Software development in 2021: 5 ubiquitous trends
The retrospective articles you read in the tech press towards the end of the year often point to significant changes or major events that have shaken the IT industry.
It’s not that kind of story. Thinking back to what 2021 meant in software development, it’s hard to pinpoint a breakthrough event or major unexpected change. Instead, 2021 has mostly seen the same in terms of software development trends and practices.
This is not to say that there is nothing to report regarding software development in 2021. On the contrary, the fact that developers are still doing today what they were doing a year ago highlights the sustainability of key software development practices.
So let’s take a look at the defining software development trends of 2021 and what they say about the state of development as a whole.
DevOps continues to reign supreme
DevOps is now over ten years old. Some people – myself included – predicted that DevOps has reached its peak and will cease to dominate the way developers view software development.
This year, however, gave us no reason to believe those predictions would come true anytime soon. DevOps stayed strong like never before throughout 2021. A majority of developers continue to embrace the DevOps concept and associated practices, such as CI / CD.
Low-Code and No-Code stay hot
Another software development trend in 2021, low-code and no-code programming, is falling in a similar boat. Despite claims that low-code and no-code developments are exaggerated – or that they constitute a “illusion– the ecosystem surrounding these techniques remains quite dynamic.
Not only do vendors such as Mendix and Appian continue to offer popular no-code, low-code platforms, but 2021 has also seen the expansion of this approach to other areas – such as security, where new players , especially Couple promise a code-free approach to automation.
I don’t think that means most software will be written anytime soon using low-code or no-code techniques, but it speaks to the persistence of these trends in certain corners of the software development ecosystem.
Programming for Blockchain remains a niche
Speaking of trends that are arguably overblown, 2021 continued to see a lot of blockchain buzz, but relatively little in terms of actual innovation from software developers working on blockchain-based projects.
Granted, there is some cool stuff going on in the world of blockchain programming. But blockchain development tools and techniques haven’t changed much over the past few years. Blockchain development platforms as cloud providers deployed years ago largely remain the same. Notions such as decentralized applications remain interesting, but they are no longer new.
Indeed, the biggest changes in the blockchain ecosystem in 2021 – like the explosive popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or the rise in the value of bitcoin – really have nothing to do with software development. in itself. Most developers today have little incentive to specialize in blockchain programming.
DevSecOps is still a thing
This year, few changes were made to the state of DevSecOps, the philosophy that encourages developers and IT engineers to take a more central role in security operations. If you’re a developer today, there’s a good chance you’ll also put on a safety hat some of the time.
So far, the ubiquity of DevSecOps hasn’t really translated into better security outcomes. On the contrary, 2021, like the years leading up to it, set new records for the frequency and extent of cyber attacks. It seems safe to say that DevSecOps isn’t solving the cybersecurity crisis, at least not on its own. But I imagine that doesn’t make matters worse either.
The best programming languages ââstay the same
The last year hasn’t seen any really big changes in the area of ââprogramming languages. the TIOBE index shows that the usual suspects – like C, Java, and Python – continue to top the list of most popular languages.
Newer languages, such as Rust and Go, still have a worthy status. But if anyone was expecting them to slip into the top 10 rankings in 2021, it didn’t almost happen.
A somewhat notable change concerns the PHP language, which (at the time of writing) ranks tenth in the TIOBE Index. This reflects a slow decline in the popularity of PHP that has been going on for years. But it’s still a big deal that fewer and fewer sites are coded using PHP – which was the first true dynamic programming language for the web, and which helped create the web as we know it.
All of the software development trends described above were already big business heading into 2021. They are not innovations.
It’s not a bad thing for the software development ecosystem, however. The most important conclusion to draw from the state of software development in 2021 is that it is a very mature and stable field. Unlike other niches in the IT industry, development is not an area that undergoes a major overhaul every few years.
This can make development less exciting in some ways. But for developers who like to create great things that work for the long haul, maturity and stability within the ecosystem is a good thing.