Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

3rd Feb, 2020

Cheryl Burns
Cheryl Burns

Software developers and testers always need to stay one step ahead of the latest development trends, which continue to rapidly evolve. Here’s how developers can best prepare for the future. 

Part of being a good software developer is having the technical skills to integrate modern technology into your work, in order to create a good product or software. With so many new technological innovations appearing, here are four key development trends you need to be aware of in 2020.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

Is AI the end of developers? Absolutely not. Although I don’t think robots are going to steal your job, the advancement of AI/ML will lead to some changes in the industry.

Automating testing with AI assistance and using AI for writing test code can improve software quality – while reducing time and cost. Similarly, automating processes, not just tasks, can provide an additional layer of automation by becoming self-adaptive. For those companies who welcome AI, development work can be accelerated, allowing developers to understand more options and automate tests to enhance code quality.

However, AI-assisted development comes with challenges too. Many experts agree that AI has not yet fully matured. At present, implementing it complicates the software development and testing arena. This impact will only continue to grow as AI and ML mature, unless technology evolves to overcome it.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)

VR and AR are no longer just applied to gaming. Now these reality-based interactive technologies save time and increase profits.

From a consumer’s view, VR/AR technology could revolutionise the way people shop and make purchasing decisions. AR allows businesses to offer a virtual experience for the customer to ‘try before you buy’. Some of the more immersive experiences go from test driving a car to trying on a wedding dress, but it is also being used in eLearning, marketing, surgical procedures, property and engineering.

For software developers, it’s about combining VR tools with certain hardware or apps. VR/AR developers need to know 3D modelling and design skills, software engineering (including knowing C/C++/C# programming languages), game development, video and sound production and UI/UX knowledge. The level of skills and requirements is unique to each platform used for VR development, so if it’s a field you’re interested in, research is key.

No-code ‘citizen developers’

In a candidate-driven climate, where businesses struggle to recruit and compete for the best software developers on the market, an alternative approach has emerged in low-code/no-code ‘citizen developers’.

These non-professional developers are non-technical staff who are able to build applications using low-code platforms, such as drag and drop tools. They may not know how to code, but they do know the business, users’ needs and the processes they need to build.

Given the high demand for software, lack of available developers and the accessibility of sophisticated tools, this could be how the development sector sustains the pace of innovation in future. This has become a hot topic for IT leaders and software developers, who are keen to find the best way to lead and govern the rise of no-code developers.

JavaScript remains king

Despite the new tools and toys for developers to play with in 2020, there is no sign of the demand for JavaScript slowing down.

JavaScript remains the most common programming language, used by almost 70% of professional developers according to the 2019 Stack Overflow developer survey results. It dominates web development and frameworks like React, Angular and Vue.js are all in demand.

Since the release of Node.js, which allows JavaScript to run in the back-end, this language can now run on almost all platforms, servers and devices. If you weren’t already using JavaScript, now is certainly the time to consider it.

This is best summed up by Jeff Atwood, founder at Stack Overflow, who in 2007 said the following quote – now popularly referred to as Atwood’s Law:

Any application that can be written in JavaScript, will eventually be written in JavaScript.

The software development community is innovative, collaborative and proactive. The best developers continue to learn and push the boundaries outside of their 9 to 5 day jobs. To really embrace the fast pace of the development industry and ride the wave of continuous change, I would recommend developers attend and actively participate in local software meet up groups, such as Tech on the Tyne in Newcastle or Behind the Buzzword in Manchester, and have fun playing with the latest tools and languages.

If you’re a software developer looking for a new role, or are recruiting for someone to join your Development and Testing technology team, contact your local Reed office for guidance from our experts.