2018 saw major changes in the development world and this year promises to be even more transformational. Which skills to learn? Let’s review some major milestones and stories from 2018 and see how they are shaping current events and driving predictions for the future of developers in 2019.
With Google and Facebook each exposing the data of more than 50 million users in 2018 and with the materialization of vulnerabilities such as Meltdown and Spectre, security continues to be a major concern with no conclusive solution in sight - as last year’s issues at popular package manager NPM also demonstrated.
In 2019, developers should increase their security training, learn HTTPS, and exercise caution when using potentially vulnerable third party libraries.
Performance was also a major talking point for developers in 2018, as users began to change their habits in the mobile world: Apps are no longer downloaded as much as they used to be. Indeed, this year is predicted to see more user activity from mobile web browsing than from native mobile apps. To compensate for the comparatively poor performance of mobile internet connection speeds and processing, 2018 saw the emergence of innovative development strategies and best practices to enhance web performance.
Oracle’s Siddhartha Agarwal predicts that, due to security concerns, a hybrid application deployment approach will emerge in 2019 to balance security and performance needs. The approach - which will be driven by Cloud service providers - will combine the high performance and efficiency of running in containers with a lightweight virtual machine for increased security and isolation.
Agarwal points out that, while Cloud-native is now the default choice for new in-house enterprise development projects, the vast majority of legacy tech stacks are not Cloud-native. He therefore predicts new technologies to emerge in 2019, designed to modernize and containerize legacy apps in order to manage them similarly to Cloud-native apps.
This trend will enable experienced developers to build on existing skillsets.
Furthermore, developers this year will partner with a platform engineer - an emerging role akin to a system administrator for the Cloud - who will manage and monitor resource availability and security for Cloud-native application development and deployment.
Additionally, Node.js and Express.js are expected to dominate in 2019, having become the principal and standardized way to write backend API servers; while 2018 also saw a significant rise in the popularity of learning GraphQL - which will continue to be a hot topic within the developer community.
Last year, React, Angular and Vue focused heavily on improving both the CLI experience and rendering performance - and are all now viable options for building fast front-end applications.
With this trend continuing in 2019, it is well worth learning about these libraries.
IT innovations and progressions in 2018 have simplified developers’ lives, increasing their focus on application logic and away from operations. The rise of serverless architecture, Cloud-based autonomous databases, infrastructure-as-a-service and the launch of module bundlers such as Webpack 4 and Parcel enable today’s developer to spend less time worrying about tooling, configurations, patching, provisioning, tuning, and scaling.
Argawal predicts that the economics of serverless will drive both its popularity and its innovation in 2019. Expect serverless to rapidly expand into other business areas and an open standard to take shape as developers spread their workloads across several Clouds and select those which avoid vendor lock-in.
While managed services and innovations are certainly burgeoning, it is still highly recommended to enhance fundamental skillsets such as system design and good architecture.
Computer science fundamentals don’t change and will keep you in good stead for years to come.
In 2019, developers will also increasingly need to understand data science and to integrate its models into their workflows. Agarwal forecasts that by the end of the year, 80% of custom apps will include embedded intelligence as a first-class capability.
Future software will need to make use of machine learning to anticipate user needs, so why not boost your skills through machine learning APIs?
Argawal also predicts that the prevalence of bots flooding the market will drive the need for intelligent interfaces which can select the right bot for the right task.
Blockchain will also feature heavily in 2019, particularly in regulated industries where trust and transparency are key. Developers will be querying data from an external blockchain ledger and can already embed features that call out to a particular Blockchain Cloud service.
In 2019, the development world will grow faster than ever before. With technologies such as blockchain, chatbots and machine learning becoming mature enough for real-world projects, developers should be burning with excitement about the opportunities ahead.