Insights on the Current and Future State of Web and Mobile Development

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Insights on the Current and Future State of Web and Mobile Development

Find out what experts have to say on the field of mobile and web development, and where they see it going in the future.

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To gather insights on the current and future state of web and mobile development we talked to 19 IT executives. Here’s who we spoke to:

1. The keys to developing effective web and mobile applications are: 1) knowledge of the business requirements; 2) UX/UI; and 3) testing. There must be an alignment of business requirements between the product owner, the business, developers, and testers. Determine what kind of app is needed to solve the business problem before you begin to build the app. Understand the priorities and goals of what you are trying to accomplish.

Web and mobile applications must be designed and developed with a focus on user behaviors from day one. Since web and mobile apps involve a myriad of design choices, the keys to successful development depends on the developers’ ability to eliminate complexity. Ease of use is critical. If an app is not reliable and easy to use, it will not be used. Prioritize mobile UX/UI since this has a greater impact on the bottom line, and make sure UI is consistent across all platforms. Today, users expect visual perfection across browsers. Make sure the app will scale, be stable, and be supported over the long-term.

Implement continuous testing, integration, and development that’s solid and stable. Automate the process – especially testing. Automation can shorten the testing cycle by 50 to 95%

2. The most significant changes in the development of web and mobile applications have been DevOps and progressive web apps (PWAs). There has been an increased focus on DevOps across a number of development teams incorporating automation into nearly every stage of application development. Agile and DevOps methodologies encourage faster iteration, deployment, and response.

PWAs are beginning to deliver on the promise of collapsing web and mobile user experiences and the development effort. When combined with the development of WebAssembly, the difference between a website and a mobile application is quickly fading.

In addition to PWA, other significant trends in the web and mobile app development include: 1) responsive web design (ensuring proper layout and resolution of content, especially rich media like images and videos, is delivered to users’ devices, which vary considerably in form factor and device-pixel ratios); 2) serverless (virtualizing backend logic at a functional level, eliminating the need for server installation/configuration and ensuring unlimited scalability and geographical independence); and 3) streaming (highly interactive content that includes animation, video, and other real-time content elements that change in response to front-end and/or backend events that increasingly entail use of third-party service providers).

3. The most frequently mentioned new technical solutions are React, PWAs, and Xamarin. React Native, in particular, is very popular for web applications. PWA is a hot topic and an alternative for content organizations that want to build and launch on mobile. Xamarin is an open source framework for C# applications that works across platforms.

4. The most common hurdles affecting the development and deployment of web and mobile applications are: 1) the diversity of solutions; 2) sufficient knowledge/skills; 3) security; and 4) delivering business value. There are a multitude of platforms and screen sizes between tablets and phones. There is a high rate of change in the core technologies, making it difficult for organizations to find experts capable of using all of the features available. Because the market is so fragmented, it’s difficult to know where to start.

There’s continued demand for apps from business and a limited supply of skilled IT professionals to deliver them. DevOps professionals are used to automation; however, security professionals are not. We need to make security the “VP of yes” rather than the “director of no” in order to show a contribution to business value in a timely manner.

As the functionality of web and mobile apps gets more sophisticated, there is increased use of external libraries and software components, as well as integration of third-party services. The resulting hurdles developers are now encountering routinely include: 1) security risks, which necessitate safety audits of imported code; 2) performance implications for UX, due to the increased size of external code embedded within web pages; 3) brittle app builds, due to the number of code dependencies, library versions, and inter-team collaboration; and 4) time spent by developers staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving software tooling, frameworks,and infrastructure they’re using to build apps.

5. The future of web and mobile application development is the continued consolidation of technologies, PWAs, and optimization. We’re seeing a consolidation of DevOps tools. Technology will merge with more of the web being shown on the browser through the mobile device. PWA is the future where mobile’s unique capabilities are moving toward browser OS versions. Mobile performance, quality, and reliability will continue to be optimized.

Web and mobile application development is trending toward a unified development and deployment experience with applications that are increasingly composed instead of coded. In the future, the industry will see a strong trend toward low- or no-code development platforms for many uses of mobile or web applications — especially business apps.

6. Developers need to be open to continuous learning in order to develop effective applications for an ever-changing landscape. As Bill Gates says, “innovate or die.” Explore new technologies, continue to learn, be open to what’s new and to the change coming with mobile. Have a great understanding of the fundamentals (HTML and CSS) while actively seeking new experiences with new languages (Kotlin, Golang, Scala). UX is more important than ever. Microservices have become as important to learn as object-oriented programming once was.

The development of effective web and mobile apps lacks hard and fast rules or guides. The skills developers need to possess are still rapidly evolving. However, some basic principles are immutable, such as choosing tools, frameworks, and languages, as well as infrastructure, that are mature beyond the early excitement phase, and are already enjoying broad and active community support. If a developer has a question or runs into a problem, there is a greater chance they'll find an answer or solution when there’s a sizeable community available to assist.

7. It’s a mobile-first, API-first world. Web developers tend to be from marketing websites, while mobile developers tend to be from IT. They think differently and have different skillsets. Mobile development is taking a more dominant approach to web app design and development. The look and feel are still fundamentally different in web and mobile development, as the web is still mostly tied to HTML and CSS. Additionally, the lack of effective cross-training of developer skills leads to separate delivery teams.

Web and mobile development are still largely considered different disciplines with organization priorities dictating which type of development takes precedence on a project-by-project basis. Mobile development is typically done using native languages, frameworks, and tools that are particular to the target devices/OS (most commonly iOS and Android). Development team boundaries naturally segment based on their skillsets and design preferences (e.g. mobile-first app design). Some organization suse cross-platform tools and frameworks, while others opt for unifying platforms (e.g. low-code platforms) to eliminate these boundaries and bridge the differences in design, development, and deployment between these otherwise separate disciplines.

This article is featured in the new DZone Guide to Dynamic Web and Mobile Development. Get your free copy for more insightful articles, industry statistics, and more!

mobile application development ,react native ,ui/ux ,web application development ,web dev

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