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Coding branches out: 5 app development trends to watch in '22

The demand for low-code/no-code tools along with automatic coding will continue in 2022 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the hybrid workforce becomes the norm.

Low-code and no-code application development models are not only making inroads, but they are also reshaping the field of app development altogether.

Similarly, other areas of growth in 2022 for developers lie in artificial intelligence (AI), reliability engineering, Agile, the so-called Great Resignation, dispersed user experiences and sustainable practices. According to analysts, these trends are slated to continue and flourish in the new year.

Here is a brief roundup of what to expect in 2022:

1. Low-code/no-code

Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research, said that low-code/no-code app development tools are making it easier to move more of the developer's responsibility for analytics to others, adding that "there are not enough [data] scientists in the world; there are not enough developers in the world, not enough no-code/low-code," so the trend is toward making coding more mainstream, with the help of AI.

Holger MuellerHolger Mueller

"We've even seen that for quantum, to a certain point," he said. "This is why you want to get businesspeople who are tech savvy enough to code."

Mueller also noted that, "One key aspect [in the evolution of the coding experience] is that IDEs are moving to the cloud, which makes them better integrated, automated and more productive." An IDE or integrated development environment is a software suite used to build apps that marry common developer tools into a single graphical user interface (GUI).

Another analyst, Chris Condo at Forrester Research, said that code is also being written with the help of AI and will continue to be in the new year.

Chris CondoChris Condo

"[GitHub] Copilot is the next evolution of tools similar to the JetBrains ReSharper tool," Condo said. "In the past, these products would simply help you write cleaner code, but they are now writing complete code for you."

GitHub Copilot assimilates billions of lines of code; the developer can write a comment describing the logic and Copilot will assemble the code.

2. Agile and reliable practices

The low-code/no-code trend was also noted by another analyst, Arun Chandrasekaran at Gartner, who said he sees keen interest in things like infrastructure as code, but also sees more interest in Agile practices in general.

Arun ChandrasekaranArun Chandrasekaran

"I think that was a continuous theme [this past year], and we've also seen a lot of interest in the cloud data area," he said.

"And then I'd also argue that there is a fair amount of interest in better reliability in engineering, because a lot of customers have historically viewed agility and reliability as, 'I can either be Agile, which is I can be fast, or I can be reliable.'" That is changing and will continue to evolve in the coming year, he said, adding that there's a growing recognition by developers that they can do both effectively.

3. The Great Resignation

The software development industry has not been immune to America's massive employability problem. The knock-on effect for developers is that they can name their price, even though being short-handed can be a real pain for their employers. The Great Resignation is one of the accelerants of low-code/no-code tools, as others in the food chain are being trained to code; ditto automatic coding, which does not require a person to write code.

Chandrasekaran said, "I think platform teams are going to be a lot more critical as we [continue to] move [into] this remote-first/hybrid workforce."

I think platform teams are going to be a lot more critical as we [continue to] move [into] this remote-first/hybrid workforce.
Arun ChandrasekaranAnalyst, Gartner

"I think we are in this era of great resignation, as you call it, which will continue into 2022. I'm sure you've been reading about this, where finding the right talent is hypercompetitive today," he added.

In the tech industry, where people are "able to choose the jobs they want and people are looking for more flexibility," people will balk at having to work five days a week, for example, he said.

"So, given high attrition, organizations need to think: How can we make the developer onboarding experience better and faster?" Chandrasekaran posited.

4. Other pandemic-inspired app dev changes

Mueller said that even with all the COVID-19 restrictions, the day-to-day experience of the developer has not changed much.

"The work is mostly between the developer and his/her machine," he said. "Some developers have been even more productive working from home, saving commute time and [not having to be] in what they often see as useless meetings, or risking burning out [at the office]."

However, analysts said that overall, with so much emphasis on working from home, developers have never been in more demand. Because of this, they may not need to worry as much about showing up for a Zoom meeting.

Chandrasekaran said he sees a change and it will continue, in terms of what is available and expected of the modern-day developer. "I think we've clearly seen demand for more of what we call the hybrid workplace; [then the question becomes] how do you enable a distributed enterprise with a hybrid workforce in the remote [workplace]?"

5. Sustainability

Finally, climate change is no longer just the fodder of environmentalists. It has become a business opportunity, as seen in the rise of investment and product development around environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

The horrific California fires alone have made it clear that businesses must act and act quickly, Chandrasekaran said.

"It's one of the top three priorities, I would argue, for a board of directors," he said. "We see a lot of interest in ESG initiatives where more companies will start publishing these ESG reports -- and I also think regulators would start demanding more transparency from these listed companies on what they are doing [to tackle] the challenges of the environment and the social aspects of it, and so on and so forth."

Next Steps

Year in review: 3 app development trends from 2021

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