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5 Application Development Trends for 2020

Over the past decade, there have been many innovations in the software development industry with new technologies like the cloud, microservices, and virtualization and new methods with DevOps and agile practices. With these advancements, we’ve seen a seismic shift in application development, from many apps being built for business users and desktops to the rise of consumer apps on mobile devices.

As consumers demand more and better digital experiences, from banking to shopping, gaming to social networking, businesses across all industries understand the app has become a primary way to interact with customers and are refocusing their resources to build better applications.

This is unleashing new trends for 2020 and beyond, specifically around frontend development and the tools and frameworks that support it. Here are five predictions for the next decade:

Frontend Will Merge With DevOps

How people interact with a website is no longer just a marketing concern. The user interface is now critical application code and it contains core business logic.

This shift in application importance means frontend development teams will start to look more like product teams as development and operations merge. These teams are deploying their own code and making changes so rapidly that they are often moving too fast for separate operations teams to have the full context to mitigate application errors.

We will see these frontend teams become more generalized in their skillsets and become responsible for development, testing and operations as the process becomes a continuous cycle of integration and delivery. These teams will be on call for incidents and interacting more with monitoring tools to ensure uptime. Those writing JavaScript are going to learn about getting paged in the middle of the night.

Fatigue With Tools and Frameworks Will Worsen

The plethora of tools, languages, and frameworks are adding massive complexity to the application development ecosystem. IT teams are challenged to interconnect these disparate languages and platforms to build applications that are the lifeblood of business in today’s digital economy. And while conference halls echo with cries of tool and framework fatigue, there will not be a clear resolution in 2020. In fact, there will likely be more disruption.

Although it seems React.js is approaching victory for frontend development, there are still a number of viable competitors ready to shake things up. On the backend, there is still no standardization, in spite of significant innovation in recent years. PHP, Ruby, Python, Node.js, Java, and .Net are all in use—but there is no clear winner and that won’t change in 2020.

As teams struggle to connect it all, even more tools—many of which will be open source—will emerge to integrate technologies, but the challenges of complexity and control will get worse before they get better.

JavaScript Will Become the Glue for Modern Apps

Today, there is no one true programming language choice for building a modern web application, but as the battle for the frontend rages, JavaScript is growing in popularity. Over the next few years, we will see a clear shift toward JavaScript universally becoming the language choice for user interfaces on every platform. More tools will emerge and adapt for frontend specific applications and JavaScript will be the glue that connects it all.

IT Teams Will Seek to Simplify Their Stacks

In recent years, innovation has revealed a host of new tools from big vendors, startups and open source projects, each promising to tackle the next big issue. But it is challenging to maintain compliance and controls when cobbling together a heterogeneous mix of technology at different maturity levels. And while the next decade will certainly bring more innovation, we can also expect the proverbial pendulum to begin swinging back toward consolidation of platforms and tools as overwhelmed IT teams look for ways to simplify their stacks and reduce risk.

Vendors offering universal solutions that span multiple platforms and integrate seamlessly into enterprise environments will continue to see adoption. And while companies may continue to offload infrastructure management to third parties—cloud vendors, SaaS providers, and others—in an effort to refocus their resources on building the business, there will be a lagging interest in new tools that offer just the 1% value add.

Monitoring Will Evolve to Include User Interactions

As we invest more in user interfaces—which will increasingly become the actual application—we will see engineering concerns more closely align with customer concerns, which means a lot of our tooling and accountability will also shift. We will need to monitor more than just backend server availability. We will need to monitor how the customer interacts with the product and business because each application iteration can impact user experience, whether positively or negatively.

When development teams have a more comprehensive understanding of user interactions and application performance, they can more effectively build applications that drive business value.

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