In this article, I list a few key events from 2019 which highlight the numerous ways the developer world is evolving and growing going into a new year and a new decade in 2020.
The developer world is changing fast. New tech is quickly rendering old languages and frameworks useless, and the hype for modern fields, frameworks, and languages such as WebAssembly, AI, and hybrid app development is growing rapidly. More developers are emerging faster than ever, and this decade could mark the end of an era in programming and the start of a new one.
January 2019 — GitHub Gives Us Unlimited Private Repos, for Free!
January 7, 2019: GitHub CEO Nat Friedman announces unlimited private repos for free for all GitHub users. This opens up a whole new world of opportunities for developers on GitHub for free.
In terms of Git hosting platforms, GitHub is the biggest and fastest growing, with more and more developers putting code on the site, and using it to contribute with other developers across the globe.
44 million GitHub repos were created in 2019, with over half repos created being private (calculated by cross-referencing State of the Octoverse stats and GitHub public repo data). Private repos allow developers to host their personal and hobby projects with Git on GitHub, a huge capability boosted by GitHub's move to free unlimited private repositories.
While competing platforms like GitLab and BitBucket have had unlimited private repositories before GitHub, making this change, as the leading Git hosting platform, makes private repos a given, not a privilege for all developers.
February 2019 — Google Releases its First Update to Flutter; are Hybrid Apps the Future?
February 27, 2019: Google releases its first update to the version 1 of Flutter, their hybrid app framework.
At first, developers looking to create mobile apps for Android and iOS had to build two separate code bases for the two platforms. But, new technologies like Flutter, NativeScript, and React Native among others are making it possible to build apps for both iOS and Android with one single code base and project, dubbed hybrid app development.
Flutter, made by Google and written in Google's newer language Dart, has gained massive traction in recent years; and the release of the first update to version 1 of Flutter may mark a serious shift to hybrid app development in the future and in 2020.
Python 2 Deprecated by 2020, The Start of a New Chapter for Python Programmers
Python 2.0 was the original version of Python, released in the year 2000, almost 20 years ago. In 2006, the Python team published the first version of Python 3 to try to fix some of the problems with Python 2.
Both versions of Python have been maintained ever since, but the Python team has announced that Python 2 will not be updated as of January 1, 2020. Migrating fully to the more modern Python 3 will hopefully grow Python to be even better and popular among developers, with it currently being one of the top data science, AI/ML, and finance languages out there.
April 2019 — Stack Overflow 2019 Survey Results Released; is Rust the Language of the Future?
April 9, 2019: Stack Overflow releases their 2019 Survey Results, detailing statistics on developer roles, favorite language, code editor of choice, and more.
The survey revealed that Rust is the most loved language by developers in 2019. Rust is a newer compiled language, and an alternative to C++ and C, with WebAssembly support and better memory safety. Rust is marketed to be as fast as C, but does it have the potential to become a leading alternative to C in 2020? We will C.
May 2019 — Mobile Takes the Majority of Web Usage as Internet Explorer Falls to Less Than 2.5% Browser Market Share
May 2019: Surveys show that Internet Explorer's browser market share has dropped to less than 2.5%, while mobile and tablet devices now have a majority of more than 50% usage. This indicates a move away from supporting old browsers and a move towards supporting mobile.
Could mobile support also mean a shift toward PWAs (Progressive Web Apps)? Mobile growth has been rapid, and big mobile browsers like Safari and Chrome could add even more native-like features and APIs to their browsers in 2020.
You can see more detailed information on browser and device market share at the StatCounter Global Stats.
WebAssembly is a newer way to achieve native-like performance on the web, and it is growing fast. Compiled from languages like Rust and C++, WebAssembly has opened up a whole new world of opportunities to web developers, in terms of working with images, manipulating graphics, and more. WebAssembly has been previously used for graphics-intensive games using WebGL (JS web graphics API), but more and more developers are using it for other purposes. The hype is on; will it live up to its expectations?
July 2019 — Microsoft Puts $1 Billion into OpenAI; is AI the Next Big Thing in Programming?
July 2019: Microsoft invests $1 billion into OpenAI, a company focused on building the AI of the future. Big companies today like Microsoft are investing heavily into AI and machine learning, and OpenAI is a prime example.
OpenAI is different from many AI companies and startups however, because they are focused on building Artificial General Intelligence, or AGI. AGI is AI that can learn, AI that can understand and communicate with humans, and AI that can think like humans. Microsoft's investment in OpenAI could symbolize a move towards AI and AGI in the near future.
October 2019 — Hacktoberfest Takes the Developer Community By Storm; is Open Source Taking Over?
October 1, 2019: Hacktoberfest begins! Sponsored by The DEV Community, Hacktoberfest was one month for developers to make four PRs and contribute to open source, and collect their free swag. Hacktoberfest 2019 was a huge success for open source and proves the power of open source and what it can achieve.
Hundreds of widely-used projects are open sourced, such as Linux, Node.js, and so many frameworks, libraries, websites, apps, and even programming languages. Some have said that certain open source projects are more productive than even some companies’ codebases. Hacktoberfest 2019 overall grew the open source community substantially, and gave thousands of developers a shirt to be proud of.
2020 — Development is Better Than Ever
Developing is changing rapidly as the decade comes to a close. The hype for AI and machine learning is bigger than ever, open source is growing fast, and new languages like Rust are gaining quick traction, with older languages and technologies falling away with such immense growth and change.
So much has happened in 2019 and in the last decade, and development is better than ever. The developer community is growing, open source is winning, and exciting new tech is being released constantly.
What a time to be a developer!
I hope you enjoyed this article and found it to be insightful about the future of development as a whole. Of course, everything written is based on my own opinion and research, and all these exciting changes and possibilities are only tentative; it is impossible to predict the future, but I hope this opened your eyes up about new and upcoming technologies that could make a serious impact on devs in 2020.
I wish everyone reading happy holidays and a wonderful New Year 🎉!
Thanks for scrolling.
— Fred Adams, December 24, 2019