To gather insights on the state of web application development today, we spoke to 13 executives from 12 companies developing web applications or providing web application development tools to their clients.
Specifically, we spoke to:
Samer Fallouh, Vice President, Engineering and Andrew Turner, Senior Solution Engineer, Dialexa | Anders Wallgren, CTO, ElectricCloud | Brent Sanders, CEO, Fulton Works | Charles Kendrick, CTO, Isomorphic Software | Ilya Pupko, V.P. of Product Management, Jitterbit | Faisal Memom, Product Marketing, NGINX | Bruno Correa, IT Coordinator, Ranstad Brazil | Craig Gering, Vice President, Engineering, Sencha | Joachim Wester, Founder, Starcounter | Michael Morris, CEO, Topcoder | Greg Law, CEO, Undo | Alexey Aylarov, CEO, Voximplant
When we asked them, "What’s the future of web applications from your point of view - where do the greatest opportunities lie?," here's what they told us:
- 1) Maturity of the market for business web applications is around one trillion dollars. Will be cloud-based platforms. A big opportunity to micro apps and microservices to tap into an enormous market. 2) Competing for the business web application market. Continuous availability of web browsers and great UX.
- Mobile is the future but will mobile apps dominate over mobile websites? It’s certainly a “mobile-first” world. Ultimately it will depend on what you’re doing and if you need to talk to devices behind firewalls.
- Tools for web application development – virtual tools. There’s been some regression from powerful frameworks. Visual tools enable you to do more development without getting into the nitty gritty stuff. Online collaboration of UI and then drop into IDE and go from there. The whole industry needs to go in that direction rather than back to basics.
- I think that greatest opportunity lies in uniting web, mobile and desktop apps. A lot of work is being done in this area: offline web apps, toolchains like React Native, and technologies like WebRTC (that we use to provide camera and microphone access to web apps). Another important part of the future here is WebAssembly technology that will allow developer to use any programming language to create web apps.
- We work with the CTO of Comcast who is a visionary. He has opened the IP base environment to serve applications everywhere. People who do applications and APIs properly, like Tesla and Sonos, end up with a better product that provides a better UX. We are moving to the ubiquitous nature of web applications in TVs, refrigerators, interfaces into Tesla. Everything will be IP based.
- Rapid Application Development. Kill complexity and increase development speed.
- Web technologies are being used to build more than just web applications – i.e. desktop apps using Electron, mobile apps using React Native, TV experiences using React Native too. Beyond the browser to any digital experience. Each experience has nuances specific to the device. Applications that are built will integrate across devices with APIs providing a more integrated ecosystem.
- Internet web applications will become more integrated into our daily lives with IoT, wearables, apps that make our lives easier and more manageable. Practical applications.
- Gmail, one of the most widely use web applications (that is still alive), dates back over 12 years…but even 12 years in the making, many users, when given a chance, switch from the official web interface to offline apps, such as Outlook. Part of it’s the old archaic thinking, but a big part is just that the tech is not quite 100% there to replace offline use altogether… But the light is clearly visible—in a very near future, web applications will replace the offline ones completely. And at that point, even the security concise ones will learn to adapt and a few years later, will trade their machines for “Chromebook” style systems.
- We continue to see the merging of web apps and native apps so that it’s difficult to make a distinction between the two. Web assembly is interesting. Standards are merging to make it easier for developers to develop all apps.
- Historically, there’s been an ebb and flow between controlled and open experiences on the web. In the pre-web days, your internet experience was highly controlled by services like Prodigy, CompuServe, and AOL, each offering exclusive content. Then the advent of the web made everything accessible to everyone with an internet connection. When iOS and Android brought the web onto mobile devices there was a shift towards app stores and a more closed, controlled experience. Now, progressive web apps promise the performance and functionality of native apps combined with the convenience of the web. In the end the web wins – openness, flexibility, and convenience will always prevail in the long run. Web APIs will continue to encroach upon the native experience. We’re already seeing this with things like WebGL for 3D rendering. Once the functionality gap is closed, we’ll see a shift back to the web for future apps.
What's your vision for the future of web applications?