5 Technologies to watch in 2014

I love new technologies, and exploring what is possible with new technologies. It’s why I run hack days at my workplace to help encourage exploring new technologies and innovation. With this in mind, and with it being a new year, I wanted to do a post on some technologies to watch in 2014.

1. WebRTC

I’ve mentioned this several times before, and do intend to do a post to go into more depth. WebRTC is a really exciting technology that is currently available in several modern browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. WebRTC stands for Web Real Time Communication. It allows peer to peer streaming of video and audio directly from JavaScript. This is a really exciting innovation, and opens up plenty of potential applications, for example a Skype experience entirely in browser, or an interactive multi person workspace. Further Reading:

2. Xamarin

There are few times where it doesn’t benefit us to target as many devices as possible. Xamarin is an excellent tool for enabling cross platform development to be as easy as possible. Xamarin allows developers to create native iOS, Android, Mac and Windows app, all written in C#. The tooling is excellent, working directly with Visual Studio. There are two main benefits to Xamarin, firstly enabling C# developers the ability to develop applications cross platform, without having to learn new code, and secondly, it vastly speeds up the development time, allowing the codebase to be shared easily between different applications, only requiring native UIs. There are various plans, from free, to $1899 per year, depending on what you require, and the costs usually pay themselves back fairly quickly in the time you save (or the platforms you can now target). If you are writing any sort of app in 2014 I would highly recommend looking into Xamarin. Further Reading:

3. Mobile First Philosophy

Ok, this isn’t new, with Luke Wroblewski first talking about the topic in 2009, however I expect this to really be the design trend in 2014. If you are designing a website in 2014 I would strongly urge you to follow mobile first principles. Statistics show that mobile devices (phones and tablets) are the primary browsing device for a large percentage of all internet users, and the mobile first philosophy encourages us to develop for these devices (the least cable devices) first. The idea is by developing for mobile devices first, and using feature detection, we best optimize our website for all devices. Further Reading:

4. Project Spark

If you’ve heard of project spark, you’ll probably wonder why I have put it here, if you haven’t I’ll summarize it for you. It’s a game. However it’s a game that allows you to create games. Project Spark implements a simple, yet fairly powerful, programming language called “kode”. It’s a series of “when” then “do” statements to program the brains of various objects that you can place in a fully editable terrain. This is fantastic for a number of reasons. It brings programming to the masses. Project Spark is on Windows 8, Xbox 360, and Xbox One so it is available to almost anyone, and it’s free. It’s truly open as well. There is not necessarily a need to create a game, in fact I’m extremely excited to see what people make that aren’t games. I love the videos on youtube that show people who have created fully working CPUs inside Minecraft (this for example), and Project Spark offers far more potential than this. It also makes easy the programming of AI, something I’ve always been fascinated with. If you are at all interested in game development, or new ways to program, check it out. Further Reading:

5. NoSQL

Again, this is nothing new, but it is a sector developing rapidly at the moment. The need for alternative data storage is great when there is a huge amount of data to be dealt with and NoSQL looks to address that need. It works hand in hand with “Big Data” providing us the ability to analyze data in a way that just hasn’t been possible up until now. But also for smaller systems NoSQL can be excellent. We can stop trying to fit all our data models to a relational system (SQL), and pick the tool that’s right for the job. NoSQL does not replace SQL, it just provides an alternative that is right for certain scenarios (where data is light on relations, or where the ACID doesn’t make sense for data storage). Further Reading:

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