2019 was a big year for internet infrastructure, programming languages and platform development. In the last 12 months, we saw things like new connectivity in the sky and the sea and greater security of those connections with the growth of TLS 1.3 and certificate transparency. But three trends in particular stood out as having some of the biggest impacts on developers as we head into 2020.
Rust Capabilities Boost Its Popularity
Rust continued to grow in popularity as it was voted Stack Overflow’s most beloved language for the fourth year in a row, due in large part to its unmatched ability to free developers from the choice between safety and performance in a programming language. Before Rust, developers had to decide between languages like C, which is fast, but has a high likelihood of security failures, or Haskell, which comes with more safety, but is noticeably less performant. Rust provides a level of safety guarantees developers haven’t been able to enjoy before, while still delivering on low-level, native performance. The learning curve is fairly steep, but the batteries-included features you’d expect from a modern language check the boxes developers need to deliver on priorities next year.
HTTP/2 Paves the Way for HTTP/3, Allowing Developers to Build Even More Performant Sites Without All the Hassle
Protocols that deliver and secure richer content saw progress in 2019, too, with HTTP/2 becoming the most common web protocol and a glimpse of the even greater benefits of HTTP/3 to come in 2020. HTTP/2 made developers’ lives easier by simplifying the hacks and workarounds they had to do to get performant sites working with HTTP/1.1 by addressing the complexity of lots of tiny objects within a page. By reducing page load times and improving responsiveness, HTTP/2 has paved a solid foundation for HTTP/3, which has the potential to become widely deployed in early 2020 as the new transport protocol, QUIC, nears completion. QUIC, a replacement for TCP, addresses the head-of-line blocking delays HTTP/2 exhibits for some p90 scenarios. Additionally, QUIC incorporates TLS 1.3, ensuring an easy upgrade to the most recent version of the internet’s standard security functionality.
WebAssembly Promises New Possibilities
Most excitingly, love for and support of WebAssembly (Wasm) by developers picked up steam in 2019 due to the recognition it has received for its secure, performant, cross-platform and cross-device runtime. A glimpse into Wasm’s future promises greater portability, as it allows developers to take the code they have written and run it on entirely different platforms, at scale. Wasm is a sea-change for the entire industry as programs will be able to work not just on different browsers—as we saw with the Google Earth launch on Wasm—but beyond the browser, across various devices and platforms. Think watches, TVs, cars and security systems that can be more securely connected—not to mention the functions-as-a-service speeding up the world on the edge. With the backing of the Bytecode Alliance, a newly formed collaboration between Mozilla, Fastly, Red Hat and Intel, Wasm becomes a prime foundation for more secure and portable software development in 2020.
With all the changes in 2019, 2020 stands to be another exciting year for developers, bringing even greater flexibility to their roles and career opportunities. Ongoing internet infrastructure improvements continue to empower our developer community and enable more secure and efficient programming and computing—all while improving the end-user experience.