Over the past year, social sharing dominated conversation in the tech world: Twitter went public, Snapchat turned down a multibillion dollar acquisition offer and Oxford Dictionaries designated "selfie" as the word of the year. Companies were looking at how to leverage social networks externally and roll out mobile applications, and internally they were using new tools and approaches such as DevOps to foster collaboration, SD Times editor-in-chief David Rubinstein observed in a recent column. As the year 2013 comes to a close, social stands out as a clear defining principle behind much of what happened in software development over the past 12 months.
Collaboration, internally and externally
With software and services in the cloud, more everyday consumers have been interacting with each other socially this year, integrating various services and connecting using a variety of media. But collaboration and connection has also been a trend internally for organizations, which have used social and cloud tools to work together, to bring in expert opinions and updates on other team members' projects and to communicate over media such as video, Rubinstein noted. For developers, this may have meant incorporating tools like peer code review software, which allows programmers to collaboratively discuss, critique and improve upon code in a centralized forum.
Accelerated release schedules
The year also saw a rise in DevOps methodologies, a collaborative approach that brings team members closer together, breaking down silos to improve software security, communication and, ultimately, release timelines. At a time when the average mobile development team puts out a new app every month, according to a recent IDC survey, such approaches are critical for success. Software development is likely to see this trend continue, Rubinstein noted.
"Yes, it's a fast-moving world, and how you create your applications in 2014 and beyond is almost as important as what you create," he wrote. "Delivery cadences grow ever shorter, leaving less time for testing but breaking down silos like never before. The rise of DevOps in 2013 showed that organizations benefited from bringing together agile practices, better code management, and improved build, configuration and deployment techniques to keep pace with the increased frequency of business opportunities."
Emphasis on mobile
With the rise of mobile-first social networks like Twitter and Snapchat, companies of all types found themselves scrambling this year to adopt stronger mobile strategies, Rubinstein noted, quipping that "it's not just about how you reach your customers and end users, but where." This trend put two pressures on development teams: There's a need for smooth user interfaces that don't turn customers away, and it's also critical that the application backends work flawlessly to avoid frustration about connectivity. Given these demands, the past year saw more emphasis on developing flexible, cross-platform application frameworks and finding methods for testing applications across mobile devices.
One of the tools that can be effective for developers looking to avoid problems with their application's backend or trying to catch small functionality errors is static analysis software. Using source code analysis tools, developers can quickly identify underlying issues in code. As 2014 approaches, the social trends driving these development practices are likely to continue. Programmers can benefit from adopting tools and approaches that can enable flexible, fast, collaborative and reliable development in the year ahead.
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