A lot of developer tools and technologies have taken off this year, and some have been around for a while but are now poised for large-scale adoption. This article lists 30+ dev tools and technologies that I think are going to be big in 2014. I've collected several predictions from influential developers working in various ecosystems (Python, PHP, JS, Java, and .NET to name a few), and those predictions will be labelled as theirs. Most of the predictions, however, are mine. Here we go!
Only a developer who lives under a rock has not heard of Docker or noticed its meteoric rise in popularity. In fact, it's been so popular that the company that open sourced it, dotCloud, changed its name to Docker, Inc. I don't often see a company pivot that hard around an open source technology.
Docker is an application portability utility. The containers are lightweight, hardware-agnostic, and platform-agnostic. You can build one on your laptop and deploy it to just about any production environment. It's surprising that this idea hasn't taken off before, but it seems that Docker is a tool that performs the portability functions much better than any of the previous tools. And now, with all its hype, it has the community behind it too.
I think that Docker is going to embed itself into the fabric of best-practice development and deployment methodologies, much like Vagrant did a few years ago.
This is another technology that is all over the blogosphere. Its Google lineage doesn't hurt either. That might be one of the key reasons why developers were so eager to try it. Ember.js may be easier in a lot of ways, but the popularity of AngularJS is towering over Ember right now.
I think 2014 will see the dominance of AngularJS established in the web development community, unless the learning curve becomes too much for folks. Learn why AngularJS rocks.
The back-to-basics, Node.js-powered blogging platform known as "Ghost" has gotten a lot of attention this year for refreshing the concept of how a blogging platform should be constructed. The founder is a former UI department leader at WordPress, and he's on a mission to make a platform that is only focused on blogging with a dead-simple interface. Any extra stuff is up to community plugins.
Zurb Foundation 5
Twitter Bootstrap may have gotten the jump on the veteran Zurb Foundation, quickly rising to the top of the CSS framework charts (not that there are billboard charts for CSS frameworks, but there should be!), but now Foundation is making a comeback. Twitter Bootstrap lost its luster when it started getting used by every other website out there. I can't keep track of how many "stop using Twitter Bootstrap so much" articles I've seen.
These were the perfect conditions for Zurb to release version 5 of their framework, which includes a lot of performance-related features that Bootstrap doesn't have. I think Twitter Bootstrap may still stay on top due to its name recognition and ease-of-use (Foundation is easy too though), but Foundation is definitely going to grow more than Bootstrap in 2014.
We're still on the front-end stuff, but don't worry, we're going to hit a variety of other technologies in just a second.
Jeff Atwood's reboot of the forum has been publicly available for about a year, and I expect his team to really ramp things up in 2014. I've already seen an online ruby course and Heroku adopt the Discourse platform. Some of the features are innovative, but also intuitive. I like that you can see how many clicks each of your topics and responses get, and the real-time updating and context conservation features are second to none. I hope to set up and test drive my own Discourse forum soon.
P.S. The Discourse team has also dedicated much of their efforts to strengthening the entire Ruby ecosystem in the process of their own development, which is awesome news.
I finally bought some Bitcoins this month. Although the process wasn't fast, it definitely felt secure and had an intuitive user experience. The site I bought them on was Coinbase, a site that provides more security measures than my bank! I've never seen such intense security features, but the speedy performance and great design make up for it. Together, those things make this site primed to be the center of the Bitcoin mayhem for 2014.
Don't care about Xbox One. Don't care about PS4. I'm waiting for one of these. The Steam Machine rise to power may not be in full swing until 2015, but I think that this new strategy for gaming consoles is going to severely disrupt the gaming console market starting in late 2014. The open source OS is going to open up a range of new customizations that we could never do with proprietary gaming consoles. Plus, I've got a ton of games from the Humble Indie Bundles waiting to be played, and it will be nice to finally try them on a console connected to a big TV.
Everyone should have a screen-sharing app on their computer at this point. It's an easy way to collaborate on tons of things, but most of all for coding. Screenhero has been moving fast in its development, releasing several updates a month. Now its version for Windows is just as good as its version for Mac, and you can share screens between Macs and PCs! All you have to do is watch out for the differences in keyboards.
StackEdit is, hands down, the best markdown editor I've ever worked with (and possibly the best authoring app I've worked with). The amazing thing is that it's a completely open source web app that has only been out for a couple of months I believe. Other tools like Mou can't compete with the convenience and usability of StackEdit. I'm going to use it for all my markdown document authoring from now on.
This little smart-wristband has been around for more than a year, but I think 2014 could see it really take off around the world. It makes fitness tracking a lot easier, and that's the kind of smart gadget people need when they're having trouble staying motivated.
FitBit also illustrates how it's becoming a lot less daunting to found a startup that needs to manufacture a physical product. I think a lot of these hardware+software startups are going to be successful more often than pure-software startups.
The FitBit segment flows nicely into another major technology for 2014 – Arduino. It's the open source, hardware-hacking platform that FitBit uses to prototype their new products, and its currently being used in several startups and plenty of home automation hacking projects.
While popularity is waning for several PaaSes (I'm not going to name names, you can do the Google Trends search yourself), OpenShift is one PaaS that is definitely gaining momentum in the open source community. Its main draws are simplicity and the flexibility of being open source.
Also, RedHat's OpenShift developers are a great, interactive group, so when a hot new toy like Ghost is released, they add support for it and write a blog about how to deploy it on their platform. I'm going to try deploying Ghost on OpenShift pretty soon.
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Another cloud platform that's making waves is DigitalOcean, which only started the year with 280 web-facing computers, but now hosts 490K websites and has a growth rate higher than AWS.
DigitalOcean is going to continue gaining a sturdy foothold in the IaaS space with its low price point and performant, pure-SSD infrastructure. Their smart, developer-targeted marketing strategy is also going to serve them well in 2014, having proven itself effective in 2013.
Have you heard about the latest buzzword: NoNoSQL? It's not a joke. Some NoSQL users are starting to realize that they don't want to try and re-solve the problems that RDBMS solved years ago. There has been a significant migration back to relational DBs in the past year, and I think databases that incorporated some of the NoSQL advantages while maintaining relational paradigms and ACID transactions will experience significant growth in 2014.
You can't go wrong with Postgres, but another great new database should see significant gains next year, and that database is FoundationDB. FoundationDB is a distributed database that can mix and match different models in a single database all while using ACID transactions.
This one is already widely used by web developers, but you should expect even more killer features from DevTools in 2014. Just look at some of the remote debugging and mobile emulation features they've added.
Rebecca Murphey predicts that DevTools will essentially become an IDE pretty soon.
Web Components and CSS Grid Layout
Then there's the CSS Grid Layout Module, which will introduce a standard way to make CSS-driven grids. It's about time we had something like this. As many of you know, we can already get CSS grids via CSS frameworks.
Silex, Composer, and Slim
Micro-frameworks are hot right now in PHP. Lorna Mitchell said as much when I asked her for her predictions in the PHP space. She also talked about Composer, which is a dependency manager for PHP, just like bundler for Ruby or NPM for Node.js.
These tools are already pretty popular, but Composer, along with Slim or Silex will probably become the preferred tools for developing PHP web applications in 2014.
Pandas and Vincent
In Python-land, Mahdi Yusuf told me that Pandas and Vincent were two Python libraries on the move for 2014. Pandas is a data structures and analysis library that is well-respected in the Python community. Vincent is a tool that helps you build data visualizations using the Vega visualization grammar.
Mahdi recently recorded a screencast introducing these two technologies, and he also has a bunch of other screencasts at Neckbeard Republic to sharpen your Python skills.
Filip Ekberg suggested something for the .NET readers out there. The next major iteration of SignalR is out. As it matures, it's sure to find a lot more adopters in the .NET community.
SignalR is a tool that simplifies adding real-time functionality to web applications. You can get familiar with SignalR 2.0 in this tutorial.
CocoaPods and ReactiveCocoa
Alex Curylo gave me his predictions for the iOS development space. Without hesitation, he predicted the dominance of CocoaPods. CocoaPods is yet another dependency manager on our list (I'm seeing a trend), and Alex isn't the only one who loves this tool. John Blanco, another DZone iOS MVB, now uses it in all his projects. Read his concise introduction.
Alex also mentioned ReactiveCocoa, a framework for Functional Reactive Programming that "provides APIs for composing and transforming streams of values."
A year ago, Mobile-first Development was the topic of conversation in the design and UX community. I believe that the next major paradigm in web development is going to be Offline-first Development.
Tools like Offline.js are already here to help developers enable Offline-first web apps. As users, I think we all understand how awesome it would be if more sites take an Offline-first approach in 2014.
And of course, it wouldn't be complete if I didn't finish with the shameless plug for AnswerHub, the best Q&A software in the universe! I expect it to be even bigger in 2014, adding to its customer list, which already includes LinkedIn, Palantir, and Epic Games. Don't fault me for being a company-man. :)
Looks like I finished with about 31 things that I mentioned in this list. If any of these are relevant to your development ecosystem, definitely check them out if you haven't already.
Did you have any things you wanted to add to the predictions list?