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If 2020 has proven anything, it’s that predicting the future is a mug’s game. With that said, here are my predictions for where front-end development is heading over the next 12 months 🙄

React frameworks finally mature

Frequently referred to as the ‘V’ in MVC, React has both benefited and suffered from its lack of an opinionated framework. Years on and we’ve not seen the industry coalesce on a single stack, architecture or blessed toolchain. While this flexibility has undoubtedly aided its popularity, 2021 may be the year we finally see such frameworks reach maturity.

Over the last year Vercel has continued to dominate the React space, growing their framework, Next.js and their self-titled service offering — all while launching an e-commerce starter kit, an analytics tool, and hosting their largest (virtual) conference yet. While Next has been on the scene for a long time, it’s come a long way from its buggy beginnings. The batteries-included approach isn’t for everyone, but additions over the past year have culminated in a v10 release that’s both stable and surprisingly mature (sub-path routing at last 🙏). …


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Dark mode or light mode, which are you?

I’m strictly a dark mode user. Practically every app or digital platform I use, day-to-day, comes with a dark mode UI option. Even the NHS Test & Trace app has a dark mode. I can’t explain why, but it seems absolutely clear to me that dark mode is just better (sorry light moders, you’re wrong).

There are a few who continue to resist the rise of dark mode, however. Most Google products don’t have the option, for example, although that looks set to change soon.

So, where did this movement towards dark user interfaces come from, and why do people feel so strongly about it? …


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From business idea to $100k product launch

That’s the title of the blog post that inspired my co-founders and I to build an app. After spending numerous years helping Browser’s clients turn their ideas into award-winning digital products, it was time to create our own. After countless interviews with teams big and small, we landed on what felt like the perfect app idea. Now, we just needed to build it.

Unfortunately, that’s where things get a bit complicated. We’d planned to launch a lean, MVP version of the product in a month, which turned into two, which turned into three — you get the idea. …


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Every developer, when faced with a tricky problem, has experienced the same excitement and temptation: “oooh I bet I could use a library for this!” The thought is full of the promise of time saved, complexity abstracted and efficiency gained. Just think of all the problems that could be solved without writing a line of your own code!

Fast-forward on a couple of weeks and there’s probably a fifty-fifty chance you’ll find that same developer desperately trying to wrangle a square-peg library into a round hole problem, tussling with inadequate documentation or finding security holes three levels deep in node_modules.


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Back in 2015, AMD’s CFO, Devinder Kumar, made the prediction that by 2019 “15% of the overall server space is in the ARM server business.”

He was wide of the mark by some way; at the start of 2019, ARM-based systems made up precisely 0% of the server market. But could Kumar have been on to something?

Well, I think so.

But first, a note of caution. It’s been fashionable to predict the demise of the x86 server monopoly for a while now, but it’s still here and, seemingly, as strong as ever. …


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COVID-19 is rapidly reshaping nearly every facet of human life by curtailing personal freedoms such as where we can go and what we can do. In doing so, it’s radically changing the world in which businesses operate.

This leads to thoughts about what life — and commerce — will look like, as we ease out of lockdown and learn to live with coronavirus. The Economist recently coined the phrase ‘ the 90% economy ‘ to describe this new era, and I think it’s a good framing of the situation.

You can already see parts of the 90% economy taking shape. Many businesses face questions about whether they will open again, and, if they do, whether their customers will return. Even in industries that are operating, most are compromised in some way that pushes them below peak efficiency; customers are suffering long queues when they go shopping; restaurants are either takeaway only or living with reduced table count; football is being played without crowds. …


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In the early days of the web, when JavaScript was but a twinkle in Brendan Eich’s eye, the world wide web was strictly a place where you could find web sites. There was no such thing as a ‘native app’ because all applications were native apps; if you wanted complex user interaction, you’d have to explicitly download and run some form of an executable program.

In the world of technology, nothing ever stays pure for very long, and soon the web became home to things that could meaningfully be called applications, be they static HTML pages with server-rendered responses to user input, fully client-side apps written in JavaScript or Flash, or some blend of the two. …


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The hardest part of turning a good idea into an actual digital product is getting started. Starting means confronting problems, making compromises and watching as your idea clatters inelegantly into the hard realities of the real world. That process will be challenging whichever way you approach it. But even if it can’t be pain-free, it can at least be quick thanks to Design Sprint 2.0.

So, what is Design Sprint 2.0?

As you may guess, it’s based on the celebrated five-day Design Sprint process that was invented at Google by Jake Knapp and popularised by his bestselling 2016 book Sprint.


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Great applications deserve great marketing sites, which is why we’re always on the lookout for new developments and trends in content management systems (CMSs). While traditionally a space occupied by open-source giants such as WordPress and Drupal, ever since the Smashing Magazine relaunch back in 2017 there has been a resurgence of interest in static-sites.

Given the complexity of modern front-end development, the desire to return to the simplicity of plain HTML is perhaps unsurprising — after all, many of today’s problems (performance, async data, caching etc) are either irrelevant or come as standard with the removal of a dynamic server-side language. …


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Thanks to COVID-19, all around the world millions of people are learning the new skill of how to work from home. At Browser, this is something we know a little about — the majority of our worldwide team has been working from home full time for over a year.

Thus, I thought it could be valuable to share the tips, tricks and shortcuts our team has learned that can help make home working productive and rewarding.

I’ve split the article into two halves. The first collects tips that you can action as an individual. …

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