10 Web Predictions for 2015: The Results!

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Twelve months ago I published 10 Web Predictions for 2015 — my Nostradamus-like look into the year ahead. I’m useless at these forecasts. Despite keeping a close eye on industry developments, I scored a pathetic 4.5 out of 10 last year. Let’s see if I can beat it in 2015…

1. Responsive Images Will Be Usable!

I’d hoped this would be the case in 2014, but it took another year. At the end of 2015:

There will always be caveats, but responsive images work almost everywhere and can fall back to a standard img tag. It’s finally usable: 1 out of 1 — a great start!

2. The Rise of Web Components

Web Components comprise:

  1. HTML Templates — clone-able chunks of DOM which offer good support in all browsers except oldIE
  2. Custom Elements — create new HTML tags, which is supported in Chrome/Opera and can be enabled in Firefox
  3. HTML Imports — reusable client-side document includes, which is supported in Chrome/Opera and can be enabled in Firefox
  4. The Shadow DOM — element and styling encapsulation with limited support in Chrome/Opera

As you can tell, Web Components are a Google initiative, but there’s been little agreement among the vendors since their inception in 2011. There’s a glimmer of hope for completion, but few developers will opt for the technologies until they’re stable. For now, many developers consider that frameworks such as React offer a more viable direction.

No points to see here: 1 out of 2.

3. Node.js Will Go Mainstream

Node.js was released in May 2009. Popularity increased during 2013/14 with the introduction of task runners such as Grunt and Gulp, but 2015 has been a turning point for Node.js:

  • the political squabbles between Node.js and io.js were settled
  • the first (non-beta) version 4.0 was released in September with v5 following in October
  • Node.js is used everywhere — desktops, servers, wearables, embedded devices and more.

It still has some way to go. There is just one Node.js Express installation for every 300 PHP-enabled servers. Even classic ASP has 25 times the number of active sites. However, Node.js is one of the only technologies which hasn’t plateaued and even those using PHP, Ruby or ASP.NET often have it installed to take advantage of the numerous build tools.

Node.js has gone mainstream: that’s 2 out of 3.

4. Framework Fatigue

The number of web development frameworks has continued to explode. Choice is good but finding the best option requires an inordinate amount of time and, inevitably, something better will arrive. Everyone jumped on the AngularJS bandwagon in 2014. It’s been React’s turn in 2015.

While it’s difficult for JavaScript developers to back a particular codebase with confidence, they still do. Work has to be done and a framework offers a good starting point. Longer term, a framework can cause more problems than it solves, and some question the benefits of monolithic solutions.

Half a point seems fair. There has been a small backlash but frameworks remain popular. 2.5 out of 4.

5. It’ll Be a Tough Year for Google

My reasoning seemed sound:

  • advertising is difficult on smaller devices
  • Mozilla abandoned Google search
  • Facebook video would compete against YouTube
  • anti-trust and taxation loopholes were hitting the headlines
  • no one believed the old “Don’t be evil” mantra

The result: Google’s share price is higher than ever. What do I know? Bah: 2.5 out of 5.

6. Chrome Will Exceed 50% Market Share on Desktop and Mobile

Chrome’s market share hit 48% this time last year and was growing at least 0.5% every month. By the end of November 2015, Chrome reached 55.3% and continues to climb.

Chrome on mobile increased by 8% to reach 37.42% — a little short of my prediction. Half a point seems reasonable: 3 out of 6.

7. IE Will Fall Below Firefox

I thought this was a safe bet. Unfortunately, Firefox’s recent falls place it 0.75% behind Internet Explorer version 11 and below. Add in Microsoft’s new Edge browser and it’s almost 2% behind. Firefox is a great browser but it’s taken a pounding from Chrome. The same can be said for IE/Edge, but Windows users have it installed without taking any action.

Mozilla is jettisoning a few of its less successful projects, so perhaps they can turn the situation around. However, in 2004 Firefox only had an aging IE6 for competition. The 2015 browser market is considerably healthier.

This isn’t going well: 3 out of 7.

8. Mobile Device Usage Will Hit 50%

This was an ambitious prediction which didn’t quite make it. Mobile web use accounts for 40% of all activity and saw an increase of 6% during the year. Growth was 14% in 2014 but it seems people can’t dramatically increase use of their devices.

Mobile adoption is exploding in Africa and Asia, but I suspect mobile/desktop parity is a year or two away. 3 out of 8.

9. 2015 is The Year of Performance

I wish. Like many in the industry, I have moaned about the state of the web. The trend for large images, irritating social media widgets and intrusive advertising make browsing a slow and painful experience — especially on mobile. The situation has forced companies to propose alternatives such as Facebook Instant and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages, but I’m not convinced a walled, non-standard eco-system is the answer.

A small vocal collection of developers are calling for better performance, so I think half a point is fair. Yet, despite the pleas, hideous mobile data costs and the many easy ways to reduce page weight, few consider performance until it’s too late. That’s a shame. 3.5 out of 9.

10. Skype Translator Will Become a Transformative Technology

Microsoft’s answer to the Babel fish is amazing but it’s not commonly available. Perhaps next year?

That gives me a grand total of 3.5 out of 10. That compares to 4.5 in 2014 and 7 in 2013. I’m clearly getting worse at this — but will that stop me?…
Editor’s note: No, it didn’t stop him! Here are Craig’s predictions for 2016!

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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