Summary: As web application development evolves, old development methods will not address the needs of the modern business. In the near future, those who keep up with changing development trends will have an advantage over those who don’t. So, where is enterprise application development headed in the coming year? Learn more in this article.
Web application development is going through some major changes. Development tactics are evolving. New tools and libraries emerge on a (seemingly) daily basis. As Gartner mentions in this article, old styles of application development cannot deliver results that a digital business needs.
As technology plays an increased role in business, companies that keep up with modern development trends will have an advantage. Companies that don’t will fall behind.
So, how is enterprise application development changing? What big trends can we expect in the coming year? While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, here are some of the most important trends to watch in 2016:
1. Security takes center stage
Cyberattacks are increasing. Attacks are more sophisticated than ever.
Yet, despite the risk of creating unsecure applications, most applications still contain serious vulnerabilities.
A recent report found that 86 percent of web applications tested had serious issues with authentication, access control, and confidentiality. What’s worse, 52% of web applications suffered from commonly-known vulnerabilities, like Cross-Site Scripting, SQL Injection, and others.
In other words, most business web applications suffer from widely known, yet preventable security vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities will lead to more data breaches within the next year, driving the need for security further into the spotlight.
As security breaches become more frequent, application security will finally get the attention it deserves. Companies will have no choice but to make security a top priority in their development efforts.
“I think the biggest web application development trend we’ll see in 2016 is a push toward better security,” says Brock Murray, Director of Web Marketing, seoplus+. “According to Gartner, 75% of mobile apps fall below basic security expectations – that’s astounding. When you think of the information that you’re expected to input into gaming and organizing apps, not to mention banking and ecommerce, that vulnerability will become more and more unacceptable to consumers. Businesses who make an effort to close these security gaps and provide a relliable and secure experience for users will reap the rewards in 2016. User experience is *everything*, and knowing your personal information and sensitive data is kept safe and controlled is a big factor in the overall user experience, even after the app is closed.”
2. Citizen development will explode
Application development has long been a problem facing both the IT department and the business units.
The process goes something like this: Whenever the business needs a new solution, they request it from IT. Then…they wait.
Meanwhile, the IT department gets overwhelmed with new application requests. They can’t possibly complete every development project when the business wants it done.
The problem is, the business users get tired of waiting. And over the last few years, they started doing something about it. Users have begun bypassing IT altogether in favor of readily available cloud solutions–a problem known as “Shadow IT.”
While Shadow IT lets the business users get their solutions quickly, it opens up other problems–mainly security problems. If the IT department doesn’t know where the business data is stored, how can they control it?
The big question: How can the business get the solutions they need (when they need them), without resorting to Shadow IT?
Driven by the need for faster solutions and combined with the rise of easily available software (and tech savvy workers), one trend is poised to explode in the coming year: Citizen Development. While Gartner predicted its rise three years ago, citizen development started picking up steam in the last year, and will continue to do so in 2016.
What does it mean? As defined by Gartner, “A citizen developer is a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT.” For example, it means that anyone–from HR managers, to business analysts, to salespeople, and everyone in between–can develop their own applications using IT-sanctioned development software.
“Citizen development tools have finally reached a point where the average business user can create their own applications without bothering IT,” explains Tyler Wassell, Software Development Manager at mrc. “This trend is set to explode in the coming years, as it gives both parties what they want. Business users get the solutions they need, and the IT department doesn’t need to worry about users going behind their backs and licensing third party solutions.”
3. Responsive/Adaptive design disappears
“I think one of the biggest things we will see is responsive design is no longer a “thing” and is just a part of normal web development & design,” says Jordan Warzecha, Co-Founder and CEO of Backstitch.
A hot trend the last few years, responsive design refers to the creation of web sites that adapt to different screen sizes. A similar concept, adaptive design displays a separate page for each device type (pc/tablet/smartphone). Responsive is best suited for web design, while adaptive works best for web applications. However, they both serve the same purpose: Delivering applications that adapt to any device.
Now, am I saying that we will stop creating applications that adapt to any device? Not at all.
However, “responsive design” as a trend will be no more. It will simply become ‘design.’
Think about it for a minute. Mobile usage has exploded. We no longer know how a user will access our web applications. Maybe they’ll use a PC. Maybe they’ll use a smartphone. Or, maybe they’ll use a tablet.
Would you seriously consider building web applications that DON’T adapt to any device? Mobile has grown so quickly, that responsive (or adaptive) design has become table stakes.
In 2016, you shouldn’t be wondering whether or not to build responsive/adaptive applications. Every application you create must adapt to any device.
4. Demand for enterprise apps increases hybrid app adoption
As mobile usage grows, employees expect mobile access to enterprise applications. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2017, demand for enterprise app development will outstrip supply by five times capacity.
Now, as explained above, every web application you create must adapt to any device. In other words, every application you create must also be a mobile web application. Users should be able to access it on smartphones and tablets.
But, what if you need to create native mobile apps?
With native development, businesses face two common challenges: The mobile development skills gap and the need for fast development. Native app development is an expensive and time-consuming approach. To make things worse, most businesses lack the skills to create native apps.
These challenges, combined with the growing demand for mobile apps, will drive more businesses to an option that combines mobile web apps with native apps: The hybrid app.
1) Cost – the expectations of consumers for high quality apps is growing which is offsetting the cost reduction coming from better development tools. Developing and testing for multiple platforms, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, is difficult. However, one can write one hybrid app and deploy it to all of these platforms.
3) Web is Still Important – although mobile is rising, we can’t afford to discount traditional desktops. Consumers expect a seamless experience when moving from desktop to tablet to mobile. This means you need to develop an equally strong web application as mobile application. Building a web app from a hybrid app is much more efficient since you can reuse much of the application code.”
5. Front-end technologies deliver more powerful web applications
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a growing trend: The shift towards client-side development. In the past, the client-server model relied on the server doing the heavy lifting, and then sending the results to the client.
But, now that’s changing. Users demand stronger and more responsive web applications that rival native mobile apps and desktop software. As a result, more of the application must be put in the browser.
As explained below, the push towards front-end technologies will increase in the coming year, as developers seek to create web apps with the power of native apps.
“I think 2016 will see a continuation of a trend we saw in 2015,” says James Tauber, founder, CEO of Eldarion. “That is, a move toward front-end web technologies that rival native apps in functionality. React will continue to dominate, and emerging standards such as Service Workers will address many of the shortcomings web applications have faced in the past versus native apps.”
Now, these are just a few development trends to expect in the coming year, but the list could go on. If you would like to add anything to this list, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to share in the comments.