Things change quickly in application development. Over the past few years we’ve seen it merge with other fields. With the web become more app-like, DevOps turning everyone into a part-time sysadmin (well, sort of), and the full-stack trend shifting expectations about the modern programmer skill set, the field has become incredibly fluid and open. That means 2018 will present a wealth of challenges of application developers – but of course there will also be plenty of opportunities for the curious and enterprising…
But what’s going to be most important in 2018? What’s really going to matter? Take a look below at our list of 5 things that will matter in application development in 2018.
1. Versatile languages that can be used on both client and server
Versatility is key to be a successful programmer today. That doesn’t mean the age of specialists is over, but rather you need to be a specialist in everything. And when versatility is important to your skillset, it also becomes important for the languages we use. It’s for that reason that we’re starting to see the increasing popularity of languages like Kotlin and Go. It’s why Python continues to be popular – it’s just so versatile. This is important when you’re thinking about how to invest your learning time. Of course everyone is different, but learning languages that can help you do multiple things and solve different problems can be hugely valuable. Investing your energy in the most versatile languages will be well worth your time in 2018.
2. The new six month Java release cycle
This will be essential for Java programmers in 2018. Starting with the release of Java 9 early in 2018, the new cycle will kick in. This might mean there’s a little more for developers to pay attention to, but it should make life easier, as Oracle will be able to update and add new features to the language with greater effectiveness than ever before. From a more symbolic point of view, this move hints a lot at the deepening of open source culture in 2018, with Oracle aiming to satisfy developers working on smaller systems, keen to constantly innovate, as much as its established enterprise clients.
3. Developing usable and useful conversational UI
Conversational UI has been a ‘thing’ for some time now, but it hasn’t quite captured the imagination of users. This is likely because it simply hasn’t proved that useful yet – like 3D film it feels like too much of a gimmick, maybe even too much of a hassle. It’s crucial – if only to satisfy the hype – that developers finally find a way to make conversational UI work. To really make it work we’re ultimately going to need to join the dots between exceptionally good artificial intelligence and a brilliant user experience – making algorithms that ‘understand’ user needs, and can adapt to what people want.
Microservices certainly won’t be new in 2018, but they are going to play a huge part in how software is built in 2018. Put simply, if they’re not important to you yet, they will be. We’re going to start to see more organizations moving away from monolithic architectures, looking to engineering teams to produce software in ways that is much more dynamic and much more agile. Yes, these conversations have been happening for a number of years; but like everything when it comes to tech, change happens at different speeds. It’s only now as technologies mature, developer skillsets change, and management focus shifts that broader changes take place.
5. Taking advantage of virtual and augmented reality
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have been huge innovations within fields like game development. But in 2018, we’re going to see both expand beyond gaming and into other fields. It’s already happening in many areas, such as healthcare, and for engineers and product developers/managers, it’s going to be an interesting 12 months to see how the market changes.