The future of front-end: replaceable, inadequate or innovative?

This year marks the 10th anniversary of De Voorhoede. In all those years front-end went from a niche to being everywhere. We enjoy being part of the frontrunners and are now looking to what the future of front-end holds.

In 2012 front-end was all about responsive design and making the first single page apps. As browsers got more powerful, we got to build entire products living within the browser. And as JavaScript entered the server, our work extended to well beyond the browser. Enabling us to build end-to-end user experiences.

So, when we take a look into the bright shiny future, what do we see in that big crystal blue ball? We see… Design tools taking over. Low code platforms rising. Apple lifting its browser limitations. Progessive Web Apps getting a new chance. Unlimited possibilities for AI. And something about MACH. What is that all about? We’ll give you our vision.

Design tools replacing developers

Let’s kick off with the bad news first. Design tools are going to replace us. Maybe not all of us, but probably a few devs. Tools like Figma and Webflow are generating better CSS. You can build a decent website with just these tools. The bright side to these upcoming tools is that front-end specialists can focus on the bigger challenges. It could mean that clients will have more budget left to invest in projects. It’s an opportunity for more custom development.

The rise of low code platforms

Another thing to keep an eye on is the rise of low code platforms. These platforms allow you to make an application without a developer. In theory this could cost us front-end work. But let’s be honest. In practice it will only be for bare functionality web applications. There’s no space for customization in low code platforms. You also see low-code developers on the market that only know one low-code platform. That makes them less flexible.

Stay ahead to stay alive

What is the most important thing to take away from these competitors, like design tooling and low code platforms? Always stay on top of the most recent techniques. Make sure you’re 1 step ahead of the competition at all times. The more advanced developers have a bright and shiny future. Make sure you are one of them.

The law will set us free

Looking forward into the future, we have high hopes for an international law about the web. Apple and Safari are withholding the progression of web development. There are a lot of functionalities missing in Safari that are available in other browsers.

Other browsers on Apple devices are prohibited by Apple to use their own browser engine. So when you’re using Chrome on an iPhone, you’re still using Safari. That is quite frustrating for us front-end developers. Right now it’s extremely difficult to compete with a Web App to a Native App. We can see the possibilities, for example with Bluetooth and NFC, but we can’t use them. 

We’re hoping for legislation that allows browsers to use their own engine. The same is already happening for payment services where Apple is obligated to allow other payment services than just Apple Pay. We have good hopes the law will change in the upcoming years.  When that happens we’ll be able to do a lot more with web applications. The Progressive Web Apps could get a whole new life.

Unlimited possibilities with Artificial Intelligence

What trends will play a big role in front-end productions? We think AI will be more accessible. In the future we’d be making even smarter, exciting and challenging applications. AI runs in the cloud and is limited available in browsers, but it will be standardized. It might take a while, because everybody has to agree on the same thing. But it will come.

MACH architectures are the next big thing

One thing is for sure: the future will be all about MACH powered front-ends. Which stands for Microservices, API’s, Cloud native SaaS and Headless. At De Voorhoede we’ll be using this setup for maximum agility, flexibility, reliability and scalability. This means that we put the user experience front and center. We create tailor-made front-ends to suit users, independent of the back-ends that power them. We leverage best-of-breed cloud services to do the heavy lifting. We enhance these existing cloud services with dedicated business- and product-specific microservices. And we expose and integrate everything with API connections for a seamless user experience.

Read more about MACH

Share your vision with us

Sounds like the future is all bright and shiny for us at De Voorhoede, right? But don’t forget, we also encounter challenges. We’re just trying to be the first ones to tackle all the problems and show you how to face them.

So, what will the future look like with all the upcoming competition, trends and challenges? Only time will tell. We’re very curious about your vision. What do you think the future of front-end will look like? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter: @devoorhoede #futureoffrontend

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