In the past decade, technology has taken a quantum leap into the future. AI and other technological advancements have transformed the way we socialize, work, and play. User expectations for enterprise software, shaped by consumer apps, present challenges to developers. Innovative solutions must have a look and UX like the most popular mobile apps. To do this, software developers are relying on technologies that help them produce better software.
Advances in Technology that Impact Software Development
Cloud-based computing gives businesses access to services with a capacity that can be scaled based on real-time need. This flexibility has driven the development of cloud technologies that anyone can use. Perficient Latin America recently developed an innovative, cloud-based business management tool that meets the needs of small and medium-sized businesses in Colombia.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) go hand-in-hand, disrupting everything in their path. Diego Lo Giudice, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, says that businesses "will have to adapt to a new world where developers no longer create an app for a specific outcome but can build software that can handle a range of outcomes and the next steps." Such software will be fundamentally different, both in architecture and in use.
Consumerization of IT has had a profound influence on software development, especially as it applies to mobile apps. Users have come to expect a cross-device experience that allows them to move seamlessly from one device to another without interruption. For example, Google Apps allows a user to create a document and work on it from multiple devices. As the user works, the document is automatically updated across all devices, providing an interruption-free, cross-device experience.
Seismic Shifts in Software Development
Multiple advances continue to disrupt different areas in software development. The pressure is on software developers to design, develop, and deploy apps faster than ever before. Citizen developers are a new source of competition that use Rapid Mobile Application Development (RMAD) platforms to quickly build apps without knowing how to code. In this blog post, Gartner predicts that, by 2020, 70% of business mobile apps will be developed outside of IT.
Less code from developers
The pressure to increase productivity has led software teams to think of ways to reduce the amount of code that they write without loss of quality. We may not see a complete move to drag-and-drop platforms, yet there will still be a major shift from manually writing every line of code to using frameworks and code libraries to address common programming needs.
A shift toward choosing the right tool or framework for the job
As development environments have grown more complex, finding the best framework and tools for a project has become critically important. DevOps are using containers such as Docker or the AWS EC2 Container Service, which provide the means to set up and store a custom development environment that will run on any OS, saving development teams a lot of set-up time for new projects.
The use of containers has spurred renewed debate in DevOps about cloud solutions and what is best for organizations. This blog post from Rancher Labs explores the relationship between DevOps, containers, and the cloud. The author, Michael Churchman, says, "DevOps and containers can be seen as one way -- if not the native way -- of doing IT in the cloud. After all, containers maximize scalability and flexibility, which are key goals of the DevOps movement." The debate itself revolves around the well-worn question of cloud location and what's best for businesses -- on-site, public, or a hybrid? The answer lies in the level of control, security, and resources available to a business for cloud-based initiatives. While this debate rages, developers are under significant pressure to work smarter and take advantage of the resources available to them.
Mature frameworks and code libraries
Frameworks and libraries have matured over time, providing a means to eliminate most of the repetitive work of writing code that solves common problems. Peter Wayner, Contributing Editor for InfoWorld, says that "Most code is now a long line of API calls...A lucky few get to write clever, bit-banging, pointer-juggling code for the guts of our machines, but most of us work with the higher layers. We simply run pipe (sic) between the APIs." Mature frameworks have a drop-in quality that makes it easy to run them in a variety of environments.
A Look at the Not So Distant Future
Even as software development undergoes a transformation driven by increased customer expectations and pressure to produce better apps faster, more changes are coming. The development of visual app building platforms has gone mainstream, making it possible for people with no coding skills to quickly build apps to suit their business needs. AI and ML may eventually take over most programming, writing near-perfect code in a fraction of the time it takes for an entire team to write it. These new and advanced changes are altering the way companies respond to new projects and enhancing developer skills.