Low-Code: The Best Programming Language To Learn?

Dominik Keller
Oct 18th, 2022
Blog

Low-Code: The Best “Programming Language” To Learn?

Full-stack developers are the Jacks and Jills of all trades in software development. They plan, design, and build the digital applications that consumers and businesses use on a regular basis. No wonder that in an increasingly digital world, full-stack developers are in high demand. But what is the best programming language to learn in order to secure a job in full-stack development?

The Demand For Full-Stack Developers Is Rising

More and more companies want to hire full-stack developers because of their fluency in multiple general-purpose programming languages and frameworks. A report done by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the number of full-stack developer jobs will rise from 135,000 to more than 850,000 by the year 2024. And the industry is projected to see a further 22 percent employment growth until 2029.

And more and more developers want to work as full-stack developers. Full-stack development puts them in charge of all aspects of app development, from the server-side scripts to the client-side development.

But learning all of the top programming languages involved in full-stack development is a challenge. A blog post from Columbia University’s School of Engineering lists no less than 11 useful skills and languages to learn for full-stack developers, from CSS to Python, SQL, HTML, and web architecture. Planning and designing the technical, functional, and visual components of web pages, mobile apps, or web applications requires proficiency in multiple, different technologies.

Full-Stack Development Explained

Originally created by and published on https://bootcamp.cvn.columbia.edu/blog/what-is-a-full-stack-developer/

But not everybody has the time, nor the patience to go through coding bootcamps in all these different programming languages. Plus, the learning curve for picking up a new language can be quite steep. Whilst easy-to-read and -write languages like SQL or Python can be rewarding and fun to learn, mastering more complex languages, such as JavaScript or C#, can be a years-long journey.

What Are The Best Programming Languages To Learn To Land A Job As A Full-Stack Developer?

A full-stack developer is in charge of the front-end and back-end development of web pages or web apps. In order to succeed in this role, developers need to have some understanding, or even better some degree of fluency, in things such as object-oriented programming languages and web technologies.

It’s best to start by learning general-purpose programming languages that are widely used and have big support communities, such as JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and SQL. Let’s look at each one of them one by one:

  1. JavaScript is the only supported scripting language supported by all browsers (something that WebAssembly is trying to change). It is widely used in dynamic websites and defines a website’s or web app’s behavior. Almost all websites use JavaScript in one way or another, making it the number 1 essential skill for full-stack developers.
  2. Understanding HTML is essential when building for the web. HTML is the backbone of the web and understanding its structure can be helpful in a variety of use cases, from building well-structured websites to scrapping data off them.
  3. CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is another essential must-know technology for any full-stack developer. CSS defines how a website or web app is presented to the end-user. Without CSS, the web would be a much more boring and less colorful place than it is today.
  4. SQL, or Structured Query Language, lets developers communicate with databases. Reading and writing SQL is pretty straightforward. Even though the technology is relatively old – SQL was invented in the 1970s – it remains the most widely used language for writing queries, a skill that useful for web development or data sciences!

Of course, the list does not stop here. Python developers, for example, have been in high demand for several years now, and having a good understanding of Python (or other functional programming languages) can boost your chances of landing a full-stack developer job.

My Software Developer Journey

First up, I am not a software developer. I studied finance and have spent most of my career working at software companies, but not in software development. I dabbled in software development and would now consider myself a fully-accomplished, self-taught Jack of all trades, master of none! However, I do love reading (and writing, obviously) about technologies, software engineering, and programming languages.

My personal software developer journey started on popular coding and data sciences websites, such as W3Schools, Codecademy, and Kaggle. I started learning JavaScript, Python, and SQL and have developed a basic understanding of each one of these languages. I can now read simple code, and (with the help of Google) write very basic code, but I certainly do not claim to be, nor do I consider myself a full-stack developer.

Nevertheless, there are a number of lessons that I have learned from my journey into software development:

  1. You will not be a full-stack developer in 12 weeks. Based on my own experience, properly learning one programming language easily takes a few months of full-time, dedicated study. Yes, you can learn the basics of multiple programming languages and frameworks in a coding bootcamp in just a few weeks. But don’t expect your journey to stop here. The bootcamp is just the beginning. Most importantly, don’t expect companies to automatically hire you if all you have to show on your resume is the completion of a 12-week coding bootcamp. Why? Because anyone who has 12 weeks of time (and the course fee) available can complete such a course. To use a bit of business lingo: you don’t have a hard-to-copy, sustainable advantage over other applicants, so with just a BootCamp on your resume, it does not stand out from other applicants.
  2. Being a good developer means more than writing code. Online coding classes are great at teaching you the hard skills of software development, i.e. how to read and write code. But being a good developer is more than writing code. It’s a mindset. A developer solves problems. Code is just the tool that they use to solve a problem. Mastering the tool is one thing. But knowing how to approach problems logically, how to break them down into smaller pieces, and then writing clean, maintainable, and well-structured code is a skill that needs years of honing.
  3. Learning how to write code can be frustrating. As with any new skill, learning how to code can be frustrating at the beginning. Coding tutorials will present you with challenges such as reversing a string or looping through a dictionary. Or they will teach you concepts such as global and block level scope in JavaScript. Fun! While these are important concepts to learn, they can initially seem irrelevant to “real-world” problems. After all, how many times have you come across an app that reverses a gnirts (excuse me: string)?

Low-Code: A Fast-Track To Full-Stack Web Development?

Before we take a closer look at low-code, let me clarify one thing: low-code is not a programming language. So my title is somewhat misleading. I would consider low-code to be more of an approach to software development: one that enables developers to achieve business outcomes faster compared to a full-code approach.

Starting your developer journey with a low-code tool can be a fast track to a career in software development. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Low-code tools are designed to solve business problems and flatten the learning curve. When learning a low-code tool, you will not learn how to reverse a string or how to loop through a dictionary. Instead, you will learn how to solve business problems through technology. Some low-code tools make it very easy to build online database applications, such as custom CRM or membership systems. Others excel in building custom mobile apps. In general, low-code tools are much more opinionated than general-purpose languages, meaning they prescribe a certain way of solving a particular problem. This means that you will work on actual business problems much earlier in your developer journey, and see results much faster than you would when learning raw programming languages.
  2. Not every developer will work at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, or Amazon. Let’s face it: not every developer will be the next Bill Gates or Steve Wozniak. According to McKinsey, more than half of the world’s software developers work at non-software companies. A lot of developers solve fairly mundane business problems in their day-to-day jobs. The sales department needs a custom form to gather leads? Or a hospital wants to digitize its patient questionnaire? In order to solve common business problems, you don’t always need to understand the full stack. Instead, you could simply learn a low-code tool that is designed to solve these problems. This boosts your chances of landing a job, as your skills align with the problems that businesses are trying to solve.
  3. Even if you are an accomplished full-stack developer already, learning a low-code tool can help you develop faster. Often, accomplished full-stack developers will face situations where their skills are too advanced for the problems they are asked to solve (which probably explains why so many developers like to have side hustles or personal projects: they find their day jobs unfulfilling). With a low-code solution in their toolbox, they can solve these problems faster, freeing up their own time to focus on more complex challenges.
  4. Low-code tools are a great career stepping stone. Some low-code tools let software developers use those technologies that a full-stack developer would be expected to know. Five, for example, lets developers use full code written in SQL, CSS, HTML or JavaScript almost anywhere. But you could also build and deploy a simple application without writing full code. In this way, you can quickly find out if software development is for you, and you can gradually strengthen your skills to build more and more complex applications.
  5. Low-code enables you to quickly build a portfolio of applications. I have interviewed dozens of developers in my career and there’s nothing that I appreciate more than a developer with a strong portfolio of applications. Having a portfolio of applications demonstrates creativity, drive, and passion for software development. With low-code solutions, you can quickly build your own application portfolio.

What’s The Best Way To Get Started?

My tip: sign up for free accounts with multiple low-code solutions and build commonly used business applications, such as CRM, membership, or inventory management systems.

If free accounts are time-limited, document what you have developed in PowerPoint. Or, better, record a video of you demonstrating the solution. In your video, explain how you’ve built your solution, and keep videos within 5 minutes. Focus on the most challenging parts of the development process and explain what you’ve learned by using a particular low-code solution. Do not explain what a custom CRM or inventory management system is.

Remember: you want to be a developer, not an end-user of the system you’ve built. Focus on the development process, and not on the solution. Last, put the videos on your resume (a YouTube link will do), ideally right at the top.

Of course, I am biased, but if you’d like to give this a try, why not start with Five? Five lets you build & deploy online database applications, primarily for business purposes.

Conclusion

In software development, there are always multiple ways of achieving the same outcome. The same is true for a career in software development. Both paths mentioned above are viable paths to becoming a full-stack developer: if you are absolutely certain that software development is for you, we would encourage you to jump right into the nuts and bolts of software engineering and start by learning programming languages from scratch. Alternatively, if you would like to see progress quickly and take a more gradual approach, you can experiment with low-code to see if application development is for you. And then you can build your career as a full-stack developer step-by-step.

Whatever path you choose: good luck and happy coding!

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