26th September, 2017 | Blog |

5 Web Technologies You Might Not Have Heard Of

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The technology surrounding web development and technology seems to be in a constant state of flux. No matter what part of the tech world you're interested in, you're probably seeing countless evolutions thanks to artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and other common trends. Though all markets are subject to change, the technology industry is one of the quickest-moving areas in any environment.

In an industry that's constantly transforming, it can be hard to stay ahead of the latest terms and updates. That's why in this post, we're not going to talk about the most common web technologies on the market, or even the most popular. Here, we're going to discuss some of the most important tech updates you might have missed in recent months, and what you need to know about them as you move forwards towards the end of 2017.

1. SVGs, or Scalable Vector Graphics

You may already be using SVG in your developer processes without even realising it. However, if your computer is still filled with PNG and JPG image files, then it might be time to stop, and take a moment to learn more about scalable vector graphics. SVGs are a powerful new resource for web developers who want to create responsive websites. They don't pixelate when they're created in different sizes and can scale flexibly up and down, depending on your needs. This is perfect for people who want to create something that not only looks great on a desktop but works well on a mobile interface too.

Over the last year or so, major platforms like Joomla and WordPress have begun adding support for SVG into their frameworks. As a result, SVGs have become something of the new "it" thing among designers. They all but remove quality problems when it comes to scaling graphics at different sizes. The only real drawback is that it can take a while to get used to using SVG instead of PNGs, but don't worry, you'll get the hang of it. Once you've figured out how to make SVG work for you, the difference in quality will amaze you.

2. Static Website Generators

Static Website Generators are systems that design websites using plain text, typically stored in files instead of databases. In some situations, static websites that can be built by generators like "Jekyll" for instance, allow for a range of unique advantages, such as better security, increased speed, ease of deployment, and improved handling of traffic surges. However, they don't have any real-time content options or use content solutions like comments, which are pretty important to most of today's standard websites.

As APIs and content delivery networks become more commonplace on the web, making it easier for developers to deploy templates and content with ease, many developers believe that static generators might be the next big thing for the space.

3. The Yarn Package Manager

When it comes to building a killer website, most developers know that package managers can be incredibly popular and useful tools - particularly in communities that focus heavily on front-end JavaScript. Package managers make it easier for developers to naturally update, install, configure, and uninstall their code modules within various applications. They do this by communicating with registries that are packed full of different code modules, which can manage the dependencies those different code modules often have.

Today, the most popular package managers for Javascript are currently Bower and NPM, but there is a new package manager available from Facebook which comes from a collaboration with Tilde, Google, and Exponent. "Yarn" helps to address the issues that Facebook has experienced with performance, consistency, and security, using NPM. However, the new package manager still has access to all the Bower and NPM registries.

To give you an idea of how Yarn can deliver better performance and simplicity, when you're using NPM, depending on how you install different modules, you might end up with different versions of one specific module in your development environment. This can lead to issues where the system works fine on one machine, but not in another. Yarn uses lock files to keep modules tied to a particular version, ensuring that all developers get the same experience.

4. Rails 5

The most recent version of Rails, "Rails 5", was released towards the end of June 2016. Since Rails 5 is still relatively young as a developer tool, it's still gaining quite a lot of popularity as we move through 2017. However, it's worth noting that the newest release comes with a lot of great additions that are worth considering if you're the kind of person who wants to build next-level websites.

For example, the Turbolinks 5 feature means that developers can create Single Page applications from their Rails stack, allowing links to develop and build on full HTML pages, and replace bodies without the need for a Javascript framework on the client side. Additionally, ActionCable gives developers a new way to access web sockets in the Rails environment to build real-time applications. This makes it easier than ever to respond to the evolving needs of today's consumers with chat and notification features.

Importantly, Rails 5 also brought the new rails_api system into the codebase. With it, developers can now create API-only applications within the Rails framework and hook them up onto their favourite Javascript frameworks.

5. Angular 2

Finally, Angular 2 was a system that originally got released in 2016, but it's still something that developers are discovering today. The release of Angular 2 came with a number of important changes to the Google frontend Javascript framework. In fact, you'll be looking at a complete re-design if you haven't worked with Angular in a while. The system now uses the Javascript ES6 features to make the most of developer solutions, and applications can be written entirely in Typescript - pushing towards a component-driven architecture.

Importantly, Angular sees an update at least every six months - and that's just for major changes. If you want to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in this framework, then you'll need to check back constantly, as there are three minor updates released every 6 months too!

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