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May 19, 2022

E023 Georges Duverger: Head of Product @ Draftbit

NoCode Is Still Too Complicated. The Future Of NoCode Is Combining Extreme Simplicity with Power.

Georges Duverger is the Head of Product at Draftbit (YCombinator W18). He is an ex-engineer at eBay and Hunch (acquired).
Georges is a Butter enthusiast at Telegram Cookies. A twin dad. And a French national.
His Twitter: @gduverger 
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Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 0:08
Once upon a time, there were millions of businesses struggling. Every day they wasted time, effort and energy on repetitive tasks that added no value one day, the better automation podcast by PROCESIO came to help them find a way. Because of this, these businesses save time, reduce costs, innovate and make better decisions because of that. These businesses grow, scale, and use human creativity to change this world. Hello, my name is Aziz, and I'm your host that Better Automation podcast by PROCESIO where I interview the world's top experts and share their very best ideas on how to improve automation in your business, processes and life. My guest today is Georges Duverger. Georges is the head of product at Draftbit, which was you know, supported by Y Combinator W18. He is an ex engineer at eBay and Hunch which was acquired. Georges IS a butter enthusiast at Telegram Cookies, aTwin Dad and a French National. George, how are you today?

Georges Duverger 1:25
I'm very good. Thanks for having me on your podcast. I'm really excited.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 1:29
Me too. I'm honored and privileged. I'm lucky. And I know you have spent a lot of time thinking about the future of work the future of software development. So what do you currently think about the whole topic?

Georges Duverger 1:46
Yeah. The future of software development is definitely on my mind a lot. I think it's a it's a broad topic, but I try to just share some of my thoughts on the topic. There's a lot of interesting thing going on right now in software development in computer science in general. So, you know, between blockchain and which most people will be exposed to through like FFT and crypto, or the work around Metaverse, machine learning is still we're still discovering very interesting use cases. And no code is one of those interesting topic in computer science. And while I'm not particularly qualified to talk about the first three like blockchain, Metaverse, and, and machine learning, I definitely have more experience in an awkward space having worked at drop it for a few years. And I guess the way I'm thinking of no code right now, I really think that no code has two competitors. So the alternative to no code right now will be on one apathy. And on the other end code itself. And so what I mean by that apathy is a little bit of a strong word. And I don't mean that in a overly judgmental way, but there is if you can picture like a spectrum, on the left hand side, you got apathy, which is, you know, 8 billion people on Earth, and most of them through not having the chance, or the opportunity or the privilege to learn how to code and just learn some concepts about computer science. They have, I'm sure, they're very creative, no doubt about it. And they, they, they could provide a lot of interesting expenses, but they don't have the mean, or the energy or the time and resources to create those digital experiences. So that's what I put in the bucket of apathy. And again, not in a judgmental way for those folks. And on the other side of the spectrum, you've got code itself. So you know, these 25 30 million developers who did have the chance to learn a code, and now they're very powerful in society, they can create very interesting experiences. And so I put no code in the middle of that spectrum right in the center. And the interesting thing is that it's spreading in both direction, the entire NoCode space, so you've got tools and services that are aiming to lower the bar. So it's way more user friendly, and people can just get started and express all that creativity and hopefully to get that a billion people to the ability to create digital experiences. So tools like you know, to give a few names for people to relate a little bit more like Glide is doing great job at that card is doing a great job at that like that simple experiences very user friendly to bring those concepts to make those concepts accessible. The trade off though, because there's often a trade off is that it's Silla, limited, right? The experience you can create in those environments are a little limited. In the It's definitely a mission driven company. So it's completely fine to that trade off in that context on the other. And going back to the second competitor, which is code itself. So I think draft bid and a few other companies are more and more competing against code itself. So like now, in the case of Travis, it's starting to make sense to use Travis as opposed to build to do in code, even though even for the people who do know the code. And there are other examples, we're not the only one like, Look, you will not necessarily think of building your own database. Now, you might use airtable. Even if you do know how to use how to create a database, you might, you might not want to create a marketing website, even though you do know HTML and CSS, you might use Webflow instead. And for a backend, you might use like Zana, Firebase like all those tools now, like, they lower the need to do it yourself, even though you know how. And as a signer, it's been interesting for me, because I've been software engineer and I'm in product. And I've, I'm not a preaching that transformation, but I've really lived it. So I used to code everything and, and slowly but surely over the last couple of years, now I'm defaulting to those no code tools. So that's kind of how I think of the spectrum. And in terms of because the long answer, but the problem was like the future of software. So like, what does it look like in the future, I don't have a good sense of what the competitive landscape will be like, if it's a winner takes all market. Like if you have one of those big folks I mentioned, or maybe someone you know, even mentioned, we'll take that entire spectrum, it seems hard, because you're really going for two different strategy. But maybe there'll be a couple of different players, one for each of those strategy. The thing that's a little bit more clear in my head, regardless of who Windows market is that we won't be writing code. Over the next few years, maybe in five years, like 20, or 30% of the code is not being written by hand, it's just using one of those visual developments. So the same way we know at writing binary code, you will not write code anymore, I see that as a natural evolution. And so that leaves me with questions. So like, how do we get there? I don't think it's automatic that we're going to get to that point, I think it's a lot of work to be put into it's a drive it, we worked at it every day to like, how do we make that future reality? And the other question that leaves me with is, what does that change? Once you got, even in the next couple of years ago, 20 30% of code being written through visual development, tools and services that were that change for the ecosystem. So those are the kind of thing that I'm thinking of, on a day to day basis.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 7:49
Thank you. I love this, I have questions about both sides of the spectrum. So I'll begin with the apathy side, and maybe on a side note that can be interesting to the viewers is that there is something called the status quo bias, which is often when you lose a sale, or people don't take action, it's not because they went to a competitor, it's because change is so scary for human beings, that they will do nothing, rather than make a decision or change because the devil you know, is, you know, safer than the devil, you don't know. And therefore, speaking about that, I spoke one time to one of the founders of a no code tool that is in the other direction that's supposed to help developers save time by working in a visual development environment so that they don't waste time on things that are too simple and that don't require thinking, but he said, Look, you cannot take any person, like a gardener from the street and make him a visual, no code developer. It's not like that. The he needs to understand software architecture, he needs to have the basics of software engineering, and therefore this dream of citizen developer was to him just an illusion. I know I'm playing the devil's advocate. What's your perspective on this?

Georges Duverger 9:12
Yeah. No, that's, that's, that's a that's a very good point. I think the holy grail is to be able to be both simple and powerful. So like both sides to to like address both and that spectrum I was talking about, and I think we might get there. But more importantly, it's hard to get there right away. It's sad for that to be your your destination on day one. So we kind of have to like figuring out figure out intermediary milestones for like, not only from a business point of view, because you know, you still need to run a business in while you're building that holy grail, but also from like, you know, you want to grow with the market. You want to grow with the The creators, the no coders and people who do not occur, people don't occur, things are changing like these also, schools now teach you different things like the whole ecosystem is, is evolving. So you want to evolve with it. So in that sense, right now the first milestones in that's a more of a personal opinion, but I think no code now is a bit of a phrase, no code is four quarters. For now, that's in the fall now is a key part in that thing is really if you know how to code if you're a software engineer, developer, whatever it is, I strongly believe that right now is your shot. Like right now you should embrace a lot of people are scared of people doing recode are scared of those no go twos, I would argue the exact opposite, right? Now you can significantly accelerate your development time, your you know, like how you validate ideas and assumption, because you really have all those concepts and all those concepts of like, what's the client? What's the server? What's an API? What's an endpoint, like, you know those things, so you have a significant advantage over everybody else. So embrace it, like those power user, think they should do, you should get the most out of it. And so, as a consequence, we are on the like, vendor side, like the people who build the tools. You know, we want to work with those folks to improve the platform, and then slowly make our way to people who don't know how to code and longer term we do differently once together. Now that the question you asked him, like, can anybody do it, even though they even in the future, if they don't have those concepts? It's not as black and white as the person you're referring to. Because maybe there are better abstractions. You know, maybe as we go down, the rest will lower the bar, maybe we'll find, like, more intuitive abstraction for user and they don't have to understand maybe your server and client and an API endpoint, and maybe it's something else, maybe it's I don't know that, you know, maybe like, I'm trying to think of like Zapier, for example, to create those like, zap. So maybe the new thing that people learn is just this concept of zap, which just connect to things. And we're not obviously, like, under the hood, you you're still dealing with API endpoints, but maybe there is a there's a better way to communicate that to an entire category of population who haven't learned those more like, traditional computer science concepts. So I don't know, maybe I think, you know, I'm optimistic, I think we'll we'll find a way to make all those tools available to everybody whether or not they have a comparison, computer science, engineering, sorry, computer science, knowledge. But we will take something else, I guess the part where I agree with that person is you can't you need something with a source concept or other concepts, you can just expect to just click two buttons and have your dream application or your dream service come to life, unless we make a lot of progress with machine learning and an auto generated code and stuff like that, which means it's not impossible.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 13:20
Thank you. I have four questions. Actually, I'll ask one. Because this is really a fascinating topic. And it's, well, a lot of the developers that come to know code or visual development, they care about the outcome. They are choosing to use visual development, software environment and all that. But for a lot of businesses if they want to introduce visual development, a lot of coders and I'm using coders specifically to compare to developers have this disgust or disdain from abstractions like no code where they think I spent so many years learning how to code. And what I respect is things that are closer to machine language. And all those abstractions are for kids. And it's beneath me, and blah, blah, blah. How do you either overcome this or find the right people who don't have such thoughts as coders? Or do you even notice such thing within communities coders or for you, as someone who knows how to code did you think actually, it's powerful to know how to code and using those abstractions? Although it's easier, there is some inner resistance to it because of ego.

Georges Duverger 14:37
Yeah, we definitely see some of that. It's hard to quantify though, you know, that's a topic that's a very good question, because that's a topic that comes off and like can you really sell NoCode tools to software engineers and there is a feeling that though that category of forks, which I belong to, to be honest, like we'll react against it. But I don't know if we've seen that, you know, a negative anecdotally, we definitely hear some stuff like that. But I don't know if it's the majority of people. I don't know, I think it's still to be proven. If it is, though. Look, I think there is, the ego is really hard to like fight against, right. So like, the two ways, either the person is willing, like is open minded a little bit, and gonna give it a try. And like I was mentioning earlier, like, I went through that journey myself. And I used to do a lot of side project. And I used to, you know, in a few minutes, put out a web server and a little page and a little backhand and a little like, Python application and all that. And slowly but surely over like experimenting with those tools, now I can picture doing that again, like if I if I want to back in, I'll fire up Zanna. And they do, I think you also get to the point where like, those tools now do a significantly a definitely at least as as good as what you will do yourself. And in many cases, even better than what you do yourself. So like I moved from entering the product A while ago, so I'm not maybe in the on completely up to speed on my engineering. So for me, those tools are amazing, they do a significantly better job than I would. And so once you experience that yourself, that might be that might be kind of a way to slowly change your mind. And but I will just say one more thing, though, like, Look, if you don't, too bad, like, I don't mean to be like, overly like a sounds like aggressive to those folks. But you know, like, you're a software engineer right now, in, you know, in North America specifically, that's when I know I can speak to much of the rest of the world. But you really have a lot of privilege in what you can do professionally. So if you're not, if you don't take the perspective to understand what's going on and decide for yourself to either embrace it. And if you decide to reject it, that it's totally fine, it's your right. But then you know, there are consequences are going to come with that. And the reason I feel a bit more comfortable. Throwing my hands in the air a little bit with that is because it's such a really a privilege. And I would not say that of any worker in the world, I think you know, people some professionist, we need to help them transition to this new digital world. And we need support system and you need like education and other things, I feel a little less of a little bit less of empathy for software developer, I think, you know, it's out, you really have to think of what what is your what is your profession? What is your job? Is it really to write lines of code? Or is it to provide technological solution to a problem if and if you see yourself, as you know, an engineer is technically, at least in my mind is in the at the frontier between science and society, right, and you create that bridge, that little almost little bridge in the case of a civil engineer, between science and society. And so if you think of yourself as that, then whether it's code, no code, machinery, learning that complete, like verbal programming, whatever it is that we're going to invent, I think it becomes less scary in this context.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 18:28
Thank you. And it's funny that you said you don't have all that empathy for software developers, since the goal is the outcomes. I spoke with the founder of Norco Germany, and he was really, really having this thought that look, according to him, software developers are only productive two hours a day, and the rest of the time as wasted, and they're abusing their power. And therefore the future of business should be no code and low code so that things can actually become much more resource efficient, much more productive, and that this thinking about code is only like a monopoly that they're trying to perpetuate, and therefore, is trying to do some research or find a way to prove how unproductive most software developers are so that no code can be the replacement. Do you agree with this? Do you see this as truth? What's your perspective?

Georges Duverger 19:28
It's definitely a more intense point of view than I have. I wouldn't I would probably not go that far. But I you know, I there's some truth to that. I do have empathy for the discipline of software engineering. So you know, I having been on both side and product enduring I've been able to see where the difference of those two jobs and they're very different Big, I think software engineering is intellectually significantly harder, like you, like, you know, you solving complex problems. Even probably they're not that complex, but you still solving problem with the intellect and you have to like structure thing and use to stay up to date and understand technology and, and read documentation and test things and all that. And in you know that that's a very creative process, you do need to like, get in, you know, get into the zone, as we say, to get get in like a flow of productivity. And so that, you know, that takes time to build up to that moment when you really can provide a lot of value. So maybe that kind of expand a little bit of the perceived efficiency of software engineering, because I don't think software engineering, you can just, you know, clock in for like 30 minutes and do like, one perfect task, I think it takes a little bit of mental space. So I respect that, I think is significantly harder, again, intellectually than the work we do on the product side, I do, just to balance things out, I do think that working in product is psychologically significantly harder. It's, it's really more intense. It's a rollercoaster of like, essentially, instead of programming computer, you're trying to collaborate with humans, which is significantly harder, like a very more like trickier. Because, you know, there is no, there is no, there's not always predictability, there is no reproduced scenario as what's the word I'm looking for, you can always reproduce the same results with the same input like so it's a very different challenge. And so at the end of the day, I work in product and we're more exhausted, like mentally than I was in doing engineering. But on the on the other hand, like, intellectually, I don't think product management is necessarily that as challenging as it is, on the injury side anyway. So there's a little bit of a comparison of product engineering, but all that to say, I still do value kind of the work that software engineering is doing. And so I will not necessarily classifies as what the person you're referring to was saying is like, it's a waste of time that like, don't be productive throughout the day. I think that's a little, I think it's a little unfair, and extreme,

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 22:28
thank you. And let's go back to the other side of the spectrum that he spoke about, which is no code for normal people, for people without any software engineering background and all that. I spoke to the founder of one of the biggest creators of courses for the no code community. And he was observing that nowadays, a lot less people are learning courses about no code itself and are moving to know code ops, which is more about automation processes and things like that. And he was wondering, is no codified? Is it something that's happening now? Like MFDs, or Bitcoin or whatever, and it will go away? Or is it something that will be there in the future in the same form for citizen developers and normal people? Or not? What's your perspective on this?

Georges Duverger 23:18
It's hard to predict. If it's a fad, it you know, you can decide to look at it like it looks very similar to other fads we've seen in the past, but you can also look at it as a more like fundamentals shift to how we do software development. I do though, agree that it looks like it's it's about to follow that. What is it the Gartner like hype cycle where like the right now, there's a lot of hype, there's a lot of excitement, there is a lot of investment, there is probably a no code, whether it's a mobile app builder, or web builder, like starting every, on average, maybe every month. So there's a lot of people trying to get into the space and all those, like, smaller tools around that ecosystem, which is great creates a lot of energy, and everybody talks about it. No. It's it's possible that over the next couple of years, we go through that, like I forgot the exact term, but like, you know, the, the people losing a lot of trust or lot of motivation or excitement about that trend. And but it's a natural thing in this context. And, you know, once we do, I think it's, it's because we bring back all that excitement to actual use cases. And so maybe, you know, we've identified a few concrete use cases right now that are here to stay. I think internal tools is one use case that you know, is very powerful. So that that's notion of like inside, medium size within a big company I can use use software like retool, for example, to create little dashboards to like, just connect all my data sources in my company. And I can do a little HR dashboard or logistic dashboard. And I don't need to include the engine team in that I can do it as a as a pm with with a low tech savvy maybe. So this is very powerful. And those tools are right now they're doing, they're doing a really good job. And they seem to be really good in the market as well. So I think that's here to stay. The fact is, in terms of pure web development, and mobile app development, like for external purposes, it's still not super easy. So I think I'm a little bit worried myself that people are gonna get a little tired of like, app, I really thought it was easier. So we were further in the process. And the reality is whether use, drag it on one of computers, pretty much everybody in the space, it still takes a little bit of effort. And so and we'll get there, we'll make it simpler, but that's gonna take a little bit of time. So we need, we need folks who are willing to put that time and so we're going to, we might lose a good amount of excitement for the people, we're just slightly interested in that space. And, but it's okay, they might go away, and then we'll just hopefully company like ours. And others will just then kind of keep building on those core use cases. And, you know, when we get out of that cycle, and five years, I think we'll, we'll maybe talk less about no code as a thing. And more like, we will just use it think of like machine learning machine. And like machine learning, it's still extremely popular, and we do amazing thing with it. It's a little bit less of a like topic by itself. We think of applications. Now, you know, you got Dally, and all those new things that come up. And so the applications are now exciting, and so excited to be more like ingrained, or like me part of our processes more than just just a new, just a new way of doing things. I think people get it from machine learning, and they're gonna get it from no coding in a few years.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 27:10
Thank you. And since you mentioned how there is this future for no code and milestones along the way, for someone who is curious, can you explain in your own vision, what's the ultimate, you know, best scenario or best vision for a visual development app? Or what could they theoretically do and best case, and what's the next milestone you believe should be focused on within the community right now, to get the tools much more easy to use usable, whatever it is, that takes you towards that ultimate goal.

Georges Duverger 27:48
So long term is, again, like holy grail, you have one tool that is simple and powerful. So picture, like, you have this company, or nine and you go and you click a few things, and you can very quickly create like a mobile app, I'm going to talk about mobile iPad, that's what I know the most would draft it. And it's very easy, intuitive, you don't need to know a ton about computer science, and you can produce an app and distribute it in the app store. That's kind of the the ideal I don't, I'm not 100% convinced that there will be one player that does that. As opposed to maybe at the very least like two players, one who does the very easy version of that, like you could do a couple of clicks. But then you know, it's limited application, you got to live you got to detail view and and it's kind of a tailored experience for you. And the other player might be very powerful. It's just like a, just a layer on top of maybe React Native or whatever code you're using. So maybe it's two different things. But hopefully, in both of those scenarios, the goal is that people will have the tool they need to do what they want. So if people don't know how to read, like once something user friendly or limited, they can do that someone wants something more powerful, they can do that. So that's kind of the five year kind of hope in terms of milestone now. I think for draft beta think we need to get to a feature parity with everything you could do in code. So that means again, in the context of mobile app, you know, you need to do push notification, you need to do deep linking, you need to do like all those kind of flag core functionality of a mobile app. And the same exists for web app, you'll have to do all the thing that people expect from web so and we're very close like we do have the blinking we do have push notification rabbits. They still the things we're working on but once we add parody, I think that's, that gives you a sense of you know that that's that's a required step towards keep making it better, you need to at least be able to do the same thing that people were doing in code. And that's for us, because as I mentioned, the beginning we're we're spreading towards, like competing against code itself, for people were trying to make everything easier. I think for them, the milestone is, what's the next use case, the most common use case they want to support. So right now, most of it, because they can do it all, that's part of the compromise they've made. So they have to like limit, what they do to specific use case. And the one that most people went with right now is kind of a loose view. And you click on an item and you see detail view. And that's one kind of use case that it's pretty cool to the addresses a lot of your HR application where you see a list of all the employees and like internal app for a company. It works for like a grocery store to do lists. So it does it covers a lot of use cases. But maybe we'll maybe those folks need to figure out what's the next important use case to address. And maybe it is about like geolocation, maybe they need to turn geolocation into something a little constrained but super easy for people to implement into the app. So yeah, I think that's the fundamental difference. Like they have to think in terms of use cases. And we have to think in terms of a building block. So it's slightly different approach. But you know, hopefully, we we all get.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 31:41
Thank you. This is wonderful. So can you speak now for those careers about draft? Wait, what is it? What makes it unique? Where people can learn more? What's the website? And I'll make sure to write your Twitter and the website of draft bit and the description?

Georges Duverger 31:58
Yeah, absolutely. So draft bit, the DNA of the company is what makes us unique, we studied by a very strong engineering team, and not only strong in terms of skills, but in terms of also like, like philosophy, we really embrace like an open way of building software we really saw like, the main thing you get when you use draft bait is that we show you the code, which is not something a lot of people do like as you make changes visually as you visually like change blocks and widget and components and stuff like that, you can see the code, the React Native code, which will based on evolving, you can see a change in you can copy paste it, you can take it somewhere else, we let you push to GitHub, so we let you export the entire app. So it's just one click button, you explain the app in a couple of minutes, you will get your entire react native application, outside of draft bed, no dependency, no, like fine prints nothing. So you can, if you wanted to, you could stop to drive it subscription, and you have your reactive product. And you can take it from there and start to work with a developer if you want to, or whatever you want to do. And we It sounds a little risky for us as a business. But that's actually a very good illustration of what we embrace. We, we want to make it. So even if you could have access to that code, you will still come to drive by it because we making it easier. So we really, you know, putting our money where our mouth is, but we want to be part of that transformation of how you think of building software. So that's the main thing. As the main kind of differentiator for Drive bit. We like a pro code thing. Again, it doesn't mean you have to, but it means you have access to you're not locked in. And similar type of features that we also like to inject code. So for everything we don't do, because, you know, like I said, it's going to be a journey, there's a lot to build. And we don't want our power users to stop using us because they're like, oh, I can create a component, I can do this or that. So we do let you inject code your own custom component that you can use in a visual way the builder. So again, with this attitude of like, we're competing, again, code itself, that's why we do that. We don't want you to leave because we know the functionality. So we do kind of want to integrate ourselves in your in your workflow. So those are the that's one of the main differentiators. The other one, which I'm very proud of is we put a lot of time, effort energy into our community. So we have a very active community site, just community that And the community ask question, I'm everyday I'm on there. We have a fantastic team of success engineers so contributing and answering question. We do two office hours every week on Tuesday and Thursday. I'm doing the Thursday one myself, and it's just me on a the equivalent of a zoom call, taking questions and not just taking questions theoretically, but like, you know, doing it like demoing how you will integrate your driving application with a specific back end. So we really, we really have discussion internally to like, help the user get to the finish line. So we want to put your application in the store. And so we provide a lot of support, we even have an Expert program, you know, if you want a little bit extra help, we can do that. Or if you want us to, like, do a lot more help, and like build the thing for you based on draft day, like, we can also do that for you. So those two that's kind of protocol, attitude and community driven, are very real as a differentiator after a bit.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 35:46
Thank you. That's wonderful. I recommend to all the viewers to check out Draftbit. And that sense of community sounds wonderful. And for those interested in automation, of course, I recommend PROCESIO. PROCESIO is a low code, no code platform, meaning people can create their own custom actions using code for advanced automation and creating an enterprise grade back end for your software. You can request access to a totally free account at And for those with higher needs, there is a very generous code where you can get 50% off if you use BETTER50OFF one word, all in capital letters more in the description. Georges, this was my honor, my pleasure, a very enriching conversation. And I wish you to keep going and have a good day.

Georges Duverger 36:41
Thank you very much. I gotta say I listened to podcast and you've had fantastic and very inspiring guests. So it's really an honor to like, I've been among a group of folks. So thank you very much for the invite. And that was a great discussion. I appreciate it.