FOSSGiving 2017

Long time readers of this blog and Coder Radio listeners may recall that for the last few Thanksgivings I’ve been writing up or covering on the show my list of open-source tools that I am thankful for that I feel will be significant in the year to come; if you’re curious the first year I did this was 2012.

Electron: I know this might be a little controversial, since there are a lot of strong feelings around the Electron project and how Electron apps use more resources than their native equivalents would. However, it’s undeniable that Electron has had a huge impact on the entire computing community and more specifically those of us who run desktop Linux. Doubt me? Have you used Slack, Atom, or Visual Studio Code at all this year? If so, you’ve used an Electron app. Given the trajectory of JavaScript and web technologies becoming mainstream and full-scale application development technologies with ever increasing performance, you can bet that Electron will continue its trend toward becoming the mainstream consumer and enterprise desktop application development technology for many organizations.

Node.js: I’ve spent a lot of time in the past railing against Node.js being used as a replacement for more traditional web application development technologies, such as Ruby on Rails, but I have to pass the turkey leg to the Node team this year. Over the past few years, Node has been maturing into more of an engine for writing large-scale JavaScript applications and we are really seeing the benefits of that in 2017. For example, my AI Bot Alice is written using the Microsoft Bot Framework using Node. Oh and every Electron app also uses Node as well as most Electron-like frameworks.

Typescript: Microsoft’s Typescript team came to liberate us from the complexity of managing large-scale JavaScript applications, however, Typescript has turned out to be something of a conqueror. With large-scale projects from other major tech vendors transitioning to it (think Google’s Angular), Typescript has gone from one of many compile-to-JavaScript also-rans to all but dominating that field and is now influencing the design of ECMAScript / JavaScript to the benefit of the wider community.

My three picks this year are all along one theme that I think has been emerging for a few years now – the dominance of open web technologies in just about every area of mainstream development. This makes not only practical sense for developers having to manage how they invest their training / education time, but also for business stakeholder who need to get work done as quick as they can and if possible in a cross-platform way. Native app development might make sense in some rare cases, but those are fewer and farther between. I fully expect JavaScript to continue it’s relentless march to world domination well into 2018. Let me know what you think of this list on Twitter and check out The Mad Botter INC.