2021 was... Well, an interesting year. New Covid-19 variants were springing up, inflation rates were skyrocketing and millions of people quit or changed jobs in the U.S. alone during what has come to be known as the Great Resignation. Because the trend was a call for more remote work opportunities and safety as a result of the pandemic reality, it had a more significant impact on some industries than others. Fortunately for some, software development was not among them. Instead, the industry has been and continues to be on the rise largely due to its already highly flexible work options.

The 'new normal' has even ramped up software development. This is due to greater demand for software services and changes in consumer behavior. People, on the other hand, were not the only ones who began to prefer online services. The health industry followed suit, providing contactless services and strengthening the overall system with new digital solutions.

Hand in hand with the growth came interesting and noteworthy advancements. Maybe it was also because we were all cooped up at home and had nothing better to do than to ponder how to utilize neural networks better using unsupervised and self-supervised learning to take deep learning a step further. Right?

In 2021, even if it wasn't intentional, you probably stumbled upon information about metaverse, blockchain and NFTs, climate tech, web 3.0, electrical and autonomous vehicles, space, cyber security, AI, low or no code, quantum computing and deep learning. Although all of these 2021 trends and advancements are worth looking into, we will be focusing on the five most influential in our analysis. All are related to the area of software development:

  1. web 3.0
  2. micro-frontends
  3. cyber security
  4. blockchain technology
  5. deep learning

However, after breaking down 2021, we can still say that some things look like they are here to stay. For example, JavaScript completed its ninth year in a row as the most commonly used programming language and React is still the leading framework in web development.

The Foundation for Web 3.0 Was Created

Web 3.0 is all the rage right now. Unfortunately, we haven't seen anything significant or influential come from it as of 2021, yet the groundwork has been laid. The rise of distributed ledgers and blockchain storage has paved the way for data decentralization and a more transparent environment, decreasing centralization, surveillance and exploitative advertising.

How is this relevant for the future?

  • First, decentralized infrastructure and application platforms will shift data ownership from digital giants to individuals.
  • Second, with a shift like that, big companies will no longer be able to exploit data monetization in the same way, resulting in a significant loss of revenue and influence.

On the Front-End, A Shift To Microservices Happened

We have seen the shift from monoliths to microservices on the back-end in the last few years. Since 2021, we have been witnessing the same thing on the front-end.

As a result, all the main JavaScript front-end frameworks already support micro-frontends. What are those? Defined as an architectural style, we can talk about micro-frontends when independently deliverable front-end applications are composed into a greater whole. They bring many benefits, especially for large-scale products, such as:

  • less dependence
  • faster development
  • easier deployments
  • simpler testing of features

Consequently, they also enable more specialization of engineers and experts working on these products, which is significant in bigger teams. Because of all these benefits, the adoption of micro-frontends is rising.

Cyber Security Became A Higher Priority

Corporate and country leaders have been increasingly elevating the importance of cybersecurity for some time now. However, the whole IT sector felt the recent Log4j security flaw and in 2021, ransomware was the fastest-growing cybercrime. In addition, big data breaches have started to happen every month.

Overall, there is still a lack of cybersecurity expertise, but companies and governments have started to put more weight on it because of these events. Last year this was shown by the formation and/or more frequent mentioning of:

  • cybersecurity committees
  • privacy laws
  • terms like Firewall as a Service (FWaaS), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Secure Web Gateway (SWG) and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Blockchain Technology Started Solving Real Problems

2021 was an exciting year for blockchain. Why? Since blockchain development, many critics have pointed out that it doesn't have many real-life applications even if the technology is powerful. Many have believed it is, therefore, overvalued.

Trends show this has been changing since last year because:

  • Blockchain solutions such as Amazon's QLDB were used to solve real-life issues and challenges.
  • NFTs, blockchain games and DeFi dApps gained momentum and showed a lot of potential.
  • In the span of a year, the blockchain gaming industry grew by 765% and generated over $500 million worth of trading volume.

While cryptocurrency prices are rising and dropping all over the place, blockchain technology has shown promise and has had a considerable adoption in 2021.

Deep Learning

OpenAI's GPT-3 can generate stunningly human-like text. For example, you can watch a deep fake of a backup speech prepared but never recorded in the documentary In Event of the Moon Disaster. Furthermore, services such as Descript's Overdub, which allows you to create an ultra-realistic model of your voice, are affordable and easy to use.

Deep learning is surely on the rise and investments in software development companies focusing on deep learning are a good indicator. For instance, one company in this field, Hive, raised $85 million in a funding round in 2021.

The deep learning area concluded our breakdown of the 2021 trends. Still, there are a lot of others we have only mentioned at the beginning. If we left you yearning for more knowledge and information about it, here's a list of some of the most interesting, funny and insightful articles published in 2021: