Sun Microsystems launched a board in 1997 to help bring browsers together and make engines run consistently. This allowed websites to be more consistent across browsers and improve user experience.
This board is still active today and is constantly contributing to the advancement of the web.
The internet truly is your oyster.
1. Website Animation
Have you ever visited a website and been astounded by the number of interactive elements that whizz around the page and react to your interactions? Or is that just me being a nerd?
For those of you who don't understand what I mean, here are two examples:
Simple animations can add a lot to a website. They engage you and make you want to keep going to see what else it has to offer.
Using animations to make websites look cool and engaging is a great way to use them, but they can also have more practical benefits, such as:
Making a website appear to load faster
When a web page has a lot of content to load, the page load time naturally increases, potentially frustrating a user to the point of losing a sale.
As a result, many high-volume content sites use loading animations for users, such as spinners. Spinners are often quite simple, but they provide a distraction for the user from the normal white screen while the website moves content into place and feels faster.
Making navigation in an app more fluid and easier to understand
When using a web application with lots of links it can be hard to understand how you navigated to the webpage that you are on.
Adding simple animations such as page swipes and elements that highlight the transition from one page to another can be enough to help improve the user journey.
Static content can be boring to look at and makes it easy for something in the background to draw a user’s attention away from the important content.
Just having some simple animations on your page will drive attention to small bite size information such as a call to action, helping to drive the user through your business funnel.
2. Phone Apps
Thanks to companies like Apple and Google, apps have become a household name. Whatever you are doing I am sure someone could walk past and say “There is an app for that”.
With the rise of smartphones, developers and businesses have quickly been able to capitalise on the success of the app marketplace. Just look at Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Angry Birds and many other apps that have made millions in this industry.
Developing two apps for each platform takes experience and requires a team with multiple skillsets, plus a project manager to make sure that both apps behave consistently.
Not only does the company save time and money, but they also get a high-quality app that works the same across both platforms, and works well at that. Just look at the Facebook app, arguably the most-used app which is built from React Native.
This is a big deal. Now even small businesses can develop apps and compete in the same space as the big companies. New features can also be developed into apps as companies are not having to split resources across two different operating systems.
Such examples of community efforts:
Expo App/Build tools
Expo allows you to run your code in real time as you are coding, streaming your code to a device over a wireless network and therefore reducing the headache of compiling and adding the ability to test in a native environment over a virtual emulator.
With thousands of developers that add and maintain these packages across the world, there is near enough always a package that you can use to add a feature to your app or website.
3. Websites that do not require a server
Serverless websites, while still a relatively new concept, have the potential to be a new direction for website hosting. Serverless websites, which make use of services such as AWS Lambda, can be a relatively efficient way to host a site.
A Serverless website's concept is to serve users a static pre-compiled HTML file. We reduce the time to first byte (the time it takes for the server to start sending data) and the time it takes for the user to access the data by serving a single HTML file.
The dynamic data can be animated into the page as soon as it is loaded, providing a smooth experience and allowing users to access data while other data is being processed.
A good application for this concept is that a website can be coded to load data based on where it will appear on the page, implying that data will be available to the user as they scroll.
Serverless websites are still in their infancy, and I'm sure we'll hear a lot more about them in the coming years.
4. Progressive Web Applications
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are a fantastic new technology thanks to companies like Google and Mozilla.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with PWAs, they are a technology that allows users to install a website on their phone or laptop in the same way that apps do, to provide a variety of benefits such as:
Easy access from the app tray or home screen
When PWAs are installed on a device, an icon is added to the app tray and/or home screen. This allows users to load the PWA without having to navigate through a web browser.
Loading times are faster when compared to websites
This means that your device only needs to load data when new data is available, and that the website can potentially work without an internet connection (depending on your use case).
PWAs are great for businesses because they can benefit from a variety of different features, such as:
Less expensive to construct
Because the PWA is based on the company website, developers can reuse the majority of the code from the website and only add new features as needed. As opposed to an app, where developers must frequently start from scratch.
As you might expect, this can save businesses a significant amount of time and money.
Reduced server traffic
Users have to pull less data from the company's servers thanks to PWA caching. This means that businesses can have smaller servers, resulting in lower costs.
Increased user participation
Because the app is easily accessible from the user's home screen, it is always visible and requires less marketing to get users to download it.
5. Video games
Since the 1990s, games have played a significant role in the evolution of web browsers. The original in-browser games, which were created with web browser plugins such as Adobe Flash or Shockwaves, were great time wasters, much like some app-games are today.
Websites dedicated to hosting games, such as Miniclip, would have a large library of games available.
Because of security concerns, poor performance, and a variety of other factors, the use of web plugins has become increasingly frowned upon as the web has evolved.
Frameworks, custom game IDEs (Integrated Development Environments), and other new technologies have now been developed, allowing us to fully exploit what the browser can do, allowing developers to create some pretty advanced games.
Recently, a new technology known as Web Assembly was born. This allows browsers to use traditional programming languages such as C++ via an API client.
With companies like Google developing browser-based gaming services like Stadia, the future of web gaming looks bright.
Recently, there has been a lot of buzz about drones. Hobbyists enjoy flying drones, film crews can get unique, cinematic shots, and developers can go wild with custom "hacks".
The open source community is constantly expanding with new cool stuff that can be coded.
When it comes to coding drones, most developers prefer languages like C or Python,.
We programmers are involved in community service.
These can greatly assist new developers in gaining a foothold in the programming language, as well as senior developers in mastering the language.
At the moment, browsers are allowing web pages to use more and more of a computer's power (particularly with the new Web Assembly API), which could lead to browsers and native apps merging.
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