Next decade: The big bang technology.


Most of you might agree that the pace of web-evolution was impressively intense last year. (Yeah,  the web is dead, we just haven't found a new name for it yet.)

From a business perspective, 2010 was also pretty good, with many services empowering smaller companies and solo developers. Especially the Apple and Facebook ecosystems continue to nourishing a whole new generation of small dev shops. We like that.

But following Ray Kurzweil’s argumentation in “Age of the spiritual machine”, evolution will accelerate, which results in accelerated cycles of technologies, which in turn implies everything will change. In fact this thought is nothing new, but change is more perceptible nowadays, since it happens faster. That said, just turn your face for a second and you might have already missed the next big thing. It’s important to have an idea of what’s next.

So, curtain up for a random collection of our thoughts about the things to come in the near future.

Raise of the Javascript I: Serverside Javascript.

For nearly two years, we’ve been working on smaller serverside javascript projects, so we kind of expected that this will happen. But Node.js still took us by surprise.

While most serverside JavaScript frameworks mimic existing methodologies , Node.js introduced a novel approach to model our server processes.

Node.js is serverside JavaScript with a twist. In Node.js everything is non-blocking and all API calls are handled asynchronously. Behind the scenes this is realized by running V8 in a single process and leveraging libev to process events. Node.js handles backend processes the same way jQuery handles frontend events.

This is a pretty bold move, and it has to be appreciated. Node.js caught the attention of many prominent developers in an unprecedented rush, dominating topics of one JavaScript conference after the other. And JavaScript is huge: With the usage of Javascript in Frontend, Database (MongoDB, CouchDB) and now backend, JavaScript evolves to become the very DNA of the web.

Want more proof? Some people took the effort and wrote an Emscripten, an engine to compile LLVM bytecode to JavaScript. With Emscripten you can run C++ directly in the browser.

Now that JavaScript has become some sort of religion, it is considered to be the savior of the web, establishing it as THE platform of platforms and reviving openness and compatibility for everyone. Nevertheless, native solutions still outplay their web-based counterparts in terms of performance, functionality and user experience, so let’s watch close if and when this is going to change.

Raise of the Javascript II: Some Coffee to your JavaScript?

Since so much JavaScript  is part of the development process, a lot of effort has been taken to abstract JavaScript in more established languages. Cappuchino tries to bridge it for Objective-C Coders. Google Web Toolkit makes the Java-Guys happy. But why abstract, when you can enhance? CoffeeScript is a wonderful language built on top of javascript that enhances the language to overcome it's cumbersomeness without getting too far away from the bare metal. And since Rails 3.1 seems to fully integrate CoffeeScript into their toolchain, we have to expect more from it.

User Experience: Shared, Synced and Remote

All that shared data, repositories, and cloud devices, create the strong need for powerful syncing. Services like Dropbox do that job beautifully. While the joy of syncing anything to everything was primarily felt by geeks, this will be big in the mass market very soon. Smartphones, tablets, and embedded devices will force the user to sync the hell of their devices. With increasing bandwidth and usage of cloud services, the average user will eventually have little need for local storage at all. In a certain sense, Dropbox could be considered as a solution for just a temporary problem.

Hardware: TV

Apple did a half-hearted job with the release of the next generation Apple TV. They might have been too busy with their wunderkinds, but obviously it’s just a question of time when they (or someone else?) do the job right.

Currently, Apple engages a huge number of talented developers creating successful iOS applications, games and tools through the hugely successful App Store. They are sitting on a pile of existing software that can quickly be ported to new devices running the same successful platform, giving Apple a massive headstart.

It’s also quite a convenience that most TV users already have a smartphone or/and an iPad. At last, we should kiss the good old tv remote goodbye. The remote interaction of TV screen and input device will be an interesting terrain to watch. There is a huge opportunity to revolutionize the TV experience very soon, because concepts like teletext or chunky remote controls don’t belong into this century. And while we’re at it, we might also get rid of our collection of consoles including everything that comes with it (CDs, cable tangles, etc). There’s a reason Microsoft doesn’t give much about a new physical disk drive for the Xbox anymore after failing with the HD-DVD.

Frameworks: Not without my Tools

While in the last years software frameworks dominated the software scene , tools get more and more important: Sencha Animator, Apple iAd Producer, Radi and even Flash being able to produce high quality HTML5/CSS3/Javascript Output. That shows us that people don’t care about the platform. They care about the tools that embrace creativity. And developers care about an easy workflow - and let’s be honest: Writing good code is hard! Most people just want things to work. The mac store could also play a significant role for the new generation of simple productivity tools.

Cofounder of 9elements. Software alchemist since he was a kid. Knee deep in tech with building things in React, Rails or Solidity.