7 Things Developers Need to Know to Succeed with the Modern Web

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7 Things Developers Need to Know to Succeed with the Modern Web

Since its inception, web application development has seen constant growth and change. Here are 7 of the industry's current trends to keep an eye on.

· Web Dev Zone ·
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Ten years ago, the web was viewed as a required tool to share basic information related to businesses, products, and services. No one imagined that the very foundational elements of the web would become the ubiquitous language for building and delivering applications that are found everywhere now (all devices and all screens).

Today, the web has become the primary vehicle to deliver easy-to-use interfaces (be it consumer apps or enterprise apps). It’s so widespread that the vast majority of natively deployed apps (on both mobile and desktop) are now being built with web technologies.

With the modern web, developers need to stay current on the evolution of web technologies in order to be successful with their projects. In this article, I’ll cover 7 things that all modern-day web developers should know or learn to stay competitive in the new world of web development.

JavaScript Frameworks           

Modern day JavaScript is turning pretty much all websites into interactive and functional web applications. Consumer web apps, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Netflix, and pretty much every other app used today, leverage JavaScript heavily to make the user interface easy to use. Even enterprises, including banking institutions, healthcare companies, etc., have turned to web apps to improve their customer experience.

JavaScript by itself offers very little help to developers. If developers were to use plain JavaScript for every application they create, it would be extremely cumbersome. Frameworks provide abstractions for architectural patterns, UI components, data management, and much more to make application development tasks much easier. There are many JavaScript frameworks available today, and the choice really boils down to what features developers need in their application. This Wikipedia article provides a great comparison of JavaScript frameworks.

ECMAScript (ES2015, ES6, ES7, ES2016)

What is often referred to as JavaScript is actually a superset of ECMAScript. JavaScript adds more functionality through abstractions, but the core of the language is defined in ECMAScript, led and governed by the ECMA International. Even though JavaScript became really popular in the last five years, the language itself hadn’t been updated much since 1999, when it was using ECMAScript 3. Several update proposals since version 3 were abandoned because they tried to accomplish too much.

The latest standard that all browsers use today is ECMAScript 5 (or ES5), published in 2009. ES2015 (often referred as ES6) is the newest version of the ECMAScript standard, which has been implemented in most browsers. The new features of ES2015 enable coding paradigms such as modules to better organize code, classes to cleanly declare reusable units of functionality, and much more. You can read the full list of ES2015 features. Because not every browser fully supports ES2015 yet, developers may need to use a transpiler such as Babel, to compile code back to ES5 and ensure compatibility with their target browsers.

Progressive Web Apps

Users can easily find web applications on the internet, and every user is guaranteed access to the latest version. However, web apps still have failed to meet the expectations set by native apps. Features such as push notifications and offline availability still keep mobile users leaning toward native apps. Nonetheless, there is a new option that may shift this preference. Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) bring the mobile web experience closer to a native app experience.

The term PWA was coined by Google in 2015 for web applications that provide an enhanced web experience with the use of service workers for offline capabilities or availability on low-quality networks. Thanks to the service worker update process, PWAs are always up to date. The PWA manifest and service worker registration scope make them discoverable, so search engines can easily find them. PWAs use features like push notifications, and even allow users to install them on their home screen without the hassle of finding them in app stores. All of these features have been implemented in popular browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, though Safari is lagging in the implementation of PWA features.

Node.js Backends

The rising popularity of JavaScript has brought a lot of changes to how developers create and use back-end technologies in their web applications. Today, with Node.js, developers can use JavaScript running on the server for their backends, turning them into full-stack developers. Node.js, a server-side platform built on Chrome's JavaScript V8 Engine, uses an event-driven model that makes it very efficient for data-intensive real-time backends. The key benefit of Node.js is that developers can create applications where both the client and server can initiate communication, instead of the request-response model that the web has historically used.


Historically, one of the greatest challenges in any software development project (let alone web development) has been the lack of consistency in development environments, as developers move their code through the development, testing, and production infrastructures. Containers are the new way to manage and replicate environments with all of the application dependencies and resource requirements in a highly consistent and scalable way. Containers help easily package all of the application code, configurations, dependencies, and more to allow quick and easy deployment, regardless of the environment. While Docker, Kubernetes, and Mesos are leading the charge in container technologies, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and everybody else have service offerings because it minimizes the cost of setting up the environments and infrastructure.

Git (Version Control)           

The use of version control is not new to software development. Version control systems track changes to code, so if something gets messed up a developer can easily roll back to a working copy. Git has become the most popular version control management system today. Knowing how to use Git is a must for any app development project, especially web development.

Responsive and Adaptive Designs           

Today, more users access the web from mobile devices than desktops. The mobile and desktop form factors are inherently different, not just in terms of size, but also in terms of default orientation (landscape vs. portrait). Before mobile, developers built interfaces that scaled based on the screen size of the user’s monitor (be it desktop or laptop). But now, developers need radically different application designs, because the UX for desktop and mobile is not interchangeable. Though not really a development skill, knowledge of responsive and adaptive design paradigms are now a must for developers because they provide strategies and templates for creating the optimal user experience based on the various form factors.

trends in technology, web application, web dev

Published at DZone with permission of Gautam Agrawal . See the original article here.

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