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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

But there’s one big fear: Platform means lock-in. Sometimes the trade-off is worth it, but sometimes it’s a nightmare. IaaS options are more open to change. If you don’t like your Ubuntu server running in an IaaS rack, you can install your own Ubuntu server in your office and go it alone. It's not quite as easy with a PaaS.

Hot: Web interfaces
Not: IDEs

A long time ago, people used a command-line compiler. Then someone integrated that with an editor and other tools to create the IDE. Now it's time for the IDE to be eclipsed (ha) by browser-based tools that let you edit the code, often of a working system. If you don't like how WordPress functions, it comes with a built-in editor that lets you change the code right then and there. Microsoft's Azure lets you write JavaScript glue code right in its portal. These systems don't offer the best debugging environments, and there's something dangerous about editing production code, but the idea has legs.

You can start Cloud9, Aptana, and Mozilla’s WebIDE, but keep exploring. The Web interfaces are becoming more and more powerful. It’s possible, for instance, to build an entire big data analysis project in Microsoft’s Azure website.

Hot: Node.js
Not: JavaEE, Ruby on Rails

The server world has always thrived on the threaded model that let the operating system indulge any wayward, inefficient, or dissolute behavior by programmers. Whatever foolish loop or wasteful computation programmers coded, the OS would balance performance by switching between the threads.

Then Node.js came along with the JavaScript callback model of programming, and the code ran really fast -- faster than anyone expected was possible from a toy language once used only for alert boxes. Suddenly the overhead of creating new threads became obvious and Node.js took off. Problems arise when programmers don't behave well, but the responsibility has largely been good for them. Making resource constraints obvious to programmers usually produces faster code.

The Node.js world also benefits from offering harmony between browser and server. The same code runs on both making it easier for developers to move around features and duplicate functionality. As a result, Node.js layers have become the hottest stacks on the Internet.

Hot: PHP 7.0
Not: Old PHP

In the past, PHP was a simple way to knock out a few dynamic Web pages. If you needed a bit of variety, you could embed simple code between HTML tags. It was basic enough for Web developers to embrace it, but slow enough to draw sneers from hard-core programmers.

That’s old news because some PHP lovers at places like WordPress and Facebook have been competing to execute PHP code faster than ever by incorporating the Just-in-Time compiler technology that once made Java such a high-performing solution. Now tools like the HipHop Virtual Machine and PHP 7.0 are delivering speeds that may be twice as fast as the old versions. Take that, Node.js and Java.


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