Development trends for 2017


We’ve landed in 2017 and whilst we try to figure out what day of the week it is and attempt to be healthy with a half opened tub of chocolates sitting in the cupboard, let's take a look at what web development trends we might see over the coming year.

Decoupled (Headless) CMSs

Decoupled or Headless CMSs could be one of the most innovative approaches to web development within 2017. Decoupling the CMS from the front end website removes the ties of the view structure offered within traditional frameworks by simply presenting the content data via a RESTful API. Data is available everywhere and can be integrated into any front end build allowing for almost endless possibilities. We’ll discuss the advantages of a decoupled CMS in a future blog post, so what this space!

The death of the hamburger

Within mobile design the hamburger menu icon is usable but it’s not a perfect solution. As designers and developers, we seem to forget that just because we are using this interaction numerous times every day it’s not necessarily the most obvious or discoverable item on the page. Throughout 2017 there will probably be more experimentation with menu techniques across desktop and mobile interfaces with new and innovative methods for display menu structures across all devices.

Veer from the grid

The humble grid has been a staple of front end development for many years and whilst it won’t be disappearing from the toolset anytime soon we may well start to see some different approaches to deviating from the standard building blocks of the web to highlight features and services more prominently.

Embrace Yarn

Over the past couple of years, we’ve become reliant on package managers to keep our development dependencies under control. Bower and NPM are the mainstays of this ecosystem but they have their flaws; nested dependencies, single registries, and no offline availability for example. Enter Yarn. Developed by Facebook, with input from Google amongst others, Yarn uses both the Bower and NPM registries to source packages but crucially provides a flat dependency structure giving you back that precious hard disk space, package caching allowing of offline installs and parallel installs meaning if one package fails it won’t cause the whole installation to stop.

Welcome so new CSS features

2017 will see support for some useful new CSS features drop into our browsers. CSS variables look to be a great addition. Differing slightly from the variables that can be defined in pre-processors such as SCSS and PostCSS, CSS variables can be changed ‘on-the-fly’ with automatic browser repainting when the value changes, for example a change of colour at a media query breakpoint. CSS variables can also be accessed and manipulated in JavaScript, unlike the variables defined in pre-processed CSS.

Grid layout should start to become available in the later half of the year with support planned for forthcoming releases of Chrome and Firefox. Grid layout is exciting as it will radically change how we build our page layouts. CSS for page layouts has evolved from tables, to float through to inline-block elements but it has always felt incomplete. Just ask a developer to vertical align an element! Grid layout changes this and has been specifically designed to address the layout fixes and hacks we’ve had to put up with for years.

No more jQuery?

Has the time come for us to drop our reliance on jQuery? jQuery is great and has, for sometime, provided a simple, compatible interface for JavaScript selectors, functions and interactions. However, times are changing with the implementation of the new JavaScript standard ES2016 in partnership with backwards compatibility tools such as Babel many of the tools provided by jQuery aren’t always necessary and can be easily written in vanilla JavaScript.

With further improvements coming in ES2017 such as improvement asynchronous function syntax it seems to be a more viable proposition to code without the added overhead of the jQuery library.