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21 hot programming trends -- and 21 going cold

Peter Wayner | March 11, 2016
Hot or not? From the Web to the motherboard to the training ground, get the scoop on what's in and what's out in app dev

Programmers love to sneer at the world of fashion where trends blow through like breezes. Skirt lengths rise and fall, pigments come and go, ties get fatter, then thinner. But in the world of technology, rigor, science, math, and precision rule over fad.

That's not to say programming is a profession devoid of trends. The difference is that programming trends are driven by greater efficiency, increased customization, and ease of use. The new technologies that deliver one or more of these eclipse the previous generation. It's a meritocracy, not a whimsy-ocracy.

What follows is a list of what's hot and what's not among today's programmers. Not everyone will agree with what's A-listed, what's D-listed, and what's been left out. That's what makes programming an endlessly fascinating profession: rapid change, passionate debate, sudden comebacks.

Hot: Preprocessors
Not: Full language stacks

It wasn't long ago that people who created a new programming language had to build everything that turned code into the bits fed to the silicon. Then someone figured out they could piggyback on the work that came before. Now people with a clever idea simply write a preprocessor that translates the new code into something old with a rich set of libraries and APIs.

The scripting languages like Python or JavaScript were once limited to little projects, but now they’re the foundation for serious work. And those who didn’t like JavaScript created CoffeeScript, a preprocessor that lets them code, again, without the onerous punctuation. There are dozens of variations preslicing and predicing the syntax in a different way.

The folks who loved dynamic typing created Groovy, a simpler version of Java without the overly insistent punctuation. There seem to be dozens of languages like Scala or Clojure that run on the JVM, but there's only one JVM. You can run many languages on .Net’s VM. Why reinvent the wheel?

Hot: Docker
Not: Hypervisors

This isn’t exactly true. The hypervisors have their place, and many Docker containers run inside of operating systems running on top of hypervisors. However, Docker containers are soooo much smaller than virtual machine images, and that makes them much easier to use and deploy.

When developers can, they prefer to ship only Docker containers, thanks to the ease with which they can be juggled during deployment. Clever companies such as Joyent are figuring out how to squeeze even more fat out of the stack so that the containers can run, as they like to say, on “bare metal.”

Hot: JavaScript MV* frameworks
Not: JavaScript files

Long ago, everyone learned to write JavaScript to pop up an alert box or check to see that the email address in the form contained an @ sign. Now HTML Ajax apps are so sophisticated that few people start from scratch. It's simpler to adopt an elaborate framework and write a bit of glue code to implement your business logic.

 

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