The State of Frontend Development in the 2020s
“I Predict the Internet Will Soon Go Spectacularly Supernova and in 1996 Catastrophically Collapse”, Robert Metcalfe ©
Here we go, yet another article about current trends in the <please fill in> year! You might be surprised, but I’m not going to compare Angular and React, neither I want to draw another web development roadmap. Moreover, this article won’t give you any career guidance. What it aims for, however, is an assessment of the place that frontend development has taken within software development in the past few years and some resulting consequences.
First of all — what is frontend?
I am genuinely thankful to my colleagues for questioning this term again and again. Does data management belong to frontend? Has software architecture something to do with frontend, too? Watch the talk of Chris Coyier “Oops — I guess we’re full-stack developers now” to get an impression, how almighty frontend it has become. It’s a tendency in itself.
Flying over the… hive
Being a frontend developer means juggling with several frameworks. A huge help is the change of discourse in the community: we’ve started talking about paradigms: reactive programming, state management, declarative coding, modularisation etc. None of these concepts is new, yet they enable the bird perspective — it is the way to survive in the hive. I really hope that the community will keep talking about frontend architecture as set of best practices and enabling constrains for website level structure and code organisation.
The hype around JAMStack slowed down in 2020, partially coming into the Plateau of Productivity (maybe somewhere still on the Slope of Enlightenment). In case you are not familiar with Gartner Hype Cycle, I warmly recommend you to check it out. As a result, we currently have multiple frameworks and tech stacks on the Plateau of Productivity in parallel. This leads to more specialisation. We’ve learned that microservices are not necessarily the solution to all problems (check out this episode of Web Rush with John Papa). We’ve finally realised that it is not “Angular vs. React” but “Angular for big complex projects and React/Vue/Svelte/… for lightweight websites”.
The stage is… who’s?
Web presence is no longer something special. Though there will be always new companies that need new websites, many established organisations already have one. So optimisation and revamping are gaining weight as enterprise web development use cases.
Yet there is even more to it. Building a website is no longer an ultimative goal, but just a means to deliver your use case. According to the hype cycle 2020 (and previous years, too), different AI forms have taken place in the graph. IoT and VR/AR have been enjoying business attention, too. Key paths and core capabilities of these technologies do not have much to do with the frontend. So, frontend might have to give the stage to the “focus technologies” being “just the means” to deliver them to the user. It does not mean that the number of frontend projects is going to decline. They are just having a different focus, though.
Do you really want some actionable insights from me? After everything I’ve said in this story, I’d focus on any tool and framework that are made for my particular use case and try out technologies that speed up what I’m doing. The visionaries among us could probably focus on the integration with ML/AI/VR/AR, further exploration of cloud functions for frontend and automation of everything. Wait, I might change my mind in one month! You know, it’s frontend, after all…
Now that you’ve read this article and learned a thing or two (or ten!), let’s kick things up another notch!
Take your skills to a whole new level by joining us in person for the world’s first MAJOR Angular conference in over 2 years! Not only will You be hearing from some of the industry’s foremost experts in Angular (including the Angular team themselves!), but you’ll also get access to:
- Expert panels and Q&A sessions with the speakers
- A friendly Hallway Track where you can network with 1,500 of your fellow Angular developers, sponsors, and speakers alike.
- Hands-on workshops
- Games, prizes, live entertainment, and be able to engage with them and a party you’ll never forget
We’ll see you there this August 29th-Sept 2nd, 2022. Online-only tickets are available as well.