Is low-code or no-code better for the environment?

Whether low-code or no-code services are better for the environment has been a hot topic in the tech community for quite some time. While the answer to that question is both important and interesting, it is hard to answer precisely. But why is that?

No-code and low-code are becoming more popular. The intention is to include non-tech people in building technology—essentially the same as saying that your gartner should make your next car. Instead of programming, you can create functions with low-code drag-and-drop building blocks. This way, you could create a simple if/else function by first dragging in the if block, adding some action, then adding the else block, and lastly, adding another action. No-code is similar but different. You don’t need any programming knowledge to use no-code software since you can build everything visually. The downside is that no-code restricts you to pre-made functions. This means you can only work with the functionality already made by the developer team.

So, is low-code or no-code better for the environment? The answer is; it depends. To make low or no-code better for the environment, you need to look at multiple variables like:

  • Where is the code hosted?
  • Is the user educated in and using sustainable practices?
  • Have the developers behind the service optimized their code and used sustainable practices?

While low and no-code simplify the development process and speed up things, it might not necessarily make it better for the environment. The building blocks or the code behind these services could be optimized. But when the power is given to inexperienced people, things can ramble. Heavy images and videos can turn a relatively sustainable website into a polluting disaster. I talk out of experience. Before jumping into the sustainable rabbit hole and even before becoming a web developer, I had a travel blog. In my earlier teenage years, I traveled the Philippines, and I uploaded heavy photos and videos to my website every chance I got. I didn’t understand what I was doing, and I know many others are the same. They don’t think about their actions’ impact, only that the more content they push to the internet, the better it is.

Does that mean only web developers should create and maintain websites? No, not necessarily. It is always good to let the experienced handle the development process. But we should also teach the inexperienced what impact their actions have on the environment. You don’t need 10 or 20 years of experience to understand that optimized images, system fonts, and green web hosting have a much smaller impact on the environment. 

So do low and no-code have potential? Yes, I believe soIF the developers behind these services are highly engaged in creating sustainable solutions, and if the people using these services are educated in and follow sustainable practices. If one of these links is missing, low and no-code cannot be better for the environment. At the same time, I also want to clarify that I believe the even better option is to de-grow (to reverse the growth). If the internet grows bigger, it will pollute more, but if it is kept at the size it has now or becomes smaller, it will pollute less when we optimize the content that is already online.

Thank you for reading this article. This article adds my point of view to the debate about whether low and no-code services are better for the environment. This debate has many angles, and my point of view is only one out of many. The original article TheNewStack wrote also covers serverless, which isn’t mentioned in this article. Please also consider reading the article from TheNewStack by clicking this link.

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Michael Andersen
Michael Andersen

Michael Andersen is the author of Sustainable Web Design In 20 Lessons and the co-founder of Sustainable WWW (World-wide-web), an organization teaching sustainable practices. With a passion for web design and the environment, Michael solves puzzles to make the internet more sustainable.

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