We recently caught up with Marcin Gajda and discussed the developer trends from the State of Frontend 2022 report. We asked him about the present state of frontend web development in 2022, and what we should expect for the future, plus Gajda shared his predictions that you won’t want to miss.
Marcin Gajda, frontend team manager at The Software House, has over a decade of experience in different fields of web development and a handful of delivered products. He aims to make other developers write better code and strive to always find the best solution. Gajda shared with us, all of the key insights from the State of Frontend report, including the scope of the survey, what the state of frontend web development looks like in 2022, what the future of frontend development looks like for the world’s developers, and a ton more.
Gajda: The idea behind the State of Frontend is to show how currently looks the toolset of a typical frontend developer. It’s also about showing what the developers like, dislike, and how they see the future of front-end web development.
We wanted to see through their eyes how the front end is evolving and where this will lead us. But how the State of Frontend is different from other similar surveys? I think mostly in the way that we focus not only on raw numbers but mostly on analysis from industry experts.
That’s why the lion’s share of the report is made up of industry experts’ opinions and conclusions they make from the charts. I think it helps to embed the numbers in context and, thanks to the experts’ insights, understand what the big picture really looks like.
ADM: How did you work on the scope of the survey? Were there some compromises you had to make?
Gajda: Making the survey was an iterative process during which we added, removed, and repositioned many questions. We wanted to ask about countless things, but on the other hand, we had to keep the questionnaire size reasonable.
Too many questions may frustrate the interviewees, making them drop the survey before finishing it. To avoid it, we had to resign from some questions that were loosely tied to the frontend topic, like for example headless CMSs.
We also limited the number of options in each question to only the most popular solutions, but instead, we added an “other” option to each one. I believe the compromises we made worked well because the survey’s dropout ratio was below 60%, which is quite great, and we still get very interesting data from a variety of topics.
ADM: Ok, so what is the state of frontend web development in 2022? Was there anything surprising or unexpected?
Gajda: The state of the frontend is that frontend web development is not hype-driven anymore, as it was still a few years ago. Many older solutions consolidated their positions and the new ones, like some new frameworks, are backed up by very appealing reasons to be used by many developers.
There is no wave of new shiny libraries that are only a revamp of the same ideas over and over again as it used to be some time ago. However, I’m far from saying that the frontend landscape is in stagnation because you can still find many fresh and revolutionary ideas in the field of developer experience, productivity, or app performance. So, frontend web development is somewhere in between. I had a feeling it looks like it, and I’m happy that State of Frontend 2022 proves it.
And what surprised me the most in the report? I will say the number of people who uses continuous integration in their projects. Around 80% of the respondents said that they use some kind of CI solution, and I would never guess that this number would be so high. I think we can owe it to all the web-based source code hosting services like GitHub, Bitbucket, and GitLab which come with integrated CI tools. After all, those out-of-the-box solutions make using continuous integration very natural, straightforward, and almost effortless.
ADM: Regarding frameworks, libraries, and other tools, are there any clear winners of this year’s survey? How likely are they to stay?
Gajda: 2022 is another year for React and other frameworks based on it. There is no doubt about that. However, since the previous State of Frontend edition, many new solutions raised that took the charts by storm. So, I think the biggest winners are not the things that keep their top position, but those which gained the most traction in the last two years. Look for example on Tailwind. In 2020, no one would say that a styling library like that may be loved by 35% of frontend developers. Today, however, it’s closer to dethroning good old SCSS more than any other tool.
The same is with Remix and Svelte which are rocking the “want to learn” chart or Vite and Esbuild which are already chosen by circa 25% of responders. Yes, probably not all of those solutions will stand the test of time, but others may even become the React or webpack of the future. Everything depends on if they will be able to deliver features that developers expect, and if they will be trustworthy enough to become a future-proof solution for the majority of businesses.
ADM: As you said earlier, The State of Frontend is not only about the present situation in the frontend, but also about its future. What does the future of the frontend look like for the world’s developers, and can we really tell the future based on this data?
Gajda: In the State of Frontend survey, there were some questions asked the developers directly about their prediction for the future of frontend, because no one knows this better than they do. The most important conclusion from those questions is that TypeScript is not going anywhere and will stay with us for longer. Almost 50% of responders said that this language will become the standard of frontend development, and that’s a huge number.
Another prediction says that website accessibility will play a key role in the incoming years, and that’s not a surprise to me. Greater accessibility is a wide trend in the whole technology industry for some time now, and I’m pleased to see how it’s currently starting to reach web development on a large scale. This trend is true for companies that are large and global and small businesses alike.
The last prediction from State of Frontend 2022 I would like to note is that server-side rendering will gain popularity… again! I think it is part of a bigger movement of going back to basics for performance reasons. More and more people see that some solutions from the old days worked better, and now it’s time when we try to adjust them to modern frameworks and toolsets. Some may say that we are going in circles, but for me, it’s more like climbing up a spiral.
ADM: Was there anything in the report results that shocked you in a bad way?
Gajda: Certainly. Based on the results of State of Frontend 2022 we can say that 20% of frontend developers don’t have code reviews in their projects. That’s a shocker for me because code reviews are an essential part of every development team that wants to improve over time. I understand that some people work in one-person companies, and they don’t have an option to have their code reviewed, but that doesn’t fully explain the 20% result. If we dig deeper into the survey results, we will find that code reviews often aren’t enforced in many small or medium companies. It shows that those firms don’t realize the importance of this mythology, how it impacts the quality of their products and the knowledge exchange across employers of different seniority.
ADM: Aside from negative shock, what are the positive outcomes that are clear to see in the State of Frontend 2022?
Another positive outcome in my opinion is the raise of clouds as primary solutions for frontend application hosting. This year the State of Frontend, an old-school custom server finally lost against a cloud solution, the AWS to be precise. I’m happy with it because it means that a significant number of frontend developers and technology companies are finally appreciating the advantages of using clouds over traditional hosting. For them, it means they can focus on product development rather than on supporting their own custom infrastructure.
ADM: Summing up, what are your personal predictions for frontend development. What can we expect?
Gajda: The frontend web development is currently more mature and stabilized than it was a few years ago. It means that the “new day, new JS framework” joke is finally dead. However, the ways people consume media are constantly changing, and so is the technology of their devices. A website’s frontend, being between the user’s face and the application backend (but on the user’s device) must always keep up with the changing world, with new types of devices and people’s next expectations.
That’s why in frontend web development, we will be constantly looking for new solutions that can help us solve emerging problems. For example, currently, frameworks with server-side rendering are on the rise because we as developers found that to improve the performance of web applications, we must move some work back to the backend. And that’s why I believe, in the incoming year or two, this will be the hottest area in the frontend development. Frameworks like Next will gain a lot of popularity and new performance-related tools will arrive. Time will tell if I was right, but I hope so because this performance revolution may be the greatest change for both the developers and the users.
ADM: The last question. Will there be the next edition of State of Frontend?
Gajda: We are still in the process of promoting this year’s report, so a bit hard to wrap our heads around starting a new one immediately. We are, however, listening to what people are saying about the report, and we are writing down the feedback they give us. So, if someone liked the State of Frontend and the work we have done, please give us a shoutout on social media, so we know you are waiting for the next edition.
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