Programming as a discipline is based on cold logic, math and precision. You might think something as ambiguous as ‘trends’ will not be associated with something as practical ‘programming’, but in this particular case, you are wrong. The world of programming like many others is evolving continuously and there are changes happening that have the potential to shape its future.
So, what are these changes that have the ability to shape the future of programming?
Let’s take a look:
1. Coding on Cloud
The buzz that surrounded cloud computing is now coming good on its promise. It is fast turning out to be the one technology that small, mid-size or large business enterprises cannot do without. Cloud computing removes the need for storing data on in-house systems and helps migrate this data to virtual servers in the Cloud.
Forrester, an analyst group expects global cloud computing market will grow from $35bn (£22.5bn) in 2011 to around $150bn by 2020, and for good reason. It brings a slew of benefits to the table.
Programmers have taken to the Cloud like a duck to water. Coding on Cloud is a hot new trend that is all set to become the norm in the future.
Coding on cloud has made it possible for programmers to work remotely. It offers more flexibility in terms of the device, platform and technologies they choose to work with; they don’t need a high performance device to power all the programming tools they need. All they need to do is access the IDEs easily available on the Cloud to start coding.
As long as their device has an internet connection, they can code from any device. Also, with IaaS, they don’t have to worry about investing in expensive infrastructure as that can be accessed from the Cloud as well.
Moreover, the fact that they are working in the cloud environment means distance isn’t a barrier to regular collaboration between different teams. In fact, Cloud facilitates real-time collaboration between developers working from diverse remote locations.
Programmers have just begun to explore the benefits of cloud and there is absolutely no doubt that its use will keep growing in the future vis-à-vis programming.
2. Arrival of Hack
This year in March, Facebook introduced a new language called Hack for the HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM).
It is the hipper new version of PHP - a widely used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development.
So, why did Facebook introduce Hack?
PHP has limitations - experienced programmers will tell you that its rapid prototyping attribute complicates development and maintenance of large code bases.
It is to address this concern, Facebook engineers introduced Hack.
One of the chief characteristics of this language is gradual typing that allows programmers to write both static and dynamic code that can inter-operate in the same file.
But that’s not all, it also makes it easier to manage code and eliminate errors. Unlike PHP, Hack runs on Facebook’s HHVM which uses just-in-time compilation to boost program performance.
These benefits give an indication that in time Hack will become the language of choice for developing websites.
What’ more, and this is a crucial point, in order to encourage programmers to migrate from PHP to Hack, Facebook is providing conversion tools.
3. Swift from Apple
This year at the WWDC developer event, Apple launched a new programming language called Swift for iOS and OS X to develop lightning-fast apps. The purpose of Swift is to make it easy for developers to write a reduced code that is leaner and cleaner.
By introducing Swift, Apple is trying to ensure, more and more developers can easily come up with high performance iOS apps that pass Apple’s strict quality guidelines.
No prizes for guessing, iOS developers are gung-ho about this language, which means its future is in very good hands.
Apple claims Swift "is the first industrial-quality systems programming language that is as expressive and enjoyable as a scripting language."
There are tons of improvisations available in this new programming language which will clearly reflect in all the new iOS apps that are built using Swift, and which will be richer from the UX and technical point of view.
For Apple, Swift is yet another way of telling the programming world at large that the company is committed to pushing the technology envelope when it comes to app development and at the same time wants to make the job of programmers easier.
4. Apache Hadoop Stands Tall
There’s a lot of buzz about ‘Big Data’ lately.
There is a very good chance that you are either aware of this term or better yet, are using Big Data to make important business and marketing decisions. As can be imagined, it can get extremely difficult to handle and analyze all the data that is at your disposal.
That’s where Apache Hadoop comes into picture.
It processes an avalanche of big data easily. It is a platform which provides both distributed storage and computational capabilities. Large Web 2.0 companies like Google and Facebook uses Hadoop to store and process data.
Hadoop provides a framework that lets programmers write code which can process huge amounts of unstructured data; this allows programmers to focus on data that is related to their business needs only. There is every chance that the next big ticket discovery in programming will happen from this particular combination of Big Data and Hadoop.
Let’s wait and watch.
5. Wyvern Programming Language is Coming
Programmers, at times, are required to use multiple languages to complete a project. But this, typically, leads to coding errors which create software vulnerabilities that can easily be attacked by criminal hackers.
To get around this problem, Carnegie Mellon University is doing some fantastic research on Wyvern programming language; a host language that lets developers roll five programming languages into one to develop secured mobile and web applications. It is currently in the prototype stage.
This programming language will provide a way to safely use multiple programming languages within the same program so programmers can use the language that is most appropriate for each function. Since, it improves security it is highly suitable for developing high-assurance applications.
Due to the many benefits of Wyvern, there is every chance that the future of programming rests on its shoulders. Think about it, why would any programmer not use this language?
6. GPUs will replace CPUs
Applications are getting more and more complex and their code is taking up a lot of memory.
The CPU just cannot satisfy the need of developers for processors that can run applications hundreds of times faster.
The dedicated memory of GPUs is 5-10 X the bandwidth of CPU memory.
Post GPU, applications are undergoing a powerful transformation. GPUs seamlessly run applications that are filled with extensive graphical routines. This means developers aren’t scared of coming up with applications with complex coding, which in the not too distant past would have been considered too ‘system heavy’.
Contrary to the common perception that GPUs are only for gamers, they are today used by programmers who are working in various fields such as physics research, chemical industry, astronomy, aviation, military and many more.
The use of GPUs is all set to get widespread in the future; this essentially is good news for programmers. They can now explore the limits of their capabilities.
7. Age Old Programming Language ‘Java’ Is Not Going Anywhere
Okay, Java is not new, but if there ever was a programming language that has always adapted to the changing needs and demands of its users, it is Java.
It has been around since two decades, and since its arrival it has always been highly regarded as a language that is the foundation of development.
It is the favorite language of programmers and its constant evolution has also kept up to speed with the latest developments in mobile technology; today it is also used by Android developers to create amazing mobile apps.
Android is the king when it comes to mobile market share. In July 2013, over 50 billion apps had been downloaded from Google App Store. Most of these apps are developed in Java using the Android Software Development Kit. This figure proves that Java is a language that is not only used for developing web applications, but also proving its mettle in the highly competitive Android landscape.
As it continues to be a relatively easy to learn language for programmers, Java was, is and will continue to rule the programming world.
So, these are the 7 changes that have the potential to shape the future of programming. Each one of them is trying to address a structural weakness in programming or trying to take programming to the next level. So, let’s hope all of them help improve programming as a discipline and take it to new heights.