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Generative artificial intelligence (AI) and other AI-based programming tools are making their mark — does this mean they are the ultimate low-code and no-code tools? Yes, but it may be some time before we realize their full potential as productivity super-boosters for developers and eventually non-developers. 

Developers are already deep into generative AI. One-third of respondents in a recent survey out of O’Reilly report using environments such as GitHub Copilot, and ChatGPT — with a caveat. “We suspect this estimate is lowballing Copilot’s actual usage,” the survey’s author, Mike Loukides, suggests. “We’re sure that even if they aren’t using Copilot or ChatGPT on the job, many programmers are experimenting with these tools or using them on personal projects.”

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Full, formal adoption may take time, however. The biggest struggle for developers working with new tools is training (34%), and another 12% said the biggest struggle is ease of use, the survey shows. “Together, that’s almost half of all respondents (46%). That was a surprise, since many of these tools are supposed to be low- or no-code. There’s a learning curve, and it appears to be steeper than we’d have guessed. It’s also worth noting that 13% of the respondents said that the tools didn’t effectively solve the problems that developers face.”

Productivity tools — and specifically the successors to tools like Copilot — “are remaking software development in radical ways,” the report states. “Software developers are getting value from these tools, but don’t let the buzz fool you: That value doesn’t come for free. Nobody’s going to sit down with ChatGPT, type: ‘Generate an enterprise application for selling shoes,’ and come away with something worthwhile. Each has its own learning curve, and it’s easy to underestimate how steep that curve can be.”

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Once developers master generative AI-developed code, expect it to make its way to the citizen developer set. Generative AI has great potential to change the way software is built, tested, and deployed — and add a new dimension to the low and no-code movement. “We are excited about the potential of generative AI for no-code automation,” says Katherine Kostereva, CEO of Creatio. “We expect to see a massive proliferation of use cases for generative and conversational AI in the upcoming years.”

The convergence of no-code and generative AI opens up ways for developers and non-developers alike to employ visual drag-and-drop tools, Kostereva continues. “Generative AI complements and speeds up the no-code development process by automatically pre-generating templates, components, or even entire applications based on the text input from the user. In this way, it will spare the no-code app creator time and effort to convert basic requirements into the prototype.”

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Generative AI “offers a wide range of opportunities to enhance apps with new capabilities and use cases,” she says. “For example, you can easily add a feature to automatically generate human-like text responses, analyze historical data in your app, or use AI’s assistance to generate decision recommendations.”  

When it comes to changes driven by generative AI in the low-code and no-code space, we can expect accelerated development. “Tools that leverage generative AI will expedite the creation of applications using no-code methods,” says Kostereva. Users will be spending more time describing the expected outcome rather than meticulously laying out each step to get there.”

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