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Front-end web development trends: what comes next in 2018

Author: Provotar Olga

      Although front-end wasn’t on the front page in the previous year, anyway, we can’t ignore its progress, and the range of certain tendencies has to be outlined.

     The widespread frameworks such as Angular and React consolidated their market deployments, however, the breakaway they got seems to be a priority challenge for one more competitor, Vue, which is actively getting more votes in the web development society. Few more tools like Webpack and NPM remain to play a supportive role in building and packaging solutions accordingly. In turn, WebAssembly broadened the horizons for various web projects in terms of unseen velocity. One more tech, GraphQL significantly modernized the patterns of coding and utilizing the application programming interfaces.

     At the same time, the programming language is persistently developing. The updated version of ECMAScript, presented in 2017, provided the developers with more functions while asynchronous programming. Consequently, the level of compatibility with basic browsers has grown as well as multiple access to the memory and fragmentary processes became available. Noteworthy, shared memory was turned off at the beginning of January due to the risk of outer hacking threat. It is expected, the option will become active again after the provider will be certain that it is safe.

      Frameworks and libraries

      React

     The issuance of the updated version, React 16, at the end of 3rd quarter, became the key landmark of framework’s development in 2017. The new edition brings solid improvements, for example, it was supplemented with fragments, the failure treatment approach has been improved with the addition of the error limits, also, portals and streaming became available.

     Besides, React has provided the access to the Request for Comments system which might be of use for both the vendor and the users in order to modify and improve the application programming interface. The first portion of suggestions, made by React team itself, has already become public.

     The React society has also brought several offers aiming to decrease the level of disorder in code, to improve developer’s status in asynchronous space along with asynchronous setState, or to simplify processing asynchronous data by a thorough review of the application programming interface.

      Indeed, React team can’t include all changes, suggested by the society, in the next edition, yet, it is important for many users and developers to be able to share their opinion with the vendor, especially taking into account growing popularity of RFC communication model in the web development industry.

     Master projects are actively used in React society as a contrast to the intricacy of involving multiple instruments in today’s web development industry. It is recommended to copy the project and go on from that point. Following the project duplicate can be of use for rookie developers who are often confused with numerous figures and interconnections which are too big to comprehend.

     The Сreate React App, launched by Facebook, is distinctive from other ones as it is of command-line interface type and gives the possibility of zeroconf development. It was actively getting more votes from supporters in 2017, and in terms of GH Stars, its popularity grew for more than twice from the beginning of the last year to the end. Enhanced with the option to allow the developers suspending utilization of the app, some experts consider it to be one of the factors why React’s reputation has been elevating lately.

     If talking about server-based React apps, the developers often prefer next.js. It is versatile, flexible and, what is the most important, easy to configure. This trend looks a bit unusual as recently the developers distanced themselves from multipurpose apps and focused more on specific applications that provide simplicity in coding.

    Obviously, React has some space for the development of Create React App that will be applied to composite solutions design. These days next.js plays a similar role in the field of server-based applications but the difference is, the front-end playground is far and away bigger. Finding a middle way between the ability to configure and simplicity in use becomes a challenge for the framework vendor.

      Angular

     Despite the fact that Angular has released the last upgraded edition at the beginning of the year (Angular 5.1.3), the old one (Angular JS or also known as 1.x) is being extensively used by multiple ventures and it is progressing, therefore, many new velocities and safety features have been adapted to it.

     There is no public information about the expiry date when Google will terminate maintenance of the legacy project, however as you may know from the past, the assistance is expected to be provided until the vast share of web data will move from .org to .io domain. Yet, the experts believe that thanks to the democratic character of legacy project legal status, it will remain supported in 2018 even if the formal maintenance will be declared as expired.

    The latest issued products by Angular are really outstanding, for example, v5. It outstrips the competitors with totally new features, for instance, the ability to collect master forms in advance and more convenient way of maintenance works assimilation in an accurate and easy-to-adjust combination.

      Similar characteristics can be found in any Angular application thanks to the versatility of adjusted instruments. For instance, CLI is a very convenient app and these days it provides maintenance of the recently issued App Shell web solutions.

     In a nutshell, the React society representatives prefer simple and more manual approaches in front-end web development. In particular, they often practice tuning conglomerate properties with no automatic help involved. When being asked why they choose such rough path, the answer will be something about the chance to learn the application functioning logic in details.

      Although in 2017 Angular showed stable dynamics, the popularity growth seems to be a question this year. In fact, when studying the statistics of downloading, we can see three times gap between Angular and React in favor of the last one.

       Vue

      Although two aforementioned front-end frameworks take leading positions, Vue was considered to be the nearest competitor to React in the last year. The similarity of React and Vue is explained by the fact that both of them are exploiting virtual Document Object Model, both are element-formed and extremely lite apps. Concerning the popularity, the experts believe that Vue takes third place after Angular and React, being the most actively learned framework these days.

      With the new version, 2.6 Vue is expected to focus more on processing errors, operative elements, and server-based interaction. Moreover, in future, the React team is planning to deal with automatically upgraded browsers, like Chrome, only.

      The popularity of Vue is forecasted to grow in 2018 as compared to its close competitor React, in case of Vue it is not mandatory to utilize JSX. Besides, unlike Angular, Vue doesn’t fillip to involve TypeScript. At the same time, the language has pretty much in common with Angular’s as well as Vue provides with a sufficient compilation of wrapping, suggesting a broad variety of operative possibilities but in more consolidated manner.

       JavaScript bundlers

      Webpack

     The third edition of Webpack is considered to be the leading module bundler in 2017 and obviously, the trend will continue this year too. The cause is the specific ability of Webpack to wrap all modules into one packaging without separating them from themselves instead of wrapping every single module independently. Due to this feature, the velocity of processing and weight of the tool are significantly decreased.

     Nevertheless, sometimes good things can be even better. The fourth version of Webpack declares to contain more valuable properties, for example, maintenance of WebAssembly modules, revision of CSS development procedures and so on. The purpose of these transformations is to increase the productivity of the solution in terms of its building capability.

      Parcel

     In 2017 Parcel has gained huge popularity thanks to its clear format and high velocity that were achieved by the means of zeroconf introduction. By the way, these are exactly the characteristics that were lacking in Webpack. Despite these original properties, Parcel contains an almost same set of features as Webpack does, thus in 2018, these two bundlers may strongly compete for the leadership in their segment.

       Rest of tools

      The other front-end development tools such as, for example, Browserify, are still utilized, however, the experts believe, they don’t make a difference in the industry anymore. These days they are applied by the limited range of ventures in order to maintain existing systems. The reason is such bundlers are considered by the developers to be very complex and inconvenient. Comparing to Webpack, such tools were losing popularity in 2017 and there are no grounds to forecast that situation will change for the better this year.

       Tools

       TypeScript

    The new release of TypeScript that already contains advanced ECMAScript characteristics, for example, numeral delimiters, as well as general system upgrades, is making it more attractive to the developers, therefore, its popularity is expected to grow in 2018. In addition, the new version will give better performance in terms of processing the elements beyond ECMAScript nature.

      In general, the use of TypeScript after upgrading will become easier, especially when dealing with the multiple type modules that is a regular headache for the majority of developers. One more benefit of using the new version of TypeScript is an enhancement that allows more efficient maintenance of the robotic switch to ECMAScript modules.

     Thus, in terms of frequency of updates, quality of instrumentation, reinforced support on multiple levels, including editor’s, TypeScript becomes one of the best solutions existing in the industry.

     TypeScript society is big and it is expected to grow in 2018 too. The proof for that is a number of determinations for the most widespread NPMs that can be downloaded for TypeScript. If we compare these figures with Flow results, it is possible to conclude even right now that TypeScript has a perfect chance to strengthen its positions and to become almost the only significant solution in the segment this year.

       What we expect from mobile

     The universal web apps have become widely accepted almost at the same time when the first edition of React has been released. However, these days, the front-end developers prefer progressive web apps, a notion that appeared thanks to Google and was intended to create the web apps more convenient and responsive. From the developer’s point of view, it is crucial to pay more attention to velocity and interconnection with the user. Fortunately, these days the developers are enabled to utilize the range of instruments to do that, for example, service workers to maintain in the logged-off state, metadata files to fix the appearance of the application online. All these changes are the part of a process aimed to make the web development more interactive.

       One more improvement is Google’s AMP project, the purpose of which is to decrease the duration of loading online pages using mobile gadgets via homogenizing a light file configuration that deploys Web Components with Google assistance. This innovation has become popular fast among the vendors, despite that fact that there are still some controversies regarding commercial and monitoring issues. Anyhow, mobile front-end mobile development is the actively progressing segment as the web apps on the portable devices have already become the vital component of the everyday life.

       Summary

      In general, front-end web development segment shows a tendency to centralize the approaches, methodologies, and experiences. React seems to become a leading framework and this trend is expected to continue in 2018. Vue, despite taking the third position in competition with React and Angular, demonstrates stable progressing dynamics in getting more votes, therefore, its share in the industry is forecasted to become bigger. Angular’s positions are still stable but some descending trend is observed, therefore, some resolute actions are supposed to be taken by the vendor this year to improve the results. In turn, Webpack is in the lead in module bundlers’ race, however, Parcel is not far behind, so the competition between both tools will grow stronger, while some other bundles, such as Browserify, won’t make a difference. TypeScript is dominating in its segment and this tendency is predicted to intensify.

    From the perspective of technology, the trend of using element-formed design is expected to continue in 2018. Besides, the vendor will pay more attention to provide the developers with more convenient and elaborated instruments. At the same time multiplicity in some approaches will be preserved to give the developers more choice in delivering completely original solutions.

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