Front-end development presupposes the creation of a beautiful and convenient user interface. Users want their applications to be fast and responsive, so developers do their best to fulfill those requirements. There is a wide choice of frameworks and UI libraries that significantly facilitate the development process. At the same time using ready-made components may sometimes lead to compatibility issues or slow the app down, so developers need to change the pure CSS, HTML, or Java.

The number of front-end developers in the USA will grow to 190 thousand specialists by the year 2025 they say, comparing to roughly 170 thousand today. It means the IT profession of a front-end developer remains attractive and required on the market.

Let’s focus on the currently existing front-end tendencies, that will prevail in the UI development the whole next year. The overview will come useful for junior developers, while seniors may confirm their assumptions regarding the future of the front-end.

1. JavaScript 

JavaScript remains the most popular scripting language according to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2020 and GitHub research. It ensures relative ease in finding a competent staff member as well as the possibility to find a ready-made component in the Open Source.

JavaScript is widely used on the client-side of the website. It adds dynamic functions to HTML pages and provides users with an exciting experience of site interaction with a variety of animations, scrolling effects, image sliders, pop-ups, extensive site navigation menus, and more. JavaScript guarantees the website will be functional and full of advanced options. This can’t be achieved with HTML and CSS alone. Web pages created with JavaScript respond to users’ actions fast and dynamically refresh themselves.

However, JavaScript is a programming language with dynamic typing and has associated disadvantages. The main one is the lack of contracts. Code without contracts is harder to develop and harder to refactor. Because of dynamic typing, JavaScript sometimes requires redundant constructs, for example, when you need to check whether an object came to you, whether you received the same type. As a result, we get the risk of missing an error.

2. Vue.js and other JS libraries and frameworks 

To make an overview of the JS tools it is necessary to differentiate a JavaScript framework and a library.

Frameworks are templates to create a website or a web application. They offer “a skeleton”, which helps the developers to design the whole project. The templates of the framework form the structure with particular allocated areas to embed a framework code in. Meanwhile, libraries represent sets of prewritten code snippets used to implement core features of JavaScript. The snippet can be easily integrated into an existing project code when necessary. Thus, JavaScript frameworks can be described as bricks to form and organize a website or web application, while libraries are like building machinery specialized for particular coding needs.

Vue.js is one of the three most popular modern frameworks and libraries: Angular, React, Vue.js. While the first two of them are developed by famous brands (Google and Facebook respectively), Vue.js can also boast a stable position.

Vue.js is an open-source framework, which is mostly used for SPA development. It exploits a component-based development model and implements attaching components to a project. To operate with Vue.js, the developer must have extensive knowledge of HTML and CSS. Vue.js is known for the small size of documents and HTML-based syntax.

To understand what a UI library is, let’s look at the Webix UI library. It includes numerous JS components, 100+ widgets, ready-made SPA applications, and a templates library. The widgets of the library easily fit together, which saves developers’ working hours. The library may be helpful for both juniors and seniors, as it provides a quick learning process of material design and sophisticated implementation of modern UI development practices. Convenient Webix features include extra tools for developers, like Code Snippet, Skin Builder, Form Builder, and UI Designer high-performance.

3. TypeScript

According to the above-mentioned GitHub research, TypeScript is losing its popularity. We still include it in our overview, as it has some significant advantages, often discussed on the IT forums.

Here is a brief list of its pros:

  • static typing support
  • understandable code
  • fewer bugs due to the type checking in the code
  • object-oriented programming practices

But we always should bear in mind that one developer’s gain is another’s loss. TypeScript may work for the long-term projects, developed by several generations of developers while exploiting it in startups is quite arguable.

4. Disappearing frameworks

This is the trend in the next era of web development described in the article by Peter O’Shaughnessy. 

Disappearing frameworks are those that perform their useful work at the compilation stage, generating pure JavaScript without heavy abstractions like Virtual DOM. Such frameworks are very lightweight, and their performance on weak hardware is noticeably higher.

We can refer to this category Stencil, Svelte, Solid, and Angular Elements.

All of these solutions position themselves as compatible or they can compile in Web Components. This is a great feature that allows you to create web applications based on a universal web platform. This group of frameworks needs to be monitored and experimented with. Such frameworks can potentially be used in solving the problem of reusing UI components between different large frameworks, which will allow, for example, to have one common UI Kit code base.

5. Machine learning in front-end 

ML may be applied in dealing with web interface development. For instance, the Tensorflow library, which has a version for Node.js and a browser, provides an opportunity for machine learning on a well-known stack. The opportunities of ML facilitate the issues of the interface speed, but it requires theoretical knowledge of ML.

There is a similar open-source solution from Google, which is Guess.js.

Other examples of using ML in front-end tasks include code analysis to identify duplicates, layout analysis for compliance with guidelines, and even the ability to correct it, recognize documents in the browser without transmitting them over the network, generate an individually customized interface for users, and increase accessibility, for example, by voice control.

6. Back-end for front-end (BFF)

When the back-end uses a micro-service architecture, it may significantly affect the front-end. It may lead to the overhead in the form of more requests to the server or a redundant server response format, which results in the speed of the interface. The BFF pattern is designed to manage such issues. 

BFF is a thin back-end for customizing the response to a specific client. For example, a BFF can be created for individual user requirements.

When using this pattern, it is important not to blur the responsibility for the business domain. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that the BFF service remains as thin as possible, complies with the principles of fault tolerance, and all responsibility for the business domain remains on the original service.

For more information about the back-end for front-end pattern, see the article by Sam Newman.

7. Semantic release

The Semantic Release approach allows you to automatically assign versions and publish packages. Here we can mention several solutions: lerna, semantic-release. 

To use Semantic Release, you must apply the Conventional Commits specification in messages to commits. It asks you to adhere to a specific message format so that you can automatically determine the importance of the change and set the version by semver, as well as generate a changelog.

8. Web performance

The speed of web applications is becoming more important every year. The speed of the initial launch and subsequent operation of the interface is part of the UX, it affects the ranking in search engines, which contributes to the general success of the product. Thus, the speed of the interfaces is an important requirement of any product development. 

To control the speed, you need to have application speed monitoring based on data from real users (RUM), preferably with automatic notifications when critical values are reached. Synthetic tests, running in the test environment are also very helpful. They should be integrated into the CI/CD process, which will allow you to notice potential issues at an early stage and deal with them before they reach users.

Besides, the development team should stay aware of the modern practices of creating fast web interfaces, and follow and share new approaches. The culture of fast interfaces and shared experiences is the future.

9. Snapshot-testing 

Testing with the help of snapshots guarantees your designed user interface does not change in unexpected ways. Besides, it is a rather easy tool to start with. A snapshot that is taken is compared with the reference file. In case they do not match, the test will fail. 

However, the reviews of the snapshots show frequent disappointment. Developers face false positives of such tests when only attributes or other properties were changed that did not violate the functionality and appearance of the component.

10. Cypress

In software testing using frameworks that are written on the same stack as the application is a good tip. In this way, the testing responsibility is shared for the entire team. This will speed up the quality and the delivery of the project.

There are several frameworks for testing the Web: Cypress, Puppeteer, Codecept. Cypress is a simple tool; it has extensive and high-quality documentation and has the best Developer Experience. What you may lack in Cypress is support for multiple tabs and frames.

Conclusion 

We have managed to discuss the most up-to-date tendencies in the front-end development for the year 2021. You probably have used some of the mentioned tools already, but we are sure they will remain in demand for the full year. 

Also Read: Which Programming Language Should a Beginner Learn in 2020?



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