2021 is finally here (and thank the heavens we all made it)! Due to a multitude of factors, web developers have never been in higher demand than they will be in this year. As more and more businesses and individuals turn to online means for making a living, now is the perfect time to learn web development!

As with every new year, there are many upcoming technologies on the near horizon to keep an eye on. Furthermore, as trends change in development, it becomes necessary to keep up with these trends or get left in the proverbial dust.

Today, we’re going to take a look at the latest trends for 2021 so you know where to focus your learning, and the tools to look out for based on your needs. There’s a lot to look forward to this year!

1. JAMstack

First, a quick explanation of JAMstack: The JAM stands for Javascript, APIs and Markup. Its primary intent is to make it quicker and easier to build websites, as a focus is placed on the frontend. Instead of building out a database and full API from scratch, serverless options (which we cover later) are often used to speed up development.

Instead of worrying about the boring stuff like server and database administration, JAMstack allows developers to put their valuable time into making the user-facing parts of the web app work as intended.

This is a continuing trend we have seen over the past year or 2, and it looks to continue in 2021. Anything that can speed up development time is well appreciated for developers. In particular, tools that make it easier for a solo developer to produce a fully functional website without having to be an expert in every aspect of development are much needed, and JAMstack fits that need perfectly.

2. WebAssembly

Like it or not, many of the best and biggest web apps are written using languages other than Javascript. This is due to the many shortcomings of the language, particularly when it comes to writing performant applications. When compared to compiled languages like C and even Java, Javascript falls well behind in load and execution times.

In order to overcome this hurdle, as well as make web development more accessible to software developers in general, experts from a group of industry stalwarts including the W3C consortium, Mozilla, Microsoft and Google joined forces to develop WebAssembly (abbreviated as Wasm).

What Wasm does is provide a “compilation target” for non-web-based languages. By compiling code into WebAssembly, developers can make their programs executable by modern web browsers.

This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for what can be done on the web, as it becomes much easier for individual developers to write code in compiled languages that can run on the web. Like it or not, the internet remains one of the easiest and quickest ways for developers to reach a large audience with their applications.

3. React Continues its Dominance

Frontend Javascript frameworks continue to be one of the more popular ways to build new web applications. In this space, there are 3 main players:

  1. React – developed by Facebook
  2. Angular – developed by Google
  3. Vue – Evan You (ex Google Engineer)

While other players in the frontend framework space have risen to prominence more recently, none threaten to challenge the big 3 any time soon (with maybe one exception). Of these 3 primary players, React looks set to retain a thorough dominance as the most popular frontend framework in 2021.

The level of flexibility React provides to frontend developers means it will remain useful long into the future. If you are currently an aspiring developer, we strongly recommend you check out our full React 2021 guide (coming soon).

4. Serverless Everywhere

What’s the most frustrating and annoying part of web development? For many, it would be the aspects that don’t involve actually writing code for your application. Things like provisioning servers, administrating databases, and other menial tasks prove exhaustively boring for many, and often take the fun out of building web applications.

To this end, Serverless hosting provides much needed relief from all of these headache-inducing tasks. Developers simply spin up a hosting plan, and the hosting company takes care of the rest!

Well-established companies like Amazon (Amazon Web Services), Google (Firestore/Google Cloud Platform), and DigitalOcean (App Platform) offer serverless hosting options at extremely reasonable pricing. Their teams of experts can handle the setup and maintenance of servers. Their automated scripts scale your server capacity up and down to handle changes in traffic. Meanwhile, all you have to do is build the website.

It is this ease of use that has lead to massive growth in the serverless hosting market as of late, and 2021 looks to stay on trend in that regard. Developers want to focus on what they are good at, and serverless proves to be one of the best options for making it happen.

5. GraphQL

Long gone are the days of building out complicated REST APIs with hundreds or thousands of endpoints for every single use case you may run into with your web app. GraphQL popped onto the scene in 2015, but it took a bit before developers realized the full benefits it provided over the rival (and deeply entrenched) REST architecture.

For one, GraphQL provides a much-desired and sorely needed level of flexibility to frontend-to-backend data retrieval. Instead of needing to build out an entirely new API endpoint every time you add a new type of data query to your application, you can simply use a query-like language to grab exactly what you need. This saves not only development time, but also query time and bandwidth.

By enabling developers to selectively query specific data within their database tables, GraphQL allows for faster and more data efficient querying. This, combined with many other benefits you can read about here, is proof positive that GraphQL is the better way of building an API.

2021 looks to be yet another great year for GraphQL’s growth, with more amazing features on the near horizon. We’d highly recommend hopping on the GraphQL bandwagon before you get left behind.

6. Everything As A Service

SaaS, DBaaS, PaaS, the list goes on and on. In 2021, we will continue to see more and more aspects of web development, from tools to infrastructure move to a services pricing model. This brings with it both major benefits and notable drawbacks.

The primary benefit is the ability to try things out without getting locked into a long-term contract, or exorbitant upfront fees. This means you can “shop around” with technologies and platforms you are interested in to find the right one for your needs. Along those same lines, the service model allows many new options to break onto the market with less business cost. This in turn leads to a wider selection to choose from.

Services also provide developers the ability to worry less about the infrastructure on which they build, as we covered in the serverless section. Serverless technologies run hand-in-hand with the services pricing model, as it suits the industry very well. For companies to be able to tell developers “you pay us a fee and we’ll handle the rest” is a great benefit to both parties.

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