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InfoQ's 2019, and Software Predictions for 2020

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Key Takeaways

  • Last month, Google claimed to have achieved quantum supremacy—the name given to the step of proving quantum computers can deliver something that a classical computer can't. That claim is disputed, and it may yet turn out that we need a better demonstration, but it still feels like a significant milestone.
  • A surprise this year was the decline of interest in Virtual Reality, at least in the context of Smart-phone-based VR. Despite this we still think that something in the AR/VR space, or some other form of alternative computer/human interaction, is likely to come on the market in the next few years and gain significant traction.
  • We expect to see the interest in Web Assembly continue and hope that the tooling for it will start to mature.
  • In our DevOps and Cloud trend report, we noted that Kubernetes has effectively cornered the market for container orchestration, and is arguably becoming the cloud-agnostic compute abstraction. The next "hot topics" in this space appear to be "service meshes" and developer experience/workflow tooling.  
  • We’re looking forward to seeing what the open source community and vendors are working on in the understandability, observability, and debuggability space in the context of architectural patterns such microservices and functions(as-a-service).

Looking back, 2019 saw some significant announcements in Quantum computing. In May, IBM published a paper in Nature that suggested they may have found a path to dealing with decoherence in current quantum computers. Writing for InfoQ Sergio De Simone pointed out:

"The main issue with decoherence is the fast decay of a wave function, which has the undesirable effect of generating noise and errors after a very short time period. The paper proposes two approaches, one called probabilistic error correction and the other zero noise extrapolation, to keep decoherence under control."

In September, Google announced, also via a paper in Nature, it had built a machine that achieved quantum supremacy - the point at which a quantum computer can solve problems which classical computers practically cannot. The claim was disputed by IBM, and the practical application of Google’s achievement is still limited, but both these announcements demonstrate real progress in the field.

Also significant - the news that Microsoft open-sourced Q#, its Language for Quantum Computing.  

A surprise this year was the decline of interest in Virtual Reality, at least in the context of Smart-phone-based VR. Sergio notes:

"Google's decision to stop supporting its Daydream VR headset seemingly marks the end of phone-based virtual reality, a vision that attempted to combine the use of smartphones with 'dumb' VR headsets to bring VR experiences to the masses. Google's decision is accompanied by the BBC disbanding its VR content team after two years of successful experimentation."



JavaScript, Java, and C# remain the most popular languages we cover, but we’re also seeing strong interest in Rust, Swift, and Go, and our podcast with Bryan Cantrill on "Rust and Why He Feels It’s The Biggest Change In Systems Development in His Career" is one of the top-performing podcasts we’ve published this year. We’ve also seen a growing interest in Python this year, probably fuelled by its popularity for machine learning tasks.

After a rather turbulent 2018, Java seems to be settling into its bi-annual release cycle. According to our most-recent reader survey Java is the most used language amongst InfoQ readers, and there continues to be a huge amount of interest in the newer language features and how the language is evolving. We also continue to see strong and growing interest in Kotlin.  

It has been interesting to see Microsoft’s growing involvement in Java, joining the OpenJDK, acquiring JClarity, and hiring other well known figures including Monica Beckwith.

Our podcast with Rod Johnson in which he chats about the early days of the Spring Framework, Languages Post-Java, & Rethinking CI/CD was another of our top-performing podcasts this year.

Matt Raible’s JHipster book, now in its 5th version, was one of our most-downloaded books of the year.

In the Java programming language trends report, we noted increased adoption of non-HotSpot JVMs, and we believe OpenJ9 is now within the early-adopter stage. As the time we noted that:

"We believe that the increasing adoption of cloud technologies within all types of organisation is driving the requirements for JREs that embrace associated "cloud-native" principles such as fast start-up times and a low memory footprint. Graal in itself may not be overly interesting, but the ability to compile Java application to native binaries, in combination with the support of polyglot languages, is ensuring that we keep a close watch on this project."

Since the report came out, we feel that the GraalVM has demonstrated significant potential, and will continue to watch its progress with interest.  

Our top performing content for Java this year included:

Although it didn’t quite make it in the top five list, an honourable mention should go to Brian Goetz’s fantastic "Java Feature Spotlight" article "Local Variable Type Inference."


The release of .NET Core 3 in September generated a huge buzz on InfoQ and produced some of our most-popular .NET content of the year. WebAssembly has been another area of intense interest, and we saw a corresponding surge in interest for Blazor, a new framework in ASP.NET Core that allows developers to create interactive web applications using C# and HTML. Blazor comes in multiple editions, including Blazor WebAssembly which allows single-page applications to run in the client's web browser using a WebAssembly-based .NET runtime.

According to our most-recent reader survey, C# is the second-most widely used language among InfoQ readers after Java, and interest in C#8 in particular was also strong.

Our top performing .NET content included:

Jonathan Allen’s piece in the list is part of an excellent series of articles and news posts that Jonathan Allen wrote for InfoQ during 2019. Others included:

Web Development

Unsurprisingly, the majority of InfoQ readers write at least some JavaScript - around 70% according to the most recent reader survey - making it the most widely used language among our readers. The dominant JavaScript frameworks for InfoQ readers seem to currently be Vue and React. We also saw interest in using Javascript for machine learning via TensorFlow.js.  Away from JavaScript, we saw strong interest in some of the transpiler options. In addition to Blazor, mentioned above, we saw strong interest in Web Assembly, Typescript, Elm and Svelte.

Top-performing content included:


It’s unsurprising that distributed computing, and in particular the microservices architecture style, remains a huge part of our news and feature content. We see strong interest in related topics, with our original Domain Driven Design Quickly book, and our more-recent eMag "Domain-Driven Design in Practice" continuing to perform particularly well, and interest in topics like observability and distributed tracing. We also saw interest in methods of testing distributed systems, including a strong performance from our Chaos Engineering eMag, and a resurgence in reader interest in some for the core architectural topics such as API design, diagrams, patterns, and models.  

Our top performing architecture content was:

AI, ML and Data Engineering

Our podcast with Grady Booch on today’s Artificial Intelligence reality and what it means for developers was one of our most popular podcasts of the year, and revealed strong interest in the topic from InfoQ readers.

Key AI stories in 2019 were MIT introducing GEN, a Julia-basd language for artificial intelligence, Google’s ongoing work on ML Kit, and discussions around conversational interfaces, as well as more established topics such as streaming.

It’s slightly orthogonal to the rest of the pieces listed here, but we should also mention "Postgres Handles More Than You Think" by Jason Skowronski which performed amazingly well.

Our top-performing content for AI and ML was:

Culture and Methods

If there was an overarching theme to our culture and methods coverage this year it might best be summed up as "agile done wrong" and many of our items focused on issues with agile, and/or going back to the principles outlined in the Agile Manifesto.

We also saw continued in interest in some of the big agile methodologies, notably Scrum, with both "Scrum and XP from the Trenches", and "Kanban and Scrum - Making the Most of Both" performing well in our books department.

We also saw strong reader interest in remote working with Judy Rees’ eMag on "Mastering Remote Meetings", and her corresponding podcast, performing well, alongside my own talk on "Working Remotely and Managing Remote Teams" from Aginext this year. 

Our most popular published content for Culture and Methods was:

Our top performing culture podcasts were:

DevOps and Cloud

In our DevOps and Cloud trends report, we noted that Kubernetes has effectively cornered the market for container orchestration, and is arguably becoming the cloud-agnostic compute abstraction. The next "hot topics" in this space appear to be "service meshes" and developer experience/workflow tooling. We continue to see strong interest in all of thee among InfoQ’s readers.

A trend we’re also starting to note is a number of languages which are either infrastructure or cloud-orientated. In our Programming Languages trends report, we noted increased interest and innovation related to infrastructure-aware or cloud-specific languages, DSLs, and SDKs like Ballerina and Pulumi. In this context we should also mention Dark, a new language currently still in private beta, but already attracting a lot of interest. Somewhat related, we should also mention the Ecstasy language, co-created by Tangosol founders Cameron Purdy and Gene Gleyzer. Chris Swan, CTO for the Global Delivery at DXC Technology, spoke to Cameron Purdy about the language and the problems it’s designed to solve.

In the eMags department "Kubernetes: Past, Present and Future", and "DevSecOps in Practice" were among our top performers:

Software Predictions for 2020

Making predictions in software in notoriously hard to do, but we expect to see enterprise development teams consolidate their cloud-platform choices as Kubernetes adoption continues. Mostly this will be focussed on the "big five" cloud providers - Amazon, Google, IBM (plus Red Hat), Microsoft, and VMware (plus Pivotal). We think that, outside China, Alibaba will struggle to gain traction, as will Oracle, Salesforce, and SAP.

In the platform/operations space we’re expecting that service meshes will become more integrated with the underlying orchestration frameworks (e.g. Kubernetes). We’re also hopeful that the developer workflow for interacting with service meshes becomes more integrated with current workflows, technologies, and pipelines.

Ultimately developers should be able to control deploy, release, and debugging via the same continuous/progressive delivery pipeline. For example, using a "GitOps" style pipeline to deploy a service by configuring k8s YAML (or some higher-level abstraction), controlling the release of the new functionality using techniques like canarying or shadowing via the configuration of some traffic management k8s custom resource definition (CRD) YAML, and enabling additional logging or debug tooling via some additional CRD config.

In regards to architecture, next year will hopefully be the year of "managing complexity". Architectural patterns such microservices and functions(as-a-service) have enabled developers to better separate concerns, implement variable rates of change via independent isolated deployments, and ultimately work more effectively at scale. However, our ability to comprehend the complex distributed systems we are now building -- along with the availability of related tooling -- has not kept pace with these developments. We’re looking forward to seeing what the open source community and vendors are working on in the understandability, observability, and debuggability space.

We expect to see more developers experimenting with "low code" platforms. This is partly fueled by a renewed push from Microsoft for its PowerApps, Flow, Power BI, and Power Platform products.

In the .NET ecosystem, we believe that Blazor will keep gaining momentum among web developers. .NET 5 should also bring significant changes to the ecosystem with the promised interoperability with Java, Objective-C, and Swift. Although it is early to say, Microsoft's recent efforts on IoT and AI (with ML.NET) should also help to raise the interest in .NET development.  Related we expect to see the interest in Web Assembly continue and hope that the tooling hear will start to mature.

Despite the negative news around VR this year, we still think that something in the AR/VR space, or some other form of alternative computer/human interaction, is likely to come on the market in the next few years and gain significant traction, though it does seem that the form factor for this hasn’t really arrived.

This article is part of our 2019/2020 trends overview. The insights come from our editorial team, all of whom are software engineers, who push the barrier of innovation in their professional lives. Read and reflect on their insights to inspire your tech visions and roadmap for 2020.

About the Editors

Charles Humble took over as editor-in-chief at in March 2014, guiding our content creation including news, articles, books, video presentations and interviews. Prior to taking on the full-time role at InfoQ, Charles led our Java coverage, and was CTO for PRPi Consulting, a remuneration research firm that was acquired by PwC in July 2012. For PRPi he had overall responsibility for the development of all the custom software used within the company. He has worked in enterprise software for around 20 years as a developer, architect and development manager. In his spare time he writes music as 1/3 of London-based ambient techno group Twofish, whose debut album came out in February 2014 after 14 years of messing about with expensive toys, and spends as much time as he can with his wife and young family. 
Erik Costlow is a software security expert with extensive Java experience. He manages developer relations for Contrast Security and public Community Edition. Contrast weaves sensors into applications, giving them the ability to detect security threats based on how the application uses its data. Erik was the principal product manager in Oracle focused on security of Java 8, joining at the height of hacks and departing after a two-year absence of zero-day vulnerabilities. During that time, he learned the details of Java at both a corporate/commercial and community level. He also assisted Turbonomic's product management team to achieve $100M annual revenue in data center/cloud performance automation. Erik also lead product management for Fortify static code analyzer, a tool that helps developers find and fix vulnerabilities in custom source code. Erik has also published several developer courses through Packt Publishing on data analysis, statistics, and cryptography.

Arthur Casals is a Computer Science researcher working in the area of Artificial Intelligence / Multi-agent Systems. He has been developing software for 20+ years, in different markets/industries. Arthur has also assumed different roles in the past: startup founder, CTO, tech manager, software engineer. He holds a B.Sc. degree in Computer Engineering and an MBA degree.

Daniel Bryant works as an Independent Technical Consultant and Product Architect at Datawire. His technical expertise focuses on 'DevOps' tooling, cloud/container platforms, and microservice implementations. Daniel is a Java Champion, and contributes to several open source projects. He also writes for InfoQ, O'Reilly, and TheNewStack, and regularly presents at international conferences such as OSCON, QCon and JavaOne. In his copious amounts of free time he enjoys running, reading and traveling.

Bruno Couriol holds a Msc in Telecommunications, a BsC in Mathematics and a MBA by INSEAD. Most of his career has been spent as a business consultant, helping large companies addressing their critical strategical, organizational and technical issues. In the last few years, he developed a focus on the intersection of business, technology and entrepreneurship.

Ben Linders is an Independent Consultant in Agile, Lean, Quality and Continuous Improvement, based in The Netherlands. Author of Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives, Waardevolle Agile Retrospectives, What Drives Quality, The Agile Self-assessment Game and Continuous Improvement. As an adviser, coach and trainer he helps organizations by deploying effective software development and management practices. He focuses on continuous improvement, collaboration and communication, and professional development, to deliver business value to customers. Ben is an active member of networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer. He shares his experience in a bilingual blog (Dutch and English) and as an editor for Agile at InfoQ. Follow him on Twitter: @BenLinders.

Shane Hastie is the Director of Community Development for ICAgile, a global accreditation and certification body dedicated to improving the state of agile learning. Since first using XP in 2000 Shane's been passionate about helping organizations and teams adopt sustainable, humanistic ways of working – irrespective of the brand or label they go by. Shane was a Director of the Agile Alliance from 2011 until 2016. Shane leads the Culture and Methods editorial team for

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Community comments

  • I'm not expecting significant improvement in the area of managing complexity

    by Florin Jurcovici,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    The depth and width of our tech stacks constantly increases. In order to manage complexity, you need to stop adding complexity, but that's an alien idea to most developers today. We won't get anywhere in this regard before we start rediscovering what simplicity actually is.

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