Dustin Getz

Jan 8, 2022

Low-code is boilerplate automation, not abstraction

Low-code application development is supposed to make software development easier, but the reality is that it turns into a tangled mess of half-baked components.

You understand your data model and how functionality maps to it. You understand databases and logical functions.

Why does it have to be so complicated?

The complexity of software development is overwhelming, and getting worse

  • toolchain complexity prevents us from even starting the real work

  • web development requires a full team of specialists (backend, frontend, UX, data, infrastructure), one developer is not enough

  • risk is out of control - even if you make an investment, who knows what you'll have at the end or how long it will take

Low-code is boilerplate automation, not abstraction

The rise of modules/APIs have lowered the volatility risk from technology change. Interfaces change less frequently to attract more adopters.

This means low code systems can now make long term stability assumptions, and then design opinionated systems that automate boilerplate construction.

Low-code is baking in accidental complexity, not reducing it! That's why all the complexity is leaking through.

Software tools should match how you think

  • you want to think in terms of the data of your business domain, not technical internals like frontend/backend

  • you need a unified information model to express your domain, not different ones for each different component of the stack (UI, backend, API, database, infrastructure)

What you want is abstraction: you want to think at a higher level without caring about internal plumbing.

Pervasive plumbing is what makes web software so complicated

Modern web information systems are characterized by being connected: your application is composed of many individual components (APIs, databases, servers, browsers, monitoring, analytics ...). You outsource many or most of these components for efficiency, but now they don't run on one machine, rather many that are connected by networks. And now programmers are needed to code network data plumbing to integrate the networked components and move your data between them.

True simplicity requires strong abstraction

The strongest abstractions in programming come in the form of programming languages. C abstracts over machine language. Java abstracts over memory. Python abstracts over data structures.

To simplify information systems, we need to abstract over this network data plumbing that connects the pieces of your system.

A new kind of language, and a new kind of low-code

I am an independent software researcher and I have been working full-time on this problem for five years. Together with an amazing team of indie software researchers, in the last year we've built a new kind of programming language whose compiler manages all your data plumbing, so you don't have to know or care where your functions run.

Atop this, we're developing a low-code software modeling tool that lets you quickly develop production-grade applications, that can eventually grow to the scale of products like Facebook.

To learn more, follow us on twitter here, and introduce yourself in DM! We'd love to understand your problems so we can make the best possible tool.

Dustin Getz

Founder @ www.hyperfiddle.net, a low-code software modeling tool for building transactional information systems. Real software, just simpler.