Article

Mark Armstrong
Mark Armstrong 26 January 2017

Four Things To Look Out For In 2017

To deliberately misquote a well-known saying: “the geeks shall inherit the earth”. Technical skills and more specifically, coding know-how will be as important as they have ever been in this coming year. In fact, CEO of GE, Jeffrey Immelt, said that he wants every new hire to learn to code, regardless of function.

This probably comes as no great surprise to anyone reading this and nor should it. The continued dominance of mobile, acceleration of IoT deployments and growing trends such as VR, AI and digital assistants all rely on harnessing the talent and creativity of the developer workforce.

Being in demand, however, doesn’t mean developers can rest on their laurels. It might feel like the digital and software development industries are matured but they are in fact only really in their infancy. Just take a look at structural engineering by comparison; an industry thousands of years old continues to innovate so why wouldn’t one less than a hundred years old? With that in mind, here are four things for developers to keep in mind in 2017 if they want to stay ahead of the game.

1. JavaScript Will Mean Business
With JavaScript now running as server-side code and driving iOS and Android apps, it has become pretty hard to find a software ecosystem that JavaScript hasn’t influenced. But it doesn’t actually stop there; it now has a significant foothold in large enterprise organisations, thanks to Node.js and Microsoft’s TypeScript. In recent years, Node has made strides to make a more stable offering for larger businesses, as well as incorporating enterprise-friendly features like long-term support plans. In 2017, we will see JavaScript – and Node specifically – start to eat into traditional C# and Java use cases for companies.

2. Visual Design Tools Will Make a Comeback
As the need for developer know-how grows, that demand will need to met. In part, that demand will be met by making development tools more accessible to everyone. In the 80s and 90s, many non-developers could perform developer functions to some degree as they could drag and drop their way to desktop applications visually via WinForms. Since that time, the web and the cloud have made development far more complex and decentralized, edging out anyone who is not an expert developer. In the coming year, we will see a convergence of tools like WinForms in which enterprise developers can visually assemble large parts of their application – ultimately making development more accessible for all developers.

3. Rise of the Throwaway Apps
In 2017, we will see the rise of the throwaway app. Not those flash in the pan, lightweight consumer apps that have clogged up all of our phones but the practice of enterprises building an app to solve a specific problem and then never revisiting or using it again. App development – especially good app development – can require significant investment which would make this prohibitively expensive and inefficient. However, new tools and technologies will make coding quicker and more efficient, making this a more viable approach.

4. Web Components Are A Long Way Off
Unfortunately, for all the developers out there, 2017 won’t bring everything you want; specifically I mean a fully supported web components standard. Performance issues remain, specifically regarding Shadow DOM. While Apple implemented Shadow DOM in Safari, the feature has always been there and opening the API was more of a convenient gesture than a nod towards support of the standard. While developers and browser vendors alike acknowledge the need for native support for components, libraries such as React and Angular have filled the gap and provide much more to developers in the way of application features than just a component model. Both Angular and React will continue to gain adoption and will be the developers “web component” solution for the foreseeable future.

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