What will be the next big trend in software development? Usually, these kinds of predictions are published in December. However, 13 experts from the Forbes Technical Council have already shared what they think the next big thing in software development will be. Since I can only surmise that they’re the kinds of people who, unlike me, get their holiday shopping done early, I just had to read an article written by such forward-thinking non-procrastinators, all of whom are execs from different companies. When I saw that low-code made the list of software trends, I did a mental happy dance. Then, I had a “blinding flash of the obvious.” I’ll make my case for it by examining the trends in the article from the OutSystems point of view.
Trend in Software Development #1: Consolidation: A Deeper Take
The first software industry trend is consolidation, as in mergers and acquisitions. If you think about the reasoning behind these M&As, such as the purchase of Pivotal by VMWare, they consolidate more than just companies. They also put BPM, UI/UX and CX design, front-end and back-end, integration, and more together in single development platforms. The addition of Workflow Builder and Experience Builder to the OutSystems platform is a good example, as is our alliance with Workato. As Martin Cooperwaite of our partner Kiandra says, “We can create custom enterprise-grade solutions to scope and deliver a great end-user experience also,"
Trend #2: AI, AI, Everywhere – in Business
The prediction that the growth of using AI to power business processes will be enormous is spot on. Large and small industry players, from tech giants like Microsoft to startups like Narrative Science, are making great strides in this software engineering trend, as is OutSystems. Building Deloitte’s and ISB Global’s successes, we’ve added AI features for business to the platform. Add human-like chat experiences to your app using our AI chatbot component. Use our language analysis feature to enable sentiment analysis right in a call centers UI. We continue to add new capabilities for AI-assisted development to our AI co-pilot for developers, as well.
Trend #3: Interactive Feedback From Users and Groups
One exec foresees the transformation of the user feedback employed in agile and robust methods into something more interactive and engaging, involving more parts of the organization. Actually, this is happening now. “Meet App Feedback,” says Leonardo Fernandes, Head of Delivery at Phoenix Press & Services Pty Ltd, and an OutSystems MVP. “With it, users let you know, directly from the app, what they think or what’s causing them problems. On mobile devices, users can draw on top of the screen and write a message. In addition, there is an option to record an audio message, which is often easier than typing.”
Trend #4: Integrating DevSecOps With Automation
I, for one, am glad that we’ve finally settled on DevSecOps, after reading many debates about whether it was DevSecOps, SecDevOps, or DevOpsSec. Nomenclature aside, this trend is based on integrating security into automated DevOps processes so it’s not tacked on at the end. The overarching mantra of low-code is never to wait until the end of to address a major NFR or anything else, for that matter, OutSystems, for example, already enables customers like US Acute Care to rapidly develop applications with the governance, compliance, and controls needed to ensure the applications are secure and will pass industry-specific audits.
Trend #5: Functions as a Service
Functions as a service (FaaS) is associated with a microservices architecture and serverless computing, and another expert on the Forbes Technical Council views it as computing from the edge (not the IoT edge, more like the cutting edge of the cloud). OutSystems sees a future filled with microservices and serverless computing, and OutSystems 11 is the present-day release that reflects that vision. CEO Paulo Rosado says, “Innovation comes from stitching together best-of-breed parts, functions, and data sets unique to your business, and the complex definitions of the UI experienced by your employees, customers, and partners.”
Trend #6: Continuous Integration and Delivery
The expert for this topic waxed almost poetic over the benefits of continuous integration and delivery together. To be honest, since I always see them written as CI/CD, I wasn’t aware they were still separate. The OutSystems 1-click button and dependency analysis are the poster children for continuous integration and delivery, and we also make it easy to integrate your applications with external CI/CD servers like Jenkins. Portuguese media company NOS created a full architecture based around OutSystems, and Henrique Zacarias, CIO/ IT Director, describes it as “the way we found to implement continuous delivery.”
Trend #7: Hello, Low-Code, Our Old Friend
This isn’t the boldest of predictions in the article. (I think that honor goes to either FaaS or Motion UI.) Gartner estimates that by 2024, 65% of all application development will be done with low-code. Plus, the focus in the article is on the self-service and time-saving aspects. But, unless you’re new here, you know that enabling less-skilled or citizen developers to get up and running fast is just part of what an enterprise-grade low-code platform does. “For us, low-code was never about just spinning up a couple of quick fixes,” says Dan Giesen-White, CIO of the McMillan Shakespeare Group. “We wanted to support a new way of thinking about how we do IT to deliver rapid, high-value innovations—and OutSystems gives us that platform.”
Trend #8: Rapid Iterations, Not Beta
This trend was identified as “delta testing” by its proponent. Basically, this kind of testing enables customers to validate new and updated apps in their ecosystems before full deployment, and it’s predicted to surpass beta testing for application verification. At OutSystems, it’s called rapid iteration. With our platform, you can build a working app to preview and share with others, test it and get feedback, and rapidly iterate based on that feedback. For example, Insurer FWD has been using iteration to improve its self-service mobile app. “It wasn’t just the platform we were excited about—it was a new way of engaging customers,” says Maricel Paygane, Head of CX, FWD Insurance. “It opened up new opportunities to find out what they really want.
Trend #9: Automation of Code Quality Evaluation
Checking code for quality is generally a manual process, and the prognosticator of this trend believes that automation through AI and machine learning will bring much-needed relief. But you don’t have to wait for that. OutSystems has an alliance with Boncode, which offers tools and dashboards for code evaluation and analysis. More importantly, we just announced that our Architecture Dashboard, which lets you validate your architecture, will be available in 2020. It provides intelligent architectural recommendations for apps, visibility into technical debt for a portfolio of apps, and AI-driven architecture refactoring to tackle problems early. If you’ve got citizen developers on your teams, having this kind of insight into architecture is very important.
Trend #10: Development That Crosses Language Boundaries
There are all kinds of programming languages, each of which has its own positive and negative attributes. The fact that you can’t just build an app in one language and call it a day is just one of the many reasons it is increasingly difficult to find talent. In the trend called “Cross-Language Development and Communication,” the expert sees languages coming together and a time when they’ll be able to cross-reference each other. That’s fantastic, if you like coding by hand and have hours and hours to spare. If you don’t, you can use a low-code platform instead. “As an old-time C# coder I love the fact that I can focus on solving business problems instead of technical issues,” says Joost Landgraf, Expert Developer at CoolProfs.
Trend #11: Success Will Be Spelled with CX
Trend #12: A Vibrant Ecosystem
“Access to the Wider Global Community” is how this trend was described, making the prediction that the continued globalization of developers and crowdsourcing would dominate development. creating a huge community of people sharing ideas, applications, and components. At OutSystems, we prefer to use the term “vibrant ecosystem.” which is how Gartner describes our community. The community has close to a quarter-million members and hosts the OutSystems Forge, which offers 2500+ components that developers can download and add to their projects. They can also upload their own components so others can use them.
Trend #13: UI in Motion
“Motion UI,” was the name given the final prediction. In the world of Github, Motion UI is a Sass library, which is the name of a CSS preprocessor (are you still with me?) for animation. I’m pretty sure that the CEO who identified this as the biggest software trend does not spend his days parsing things like this. So, I focused on the use case provided: a customer clicks a button on a UI and animated information flows across the screen. To achieve this effect, you can spend hours in the Motion UI playground, or you can spend about 20 minutes learning how to animate mobile apps with OutSystems.
Just 1 Big Happy Software Trend
Subtlety isn’t my strong suit. So, I’m sure you saw this point coming a mile away: 12 of these latest software development trends are really attributes and characteristics of low-code. Not only can enterprise-grade low-code platforms like OutSystems power the other trends, but they are also already doing so. So, what do I see in the future? Low-code will not be singled out as a trend for long; it will be the status quo before 2024 (sorry, Gartner).