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Mobile Predictions: JavaScript Talent Needed for Web Composition Trend

Facing a crucible of providing more sophisticated apps in shorter cycles, mobile front-end developers will be forced to rely on composition -- using prebuilt code components instead of coding all functionality from scratch, according to predictions from analyst firm Forrester Research Inc.

On the Web app side of things, that will mean an increased demand for JavaScript talent, Forrester said last week in a new report, "Predictions 2015: Mobile Development Goes Composable, Contextual, and Cross-Touchpoint."

"Building base app functionality dominated the early days of enterprise mobility, but the bar for successful innovation on mobile devices has moved skyward while time-to-delivery windows are approaching zero," said co-author Michael Facemire in a blog post announcing the predictions. "This combination is forcing mobile development shops away from a mentality of creating everything in-house. Instead, regardless if the experience is a mobile Web site or a mobile app, successful teams will assemble pre-existing front-end components, or will create them where they don't already exist."

In the native/hybrid mobile app arena -- as opposed to Mobile Web apps built with HTML5, CSS and JavaScript -- the report noted that on the Android platform, Intents have provided such composability.

Google describes the Intent class as "an abstract description of an operation to be performed." The company's developer guide says an intent "is basically a passive data structure holding an abstract description of an action to be performed."

On the iOS side of things, Forrester said the new iOS8 is catching up.

"Android has had Intents for quite some time, but with Apple's iOS8 we now get app extensions to share experiences outside of the app container," Facemire said. "The mobile Web is getting its own composition help from HTML5 with Web components, highlighted by Google Polymer."

According to the Polymer site, "Web Components usher in a new era of Web development based on encapsulated and interoperable custom elements that extend HTML itself. Built atop these new standards, Polymer makes it easier and faster to create anything from a button to a complete application across desktop, mobile and beyond."

Such reliance on composability means increased attention on the JavaScript libraries that create and consume Web Components, Forrester said.

"If mobile Web development teams aren't loaded with JavaScript talent, it's time to ramp up recruiting efforts," the analyst prediction report stated. "Expect developers to focus on third-party apps/components for parts of the experience that are best delivered by others: maps, points of interest, social features, contacts and messaging channels."

The remaining seven mobile app development predictions for 2015 listed in the for-sale report are:

  • Standalone apps will lose their luster.
  • Hardware-driven innovation will enable new opportunities.
  • Mobile competition will shift to accessories and ecosystems.
  • The merger of physical and digital worlds accelerates.
  • Mobile context becomes high-def.
  • Service virtualization and API design tools will appear in every development toolbox.
  • Low-code platforms will move into the aggregation tier, but struggle to go mainstream.

"Many developers think that they finally have a handle on mobile app development, yet nothing could be further from the truth," the Forrester report stated. "In 2015 we predict that many development professionals will be caught off-guard by significant new innovations in the mobile devices they target. As a result, they will need to refocus on the basics of building mobile experiences."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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