Frontend Trends & Predictions for 2013 (and beyond)


Happy new year to you all!

A new fresh year is ahead of us. A year that will bring a lot of new stuff to our ever dynamic FE world. I took some time to evaluate last year and have a peek into the overwhelming world that will arive soon. Here some of my thoughts for 2013!

1. Responsive (Web) Design will evolve into Adaptive Systems.

Responsive design has been quite a good catalyst for introducing adaptive layout based web design to a broad audience. But when translating responsive design to a scalable and future-proof solution for a enterprise environment, responsive design as defined by using media-queries, a fluid grid system and flexible images won’t cut the cake. A more mature, on adaptive systems based approach, will replace the adaptive design approach. These adaptive systems will consist of a client agnostic interface, context-aware design and adaptive content providers (ACP’s) or adaptive content delivery clusters (ACDC’s).

2. Letting the grid go

Responsive design is strongly connected with the use of css grid systems to structure the layout of our content en UI elements. It allows flexibility and encourages correlation between page elements. But is is still thinking from a page-design focus and it even has some print design characteristics. There will be a shift from traditional grid-systems to more flexible and future proof solutions. New approaches to this subject like frameless grid and the goldilocks approach already have seen the light. Eventually a more holistic approach of laying-out web elements is systems will be introduced that define layout constraints on component level and use a constraint satisfaction system that arranges the elements in a way that most closely meets the constraints.

3. MV* Fatigue

Using one of the MV* family patterns is very popular today in creating client-side applications. And with that a lot of new MV* frameworks are popping up. Like Addy Osmani stated in this blogpost, “This overwhelming growth of MV* frameworks will lead to a lot of frustration and confusion with developers”. The ‘Yet Another Framework Syndrome’, or YAFS will also take place on this front. People are abusing the MV* patterns and end up with a chaotic mess while aiming for more structure. There is also a lot of difference in interpretation how a scalable JavaScript application should be organized. MV* frameworks are not matured enough yet. They still don’t address any kind of application layer, communication between Views. There is also a need for other patterns/logic like application initializer, region management, view management etc..

4. More sensor data available in browser

With the growing adoption of web-apps on mobile the browser will silently integrate with de device it’s OS. More and more sensor data from our devices will be routed to the browser through an API. This info can be used in our mobile web-apps to create a lot of rich functionality that currently only can be created with native apps. Geodata from gps and wifi, data from Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, network information, access to local files are already available in the latest mobile/os combinations. Access to captured media and realtime camera access will quickly follow. Eventually device sensors data will be integrated into the DOM with their own objects and events. The introduction of new types of sensors in our handhelds will reveil more and more about the user his context. And this context can be used in our future adaptive designs.

5. FE Cyber security

Whit the rapid growth of cybercrime and the countermeasures know as cyber security, there is also a big shift in focus from backend systems to the client-side environment. Browsers are often misconfigured, allowing malware to get onto a user’s system, stealing credit card data and passwords. Also the weakest link in the encryption chain is the browsers memory or DOM. This often will be the only place where heavily encrypted data will be stored decrypted. That’s why you will see RAM scraping more commonly now as attackers focus on client-side attacks, shifting away from server-side attacks. Also the inevitable expanding world of mobile, device and social integration and the growing technical complexity of client-side technologies like HTML5 and javascript will provide new attack surfaces with a lot of new vectors. Companies will organize from incident response teams to full time dedicated teams for fighting cybercrime and ensure cyber security. These teams will introduce new roles like Forensic Analysts, and Reverse Engineering Malware Specialists, but there will also be a new role for a Frontend cyber specialist. This will be a Frontend specialist with a dedicated Cyber security knowledge, who will reverse engineer Malware, Trojans and will build client-side countermeasures. Still a niche, but with a lot of potential.

6. The introduction of new devices types.

After the huge growth of mobile devices over desktop last year ,new device-groups will apear, also they will blend in more in daily life than we are used to with our handhelds.
The paradigm shift in computing that we see happening now is not only bringing us new types of devices, but also will introduce new ways of interaction and interfacing. Computing has evolved from the mainframe to the desktop to the shoulder bag to the pocket, and now computing is taking over new frontiers: Our physical bodies and the physical environments we inhabit. Two new families of devices will evolve. The wearables are devices that are worn in or on the body. Embedded devices are ‘dumb’ devices that have been made smart by integrating sensors and all forms of data-communication These new types of devices will expand our device-landscape and will eventually use our (adaptive) content and apps.

7. The rise of Micro Apps

With the growth of wearable devices the rise of a new ecosystem will occur Small, wearable, connected devices bring personal content to your wrist, your belt, your helmet, your eyeglasses, your car, your bicycle handlebars. The application that live on these devices are called Micro Apps. Micro Apps have limited screen estate and need their specific approach in UX-design. Development platforms for micro apps have already appeared and will grow.

8. More new and smarter sensors will be embedded

Our portable devices will become more and more aware of it’s user and the surrounding or context. Our mobiles will be stuffed with a lot of new and smarter sensors. These sensors will allow our devices to hear, sea, taste and smell ! The context-aware smartphone will know, for example, if the user is seated and skip location services updates. If it is in a pocket it prevents inadvertent pocket dialing. Also the integration of e-Health sensors will allow our device to continuously monitor the most important biometric parameters of it’s user. It will be aware of the current physical state of the user. All this information will enrich the context profile of the user, and that will allow us to create new smarter interfaces and experiences for our apps and websites.

9. A new era for web-design

The design for our future web will strongly be influenced by the rise of responsive and adaptive interfaces and ever growing and diverging landscape of devices. These new aspects force us to rethink web-design We will need to let go the page-based design thinking and need to search for more modular ways of constructing web-views for our user. New touch patterns will become standard ways of navigating our content. For example, horizontal and vertical scrolling through swiping will become a standard way of navigation. The omni-channel and multidevice landscape will introduce more complex UX-patterns with a transparent and layered interface with multiple views. Visually there will be more room for simplicity and breathing space. The button will be re-invented and full page mood images will disappear. Subtle colored panels, more font types, icons and less images will introduce a new visual era.

10. Breaking out of the browser

The browser will not longer be the only interface for showing web-based applications. With the release of chrome packaged apps you will be able to create desktop apps that won’t need a browser to start, but are totally created with HTML, javascript and CSS. The packaged apps can have access to a lot of OS resources that are yet not accessible through the browser. Packaged apps also can more easily be build for offline use. Some HTML5 frameworks like KendoUI and AppJS already have support for building these packaged apps. The attention chrome packaged apps will encourage other browser vendors to pickup their packed app initiatives again and release their own solutions on short term. Packaged apps are the future of ‘desktop’ apps, written in plain web technology and ready to run everywhere.

A new year, a new blog!


Welcome to my new blog!

After putting some thoughts on paper about the architectural side of frontend (FE), i claimed the domain in 2008 with the idea to share knowledge and discuss our FE discipline with others. Then i got busy with lots of other stuff…

Now, with the start of a new year, a professionalized FE world, and the very dynamic, complex and teasing playground of tomorow, i think the time is right to start this blog.

This won’t be a blog about implementing FE stuff. It won’t house a lot of code or step-by-step instructions. It will more be a place of posing statements and ideas, discussing and teasing about the foundations of our FE environment.

I hope you will join and share your thoughts too by discussing on topics!