically based on variables inputted from a human interface.

But we all know that inserted between any definition about programming, are the missing lines explaining endless prototype drawings, meetings, alpha versions, testing, and the restart of the entire cycle, and the deadlines -oh the deadlines. Programming is never as simple as sitting down, hammering out lines of code - then viola!

I guess that is why most people bail out of college courses about programming, or would rather watch paint dry before every writing something like (int main() { std::cout<<“Leave my world now!"; std::cout<

If you are a programmer, that was easily readable, the rest of you glazed over the second you saw a squiggly line that represented hell on Earth.

What if we never had to look at the code to program though? We are in full swing of a low-code / no-code revolution in the software development industry. A digital utopia where anyone can create a program by just importing creative assets, and choosing from a list of functions to tell that asset how to behave. But real programmers, the ones that do write code line by line, have serious reservations about these types of tools.

Nate Frechette, CTO, and Co-founder of Dropsource, knows a thing or two about the new wave of programming and why some devs shy away from these types of tools. He says; “Since not all visual tools on the market are built with the developer in mind, many professional developers hold a misconception that visual tools won’t give them enough control to do what they need to do.”.

We recently had a conversation with Nate to talk about “visual development”, and while many die-hard programmers will always stick their nose in the air to it, many others are adopting it at a significant rate, especially in the enterprise. And how the future of visual development is bright enough to cast shadows on the tallest of JS stacks.

ADM: What are some of the key benefits of visual development?

Frechette: Some of the key benefits of visual development include the standardization of an organization’s mobile stack as well as the ability to innovate faster and get feedback from stakeholders to pursue or cease projects. This allows development resources to be better utilized by automating the mundane to make way for new ideas and creative problem solving.

At the same time, visual tools without vendor lock-in offer the added benefit of supplying code written by expert mobile developers, allowing development teams to grow and scale their apps the way they want. 

Lastly, visual platforms can provide features that make updating mobile apps to new versions of iOS or Android much easier. This provides peace of mind to organizations who struggle to stay on top of new operating systems and the constantly changing mobile landscape.

ADM: What is the relationship between visual development and native app development?

Frechette: Fully visual development solutions that produce truly native mobile applications (e.g. code in Swift and Java) are unique, and an ideal pairing. This combination allows organizations to build the most performant apps and create an optimal digital experience, all done much faster than when coding. There are visual development platforms that produce “hybrid apps”, which are based on web technologies like Javascript, CSS, and HTML (therefore non-native). There are also platforms that require your app to run in a runtime environment. This adds overhead to your app and is ultimately used for things like data storage and built-in services like analytics and push notifications. These runtime platforms have advantages, but also have limitations and can bring a lot of overhead. Before adopting a visual platform, I highly recommend evaluating the runtime requirements that are needed for your app to run on a given platform. From what I have seen, visual platforms that produce native apps with no runtime and no vendor lock in are best suited for most organizations.

ADM: What are some of the common misconceptions of visual development?

Frechette: Since not all visual tools on the market are built with the developer in mind, many professional developers hold a misconception that visual tools won’t give them enough control to do what they need to do. In some cases, this is correct, and it’s true that visual tools simply cannot give you the same amount of control as code can. That is a fact, and as a developer myself, I totally get that some developers are hesitant to try visual tools. What’s important for developers to realize is that visual development tools built with developers in mind provide value in their capability to optimize developer workflows for the majority of app development tasks while providing extensibility when needed. For instance, if the platform does not offer a functionality needed for an app, how does a developer remedy that? Can they edit the source code? Is the platform extensible where the developer can contribute to the core offering? Developers need to be able to do their main job; build and deploy the applications needed by business.

Ultimately, the best visual development tools are those that offer enough control while also providing options for extensibility for when the platform cannot keep up with developer demands. This is something I’ve insisted on being a core part of what we’re building at Dropsource: extensibility.

ADM: Many of the visual development tools currently on the market aren’t built with the developer in mind, which is why adoption rates remain stagnant. How can we make these tools more developer-friendly?

Frechette: I’ve said it before, but the problem with visual development tools on the market until now is that they often fail to understand a developer’s needs and preferences. Visual development must provide enough control for developers to do their job in addition to the tooling and integrations they’ve come to expect from other development tools available to them. This includes tooling for debugging, performance tuning, testing, sharing, change management, deployment and more.

Developers - myself included - tend to be particular about the tools they adopt so it’s important that visual development provide equal, if not greater, value that enables them to do their job even better than before. Visual development shouldn’t be looked at as a replacement for developers, however. Instead, it supplements their efficiency.

ADM: How do you see visual development evolving over the years?

Frechette: I see visual development evolving over the next few years to become more developer friendly - some already have, and it’s only a matter of time before we see additional tools embracing the way developers like to work. Consequently, I think you can expect to see more savvy developers embracing visual development over the next few years as well. Subsequently, I see visual tools being able to continue to abstract some of the developer concepts to enable business line developers to create apps.

ADM: How does visual development contribute to an organization's overall digital transformation?

Frechette: The combination of visual and truly native development technologies enable businesses to fulfill their app aspirations that are so critical to digital transformation. Fully visual app development solutions that provide for truly native development allow organizations to create on-brand and optimal digital experiences. Visual development platforms can eliminate some of the biggest barriers to innovation in the enterprise by giving productivity boosts to developers that allow resources to focus on critical problems.

Subscribe to App Developer Magazine

Become a subscriber of App Developer Magazine for just $5.99 a month and take advantage of all these perks.


  • - Exclusive content from leaders in the industry
  • - Q&A articles from industry leaders
  • - Tips and tricks from the most successful developers weekly
  • - Monthly issues, including all 90+ back-issues since 2012
  • - Event discounts and early-bird signups
  • - Gain insight from top achievers in the app store
  • - Learn what tools to use, what SDK's to use, and more

    Subscribe here