“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may have been an appropriate maxim for farm equipment or machines that don’t evolve with the times. But when it comes to software development, breaking things is the norm. The best coders, developers and hackers constantly take apart apps in order to refine their codebases, scouring for solutions line by line to make apps run more efficiently and more intelligently.
But to truly shake up development and make apps run at their highest potential, new development tools need to be embraced. This may include the need to adjust to a new workflow or learn a new programming language. However, staying on the cutting edge of software development in particular offers tremendous benefits. Embracing the latest technology means newly compiled apps are using tools that are optimized for modern and future platforms, positioning your apps to be ready for the next big thing.
Fortunately, new trends in software development point to solutions that make a software developer’s life a little bit easier. From AI-assisted automation to simple cross-platform compatibility, these tools won’t just speed up the process: They’re ready to take your apps to the next level.
Here’s a look at the next big things in software development in 2019:
Multiplatform User Interface Development
Today’s developers are often asked to perform three times the amount of work required to produce a single product. One company might have a killer app for iOS, but to achieve a truly global reach, that app needs to be ported or re-compiled for Android and the web. Rewriting an app to work on a different platform requires a tremendous amount of time and resources, taking developers away from building new features or squashing bugs in order to redo the work they’ve already finished.
Even when tools are used to streamline cross-platform development, the user experience on the ported platform is often second-rate. Apps built without using native libraries and APIs often seem out of place and lack the touch and feel of a native application. This is evident in actions like scrolling, text rendering and common user interface elements like buttons or dialog boxes.
Fortunately, the next generation of multiplatform development tools is making the notion of “build once, run everywhere” a reality. Google’s Flutter provides a possibility to create branded-UI apps for iOS and Android, with flexible design and native performance. This framework is young (the first stable release shipped in 2018), but it is built on top of the most modern architecture patterns which makes the development much faster.
Looking for something more native-like? Microsoft’s Xamarin development environments enabled the creation of apps that use native UI libraries, APIs and operating system-specific functions across Android, iOS and Windows. Developers can easily make their apps look and feel like they were built for each platform because they’re using native components, and not something that merely mimics them.Olexandr Leuschenko, Head of Mobile Stack at Ciklum
Multiplatform UI development tools aren’t just time-savers — they’re future-proof. Google’s Flutter is already the development platform of choice for Fuchsia, their next-generation operating system. Building in Flutter will enable developers to have a stable of apps ready to go for Fuchsia that have already been deployed across Android and iOS, giving Fuchsia potential access to a full library of apps when it’s ready to go public.
Virtualization technology has existed for decades, enabling users to run operating systems, servers, software and storage in a virtual environment. This technology is widely popular, with platforms like VMWare being deployed across the enterprise to help IT departments get more out of their existing hardware to scale, automate and cut back on unnecessary resources.
But virtualization has often faced one significant drawback: the sheer amount of resources it consumes. Running virtual software or hardware typically requires a tremendous amount of hard disk space, processing power and RAM, requiring virtualization software to run on high-end machines in order to handle the power required. Virtualization platforms have tried to solve this problem by building customized, slimmed-down software images that remove unnecessary functions that eat up resources, but inevitably require virtualizing an entire operating system in order to make its apps function.
Containerization technology is changing this equation. Rather than requiring an entire virtual machine to run an app on a virtual operating system, containers package an app’s runtime, system tools, system libraries and settings to run and share resources across a single-host operating system. The result is an app that’s portable across multiple platforms and far less resource intensive.
One of the leading companies behind the push to containerization is Docker, which builds packaged software tools for Windows and Linux. With Docker or other containerization software, lightweight apps can be deployed across servers and data centers to help organizations increase their scale at a lower cost.
AI-Driven Custom Software Development
Artificial intelligence has long been the holy grail of computing. Through software solutions that mimic the human brain, AI-enabled applications can handle increased complexity and turn real-world information like natural language into actionable data.
During the past decade, AI has taken great strides to enter the mainstream, as major organizations have begun adopting tools such as machine learning into their products. To make AI even more prevalent, companies like Google are building their own AI chips to make on-device AI processing faster and more secure. But for the most part, AI has remained a tool that gets added later into the development process. Because of its relative infancy, it’s been difficult to build applications with an AI foundation because the technology simply hasn’t been available.
Today, that’s changing. Toolkits like Microsoft Cognitive Services enable developers to incorporate AI into their apps with a few simple lines of code. Rather than tacking on AI functionality down the line, developers can implement AI functions from the moment they begin building their apps, resulting in an app that’s built with AI in mind from the start. Things like chatbots and self-driving car technology simply wouldn’t be possible without development rooted firmly in an AI foundation.
Developing with AI from the get-go can also improve the development process itself. AI-enhanced software development tools can use machine learning to speed up the entire process, using data and pattern section to automatically debug code, improve the delivery schedule and even create a faster MVP through automatic code generation and automated testing.
More Third-Party APIs
If you’re trying to get a new product to market, every minute counts: The more time you spend in development, the more time your competition has to release their solution first. Anything that gets your application created faster — at a level of quality that your users expect — can help get your product in more hands, freeing up resources and enabling your developers to move onto their next big task.
Third-party APIs have been around since the early days of software development — but today, they’re playing a greater role than ever before. Rather than having to build your own mapping software, for instance, your developers can simply plug in the Google Maps API and have the web’s most popular mapping interface work directly within your application.
From processing content to sharing an image on social media, APIs keep developers from having to devote resources to building solutions that have already been built. After all, APIs are often created by companies who specialize in their particular type of software — so why try to reinvent the wheel when it’s already been invented?
Because APIs can handle so much of an application’s functionality, the future of software development won’t be as dedicated to building solutions from the ground up as it will be to choosing the right combination of APIs. With highly functional APIs in place, developers will be freed up to carry out the full vision of their application without being tied down to programming basic tasks.
Bitcoin isn’t just a buzzword — it’s an entire financial market that was created virtually overnight. The popular cryptocurrency and its wealth of competitors captured the world’s attention thanks, in part, to its underlying blockchain technology. Lauded for its privacy, transparency and security, blockchain remains in its infancy but poses a wealth of possibilities for future software development projects.
According to Gartner, by 2022, more than a billion people will have some data about them stored on a blockchain, but they may not be aware of it.
It’s no wonder that blockchain development, according to Upwork, is also one of the fastest-growing in-demand skills of 2018. Over the next few decades, many believe AI and blockchain technologies will work together to create applications and data that are far more accurate, intelligent and secure than those of today. Blockchain is already being deployed across the financial and legal worlds, powering new FinTech solutions and building the next generation of smart contracts.
But for tomorrow’s apps, blockchain ledgers can ensure secure records of any kind can be generated and traced indefinitely. From health records to micropayments, blockchain holds the potential to transform the way digital data isn’t seen as the same thing as a physical piece of information, like a banknote. Once data is written to the blockchain, it becomes immutable and cannot be changed, making data far more secure and accurate than a tangible object.
Easier, Faster and Smarter Workflow
Software development trends for 2019 paint a picture of a simplified developer workflow. Coding itself continues to require an incredible amount of talent and dedication. However, tools that help make apps work across multiple platforms and replace heavy lifting thanks to powerful APIs enable developers to stay focused on their core product.
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