Since the internet became embedded in all our lives in the late 1990s, the pace of evolution for web technologies has been frantic and it’s only getting faster; new frameworks, tools and libraries appear and disappear in the blink of an eye! So how can anyone be expected to keep up?

It’s exactly this question that prompted our 150+ passionate technologists to get their heads together and collate their collective opinions into one easy to use publication, to help those making technology decisions on behalf of businesses feel confident they’re the right ones.

Easy choices

The simplest place to start, arguably, is with technologies that have failed to keep up, and in our view, should be confined to the history books.

Ext JS is one such technology. A comprehensive JavaScript library that includes charts, grids, layout logic and data access logic, it started in 2007 as an extension of the Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) library, and is still a popular JavaScript library for enterprise HTML5 development. And while using Ext JS Application Programme Interfaces (APIs) can provide productivity gains, the technique ultimately constrains the developer and is no match for a good understanding of the underlying technologies. Instead, we recommend you invest in technologies such as Angular and React.

It’s a similar picture for Apache Flex and Microsoft Silverlight, both plug-in technologies that have lost their relevance following the sudden rise of smartphone and tablet use, and the rapid adoption of HTML5. Migration of these applications should be an immediate priority.

Finally, Bower is an easy to use package manager optimised for front end web development, that handles downloading and updating packages, as well as resolving dependencies on other packages. But as it lacks a centralised repository, it’s not ideal for use in business and has ultimately been made redundant by other options such as Node Package Manager (npm), that has none of its shortcomings.

Buy, buy, buy

The ubiquity and dominance of JavaScript, the underlying language of the web, grows each year, and as such, there are a few related areas in which we feel you should invest sooner rather than later.

EcmaScript 6 (ES6) is the next major release of the JavaScript specification, adding a great many new features which help productivity and clarity. Also, much of ES2015 is supported by transpilers like TypeScript, which is a Microsoft-led open source language and transpiler that transforms to JavaScript with additional language features. If support for TypeScript was dropped, it would be relatively trivial to remove the additional type annotations and interfaces, making it pure JavaScript, so its use has little risk.

GitHub’s Atom is a JavaScript-based, versatile and feature-rich editor that has quickly gained a lot of followers and high-profile backers, including an active community of plug-in authors. Finally, D3 (Data Driven Documents) is a popular, flexible and versatile visualisation library that can be used to construct novel and complex visualisations. We feel it’s well worth the investment.

Keep calm and carry on

The announcement that Angular 2.0 will be a very different framework to the widely-adopted Angular 1.0 has caused a lot of concern, but this is simply the way the web works; its continual evolution means most frameworks have an active lifetime of just a few years, so there’s no need to rush.

Similarly, the SPA (Single Page Application) model has entirely replaced the use of plug-ins, but it should be noted that not every website should be implemented using this approach. SPAs are ideal for an app-like experience, which is personal, interactive and stateful, but server-rendered HTML is still an entirely appropriate tool for more brochure-like content.

We’d also keep an eye on where other technologies are heading before hurrying to adopt them. Web components for example are self contained, reusable controls that can be written for better application structure, or used from a library. They ensure the component does not unintentionally modify or affect anything outside its own scope. But the specification hasn't been finalised and changes are still occurring, so we don't recommend using this on large projects just yet.

Ultimately however, each business is different and has unique needs depending on each project and the software’s intended users. To find out more about our key recommendations for the technologies you should be looking to adopt, visit The Tech Pulse. Or for an opinion that’s truly technology agnostic, drop us a line at  [email protected].