Front End Technologies in 2020
Posted by Zain Sajjad on September 23, 2020
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In the past decade, we have seen immense growth in the technology industry. This growth started with the iPad's release and ended with that of Samsung foldable phones, smartwatches, self-driving cars. It has paved the way for the debut of OculusVR while the memory, processing power & sensors available on smartphones and other edge devices have also evolved Impressively
All these developments have led to a higher standard of quality rising at a faster pace. User experiences and interfaces are more sophisticated than ever. The demand for robust applications developed in the least possible time has become routine. We have also seen the rise of better programming models to resolve problems effectively. All these things are options developers are exploring to meet modern requirements.
So what lies ahead? How will the front end world advance in this new decade? What new front end technologies and practices will allow us to leap further forward in developing better experiences for end-users? We already see several obvious game changers take center stage:
- Fast, modern JAMstack & static sites
- Adoption of Headless CMS
- AI-powered development
- Cross-platform Development
- More Fronts for Front End development
- Voice and visual interfaces
Let’s take a look at the what and why of these growing areas of front end technology.
Fast, modern JAMstack & Static sites
We have seen a transition of static to dynamic web pages and are now moving back to static sites. Thanks to modern browsers, APIs, CDNs, and most importantly, many great static site generators, this transition is going to be swift. It seems that building JAMstack and static sites will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
Today, increased speed is not an add-on for applications anymore. Instead, it is one of the essential requirements. Moving forward, this will make a more significant difference in overall business performance, which will undoubtedly affect static sites. Not relying on any database or server to generate a webpage on every request makes static sites more robust. This decoupling of DB, server & front end makes it more secure and scalable.
At the end of the past decade, we saw automation capabilities and improved developer experience become why many static site generators are gaining in popularity, like Gatsby.js, Next.js, Nuxt.js, Jekyll, and so many more. A number of tech giants including Netflix, TikTok & ReactJS have already opted for SSG for powering their sites. Moving forward, more and more companies will embrace this development technology to improve their performance and avoid security issues.
Adoption of Headless CMShttps://buttercms.com/api-first-cms/
Businesses today have to maintain their presence across a number of platforms; the web is just one of them. Because their development is with a focus on the web platform, traditional CMSs are falling short of expectations. CMSs today need to be front end agnostic and more concerned about handling & delivering content.
Headless CMS is the answer to all the limitations of traditional CMS. More importantly, being front end agnostic makes them cost-effective.
Since a headless CMS serves as a source for all content delivered purely via APIs, your content will be available on all platforms without any extra layer of synchronization and delays. You're free to adopt the front end technology of your choice to power front end apps.
It can reduce the time to market as all the heavy lifting of developing and managing backend APIs is done by the headless CMS. Businesses can now focus more on making their users' experience more intuitive and delightful.
A number of headless CMS are available today; ButterCMS, Contentful, and Prismic are leading the way.
When GPT-3 hit the top trend on Twitter a few weeks back, developers shared what good they are creating using it. Some shared SQL queries while others went for web pages and components. This is what the future of programming looks like. Rather than making changes like 1px left and 2px up, developers will have AI assisting them. The AI will help them to do many repetitive and tedious modifications, allowing them to focus on solving real problems.
We have seen some fantastic tools like Kite that does AI-based code completion of JS & Python and Dart 2.5+ with similar code completion. It is a significant first step in the direction of making development more fun and easy.
Some might feel a little concerned here about machines taking over our development jobs, well that's not going to happen. It's not possible to train a model that can understand shit tons of requirements from your over smart clients. As Kitze mentioned in the conclusion of his masterpiece, "If you start focusing on what the people need and start to solve real problems, AI can easily become your best friend."
It's not just the code generation that AI is going to impact. Instead, it will improve many other areas related to development; here is an in-depth discussion.
Recent developments in world politics and trade wars have paved the way for more smartphone operating systems. Businesses have to make sure to have their up to the mark presence for all smartphone users regardless of their phone's manufacturer and operating system. In this fast-moving tech world, it is not easy to maintain such presence with high standards and fast pace on all platforms. That's why a front end framework that allows us to develop once and ship for all platforms is essential.
Thankfully Google & Facebook have spent heavily in this arena with Flutter & React Native. These frameworks allow developers to write once and distribute on all Web, Android, iOS & native platforms. Adopting such frameworks can reduce the time to market and cost of development.
As we move forward, we anticipate more investment in these platforms by community and tech giants alike. This investment will be significant as these frameworks are now powering many large scale applications. However, cross-platform development, though it is not limited to these two frameworks, (check out how Ionic solves this problem) there is still a lot of room for other frameworks to dive into this arena and make front end development faster.
More Fronts for Front End Development
This decade has brought significant changes to our lifestyle. The pandemic has made humanity take a step back and rethink how we approach our lives. Educators have to find new ways to keep education for children moving; the tourism industry is still finding ways to settle with new norms, cinemas are looking for ways to alter entertainment experiences.
The Tech industry will come up with solutions to many of these problems. One thing is for sure that as we progress, there will be many more interfaces that will become more mainstream. VR & AR technology can be a significant contributor here, as it can solve many problems that we have faced during this ongoing pandemic. Thankfully we have some cool tools including React Viro, React 360 & React VR for developing apps for these technologies; more will show up, and existing ones will improve.
Perhaps soon it will be time that we design front ends for rocket ship screens or hologram apps based on React.
Voice and Visual Interfaces
We have seen significant improvements in AI tech in the recent past, and it is not slowing down any time soon. With the developments of Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and many other voice assistants, it is imminent that many front end apps or interfaces might be obsolete, and all the problems they solved will be available with a voice command.
We might see a bifurcation in the front end arena as we’ve seen in visual and voice interfaces. Just like a graphical user interface (GUIs), voice user interfaces (VUIs) have their challenges. At least we won't have CSS in VUIs! We will see more voice and visual technologies that make it easier for businesses to produce their VUIs in less time. One great example is PicoVoice. PicoVoice’s NLU (Natural Language Understanding) offers cutting edge voice to intent AI for your mobile and web apps on the edge.
Wrapping it Up
It is never easy to predict what lies ahead in the future when you're discussing the front end technology. High paced improvements and continuous development ensure that the future is a better place.
For developers, we have to adapt faster than ever. That is the only way to keep up with the pace of user requirements and expectations. At the same time, businesses will have a new challenge to ensure that they are available for users on all fronts.
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