TOP 10 WEB DEVELOPMENT TRENDS: HOW TO STAY AHEAD IN 2021

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Trend 1. Betting on the Optimal Infrastructure

Picking the right infrastructure is crucial for a web development project. For evaluation and comparison of architectural alternatives, we should consider many factors, namely: performance, scalability, capacity, maintenance costs, etc. The ambiguity here might create confusion. For example, a microservice architecture without DevOps doesn’t always operate faster. Regarding the speed of development, a cloud platform is one of the best options – though it entails considerable expenditures.

Two main types of infrastructure services – Backend as a Service (BaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) – are available today. Developers’ attitude towards BaaS and PaaS and choice between them differs.

BaaS, also known as Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS), provides developers with a service that connects Web or Mobile app to cloud service with the help of APIs (application programming interfaces) or SDK (software developers’ kits). By applying BaaS, a company can reduce time-to-market and costs spent on infrastructure management. Prominent among BaaS are Parse, Firebase, AWS Amplify, Azure Mobile Apps, CloudKit.

FaaS (Functions as a service) is another type of cloud computing service integrated into BaaS. It foresees a platform for the development, running, and management of the app’s functionality. This model enables the creation of microservices apps. Scaling up or down in the case of FaaS could be automated. Famous FaaS are IBM Cloud Functions, Amazon’s AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, Microsoft Azure Functions, OpenFaaS.

PaaS (Platform as a service) provides infrastructure for app development, allowing customers to design, test, and host. This platform-based service operates as software on a public infrastructure, private, or public cloud service. It includes various templates, tools, libraries, and codes. Through PaaS, the development process becomes faster while implementation costs are being reduced.

Below, you can see an example of how functions can be managed across various types of infrastructure. Please be aware that the functions are named generically.

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Trend 2. JAMstack as an Alternative to Tools for Monolithic Architecture

The term JAMstack was introduced by Mathias Billman, CEO at Netlify, and it implies the combination of three basic elements: JavaScript, API & Markup. It could be viewed as a methodology or even philosophy of fast, safe, and scalable web and app development. By applying JAMstack, developers do not bother with backend server logic, focusing on the presentation layer. The major part of the functionality is kept on the client side, and other features that require heavy labour are realized through third party APIs. Therefore, lots of SaaS apps and outstanding websites have already been built with JAMstack.

And this trend provides strong perspectives for web and app development, combining the best tools and technologies, such as React, Webpack, React-router, GraphQL, in one solution.

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JAMSTACK WORKFLOW

1. Write code and push it to a source repository

2. Design prebuilt content

3. Ship built files to CDN (Content Delivery Network).

4. A user requests a page (there is no need to interact with the origin server because the prebuilt content is available from CDN)

As regards core updates, they are pushed through Git. This allows re-building the site via up-to-date tools. Static site generators like Gatsby or Hugo are good examples of such tools because they form an integral part of the JAMstack approach.

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World-renowned companies like Mozilla, Nike, Smashing Magazine are using JAMstack. A reason why they’re choosing this solution differs. The primary factor is to reduce reliance on a server by means of solving tasks on the client-side, accelerating load and improving performance.

According to Netlify’s survey, typical business use cases for Jamstack include consumer software – 45%, internal tooling – 36%, and enterprise software – 35% (the total volume is higher than 100% because respondents could select multiple options).

JAMstack is great for providing high availability for large sites serving millions of users yearly. But it’s not suitable for web application development.

Trend 3. The Extensive Usage of Static Site Generators

Static site generators (SSG) are software apps for creating HTML pages based on the template or a component and a content source. SSG could be a sufficient alternative to database-driven CMS (Content Management System).

The application of SSG is an increasingly popular trend for developing a new class or web apps. The cause lies in the difference between a traditional web app stack and SSG. Static site generators allow for obtaining the page view in advance, and serving ahead of time – no need to wait until the page is requested and generated. It concerns any view of the website at a build time. Because of rendering in advance, websites developed with SSG have a higher level of security against malware.

The task of managing large-scale content projects is being simplified through web frameworks application – from Gatsby, Gridsome, and Next to Nuxt. It is noteworthy that Figma and Digital Ocean are based on GatsbyJS, which is known as a fast and smooth framework with an advanced ecosystem.

Trend 4. Switching to Headless CMS

Companies that opt for headless CMS win by implementing scalable and flexible solutions. In headless CMS, which is known as a back-end content management system, the presentation layer “head” and the content repository “body” are separated from each other.

The interface envisaged in headless CMS allows users to manage APIs and content. Though, in this solution content doesn’t receive attention in terms of how it is displayed. The main idea is to store and deliver content, enabling editors to develop it together.

Today, developers find headless CMS the appropriate solution, so we can see the increasing popularity of headless Ghost, Strapi, and Netlify CMS that are based on Jamstack. Tinder, Buffer, DuoLingo, Mozilla, and DuckDuck use Ghost for their blogs. IBM, Walmart, NASA, and Societe Generale prefer Strapi in production.

According to the Research and Markets study, the headless CMS software market was estimated at US$ 328.5 million in 2019 and is projected to reach US$ 1,628.6 million by 2027; it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22.6% from 2020 to 2027

Trend 5. Uniting Serverless and Microservices

Back-end development trends have been moving from monolith to microservices for the last couple of years. Pairing with Docker, Kubernetes, and serverless architecture, microservices architecture is a way to scale fast-growing projects with exponential user base growth.

Trend 6. Accessing Customized API

GraphQL is being used for providing descriptions of the data in the API. It could be perceived as an alternative to the REST-based architecture. In contrast to REST, GraphQL is an appropriate tool to request specific data.

To render a page, most applications need to obtain complex data. And thanks to GraphQL, frontenders fetch needed data in a query without undue delay. As a result, users receive faster applications. Hundreds of organizations, from GitHub to The New York Times, have already applied GraphQL.

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Enterprise Web Development Trends

Web application development for enterprise has its peculiarities related to enterprise-level business needs. With the right development approach, apps for enterprises help to solve existing challenges, achieve marketing and other goals, including higher ROI.

As any department in a big company has its own challenges, software solutions should be connected with their needs. Sometimes, businesses opt for a few enterprise apps that should communicate with each other in consistency, thus gaining operational advantages.

Trend 7. Adjusting Web Development Roadmap

Considering web application development in terms of front-end shows that creating a consistent style of the product is the challenge. This is especially the case for large organizations where numerous teams work on the products. So to create a digital product with an attractive design, enterprises need a team with deep expertise in design systems.

Style guides in this case enable companies to find and use needed libraries and documents. Guidance is a code that is being kept under version control. Therefore, in comparison with any simple document, it’s clearer and easier to maintain. In web development, applying design systems has become an optimal approach for cooperation between teams and directions, yielding better focus.

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The emergence of new development challenges is associated with a number of causes, from popular microservices, infrastructure as code, and container orchestration to Kubernetes. To confront these challenges, companies involve platform engineering teams responsible for enterprise web development

Trend 8. Facilitating Complex Solutions

AI solution implementation in apps requires a large number of computational resources. But there is a possibility to use ML tools offered by cloud providers. These tools are beneficial but expensive. In addition to standard fees, providers charge fees for operations tax. And any new tool in the architecture increases total costs. Part of the need for complex tools can be avoidable, and teams have to take it into consideration.

It’s notable that for solving ML challenges a neural network or GPU aren’t always required. A combination of simple models and tools along with appropriate Python code is enough for these tasks.

Regarding the legacy app modernization, “outside-in” approach is being used to accomplish the task and the old code is wrapped up in the new one. This approach sophisticates the ability to manage functionality. The alternative for legacy systems is the “inside-out” approach which implies embedding the beginning of the new SPA (single-page applications) into the HTML document that contains the old one.

The SPA frameworks don’t even need to be the same as long as users can tolerate the performance hit of the increased page size. SPA injection allows removing the old SPA until the new one completely takes over.

Trend 9. Researching New Opportunities Carefully

Low-code or no-code platforms are already in the public eye. They’re suitable for solving specific challenges in very limited areas. Low-code platforms allow businesses to develop apps and processes with the help of a visual interface and simple logic instead of intensive coding.

Another beneficial method is to import maps for micro frontends. When several micro frontends are combined in an application, the system selects which of them and how to load. Developers intensively create unique solutions or apply a larger framework like single-spa. Import maps, a new standard that assists in both instances, is now available. In both cases, a new standard might come in handy.

Importing maps for micro frontends results in accurate separation of concerns. The JS code points out the part to be imported and the script tag in the HTML shows where to load frontends from. The server is being used for HTML generation, so dynamic configurations could be applied while rendering. Nowadays, import maps are maintained by Chrome. Anyway, the SystemJS polyfill makes a wider usage possible.

Trend 10. Exploiting Enterprise Tools

Sentry is the optimal tool for many teams that require reporting of front-end errors. Errors detected on different end-user devices are being classified and processed through in-built features – patterns for rejecting errors and tools for grouping. Thanks to adding Sentry in the CD pipeline, debugging becomes more convenient and efficient because it’s easier to find out to which software errors are related. Sentry is Saas, but it ensures public access and is free for smaller use cases.

MLflow is an open-source platform for managing the Machine Learning lifecycle. This tool consists of separate components, namely: a collection of runs, a collection of metrics and projects, and a registry to store and discover them in a central repository.

MLflow supports open standards and could be combined with various tools of the ecosystem. MLflow is available in AWS and Azure and it is improving quickly, being suitable for modern projects. This tool is universal for management and tracking tasks and supports UI- and API-based models. The main concern related to MLflow is a massive unification in a single platform, including model scoring and serving.

CI servers and development tools are in high demand. They turn the gamut from simple cloud-hosted services into complex, code-defined pipeline servers that support fleets of build machines. An extensive list of options is already available, so the introduction of GitHub Actions was perceived quite critically. Anyway, GitHub Actions enable developers to handle small projects.

The in-built tool is located in the source code repository. The community has come together around this feature, which caused the emergence of user-contributed tools. These tools are being implemented via the GitHub Marketplace.

Code and Git history are available for export in the alternative host, but the development workflow on GitHub Actions doesn’t have the same feature. Also, developers should determine whether a project is large enough to apply an independent pipeline tool. But for small projects GitHub Actions deserve attention.

Future of Web Development

.NET 5 represents a significant step forward in bringing .NET Core and .NET Framework into a single platform. Organizations should start to develop a strategy to migrate their development environments — a fragmented mix of frameworks depending on the deployment target — to a single version of .NET 5 or 6 when it becomes available. The advantage of this approach will be a common development platform regardless of the intended environment: Windows, Linux, cross-platform mobile devices (via Xamarin) or the browser (using Blazor). While polyglot development will remain the preferred approach for companies with the engineering culture to support it, others will find it more efficient to standardize on a single platform for .NET development.

Another recent award for web developers has been made by Google in its Flutter 2.0 release. So far, Flutter has primarily supported native iOS and Android applications. However, the Flutter team’s vision is to support building applications on every platform. Flutter for Web is one step in that direction because it’s suitable for building apps for iOS, Android and the browser from the same codebase, reaching business goals.

Building forms for the web remains one of the perennial challenges of front-end development, in particular with React. React Hook Form can substitute previously used Formik. React Hooks already existed when React Hook Form was created, so it could use them as a first-class concept: the framework is registering and tracking form elements as uncontrolled components via a hook, thereby significantly reducing the need for re-rendering. It’s also quite lightweight in size and in the amount of boilerplate code needed. So, developers have at their disposal a modern tool to provide seamless user experience for any enterprise web project.

We have outlined the most significant web app development trends that should be taken into consideration by CTO while defining the strategy of the development. This list of trends could be supplemented with items covering other trends – from voice search powered by IoT to motion design and the increased importance of cybersecurity. These trends will be overviewed in our next publications.

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