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New technologies arise every day, and the necessity for relevant tools to support complex web applications is now more vital than ever.
In a sea of information, it's hard to understand where frontend development will go in 2021, and that's why I wrote this article, to hand you from what 2020 was for developing web applications to what the future could look like in one year from now.
Please note: while I enjoy giving my opinion, I appreciate even more citing extremely reliable information. So in this article, combined with my thoughts, you will find accurate survey data from websites like Stack Overflow Survey and the State of Frontend.
In the world of frontend frameworks, one thing was true in 2020 and will still be true this year: React is dominating.
React has seen its usage skyrocket in the last few years compared to other traditional frameworks like Angular or Vue. I've seen quite a loss of interest in Angular in the previous year and a steady increase in Vue usage.
This dominance by React is probably also given by the latest version of Angular and Vue being so delayed and awaited by the community.
However, React's hegemony doesn't mean it will be untouched in 2021, as we see many new exciting frameworks pop up.
Examples of these frameworks include:
A framework to provide reactivity over typical DOM structures and efficient compilation.
A toolchain for building reusable, scalable Design Systems using web components.
So one thing is sure for this year, React will still be the most loved and used frontend framework. Still, many new contestants are coming. So we might see some exciting increase in usage for tools like Svelte or Stencil.
I use TypeScript myself in my professional environment. Now, in 2021, it feels like the standard choice for complex web applications more than ever. It's just something that you have to use to make your coding process smooth.
It is also not unexpected that developers from all over the world elected TypeScript as the second most loved language in 2020.
So my prediction for this tool is easy. TypeScript will become even more used this year. It will be more and more recognized as the must-have tool when developing large web applications.
The advantage of this software architecture is that it allows you to build more performant and cheaper web applications.
With this web structure, instead of rendering a page on every request, you pre-render it before request time (Static Generation). This mechanism provides your web app for optimal performance and overall higher availability.
From the state of frontend survey, you can also gather some interesting information about the usage of the Jamstack in the last year and the increasing number of professionals adopting it.
When it comes to this emerging stack, the most used static generators technology are Gatsby, Next.js, and Nuxt.js.
My prediction for 2021 is that the Jamstack will increase in popularity, with new developers adopting it and pushing the boundaries of what can be done with this architecture.
In that sense, I also feel pretty confident that Gatsby and Next.js will continue their reign in 2021, as both of them won't probably see any big competitors popping this year.
With always increasingly complex web applications, testing has become a crucial part of our developers' workflow. The success of the products we develop primarily depends on how efficient and reliable it is, so that's the direction we have to focus our efforts.
When it comes to Testing tools and libraries, Jest continues its reign, thanks to React's popularity and its connection with this tool.
Other testing libraries include Mocha and Jasmine. The first one is still a good choice despite its setup complexity and Jasmine's rapid decline as Angular is its default testing tool.
When it comes to the workflow for testing, I wasn't surprised to see how a combination of software developers + QA specialists is still the most used for testing a web application, as it emerges from this survey.
I believe that the practice of testing our web apps will increase over time this year, as in 2021, testing and modern frontend development have been recognized as two deeply linked and inseparable topics.
A headless CMS is a content management system that allows you to deliver content to multiple frontends. With a CMS, your application frontend won't be coupled to a single backend. Instead, you will have the power to deliver your data to as many frontends as you want.
This technology has gained a lot of momentum over the last years, and some of the world's largest companies are now adopting it.
This condition found its roots in the advantages that a headless CMS brings in, including:
The introduction and adoption of headless CMS systems have been a great discovery for me. This type of solution is not suitable for every company. Still, it can be a perfect solution in the exemplary scenario, so I can see that this technology will increase in popularity more and more in 2021, with some possible cool integrations with the Jamstack.
As a React developer, I'm pretty happy to see the excellent tool's results over time. In 2021, I would love to see a stronger inclination toward using hooks and the context API for managing state, with an evolution in that sense that could distance the framework from the classic Redux.
As my advice, here is what I think you should seriously consider watching our for this year in the world of frontend:
The frontend world is constantly changing, and web developers have to keep up with it because that's a crucial part of our job. Unfortunately, the web is so full of information that it's often hard to understand where to direct your efforts and focus.
With this article, I've given you an overview of what the future of Frontend development will probably look like this year, hopefully helping you understand what topics you should watch out for and how your career could evolve during 2021.
Piero is a full-stack software developer for the WiFi industry and a proud technical writer and coding educator.
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