2021 has already proven to be a significant year for coders. There haven’t been any significant tectonic movements like there were in 2014 when Apple introduced Swift as a new, high-profile programming language that was almost certain to be adopted. Despite the constant push for faster replies, larger datasets, and simpler opportunities for users, there is still plenty of room for change.
The goal has been to make coding cleaner, simpler, and more intuitive at every level of the stack and in every corner of the computer. This entails smoothing off the rough edges to eliminate the potential for heartbreak. Punctuation and syntax are becoming more basic, or at the very least more concise.
It’s hard to capture all of the activity in a single list, or even to begin to explore all of the different corners of the software development world, from research labs to the deepest reaches of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Regardless, the most apparent world of user-facing code is dominated by a few notable patterns. Here are six examples.
1. The big frameworks keep evolving and growing
At the end of 2020, React released version 17. In the last year, Angular released versions 10, 11, and 12. Vue doesn’t update the stats as frequently, but it released 3.0 last year and is now publishing betas for 3.1.
The code does not change, but the numbers do. The new code is more evolutionary than revolutionary because all three stacks are old enough. Vue, for example, claims that version 3 contains few changes and that users of version 2 will find it extremely familiar. Even though there were multiple updates that potentially break previous code, reacts announcement for version 17 claimed that there were “no new features.”
Angular continues to introduce more options and mechanisms, but they appear to be modest and do not alter the developer’s approach. More formatting freedom was provided in a recent update, including the ability to use Sass and Tailwind CSS in more locations.
Some of the most well-known and well-known websites employ these frameworks. Vue is the newest of the three, but it has surpassed the others in terms of raw webpage counts in recent years. It may not be supported by a huge corporation, but its ease of use makes it ideal for smaller enterprises.
2. Static options are more popular
Not all applications are complicated. Developers are increasingly noticing that some of their websites aren’t naturally dynamic. Static pages with static content and photographs can survive and even thrive without the massive code infrastructure that runs every time someone visits the page.
Static site generators (SSGs) take the material and generate static HTML and CSS that can be served from content delivery networks at the web’s edge (CDNs). There’s no need to keep clusters of instances and databases up to date because the CDN takes care of the majority of the work. You simply start the SSG and pipe the response into the static directory when you wish to make a modification.
Static search generators for various types of coding are popping up, and they’re frequently built to feed the results from the most popular frameworks into static files. GatsbyJS, Cuttlebelle, VuePress, and Hexo are popular among Node.js users. Pelican is for Python users, Hugo is for Go users, and Jekyll is for Ruby users. There’s one for almost every legacy web application that has to be turned into a collection of static files.
3. Tiny clones are blooming
Although the huge frameworks include all of the functionality, their complexity might slow down developers and need more server resources. Developers are always on the lookout for miniature versions that mimic the aesthetic and convey the idea while retaining only the functions that they require.
There are plenty of fantastic instances of good, fresh, and generally smaller frameworks popping up all over the place. Developers are generating their own stripped-down versions with only the functionalities that their application requires.
Svelte, for example, is a smaller framework with Reacts multifaceted versatility but significantly lower downloads built once by a compiler. The majority of the work is completed during construction rather than on each visit.
Some are even advocating for a “frameworks movement,” according to this manifesto, which states, “We don’t hate frameworks; we just despise their misuse.”
4. SEO’s importance continues to rise
Some web designers are realizing that search engines wag the dog at a lot of websites, and the best approach is to acknowledge their power and elevate the importance of SEO in the process.
Elder.js is one framework that prioritizes SEO. It starts with the Svelte SSG and adds a variety of common tactics to make things easier for the search engine, such as streamlining routing and precomputing as much of the website as feasible.
5. Web Assembly and Canvas are becoming more common
Developers are delving underneath HTML’s high-level abstractions and investigating primitives such as the Canvas API and the ability to ship Web Assembly code. For example, instead of juggling divs and spans loaded with words, Google is rebuilding its document editor to draw the words directly on a Canvas object.
6. CSS frameworks are increasing in their sophistication
CSS files used to be merely a list of fonts and sizes, with a few colors and formatting rules thrown in for good measure. CSS now entails developing hierarchies brimming with intricate, shifting abstractions. Choosing the correct CSS framework for your project is more crucial than ever because each of these frameworks has its own distinct look and feel that shows through regardless of the colors and fonts you use.
As good designers create new frameworks that encapsulate their designs, dozens of possibilities proliferate. They include anything from traditional foundations like Bootstrap to more recent techniques like Materialize and Simple. There are other alternatives like 7.css, XP.css, and 98.css if you’re feeling particularly nostalgic.
It’s all converging
These six trends are only a few of the key concepts that are motivating the work of web application developers. In another course, there are plenty of developers working in different areas who are following their own paths. Working with Python or R, for example, maybe enjoyable for data scientists. AI developers are creating their own bespoke gear to test their models.
All of these actions, however, are convergent. React now supports Jupyter Notebooks, one of the most popular formats for bringing data science work to the web. Adding a TensorFlow-based AI model to your Angular app? Someone has already taken the initiative.
While some programmers remain at the bottom of the stack, the top world built around the browser continues to entice them back in since everything appears to be moving toward browser-based interfaces.
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