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Web Development InfoQ Trends Report

| Posted by Kevin Ball Follow 3 Followers , David Iffland Follow 4 Followers , reviewed by Charles Humble Follow 904 Followers on Mar 23, 2018. Estimated reading time: 4 minutes |

Key Takeaways

  • The foundations of the web, in particular CSS and ECMAScript are continuing to evolve.  We’re also seeing some major new developments, with WebAssembly in particular having caught developers’ imaginations.
  • We’ve added both GraphQL and WebVR to the list of topics we cover.
  • We feel that Vue.js is gaining in popularity and we’ve moved both Vue and Angular to early majority, joining React.
  • We’ve dropped Ember.js, backbone.js and knockout.js from our topic list, since we feel all three are in decline.  We are though continuing to see interest in jQuery, which we suspect may be legacy.
  • The main text editors we see in use amongst web developers are VS Code, Atom, Sublime Text and WebStorm, as well as things like vim.

Every year at InfoQ we update our topics graph to show where we think different topics are in the technology adoption curve.  When we do so we look at the state of practice, emerging ideas and things we hear on the various grapevines the editor team are tapped in to.  We also take into account traffic patterns on the site and attendance at relevant QCon sessions.

If a topic is on the right-hand part of the graph, you will probably find lots of existing content on InfoQ about it – we covered it when it was new, and the lessons learned by the innovators and early adopters are available to help guide individuals, teams and organisations as they adopt these ideas and practices.

The things on the left-hand side are the ones we see as emerging now, being used by the innovators and early adopters, and we focus our reporting and content on bringing these ideas to our readers’ attention so they can decide for themselves which they should be exploring now, or waiting to see how they unfold.

In the last couple of months we’ve published pieces on Culture and Cloud and DevOps, and this month we’re looking at Web Development.

The web development space is always an interesting one for us with a new (often short-lived) JavaScript framework launched seemingly every couple of minutes.  Trying to decide which ones to focus on and which ones to ignore is particularly challenging.

In terms of the major new trends from the last few months, we’re seeing a great deal of interest in WebAssembly, a web standard that defines a binary format and a corresponding assembly-like text format for executable code in web pages. With WebAssembly now supported across all browsers, we think this is going to become an increasingly important standard.

There is some good/interesting activity happening in CSS with new things like CSS grid, CSS Houdini, and Variable Fonts being added.  Again this is an area which we’re continuing to follow with interest.

We’re also tracking GraphQL, the data query language developed internally by Facebook in 2012 and seen as an alternative to REST, under the broader “browser as platform” banner.  Again we think this is an interesting technology and worth keeping an eye on.

There’s also a lot of activity in ECMAScript itself, and we’ve listed ECMAScript 2018 under innovator on that basis.

Finally we’ve added WebVR to the innovators list.  WebVR is an experimental JavaScript API that provides support for virtual reality devices, such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard or OSVR in a web browser.  We feel that the “killer app” for VR has yet to be found, and the technology may remain somewhat niche, but it’s still interesting to keep an eye on in the context of the browser and JavaScript. 

In terms of technologies that have moved along the adoption curve, we’ve promoted both Vue.js and Angular to join React over in the early majority section.  React is still the dominant player but Vue in particular is making huge gains with wide adoption in China, which is one of the reasons we feel it belongs here.  We split Angular into Angular 2/4+ and AngularJS at the same time.  There has been some suggestion that Angular may be declining but we’re not seeing clear evidence for this so far.

We still see a lot of JQuery around, although we think this is mainly legacy at this point; we have it over in late majority and continue to keep an eye on it.

We were previously tracking HTML5 but have dropped this now; it was a useful umbrella term when the new generation of the web was getting going but we feel it has passed its usefulness.

We also dropped Ember, Backbone and knockout on the basis that we see all three as declining. We will write about them again if we see anything new from them, but at the moment interest does seem to have waned; there’s a similar trend on Stackoverlfow:

We also went through looking at text editors and IDEs.  The main ones we see in use are VS Code, Atom, Sublime Text and WebStorm, as well as things like vim.  This is the same list that appears on the State of JavaScript 2017 survey and other surveys we looked at (the orders vary but not the names). 

About the Author

David Iffland is the founder of Heavy Code, an independent software studio, and Principal Software Developer at the University of Illinois. He has over 17 years of experience building custom web applications and specializes in JavaScript and C#. Outside of software, David is an avid woodworker and loves camping with his family. He tweets at @daveiffland and writes about software at Notebook Heavy.

Kevin Ball is a web development consultant and trainer. He has co-founded and acted as CTO for two startups, is the former lead for the ZURB Foundation front-end framework, and speaks at conference around the world like All Things Open, Web Unleashed, the CSS Summit, the SVG Summit, and the Accessibility Summit. He currently is the president of ZenDev, LLC. Kevin is also an editor for InfoQ in the HTML5 & JavaScript topic area. You can reach him at kevin.ball@infoq.com.

 

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