Webdevelopment trends / roundup for 2018

The third official working day of this year is a great moment to look ahead and discuss some of the challenges and opportunities in the IT industry for the coming year. So lets see what 2018 might have in store for us. Before we get started I would like to point out that I feel the summary below closely reflects my personal perspective on the industry. As I primarily work on customized and high load webapplications, the developments I mention might reflect this perspective!

I will address four major developments that we will face in the coming year. The first is serverless computing and statically generated websites. Second the proliferation of the API economy. Third the implementation of new European privacy legislation. And finally the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology combined with some use cases for decentralized applications.

Function as a service, lambda functions and static websites.

The first framework for platform independent lambda functions

Because we (at Moddix) believe you should always select the best tool for the job, we start new projects with a brief discussion on what technology stack we should use.

We push ourselves to be innovative in the choices we make because, in addition to selecting the right tool for the job, we also believe that innovation drives new business. During the final quarter of last year I noticed that a method that gained a lot of traction in the team is the combination of static websites with lambda functions. Lambda functions are essentially isolated functions that run by themselves in the cloud. They are also known as Function as a Service (FaaS) or sometimes referred to as serverless architecture.

As we discussed the technology stack for the last couple of projects we have taken on, I noticed that FaaS has become a favorite technology among our DevOps engineers. It is especially interesting in combination with statically generated websites and/or applications. As I discussed in a previous post such a stack relies on two components a statically generated front-end, combined with a content layer and a FaaS based back-end. The statically generated front-end stitches together the content layer stored in a separate (docker) container with a template. Live data or interaction can be achieved by using API’s. This particular usecase combines an API gateway with FaaS. In such a setup an API gateway is used to provide HTTP(S) endpoints that are directly linked as the in-and output for the Lambda functions.

This has a couple of significant consequences. First, speed! The applications developed using this approach are lightning fast. Second, cost. This architecture is usually very cost effective. Primarily because they tend to use significantly less resources than other development approaches. Moreover you end up paying per execution of a function, therefor reducing the need for overcapacity. Third you can develop each function in a different language, allowing every developer to work in the language he or she is most comfertable in. Finally I see a somewhat indirect consequence. I think the use of traditional backend languages such as PHP might decline. For one part because nearly no FaaS providers support the use of PHP lambda functions. Aside from that, there are more effective languages available. Additionally the specific usecase for a language as PHP will decline as interactions with the server will move towards API based interaction, which in turn will be replaced by serverless architecture.

But these developments have other unintended consequences, in larger projects it will become essential to include more devops engineers in your team as managing and maintaining but specifically deploying serverless architecture becomes exceptionally more complex as your application grows. There is however a bright side to this, once your development team has a solid DTAP and CI/CD strategy it can be easily copied to new projects which in turn results in a significant competitive advantage.

Looking at the broader picture, the most influential change will be the transition to serverless computing. And I am not the only one identifying this as a major change in 2018:

I have also published my own guide in which I outline seven steps to create your own static webpage using a jamstack:

Further proliferation of the API economy

I previously discussed the proliferation of API's in a previous post about our team's visit to websummit in Lisbon. And in some ways it is closely related to the previous point, regarding FaaS. As FaaS will enable organizations to quickly develop safe and scalable API's.

Looking at the process in general I think that as more webapplications start to communicate through rich API’s, organizations will feel the need to supply their relations with resilient API's. This is underlined by the fact that even in the last years more and more API's have become available. Recently "There's an API for that" has become a well known figure of speech in the developer community.

Additionally the technologies surrounding API's have recently seen some breakthroughs. I already mentioned FaaS and API gateways in the previous section of this post. However there are some exciting developments in the technology. Emerging practices and technologies such as gRPC and GraphQL will help to further propagate the use and availability of API’s. A couple of months ago I wrote a small post on gRPC if you want to know some more you can check it out:

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

At the end of the first quarter of 2018 new European legislation regarding privacy will take effect. The GDPR as this new legislation is known, will have tremendous consequences on the way we record (personal) data online. In very broad terms there are three major shifts that will effect the way we do business. First the new regulation will be applicable to every company that does business in the EU. This means that compared to current regulations more companies will have to abide by the new rules. Second, more data will be considered personal data. Which in turn means that the new rules will apply to more types of information. Finally transgressions will be met with fines that can amount to a maximum of five percent of the worldwide revenue of a company. All in all this means that more companies will have to abide to stricter rules. Which in turn leads me to believe that several businesses will have to review their applications, architecture or in some cases even their current business model is at stake.

In anticipation of the effectuation of the GDPR I will write a post on the direct effects in the first quarter of this year. If you want to stay up to date please follow :)

Breakthrough and application of blockchain and decentralized application technology

If 2017 has not been the year of blockchain 2018 surely will. While I believe that 2017 was the year in which bitcoin became mainstream, 2018 will be the year in which we will see the first real world problems being solved with the use of blockchain technology. Although there are quite some skeptics of the technology I personally think that it can have tremendous consequences for multiple aspects of society. For 2018 however there are a few interesting fields and technologies that we should keep an eye out for. Personally I think the energy, gaming and mobile sectors are one of the first fields that could directly benefit from blockchain technology.

Aside from general blockchain technology I think that specific decentralized applications based on smart contracts will start to have some real world applications in the coming year.

If you are based in the Netherlands and you are interested to learn some basics about blockchain technology you can visit us at our blockchain for beginners meetup:

Thank you!

As always we are really looking forward to another year of working together with our clients and partners. Moreover we are more than excited to help people and organizations with their challenges in the coming year.

If you liked this short summary of emerging technologies show some appreciation and hit the clap :)