Modern web development

Modern web development: what makes it ‘modern’?

Modern web development is characterized by a period of a few recent years. The modern state of web development of 2020 greatly differs from the conditions that took place 5-10 years ago. Despite the latest trends like mobile development and artificial intelligence, the more specific ways of creating web projects have also appeared in the year 2020. In this article, we will describe some important periods in the history of web development and also the modern trends that are now prevailing in the current phase of the industry. Also, we will review the specific ways of creating web projects.

Web development
Web development

Rise of mobile applications

The origin of modern web development is inextricably linked to the rise of mobile devices. The emergence of the first mobile applications in 2013-2014 was the reason for the growth of the responsive mobile design. This was the significant milestone for modern web development. The responsive design implied the appearance of the web properties that are compatible with mobile devices for easy use and navigation.

Many new tools for building responsive and adaptable websites like Bootstrap have developed very quickly and provided simple ways to create convenient and adaptable websites for mobile devices. At first, the responsive design started as a trend but then the use of smartphones became the common practice and this kind of design turned into a new normal. Mobile users looked for faster and richer web experiences and online business found new ways to monetize the changes in user behavior in the digital market. 

Single-page web applications 

The concept of lightweight applications was unique and changed the whole perception of the web development industry. Single-page applications were dynamic and were capable of handling data-incentive tasks. These applications handled logic in the browser instead of the server. 

The trend for single-page web applications caused a shift towards various essential innovations in technology. The frameworks like Angular have suddenly become increasingly popular among the developers. Some time ago, Node.js started to trend up. 

Full-stack web development

Firstly, the approach of full-stack development emerged as a trend. Later, in the year 2015, the relationship between client and server began to shift. The skillset of web developers also went through different important changes. The developer’s task was now not only to build the front end but also to think of how it managed the dynamic content. 

Full-stack web development
Full-stack web development

The fate of AngularJS

AngularJS rose to the top rapidly but with the mobile revolution and emergence of more sophisticated web applications, it became too cumbersome and lost its initial popularity. Despite the attempts to revive the use of Angular, it’s further improved versions as Angular 2 were replaced by React. However, the Angular framework can still be used in some cases over React and some other tools based on JavaScript. But the overall landscape of modern web development undergone a profound change and the Angular no longer plays a leading role as it was several years ago.

The modern web development now is defined by the other JavaScript mobile framework which is Ionic backed by Web Components. This is a great contrast to the state of affairs we had in web development during some short period of time in the past. 

The major elements of modern web development

The changes in the industry during the last decade led to the emergence of the number of core elements in web development. These essential elements include certain approaches, ideas and tools that are mainly based on the principles of simplicity and performance. 

Web Components

Web Components belong to the core elements of the modern web development industry. The reusable custom elements which are basically Web Components provide the ability to build web applications without writing the extra lines of code and complicate the codebase. 

The Web Components enhance encapsulation. The three major elements of Web Components include:

  • Custom elements, the JavaScript APIs;
  • the shadow DOM;
  • HTML templates.

The listed elements are the core concepts that define the development of the industry. These are ways how the developers are trying to improve efficiency and productivity while handling sophistication and complexity.

React.js

The reason for the significant popularity of React.js over Angular is the increased spectrum of opportunities compared to Angular that was issued by Google. The major difference between React and Angular was the ability of React to handle some scalability issues by Angular’s two-way binding of data with unidirectional flow. This topic causes a lot of discussions in the developers’ community but the singular model of data flow allows applications to handle data on a larger scale without encountering the problems.

One of the concepts like the virtual DOM helps the developers to enhance encapsulation. The biggest drawback of React is flexibility. The usage of Angular requires the knowledge of TypeScript but in the case of React, it is not always necessary. 

Application state 

The rise of React made the developers think of the application state due to the growth of the interactivity of applications. Now the Flux and Redux have appeared on stage. Flux was a pattern that was changed to fit React.

The key to understanding the management of the application state was quite simple and based on some principles. When users make certain actions, things change depending on these actions. State management turns the state of application into tangible. Then the developer is able to write to the data structure and read from it. So, basically, the ‘invisible’ state becomes visible and the developer can work with the application.

Microservices and APIs

The rise of APIs and microservices was one more important step of modern web development. This trend highlighted the importance of modularity and encapsulation. The Web Components and React were made to cope with these issues. 

Despite the fact that microservices help to make the development process simpler but complicate the architecture, the web developers are considering the ways of how the applications interact with different data sources and services.

The emergence of microservices and APIs affected the appearance of the full-stack developer position. Nowadays the demand for full-stack developers continues to grow due to the need for web development to pull together different components and services. Instead of different roles aimed at developing various parts of application, there is one role of full-stack developer that fulfills this demand.

Microservices and APIs
Microservices and APIs

Micro frontends

The other widespread trend that had a significant influence on the modern web development industry was micro frontends. Micro frontends apply the concept of microservices to frontend. Instead of creating the app where the frontend is fueled by microservices, the separate parts of the frontend are treated as microservice. Around the parts, accordingly, the teams are built. For instance, one person in the development team works on a user account, the other one on the search, and the third person on check out.

This period of micro frontends emergence led more to an organizational shift rather than to the change of technological methods and approaches of web development. So, the main ideas and characteristics of modern web development are defined as the following: it is usually full-stack, broken up, and modular. 

Conclusion

Nowadays modern web development is both the way of thinking and creation of ideas and also the set of certain tools. The industry has been evolving for more than a ten-year period and has gone through numerous serious changes. 

The appearance of mobile devices was one of the main factors that influenced and defined the further development of the industry. Mobile phones and responsive design defined the new characteristics inherent in modern web development. The industry itself and the approaches applied for the development became highly flexible, lightweight, and modular. The frameworks like AngularJS were the triggers that moved the modern web development industry forward, however, the appearance of more convenient alternatives has made considerable changes. 

Despite the fact that React is a trend and for now, the most convenient tool for the developers, the web development continues to undergo deep and complex revisions and modifications. It is expected that at some point React will be replaced by some other, more convenient, and easy to use the tool. However, the idea of building websites and applications when things are being broken apart is predicted to remain in force in the near future. 

The complexity is also expected to remain. Although the writing of the code will become simpler for the web developers, the important thing will be understanding the principles of work and the combination of component parts of the application as API integration and frontend elements.

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