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Happy New Year, Web Devians. We’ve just finished off quite a year for web technologies, haven’t we? 2014 was categorised by a growth in diversity – nowadays there’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to making the most of CSS and JavaScript.

We’re firmly past the days when jQuery was considered fancy. This year it wasn’t a question of whether we were using a framework – instead we’ve mostly been tearing our hair out trying to decide which one fits where. But whether you’re pinning your colours to Backbone or Angular, Node or PHP, there have been some clear trends in how the web is changing.

Here’s Packt’s countdown of the top seven ways web tech has grown this year. If you weren’t thinking about these things in 2014, then it might be time to get up to speed before 2015 overtakes you!


We saw it coming in 2013, but in 2014 Angular basically ate everything. It’s the go-to framework for a subset of JavaScript projects that we’re going to refer to here as [“All Projects Ever”].  This is a sign of the times for where front-end development is right now. The single-page web application is now the heart of the new internet, which is deep, reactive, and aware. 2014 may go down as the year we officially moved the party to the client side.

Responsive Web Design

Here at Packt we’ve seen a big increase in people thinking about responsive design right from the beginning of their projects, and no wonder. In 2014 mobile devices crossed the line and outstripped traditional computers as the main way in which people browse the web. We glimpse the web now through many screens in a digital hall of mirrors. The sites we built in 2014 had to be equally accessible whether users were on IE8 at the library, or tweeting from their Android while base jumping.

The MEAN stack

2014 put to rest for good the idea that JavaScript was a minor-league language that just couldn’t hack it on the back end. In the last twelve months MEAN development has shown us just how streamlined and powerful Node can be when harnessed with front-end JavaScript and JSON data storage. 2014 was for MongoDB, Express, Angular and Node had their break-out year this year as the hottest band in web dev.

Data visualisation

Did you know that all the knowledge available in the whole world before 1800 compresses to fewer bytes than Twitter streams in a minute? Actually, I just made that up. But it is true that we are generating and storing data at an increasingly hectic rate. When it comes to making visual sense of it, web tech has had a big role to play. D3 continued to hold its own as one of the most important tools in web development this year. We’ve all been thinking visually about charts and infographics. Which brings us to…

Flat design

The internet we built in 2014 was flat and stripy, and it’s wonderful.  Google’s unveiling of Material Design at this year’s I/O conference cemented the trend we’d all been seeing. Simple vector graphics, CSS animations and a mature code-based approach to visuals has swept the scene. There are naysayers of course (and genuine questions about accessibility, which we’ll be blogging about next year) but overall this aesthetic feels mature. Like moments in traditional architecture, 2014 felt like a year in which we cemented a recognisable design era.

Testing and build tools

Yes, we know. The least fun part of JavaScript – testing it and building, rebuilding, rebuilding. Chances are though that if you were involved in any large-scale web development this year you’ve now got a truly impressive Bat-utility belt of tools to work with. From Yeoman, to Gulp or Grunt, to Jasmine, to PhantomJS, updates have made everything a little more sophisticated.

Cross-platform hybrid apps

For decades we’ve thought about HTML/CSS/JavaScript as browser languages. With mobile technology though, we’ve broadened thinking and bit by bit JS has leaked out of the browser. When you think about it, our phones and tablets are full of little browser-like mutants, gleefully playing with servers and streaming data while downplaying the fact that their grandparents were Netscape and IE6. This year the number of hybrid mobile apps – and their level of sophistication – has exploded. We woke up to the fact that going online on mobile devices can be repackaged in all kinds of ways while still using web-tech to do all the heavy lifting.

All in all, it’s been an exciting year. Happy New Year, and here’s to our new adventures in 2015!


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