Is JavaScript the First Ever Dominant Programming Language?

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Well into its third decade of use, JavaScript continues to grow in popularity. It lies at the heart of popular programming frameworks – like React.js – used in both web and mobile development. One tech leader feels this venerable language is rapidly becoming the dominant one in the software development world.

Let’s take a closer look at JavaScript’s dominance – perceived or not – within the programming community. What are some of the reasons behind its seemingly never-ending popularity growth? Perhaps these insights offer some food for thought for your own team’s software engineering efforts.

Network Effects help JavaScript grow in Dominance

Anil Dash, the CEO of Fog Creek Software (maker of Glitch), column for Medium, where he posits that network effects are driving the growth of JavaScript. Dash feels the days of the lone wolf programmer are long gone; in essence, they’ve now become “networked.” In the modern era, developers sometimes end up collaborating with each other all over the world. This is likely yet another outgrowth of the open source movement.

Dash notes a variety of reasons for this change in programming style. Websites like Stack Overflow serve as a valuable source for tips and tricks of the software engineering trade. In fact, new frameworks tend to grow in popularity in tandem with how much they get discussed on Stack Overflow.

The social aspect of GitHub provides another means for developers to collaborate and commiserate. Finally, Dash highlights a few online developer news sites, like Hacker News, that let programmers better learn the practice while networking with each other. All of this leads to “software being evaluated based on its social success and social merits, rather than just some ostensibly “objective” technical merit.”

So how does the increased networking of the developer community lead to JavaScript becoming the dominant programming language? For one, JS is flexible enough to allow virtually any application to be written in it. Dash feels the capability lies at the heart of its network-driven dominance.

The Many Tentacles of JavaScript

JavaScript is now essentially a network and/or ecosystem unto itself, according to Dash. Everything from popular frameworks like Node.js and React.js to useful variants like TypeScript relies on the programming language. When you consider anyone using a web browser is also running a JavaScript interpreter; well, simply look up ubiquitous in the dictionary.

Stack Overflow’s user data also reveals the dominance of JavaScript. 70 percent of the site’s users include JS among their currently-used programming languages. This percentage of users is only trending upwards, and Dash feels this takes JS closer to its escape velocity. He wonders if one now needs to consider JavaScript as a kind of social network.

What a dominant programming language means for the development world is interesting to ponder. “We just might be on the precipice of an era in coding that’s unprecedented, where we might actually see something new in the patterns of adoption and usage of an entire programming language. That potential has us excited, and waiting with bated breath to see how the whole ecosystem plays out,” says Dash.

There’s no denying that JavaScript continues to wrap its tentacles around many different platforms and applications. Ultimately, any modern developer needs to become an expert in the language in addition to the rest of their skill set.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Betica Blog. Keep coming back for additional dispatches on the software development world.   

News from the World of Software Development – June 2018

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Welcome to the latest edition of our monthly news digest where we analyze a few of the most interesting recent stories from the software engineering world. If you are interested in last month’s digest, by all means click on the following link. Hopefully, the month’s version provides some food for thought to assist you and your team with your development work!

IBM making Blockchain Development easier for Software Engineers

Blockchain and similar peer-to-peer ledgers continue to make an impact within the technology industry. In fact, software engineers experienced with blockchain development remain highly in demand all over the world, something we previously noted. Unfortunately, the lack of the proper tools for these kinds of applications – let alone finding enough skilled developers – makes programming projects in the space a difficult process.

Here comes IBM to the rescue. Big Blue recently announced the IBM Blockchain Platform Starter Plan, providing developers and businesses the means to bootstrap their efforts in this area of software engineering. News about the new IBM product appeared this week in SD Times.

IBM is a strong supporter of blockchain. In fact, the company introduced IBM Blockchain Starter Services, Blockchain Acceleration Services and Blockchain Innovation Services earlier this year. Big Blue’s VP of blockchain technology, Jerry Cuomo commented on the new platform starter plan.

“What do you get when you offer easy access to an enterprise blockchain test environment for three months? More than 2,000 developers and tens of thousands of transaction blocks, all sprinting toward production readiness,” said Cuomo.

The new platform leverages the open source Hyperledger Fabric framework built by IBM with Digital Asset. Organizations using the platform receive $500 in credit for their own blockchain network. Their developers enjoy a test environment, a suite of educational tools, code samples hosted on GitHub, in addition to network provisioning.

“And while Starter Plan was originally intended as an entry point for developers to test and deploy their first blockchain applications, users also now include larger enterprises creating full applications powered by dozens of smart contracts, eliminating many of the repetitive legacy processes that have traditionally slowed or prevented business success,” added Cuomo.

MongoDB 4.0 embraces the Cloud

One of the most popular NoSQL databases, MongoDB recently introduced its latest version, 4.0, with a host of new features aimed at Cloud deployment. We previously talked about MongoDB when we wrote about the MEAN stack, which uses the database. Coverage of version 4.0 of the database appeared this week in ZDNet.

MongoDB leverages a document model, which allows it to support key-value, graph, and text-based database structures. 4.0’s most relevant new features improve its transaction processing capabilities – notably support for ACID transactions – as well as making it easier to build Cloud-based applications. ACID support is facilitated by a new replication model using stronger consistency combined with fast failover.

The 4.0 feature supporting the Cloud is known as MongoDB Stitch. Stitch is a Cloud-based serverless environment hosted on MongoDB’s Atlas Cloud environment. Significantly, it supports stateful applications. There are currently 23,000 apps hosted on Atlas, with nearly 500 more being added each day.

Version 4.0 also includes support for mobile devices with an embedded version of MongoDB. If your team is using the MEAN stack or curious about it, take the time to learn more about this popular NoSQL database. 

Thanks for checking out the edition of the Betica Blog. Keep coming back for additional insights on the software development world!   

Most Tech Organizations only Partially Embrace DevOps – if at all

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While DevOps transitioned from a buzzword to an essential part of operations at many technology companies, a majority of shops only partially adopt the practice if at all. This is one of the most interesting findings of a study of IT professionals published this month in BetaNews. Still many firms are seeing benefits and improved efficiency because of merging their software engineering and network operations functions.

Let’s dive into the details of this industry survey to see what organizations are doing in lieu of a full DevOps implementation. Are they still able to see achieve a better process by only going part of the way? The answers provide some food for thought for your own company’s development efforts.

Many IT Companies aren’t sold on DevOps

2nd Watch, a Cloud-based managed service operator, surveyed over 1,000 IT professionals on their organization’s use (or non-use) of DevOps. Most tellingly, nearly 80 percent of the surveyed companies still maintain separate software engineering and operations teams. Still, a number of those organizations use some of the tools commonly associated with DevOps, including CI/CD, automation, and Cloud-based infrastructure ops software.

Nearly two-thirds of the tech orgs in the survey use “infrastructure as code” approaches to improve the efficiency of their operations. Some of the biggest applications in this area are Terraform, Configuration Management, and Kubernetes. 2nd Watch noted that almost 40 percent of the surveyed companies still manage network operations manually.

2nd Watch also commented that the manual process of network management remains incompatible with a DevOps approach. However, the process of teamwork and strong interaction are essential. “In order to transform a business into a DevOps organization, companies should work towards bringing separate operating groups together as a single team,” commented Jeff Aden, 2nd Watch’s executive vice-president of marketing and business development.

A Shocking Lack of Software Quality Assurance

Another quite surprising survey finding relates to the software QA approach at these companies. Nearly 25 percent of the surveyed firms employ little to no quality assurance process. While some code testing happens, it appears to be a disorganized practice at some of these companies.

The numbers look better when it comes to the use of automation in the SDLC. 70 percent of the surveyed companies leverage an automated process for some portion of code management and deployment. On the other hand, around 20 percent of the companies use no form of application monitoring; instead they rely on end-user notification. Thankfully, the rest prefer a more modern approach.

Aden summarized how his company’s survey reveals the piecemeal approach many companies take towards DevOps adoption. “The results reveal the 80/20 rule, where slightly more than 20 percent of respondents are actually engaging in DevOps in its purest form today. There is still a tremendous opportunity for companies to modernize their organizations to accelerate development and remain competitive in the marketplace,” said Aden.

Ultimately, it’s still a positive if organizations are able to gain some benefits by the use of automated DevOps tools without merging their development and network operations. Companies need to take the approach that works best for them. Still, shops that eschew organized testing and application monitoring aren’t likely to stay in business for long.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Betica Blog. Keep coming back for additional insights on the software development world.