Hacking, rent vs. buy, cloud, and other top development topics of 2014

2014 has been an exciting year for developers. Tony Patton calls out JavaScript, security issues, and open source as some of the highlights.

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Development was a profession in high demand this year, as companies large and small looked to build the next great application while maintaining current offerings. Other trends and topics stand out for 2014: security, cloud computing, open source, JavaScript, and the ill-focused push to teach everyone to code.

Year of the hack

Has security ever been a bigger topic than the current climate, with the recent Sony hack sending ripples through the entertainment industry on the heels of Apple's iCloud breach earlier this year. These are two examples as to why CNET declared 2014 The Year of the Hack.

Security is at the forefront for application developers and network personnel. Application developers can implement two-step verification as proposed by Apple and other companies or use other technologies like OpenID. As it should be, security is now a key piece of development projects, with companies more aware of its importance.

Rent vs. buy

Cloud computing has been a mainstay of technology buzzwords for years, but I saw it become a reality this year. Clients readily moved to the proverbial cloud as opposed to purchasing, configuring, and supporting their own infrastructure.

Netflix leads the way, as it has totally built its business via Amazon's offerings. Microsoft Azure finally hit its stride when it changed its pricing model to better compete; also, it supports a wide variety of technologies in addition to Windows. Other vendors like Amazon continued to enhance and improve its offerings.

Now I can worry about building the application with so many options to easily and quickly roll it out via the cloud. Security is still a major concern for companies when confronted with cloud options, but I believe the trend towards renting infrastructure over buying will continue in 2015.

Big data seems to drive cloud computing for some companies, as the abundance of data that continues to pile up drives the need for businesses to have infrastructure that can quickly and easily grow to meet ever increasing storage needs. The elastic nature of cloud options from a vendor such as Amazon means storage can grow as needed so companies are only using what is needed.

Crowdsourcing code

My career began with web development and its emerging standards before I ventured into IBM and Microsoft technologies and finally returned to vastly matured web standards. I remember the days when open source was viewed with disdain by most of the industry, but it is now embraced with open arms, as IBM is fully behind products like Linux and Java -- take a look at IBM developerWorks for more details. Microsoft's jumping on board was both surprising and revealing, as it signals open source is now the norm as opposed to an alternative.

Open source is now readily accepted by developers, as a quick tour of the more popular languages reveals deep roots in open source with languages such as Ruby, Python, and even C#. Let's not forget about JavaScript, as free frameworks and toolkits continue to be introduced to the point where it is overwhelming -- do you go with jQuery, Ember, or something else?

It will be interesting to see how open source evolves -- are there really enough developers willing and able to contribute freely to so many technologies and platforms? Will the community be able to sustain that many projects? While open source adoption has exploded, it is interesting to see Apple's closed platform iOS continue to be a success.

JavaScript for everyone!

If I had to proclaim one language as the winner in 2014, it would have to be JavaScript because it was seemingly everywhere. When it was first introduced years ago, I was excited to have it for field validation on my web forms. Times have changed, as you can now develop with JavaScript anywhere albeit on the server, mobile device, browser, and so forth.

While all of the frameworks are great, Node.js has been an unexpected showstopper; it has enjoyed widespread adoption, with Walmart's usage being a great example. Like many developers, I jumped on the bandwagon and explored Node.js and discovered it offers a great platform for building applications.

Everyone codes?

One interesting trend of 2014 is the movement to teach everyone to code. While I think the Hour of Code could be a great way to introduce youngsters to technology as a possible profession, I do not see a need for everyone in the world to be coders. I have talked to people who viewed the approach as way for them to jump into a profession and make good money, but it's not that simple -- or at least I hope it isn't, because I have worked hard to learn development over the years.

Everybody can't be the cool kid portrayed on TV shows like "Silicon Valley" where they throw together an application and rake in the cash. It takes a special mindset to thrive as a developer.

I hope this "everyone should learn to code" movement loses steam in 2015, but I do want more youngsters exposed to it as a possible career path.

What lies ahead in 2015?

Will security concerns stall the rapid adoption of cloud computing offerings? Will new mobile platforms like the Apple Watch change the face of computing like smartphones did? Will more companies follow Apple and utilize closed (i.e., not open source) platforms like iOS?

I love working with technology, and I am excited to see what happens in 2015. Let us know what you predict we'll show up in the development landscape next year.

Disclosure: TechRepublic and CNET are CBS Interactive properties.

By Tony Patton

Tony Patton has worn many hats over his 15+ years in the IT industry while witnessing many technologies come and go. He currently focuses on .NET and Web Development while trying to grasp the many facets of supporting such technologies in a productio...