As we head into 2012, enterprise developers will need to focus on some major themes, including the emergence of HTML5, "big data" and analytics, and Agile Application Lifecycle Management (ALM). They should also continue to concentrate on Web, mobile and cloud development, and take advantage of advances in languages and integrated development environments (IDEs).
HTML5 is going like gangbusters. Microsoft has adopted HTML5 for Windows 8, Internet Explorer 9 and upcoming versions of the browser and other products. And there are indications that Microsoft may shelve future development of Silverlight, a development framework for building Web and mobile applications, after Silverlight 5 or a subsequent point release.
The onset of HTML5 also drove Adobe to halt its development of its Flash technology for mobile browsers.
"HTML5 is coming on strong as a standard, accelerated by the speed of change of hardware devices," said Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC. "By 2013, we will reach a point where 90 percent of smartphones and tablets will sport HTML5-capable browsers."
However, Hilwa notes that it is important to remember that the need for a Flash browser plug-in continues on the desktop. "We don't expect 90 percent of desktop browsers to be capable of HTML5 until 2015," he said. "So the differentiation that Flash provides in high-end graphics and video protection continues, and Adobe will continue to invest in it."
Web-based development environments, such as the Eclipse Orion, Cloud9 IDE, eXo Cloud IDE and others, are becoming more and more popular. "Web-based tools will become more important as development moves into the cloud," said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. "However, we should expect a new way of thinking about Web-based IDEs. Trying to fit something like Eclipse into a Web browser just won't scale. The nice thing about Orion is, it attempts to make the browser your IDE."
The big data and analytics craze will continue to grow due to the explosion of data coming from intelligent devices, social media and other sources. According to IDC, the market for intelligent systems will grow substantially in the next few years, from 800 million units today to more than 2.3 billion by 2015. Shipments of embedded devices already exceed those of cell phones and PCs, and IDC predicts the market for intelligent systems will soon represent a $520 billion industry.
"Data has become the new currency," said Kevin Dallas, Microsoft's Windows Embedded general manager. As proof of how hot big data has become, venture capital firm Accel Partners launched a $100 million big data fund at the recent Hadoop World 2011 conference.
Meanwhile, "One of the most important trends in 2012 will be the maturation of Java PaaS [platform as a service]," said Mik Kersten, CEO of Tasktop Technologies. "While the transition will be a long one, Oracle's Java Cloud culminates key announcements around PaaS offerings in 2011, and sends a signal that Java developers [should] start considering PaaS solutions as the deployment destination of new applications."
The Eclipse Foundation's Milinkovich said he believes the concept of Agile Application Lifecycle Management is becoming a reality. Developers are integrating new tools chains to support Agile development and a faster release process, he said.
"On the ALM side, a key trend to watch [in] 2012 is the open-source-powered tidal wave changing how developers work and collaborate," Tasktop's Kersten added.