The Five 2020 T-Shaped Developer Trends You Need to Know

By Alex Lobera30 Jan 2020
Reading time: 6 mins

T-Shaped Developers are those rare people who combine a depth of expertise with a wide breadth of knowledge. So to help you build the perfect dev team or build up your own dev knowledge, I’ve compiled all the major trends for 2020 you need to know about.

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With the rate of technological change today, no developer can afford to rest on their laurels and think that experience alone will keep their career afloat. Knowledge of what is going around them is also a key skill every developer needs. These T-shaped Devs, renowned for their expertise and knowledge, are able to command higher wages and deliver more in their roles.

So to help pad out your knowledge, I’ve compiled a list of the biggest dev trends for 2020.

1. Cloud Is Everyone’s Concern

Gone are the days where cloud was only a thing for the IT and some back-end devs to worry about. The cloud has become even more pervasive in recent years, and now that the tech is very mature and much simpler to use, front-end devs are also going to have to factor in the cloud. Agile teams now have full ownership of cloud features or products, meaning DevOps has become an even more important role in every team.

Nader Dabit, who has been exploring the intersection of front-end dev & cloud computing, thinks that:

In 2020 we'll continue to see an explosion of full stack cloud engineers.

2. Functional Programming Goes Mainstream

Functional programming (FP) languages are becoming more and more mainstream, so in 2020 we recommend that you try to learn an FP language like Haskel, Ocamel and the like. That’s because learning a new language takes time, and rewriting production code from one language into another takes even longer.

But with an FP style, you don’t need to learn a new programming language to write production code. In fact, by learning to write functional code in your main imperative programming language, you’ll cut production and delivery time for enhanced end-products.

We'll keep using more and more things like closure, composition, memoization, but also some still less mainstream concepts such as algebraic effects, even in languages that are not "purely functional" like JavaScript.

3. React Continues Its Upward Ascent

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In 2020, expect to hear more great things about React, especially when it comes to delivering greater, faster user experiences. In the past, the React core team focused on developer experience. Now their focus is on improving the user experience, especially in large apps. This year, more than ever, devs will utilise components to build better UIs because it is great for any kind of UI abstractions.

React’s continued rise is good news for both front- and back-end devs, as Vitaly Lavrov, a back-end developer I met networking at a conference was keen to point out:

I really like React components because it helps me easily reuse someone else's design quickly and with confidence. This way I can build a product with a nice UI whilst I can focus on what I'm good at, the backend.

4. Devs, Expect Closer and Closer Partnership with UX

User Experience (UX) design has also been on the rise, especially as more companies understand that they are responsible for the products they create and must meet user needs effectively to stay competitive. So, expect dev and UX to be even more tied at the waist this year.

In particular, I recommend trying pair programming between dev and UX this year. At React GraphQL Academy, we pair programmed with a UX designer on a number of projects, including our own website. It helps in two ways: UX designers better understand the limits of technology, and devs understand the importance of sticking to design and meeting user needs. No wonder many large organisations are looking to integrate UX and dev.

If you think developers can’t learn design, some experienced designers like Steve Schoger will tell you that devs and designers are not that different:

Learning UX is not only relevant for front-end devs. As James Coplien pointed out to me once in a workshop for solution architects: “to be a good architect you also need to understand UX, if you can’t understand your users’ needs then you can’t design the right system”.

I attended a UX Design Course in 2017 and I think it was one of the best investments in my career as a tech lead. It helped me understand how my design and product colleagues work and think, allowing me to communicate and collaborate more effectively with them.

5. GraphQL Moves to the Forefront

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In 2020, expect to see more of GraphQL across design, back- and front-end development.

The seamless nature of GraphQL makes sure that data is where you need it, when you need it. It not only helps apps run faster, especially those where latency and bandwidth are an issue, but it also helps engineering product teams deliver software faster. Of course, this is invaluable whatever your discipline. The GraphQL declarative data fetching model fits very well into declarative UI libraries like React. In combination, they enable fast and reusable component-based data-driven applications that deliver faster software at scale. 2020 may be the year of GraphQL and data-driven applications.

Bonus Trend: Curiosity & Critical Thinking

T-shaped devs in 2020 won’t just need to know about tech shifts and new design focuses. They’ll also need to prioritise skill development, which is where this final trend comes in: Curiosity and Critical Thinking.

You’re going to need to come out of your comfort zone this year. If you’re a software architect, try learning UX. If you’re a front-end dev, try learning cloud. Feed your curiosity in 2020 by learning about new fields and then utilise critical thinking to help understand those fields inside and out. Only then will you broaden your horizons and be able to work in a truly collaborative way.

Deepen Your Tech Knowledge with React GraphQL Academy

With these few T-shaped developer trends, there’s a lot to learn this year. But you don’t have to go it alone: we’re here to help. React GraphQL Academy is proud to offer a range of training courses -- including week-long bootcamps, part-time courses and one-off workshops -- to help devs upskill in React and GraphQL.

If you’d like to deepen your tech knowledge in 2020, get in touch with our friendly team today!

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