What’s next for software development in 2023?
As always, time will tell. But if I were into betting — and if my tolerance for risk hadn’t been shattered by the collapse of my cryptocurrency investments over the past year — I’d be placing my money on the following software development trends as having the most important impact on developers over the coming year.
1. AI-Assisted Programming Takes Off
For several years, tools have been available to help write source code using AI. But we’re now in a watershed moment, thanks to the introduction over the past year of a new breed of AI-assisted coding tools like GitHub Copilot and Amazon CodeWhisperer.
In 2023, expect to see more and more developers at least experimenting with AI-generated code. I’m not sure that AI-assisted coding will mature to the point that these tools become an everyday part of most developers’ workflows by the end of 2023, but I do think more coders will at least be playing around with the tools, and occasionally using them to generate relatively mundane code.
2. Crypto and Blockchain Development Wind Down
I predicted in late 2021 that development for blockchain applications and platforms would remain marginal in 2022. Now, I’d like to go on record suggesting that blockchain development will start to unravel entirely in 2023.
So, if you’re one of the few developers out there trying to specialize in building blockchain applications, my advice would be to find a new niche. The blockchain hype is dying down — plus, coding for the blockchain was never actually that interesting or specialized to begin with, since the originality of blockchain-based apps derives more from the architecture of the blockchain itself than from the logic of software that interacts with the blockchain.
3. Low-Code Programming Becomes Less Buzzworthy
Like the hype surrounding crypto, the energy surrounding low-code programming is likely to abide during the coming year.
This isn’t because low-code programming is going away. It has been around for a very long time, and there remain good reasons to take advantage of low-code solutions today.
But I sense that, in general, more developers are recognizing the limitations of low-code tools. Low code presents some unique security challenges, for example, and it doesn’t always yield the best-performing or most cost-efficient applications.
If you’re already using low-code platforms, you’ll probably continue to do so in 2023. But I think low code adoption will slow down as developers realize that low code has its limits.
4. Monoliths Move to Containers
Remember when developers faced pressure to refactor their application code so it could run as microservices inside containers? Those days are mostly over. By now, most applications that are good candidates for refactoring have already been refactored.
At the same time, however, developers continue to face pressure to migrate applications to platforms like Kubernetes, and to make applications more environment-agnostic. To do those things, they need to run applications inside containers.
For both of these reasons, I expect that we’ll see an increase in the number of monolithic applications that run inside containers. Although containers are most often associated with microservices, there’s no reason why you can’t run an entire monolithic application inside a container — and there are benefits to doing so, such as the ability to reduce the number of external environment dependencies you have to worry about when deploying the app.
5. Software Developer Hiring Slows Down
For years, software developers have had enviable leverage on the job market. Companies were desperate to recruit coders, and they were willing to pay pretty good salaries to hire and retain them.
There are few reasons to believe that that trend has changed yet. Developers still seem to land jobs with ease.
But I’m not so sure that will remain the case throughout 2023. The general economic slowdown that has taken place over the past year (and which has hit the tech industry especially hard), combined with large layoffs and departures at major tech companies in recent months, is likely to result in a somewhat less rosy job market outlook for developers.
In 2023, good developers will still be able to find good jobs, but they may not have their pick of them in the way they did in previous years. And some “overemployed” developers may have to settle for doing just one job at a time.
2023 is likely to see the explosion of some cool new software development trends, like AI-assisted coding. At the same time, it will witness a cooling off of older trends, including development of blockchain apps and low-code programming. And the software development job market may just finally cool down, too.
About the authorChristopher Tozzi is a technology analyst with subject matter expertise in cloud computing, application development, open source software, virtualization, containers and more. He also lectures at a major university in the Albany, New York, area. His book, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” was published by MIT Press.