10 web developer resolutions for 2017

2016 has officially timed out, and with it we wave goodbye to Pokemón Go, a series of Yahoo break ins, and a year in which $3.5 trillion was spent on IT worldwide.

Whether you’re one of the 45% of Americans who make resolutions, or the 8% who actually keep them (!), the start of a new year is a great time to reassess what you want to achieve professionally in the coming 12 months. 

With that in mind, here are 10 New Year’s resolutions for web developers who want to make the most of 2017. Based on web development trend predictions, new technologies and expert advice, these 10 self-improvement tips will ensure you stay at the cutting edge of web development in 2017.

 1) Learn Ruby on Rails 5

After a few beta releases and a lot of development community buzz, Rails 5 finally hit screens in Fall 2016. So we predict that 2017 will be the year in which Rails 5 really takes hold and increases in popularity. If you haven’t already made the move, jumping to the new framework will allow you to make some major improvements to development workflows thanks to a few new features:

  • ActionCable: Create notifications more simply with ActionCable, an updated way to use websockets in realtime apps. 
  • Turbolinks 5 allows developers to jettison JavaScript frameworks and create applications straight from the Rails stack. 
  • Rails_api is already in the Rails 5 codebase, making it that much easier to build API-only apps

Getting on top of Rails 5 is one resolution that is non-optional for developers in 2017; start riding the rails sooner rather than later.

 2) Join an Angular 2 bootcamp

2016 also saw an overhaul of Angular, Google’s JavaScript framework, to incorporate JavaScript ES6 elements. The framework is already hugely popular, but the new improvements will make it an indispensable tool in the web developer toolkit in the coming year. Angular2 feels comfortably familiar, reduces churn and is web component friendly.

Getting to know a new framework can sometimes seem like more trouble than it’s worth, and Angular is far from simple; that’s why you might want to resolve to join an Angular 2 Bootcamp. The workshops, headed by experienced developers, aim to get students making end-to-end functional apps with Angular 2. 

3) Master Cloud-based IDEs

We reckon 2017 will be the year that desktop software development becomes an secondary skill to the development of Cloud applications, and so it’s no surprise that more and more developers are moving over to Cloud-based IDEs.

Cloud-based IDEs, like any Cloud software, provide instant access to what you’re working on wherever you are, and boost teamwork with configured, easily shared workspaces. 

They key to staying on top of the trend is to select a Cloud-based IDE that suits your needs and skills. There’s no shortage of “best of” lists out there, but Codenvy and Cloud9 have received good reviews.

4) Get comfortable with VR

You can’t talk about the future of IT without mentioning virtual reality (VR). Sure, up until now VR has been mainly limited to the gaming world, but in the near future the technology is predicted to make the jump to non-gaming apps. Google is already working on an API to boost VR transition, and it could be that in 2017 we see VR creeping into all manner of websites, from newscasters to eCommerce sites.

What does this mean for web developers? Familiarity with stereoscopics and GPUs is important, but perhaps more important still is a general awareness of where this early-stage tech is going. Check out Mozilla’s VR channel for a bunch of talks and blogs on VR and web dev. 

5) Build apps for the IoT

You probably never thought you’d get excited about designing an app for a toaster, right? But the Internet of Things (IoT) is going nowhere, and while web developers probably won’t get their hands dirty with building connected devices, they will have to develop the apps that connect these devices to users. APIs have already been produced for developers to communicate with objects; 

Developers now need to figure out how to build software that will be viewed from devices as unusual as a fridge or car dash; code will have to highly efficient to meet these multiple needs. It should be the goal of every developer in 2017 to learn how to manage IoT design, and to meet the challenges posed by IoT security. 

6) Functional programming 

As web apps get more complicated, the functional programming paradigm becomes increasingly important. Thanks to the open-source release of Facebook’s React in 2015, even front-enders are approaching UIs from a functional development standpoint. Reactions have been positive, and functional programming may well become the norm in the next 12 months. 

For those new to functional programming, starting out with a combination of React and Redux is a way to transition smoothly to functionality. The more adventurous could opt to learn RxJS, a JavaScript add-on for complex web apps; it’s a pretty challenging learning curve so don’t say we didn’t warn you.

7) Get up to speed with GraphQL

It might have been slow to pick up momentum, but GraphQL now looks poised to take development where REST can’t. GraphQL streamlines the way clients link up with remote systems more efficiently that the multiple REST endpoints we’re used to, and allows developers to build the whole API with code. We’re not saying REST is dead (mainly because GraphQL is still tied to Facebook) but we are saying that 2017 is probably GraphQLs year. 

Get up to speed on GraphQL here.

8) Start data mining

Big data gets everywhere, even into web development. Websites now have to handle vast swathes of data: writing code that contains that data elegantly and helps the website realize its goals is something that developers have to keep in mind.  

Data-driven programming (where the data and not the program logic controls the program flow) is an integral part of ‘intelligent’ apps and automation, and has been around as long as programming itself. What developers will have to focus on in 2017 is creating front- and back-ends that turn Big Data into something efficient and comprehensible.  

9) Learn business skills

It’s not unusual for web developers to work freelance between contracts, so an understanding of basic business principles never goes amiss. Marketing yourself, managing money and client payments, writing proposals and juggling projects might seem well out of the ambit of building code, but without those kind of business smarts a foray into freelance development will be plagued by inefficiencies. 

Lynda (the learning branch of LinkedIn) has an introductory course on Freelancing Fundamentals, and Tuts+ tailors their business courses specifically for web design and development needs. 

10) Streamline the design-development 

The relationship between design and development is always going to be a love-hate affair. But 2017 can be there year you focus on improving the handoff process and collaborating with design teams to turn dynamic deliverables such as prototypes into elegant code. 

Organizing more collaborative sessions with design teams before deliverables are finalized, working together on client communication and simultaneously improving design-dev agility with the use of new tools will make your life, and your workflow, that little bit better in 2017. 

Cassandra Naji is Marketing Content Editor at Justinmind, a prototyping tool that allows you to prototype web and mobile apps so you can visualize software before writing a single line of code. Before she was a techie, Cassandra was an old-fashioned journalist & communications professional in Cambodia and Taiwan. More articles by Cassandra Naji
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