The biggest changes in development in the last 10 years

Matthew Mirzai
By Matthew MirzaiDeveloper
5 minutes to read

When it comes to technology and development, 10 years is a very long time. So much has happened over the last decade that it’s hard to pick out the key highlights. We’ve given it our best shot though and here’s what we think the most significant changes in development are since we first set up shop in 2008.

Developing in all shapes and sizes

The last decade has seen a huge lift in mobile and tablet traffic. In 2016 mobile web usage overtook desktop for the first time which means that web development is now so much more than just desktop sites.

This has been underpinned by Google’s 2015 announcement that it would favour responsive sites for mobile searchers. Our sites can no longer be rigid but must work fluidly and adapt to every user, whilst also displaying content in an appropriate way.

Now that we think about how a site works on different screen sizes and devices, it allows us to really build for these devices. For instance, we can show low-content versions of pages (called AMP Pages) for users with strict data limits, or we can prioritise displaying content sooner for users who don’t have a powerful mobile signal.

Gone are the days of painfully and impatiently waiting for a web page to load; we can now provide a seamless user experience through backend builds.

Working at pace

Agile is the word of the day when it comes to development. It’s all about responsive collaboration and a step-by-step approach to make projects manageable.

This has in part become possible thanks to instant messengers for business. Where once it was MSN, now it’s Slack and Hipchat. You no longer have to be in the same room, just the same channel is enough to facilitate working together on a large scale.

Of course none of this would be possible without the OG that spawned it all; ICQ. ICQ (chosen because it sounds like ‘I seek you’) was the foundation of instant messaging released way back in 1996. Without it, we wouldn’t have the platforms we’re familiar with today.

Collaboration also helps with another workplace favourite – knowledge sharing. Talking between members of a team (or even different departments) enables a flow of ideas and helps the development of ideas that may otherwise be forgotten. It makes it easier to ask questions, raise problems and ultimately improves communication.

Using the internet offline

Back in 2008, there were officially more connected devices than people and so the Internet of Things (IoT) was born. Thanks to better connectivity, GPS tracking and our love for smart devices, our lightbulbs now have Bluetooth, fridges can order our food when we run out and our doorbells can show us exactly who comes calling.

It seems that almost everything is up for grabs when it comes to the IoT. But when it comes to the actual web what impact does it have? Well it’s possible it will spur on developments in data connectivity and Wi-Fi speeds.

With all the data that these devices harvest too, it will inevitably help us to craft sites and better services that give customers exactly what they want. This is happening right now – you can program events to happen (either on a web site or other IoT devices) when saying certain phrases to your Virtual Assistant devices.

AI integrates into the every day

The internet of things doesn’t stop there though. AI and automated assistants have transformed our everyday lives to the extent where we literally don’t have to lift a finger.

The advent of such technology means that companies can now provide an extra layer of service to customers. Through using APIs, we can make our clients websites accessible for virtual assistants to help products fit seamlessly into customers’ lives.

AI is still in its infancy so the next 10 years could be a crucial time in the development of the technology as it shows us what it can really do.

Introducing extra security

As we’ve become more and more reliant on the internet to do every day things, it’s also become more and more viable to attacks. So it’s unsurprising that an increased attention to security has been a concern of many organisations.

SSL certificates have been around for a while but Google announced in 2014 that they would become a ranking factor. It went one step further in 2017 and started marking sites without SSL certificates as non-secure. So it’s important that your site is secure not only for ranking factors but to inject faith into your users too.

But it’s clear there’s still a way to go which could be combated through education. Last year’s NHS WannaCry ransomware problem highlighted in quite a brutal way the importance of keeping software and sites up-to-date. Because of this it’s likely that security concerns will continue to be at the top of the list for many organisations.

Embracing the power of the cloud

Cloud based development has had a big impact on the way we work as well as the user experience. Users no longer have to painfully wait for pages to load as responsive cloud-based applications can be quickly and easily scaled to respond to site traffic or resource load. A fact that’s compounded by the geographic reach of the cloud which now means users can access their favourite sites even if they’re on the other side of the world.

Cloud-based software has also made development a slightly more competitive field. Set up costs are cheap so small businesses can take advantage of the power on offer and the pay-as-you-go model means costs can be closely managed.

It’s made technology accessible and the best services are no longer limited to the companies that can afford it.

What about the next decade?

As for the next 10 years, the rate at which we’re developing technology makes it almost impossible to predict. But we’ll have a go anyway!

Net neutrality has come to the end in the United States which could fundamentally impact the way the internet works. It could affect the way developers take on work too, potentially with some favouring to work for companies that can pay for higher page speeds.

As a contrast though, major companies will embrace open source software. Software and hardware will be free to use and so will become more accessible – particularly in third world countries. It’s a battle that’s been raging for a decade already but the next few years will truly be a turning point as governments embrace the power of open source software.

It will also galvanize young developers to learn and experiment with builds. So really, it will only be a matter of time before the original tech giants move to an open source approach in order to compete. You can see this happening already with Microsoft’s recent acquisition of open source code repository GitHub.

What do you think the next 10 years have in store? Let us know in the comments.

comments powered by Disqus

Articles by Matthew Mirzai

Matt has 10 years experience in the development field and is a back end developer here at Enjoy Digital, specialising in Umbraco (and Mario Kart!)