8 things to watch in the Web world this year
You'd think that the Web had already tried everything, but it keeps reinventing itself.
After more than two decades, you’d think that the Web had already tried everything, but it keeps reinventing itself. What should you watch? Here are ideas from folks inside and around O’Reilly.
1. CSS layout
CSS layout is improving rapidly. CSS4 grids are going to be amazing, but we have to kill the old browsers first. Flexbox is almost here, though. It’s been mired in a shifting set of syntax standards, but browsers are catching up. Flexbox will give us the power to handle vertical alignments easily. Bootstrap 4, coming soon, includes flexbox through a Sass variable toggle.
—Jen Kramer, Staff Author
ES6 (aka ES2015) should be on your radar if you’re a professional web developer—it just might be the most important release of the language since the first one that came out with Netscape Navigator 2.0 in 1995. It introduces highly anticipated new features like classes and modules (w00t!), and makes subtle changes to variable scoping through new keywords like let and const. But wait, there’s more! Multi-line String variables, Maps, Sets, and even “Fat Arrow” functions that cure the dreaded ‘var that = this;’ disease.
—Scott Davis, Presenter, Responsive Mobile Architecture
SVG is taking off. In responsive web design approaches, an image that’s able to stretch, animate, have internal styles, set type, and do much more without losing resolution makes it usable for almost any graphic problem. In that sense, one could argue that SVG is the most true web image format. In CSSDevConf’s session voting, SVG proved popular with the CSS community, with four talks. At the conference, it was so popular that we decided to host an online conference, SVG Summit, dedicated solely to this image format. For web designers, we’re just beginning to get started to see how far we can push it. And that’s one thing that makes me excited for 2016.
—Christopher Schmitt, Author, HTML5 Cookbook
4. CSS animations
CSS animations has seen a slow and steady rise this year, and I’m looking for that to continue into next. Gone are the Flash days of animation and interactivity—you don’t have to be an expert or web designer to embrace the power of animations in CSS. Blogs, courses, and online resources are popping up everywhere to show you the wonders of CSS. This topic presents a cool opportunity to take some of the monotony out of your day-to-day CSS work, and add some creativity and spontaneity to it. It’s a smart skill to have in your back pocket, and can prove to be a handy tool if you’re willing to push the limits.… I’m looking forward to seeing it taking off in 2016.
—Meg Foley, Editor
5. Progressive enhancement
—Josh Simmons, Community Manager
—Ally MacDonald, Editor
7. The Cloud
The Cloud is where we’re going to see a lot of action, though that may not be what we usually think of as “web.” For instance, with IoT (internet of things) technology, even though we have specifications such as Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Thread (not to mention Bluetooth and Wi-Fi), which enable device-to-device communication, most of the devices are still controlled by home hubs that make use of cloud-services, or cloud services, directly. Most hubs and smart devices don’t have a lot of smarts built-in to handle possibly complicated routines. Case in point: Amazon’s Echo has limited support for local functionality. This is supposedly why there’s wake word limitations. Most of the Echo functionality is handled in the Cloud. In the Cloud, it can support searches for music, answer questions, and find news, as well as handle communicating with hubs and devices to control what they do. Because it’s in the Cloud, I can interface with any of my Amazon Echo devices with any of my computers, tablets, and smartphones.