Hot Topics in Software Development: Analytics, Full Stack, and More

Analytics, security, full-stack development, and the shift left movement hold their popularity with DZone readers.

Developer communities are constantly in flux. Tools, frameworks, and philosophies that everyone was using last year can quickly become obsolete. That’s why we are analyzing key topics and trends on a quarterly basis to help you understand the hot topics in software development.

What’s new this quarter? Data, shifting left, security, and full stack.

Here’s how we do the analysis. With 29 million unique readers every year, we decided to evaluate the data on DZone.com from quarter to quarter. In this blog, I’m also looking at Q1 to Q3.

Keep in mind the pageview comparisons provide insight into what developers are reading and interested in learning about. The tags used to collect our data are assigned by our editors and used to help readers search once they’re on our site. They aren’t keywords.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at what’s trending right now.

Data Is King

This quarter, we saw significant growth in the following topics: “data analysis tools,” which grew by about 3343% from Q1 to Q3, “data application,” showing 37% growth from Q2 to Q3 and 950% from Q1 to Q3, and lastly “augmented analytics,” which grew by 21% from Q2 to Q3 and 1108% from Q1 to Q3.

It’s no secret that our world is becoming increasingly data-driven. As this article series has discovered time and again, data and analytics dominate software trends.

One pivotal factor in data analytics is the use of Python. Python can wear many hats. Heavily used in back-end development, it’s also beginning to dominate algorithms, analytics software, and the entirety of a data project’s lifecycle. Python data tools can be found for data collection, data modeling, and data visualization.

As computer scientists get more and more involved in data science, they are using Python to write algorithms, explains Michael O’Connell, chief analytics officer at TIBCO. This is resulting in a major surge in Python libraries and data analytics tools based in this language. “Computer scientists and mathematicians are starting to blend,” he says.

Another term that saw tremendous growth this quarter, and this year, is the concept of augmented analytics.

graphic showing growth in data application and augmented analytics.

“In order to bring AI forward, we need to understand brain structures better,” O’Connell says.

This will help process and analyze data much faster.

“I think what people have started to realize is that time is very precious and continues to become even more precious. Data volume is increasing. The need for insights in real-time is increasing. So, the only way you can do that is through augmenting your intelligence effectively by building solutions that don’t give you the answer but provide you smarter ways of being able to slice and dice information.”

No matter your job title, whether you’re a developer, project manager, marketer, or something entirely different, any and every profession will benefit from smarter data collection, processes, and tools.

The Shift Left Movement

Interest in automated testing grew steady among DZone.com readers over the last 9+ months. “Shift left,” a term meaning to ‘test early, and test often,’ has taken over the SDLC — developers are looking for more tools and frameworks that can easily integrate tests with minimal amounts of code.

This is where testing platforms like Selenium and Katalon Studio come in handy. These platforms allow testers to avoid manually writing tests. They can also create automated tests throughout dev environments.

Here’s a look at how these automation testing topic tags performed:

  • Automation testing tool grew over 60% from Q2 to Q3 and 1176% from Q1 to Q3
  • Selenium test automation grew over 23% from Q2 to Q3 and 1053% from Q1 to Q3
  • Testing frameworks grew 22% from Q2 to Q3 and over 641% from Q1 to Q3.

“The process of creating automation tests shouldn’t require writing extra code,” explains Jason Simon, (@jason_c_simon) freelance web developer, and tech writer. “Eventually, as we’re getting more and more code-free, this will not just be popular in test tech but in all parts of software development. The idea is to have business analysts doing a lot of the programming logic, without actually having to write a single line of code.”graphic showing that automated testing tool interest has grown 60 percent and selenium test automation interest has grown 23%

Simon predicts that in 2020, as testers write less and less code, the testing process will become more autonomous, with companies even adopting AI bots to automatically test new features. So basically, your test code will begin to automate itself. How cool is that?

Kick Security Up a Notch

Basic authentication and password management no longer cut it. The end of 2018 and early parts of 2019 were all about adopting basic security hygiene. But now, we’ve got to get more sophisticated and intentional about security — in all aspects of the development lifecycle.

This quarter, we saw topic tags such as “JSON web token,” grow over 190% from Q2 to Q3, “cloud security issues,” grow about 10% from Q2 to Q3 and 434% from Q1 to Q3, and “web vulnerabilities,” grow by 18% from Q2 to Q3 and 459% from Q1 to Q3.

Hackers are getting smarter, so companies and developers have to get smarter and more strategic about security practices. This is giving rise to the skyrocketing interest specifically around JSON Web Tokens and cloud security.

JSON Web Tokens (JWTs) are becoming more ubiquitous. Although they’ve been around for years, more organizationsgraph showing interest in reading about json web tokens, cloud security issues, and web vulnerabilities. All numbers are in article. are complying with modern security standards, particularly in Europe post-GDPR. For a better understanding of JWTs check out this article.

The growth in interest in cloud security relates to what Matt Quinn, COO at TIBCO calls the second major cloud migration. “There’s no cutting corners with this [cloud security]. If you don’t do the investments in the right place, in areas like CloudOps and DevOps, you don’t change your development practices.”

“People can still screw up,’’ Quinn adds. “But ultimately, security is something that we know what we have to do. Sometimes, we don’t do it. But I think everyone has a good idea and understanding of what good practices are. The early majority are probably still rediscovering some of those. And I think there are still some pockets of resistance to the cloud because of security-based issues.”

In other words, don’t cut corners and make sure you are adopting industry standards. Hackers aren’t slowing down, and neither should you.

Full Stack, ASP.net and More 

The term “full stack” refers to both frontend and backend development. If someone is a “full-stack developer,” it means they have the skills and proficiency in both aspects of development.

This quarter, we saw growth in topic tags “full stack development,” which grew by over 97% from Q2 to Q3 and 547% from Q1 to Q3, “asp.net tutorials,” which grew by about 85% from Q2 to Q3; 2395% Q1 to Q3, and “python frameworks,” which grew by 137% from Q2 to Q3 and about 950% from Q1 to Q3.

graph showing growth in interest in full-stack development, ASP.net tutorials and python frameworks. All numbers are in article.

ASP.NET is an open-source, cross-platform framework used for building web apps in C#. Many companies and developers are attracted to its user-friendly nature and are becoming overwhelmingly popular.

We talked with Microsoft MVP and tech leader, Gunnar Peipman (@gpeipman) about ASP.NET, why it’s so popular, and where he sees it moving into 2020. Peipman identified four key features about the language that made it stand out from other frameworks: its cross-platform abilities, lightweight and easy startup, abundant libraries, and high performance.

These features have led to increased interest in the framework that has led to more users.

“New users are coming from other ASP.NET [platforms] and so I think this transition will continue over the next few years. Many companies just cannot transition their current systems,” Peipman explains. Transitioning your codebase is no easy task. “So, I think over the next few years, ASP.NET development will be a hot topic.”

In addition to tutorials on ASP.NET, we also saw a huge jump in readership of tutorials on various Python frameworks. We spoke with Python developer and writer, Mike Driscoll, (@driscollis) about where Python for enterprise development is headed as 2019 comes to a close.

Driscoll highlighted why Python is popular amongst full-stack developers:

“The nice thing about Python web development is that it works on all PCs, across all platforms, so it’ll work on Windows, Mac, and Linux. And if you design it correctly, it’ll also work on most tablets and phones too. So, you’ve basically got a universal language, so to speak. That’s why it’s growing so much.”

Working Smarter, Not Harder

As 2019 draws to a close, developers want to make sure they have the right tools and processes in place to be successful through Q4.

One similarity between each of these topics and their related tags is tools. Developers want to find the best tools and frameworks to solve their problems — with as little startup time possible. Having the right tools for the job is critical, and that desire dominated Q3 readership results.

As we count down the final days of 2019, it will be interesting to see which trends carry over into 2020.

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