8 Trends Improving in Software Engineering You Need to Know About

May 27, 2021 - Emily Newton

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Software engineering is known for its rapid pace of change. The methodologies, technologies and tactics used are constantly evolving to keep up with new customer needs. 

Engineers who need to do more with less are constantly searching for more efficient ways of doing things. They need new tools or practices that will help them succeed in an industry where speed is everything.

These are eight of the most important trends in software engineering right now. They reflect some of the biggest challenges the tech industry as a whole is currently facing — and over the next few years, they’re likely to reshape the software world.

1. Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps use emerging browser APIs to offer native functionality for users and improve convenience. They emerged as a way for businesses to provide more to the growing share of internet users who browse on their phones without requiring any downloads. 

PWAs are increasingly popular, with major brands including Starbucks, Uber and Spotify leveraging them to streamline the user experience. They’re likely going to become even more vital over the next few years. However, they may have a troubled path to widespread adoption. 

Google’s Chromium team has wholeheartedly embraced PWAs and is working on new APIs and tools for web apps. However, not every web browser development group sees a potential return on investment for supporting these applications. In early 2021, Firefox developer Mozilla dropped desktop support for progressive web apps, citing internal research that found “little to no perceived user benefit to the feature.”

2. Low-Code/No-Code 

In recent years, businesses have been looking for new ways to provide better support for citizen developers — or a “user who creates new business applications for consumption by others, using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT.” 

These developers sometimes have little to no experience with code, meaning traditional tools are unlikely to be useful. They may also be experienced developers who need to work fast or with limited resources. Therefore, they may not have time to think about scalability or underlying tech.

In response, businesses are investing more in low-code development platforms. These tools simplify software development to reduce the amount of coding necessary to create a finished product. No-code platforms go further and use things like visual drag-and-drop interfaces to eliminate the need for coding altogether.

Major shifts to the business world over the past year and a half — especially the growth in remote teams during the COVID-19 pandemic — may have been a significant driver of this investment. During the crisis, the “number of executives naming low- and no-code development platforms as their most important automation investment … nearly tripled, from 10% to 26%.”

If this trend continues after the pandemic’s end, it may signal a major shift for the tech industry. Organizations will move toward platforms enabling simpler and more accessible software development.

3. Python

The steadily growing popularity of Python, likely due to the comparable accessibility and versatility of the language, is likely to significantly impact software engineering. 

In January 2020, Python pulled ahead of Java for the first time, securing its rank as the second-most popular programming language, behind only JavaScript. The rankings looked the same one year later, with Python managing to maintain its second-place ranking. 

Major corporations — including Alphabet, Dropbox and Instagram — have come to rely heavily on the language. Its value in data science has also made it popular among researchers and statisticians. Python is likely to remain a common language of choice for organizations of all sizes in the future.

4. DevSecOps and a Shift-Left Approach to Security

Cyberattacks are on the rise, and insecure apps can be a major liability for organizations. Vulnerabilities in an app could put a company or their clients at risk, opening them up to a breach. This has meant that DevSecOps — tools and practices that bring together developers, IT operations, and cybersecurity teams — has become much more important. 

At the same time, more organizations are taking a shift-left approach to security, with safety testing becoming a priority much earlier in the development process. This strategy helps to reduce the chance that vulnerabilities go unnoticed until later in the development stage.

5. Continuous Integration and Delivery

The rapid speed of the software world means organizations increasingly favor management strategies with shorter development cycles and accelerated production.

Continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) has become essential for these organizations. CI/CD tools and practices enable developers to restructure pipelines so new code is continuously integrated and delivered.

The result is significantly shorter production cycles that give developers more room for experimentation, bug fixing and feature development. Upgrades also make their way to end-users much faster than with a slower, more traditional development style.

This approach also makes the automation of development, deployment and testing almost essential. This is especially true for businesses that adopt the continuous deployment approach, which constantly pushes updates to users.

6. IoT Market Growing, Fragmented

The Internet of Things devices market continues to grow, driven by increasing demand for consumer and industrial smart devices. For software engineers, this will probably mean familiarity with skills essential for IoT engineering. This means things like embedded software development, information management and data analytics could become much more important.

Developing apps that can integrate or communicate with IoT devices may also become more critical as the adoption of the tech continues. The most significant impact will likely be in new applications in consumer devices and new industrial IoT technology.

7. Cloud Infrastructure

The shift to the cloud is likely one of the most important changes organizations have had to manage over the past 10 years. Cloud infrastructure will likely continue to become more critical in the near future. Businesses —in part as a way to handle the pivot to remote work — are leaving behind on-premises infrastructure in favor of cloud solutions. 

For those in tech, the growing importance of the cloud will mean developing for this infrastructure will become an even more essential skill.

8. AI and ML

The AI market continues to grow rapidly. According to current research, it may be worth as much as $24 billion by 2027.

AI’s number-crunching and pattern-finding abilities make it an effective foundation for a wide range of tools. Organizations are using the tech to streamline operations, improve forecasting models and offer better customer service. 

As AI becomes more sophisticated over the next few years, it will likely increase in importance in the software engineering and tech world.  

How Software Engineering Is Changing for the Better

The tech world is handling several different shifts right now — including the pivot to remote work during COVID-19, growing use of new technology and new cyberthreats. All these shifts have required that software engineering continues to change. Security is becoming more important, as is developing for a world where not everyone works in an office. 

Accessibility and versatility of tools and finished products is also becoming more vital. Streamlined software development tech, like low-code or no-code solutions, are helping citizen developers get more work done, while progressive web apps provide additional functionality for mobile users.

These software engineering trends emphasize the importance of adaptability and the need for constant change to keep tech experts on top of their game. Their adoption should lead to increased productivity and a stronger reputation in the industry.

Featured Image Credit: Technology vector created by pikisuperstar – www.freepik.com

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Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist and the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She manages the sites publishing schedule, SEO optimization and content strategy. Emily enjoys writing and researching articles about how technology is changing every industry. When she isn't working, Emily enjoys playing video games or curling up with a good book.

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