Web Dev 2018 Surprises and 2019 Predictions
Over the course of this year, and heading in to next, user experience and security gained in importance.
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Given the speed with which technology is changing, we thought it would be interesting to ask IT executives to share their thoughts on the biggest surprises in 2018 and their predictions for 2019. Here's what they told us about web development:
News of IBM acquiring Red Hat for $33 billion was one of the biggest surprises of the year but the move makes sense. The acquisition gives IBM access to an even larger open source market than they previously had. In 2019, I predict more enterprises will move toward Kubernetes and Docker to deploy and manage containerized applications. On a broader level, machine learning will become more widely used across both SMBs and enterprises, and blockchain and distributed applications will still not saturate the market.
In the front-end world, Airbnb and Udacity have both abandoned cross-platform development with React Native, preferring a more native approach for iOS and Android development. We adopted React Native a year and a half ago, and find success in well-defined software layering/architecture, team structure, and leveraging additional abstractions with Expo.io, smoothing out any potential problems we have encountered.
A huge trend in 2018 was the single page website, where the majority of the site lives on one continuous page. 2019 will see the beginning of sites shifting away from a few large packages or bundles towards a large number of small packages, thanks to the growing support for HTTP/2.
In 2019, companies will start to understand that focusing solely on customer-facing apps and products is not enough to ensure customers are happy and continue to keep coming back. Analysis of a company’s employees and their own experiences within the company will grow in importance as the connection between excellent employee workplace experiences and providing strong customer engagements becomes even clearer.
"Digital transformation" is the buzzword most pundits are leaning heavily on, saying companies across all industries will go full force into implementing digital transformation initiatives. With this in mind, we predict companies will soon put delivery of an excellent digital employee experience front and center alongside their digital transformation initiatives, as they see how important engaged and happy employees are to customer success, employee retention and the successful implementation of new technology and processes in the workplace.
Taking this a step further, companies will look to better capture data and analyze the employee workplace experience, benchmarking the employee experience as a part of their company-wide digital transformations, ensuring they are maintaining or improving their employee experience scores as the company evolves.
Companies will begin to treat customer support and communication as an integral part of the product, brand, and service. Companies are beginning to take notice that you can create a cult-like following if you take care of your customers and don’t treat customer support as a checkbox or a cost center. It’s overdue for companies to view customer support as an integral part of the product, brand, and service.
Kotlin will start replacing Typescript for web development. The popular language from JetBrains has quickly become the de facto language for Android programmers. With the increased demand for cross-platform applications, Kotlin developers will increasingly extend their Android applications to the web.
Cross-browser support for markerless augmented reality (AR) experiences will improve with Apple’s AR QuickLook and the WebXR API. While Apple has already launched its ARKit solution on Safari and iOS, AR QuickLook (the WebXR API advocated by Google and Mozilla) is still in an experimental state. With markerless AR integrated within major browsers like Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, more immersive AR experiences will be possible through browsers — in addition to native apps. Any company with a website could offer these AR experiences to its users.
Hybrid CDN/Static site services like Netlify will engender a new set of tools and frameworks to make web developers able to easily target such services.
Compliance with cybersecurity legislation was by far the biggest surprise web developers had to face during 2018. Although data privacy regulations like GDPR in the European Union and California’s consumer privacy bill in the United States had been communicated in advance, many web developers were left scrambling to update their clients’ websites in order to remain compliant with new regulations. Ensuring both servers and websites collect and store data securely is no small feat and security is often overlooked during the website development process. Many web developers underestimated the amount of time, work, and financial investment that would go into achieving compliance with incoming regulations. However, data privacy regulations have brought security to the forefront of many developers’ minds, requiring them to include security proactively in their processes.
Web developers are going to face increased security requirements moving into 2019. In addition to more cybersecurity and website security legislation that is likely to pass or go into effect, more applications are going to move away from old programming languages like PHP 5.x requiring the faster and more secure PHP 7. Open source applications like WordPress are going to require that web developers and server administrators upgrade their environments to use PHP 7 in order to continue using the most recent version of their platforms. While this may mean an investment of time up front, it will mean faster and more secure sites in the long run.
2019 should see the breakout of PWAs and SPAs becoming much more widely adopted which will provide more engaging, fluid experiences.
More migration to functionality exclusive to mobile with its "interface-free" capabilities — most notably voice and facial recognition. Our company is lowering the barrier-to-entry by replacing the manual installation process of our IoT offering from QR code scanning to using our mobile app for auto-configuration via Bluetooth.
Mobile apps will finally overtake web app usage for Fortune 500 banking customers. Web browser apps have remained the primary way customers interact with financial services software. Big banks believed their customers and employees needed to work on larger screens to understand all the relevant financial information being presented. However, mobile application design and consumer preference have reached a level where the perceived value of desktop browsers are no longer necessary, even for important financial decisions. Further, with SSL Pinning, a banking application built on mobile can deliver better privacy and security than a traditional browser.
React will continue to be the dominant framework in 2019. This will also the year to get up to speed on the concepts of GraphQL. It’s also very likely someone on your team will bring in TypeScript, which is clearly showing itself to be more than just a tool for enthusiasts. Bottom line: be prepared to learn new frameworks, and don’t hold on to your current tools too tightly. The average framework has a peak popularity of 3-5 years, followed by years of slow decline as people maintain legacy applications.
More people will think about serverless, and more people will again realize that the tooling around serverless platforms is still immature. I expect that some initiatives will start to show up regarding the governance (hopefully in an integrated development environment (IDE)-style) of multiple functions and connectors in serverless applications.
2019 will be a revolutionary year for the use of Jakarta EE, especially in terms of how it will help to advance cloud-native enterprise Java. Revolutionary for anything cloud native, and next year, Jakarta EE will need to focus on the capabilities for cloud-native.
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