5 can't-miss software development news stories of 2019

Before you finalize your 2020 plans, take a minute to catch up on app-dev news stories that will shape the next year. Here are the five top news stories for 2019, with analysis.

Dozens of app-dev tool vendors leave developers with a vast -- if dizzying -- array of options to code faster, better and cheaper in 2020. As vendors release features or product enhancements, it can be difficult to sort through the glut of software development news to find helpful insight to guide or empower your teams.

On top of the technological advances, software development roles are changing. Developers must adapt to new ways of work and collaboration, and take on new responsibilities for code quality, security and user feedback.

The SearchSoftwareQuality news team has contextualized this complicated and contentious market for developer tools, analyzing vendor moves and market shifts, as well as emerging trends, throughout the year. Dig into these five software development news stories from 2019, and then decide where these tools or vendors fit into your plans in 2020 and beyond.

GitHub's licensing shifts under Microsoft

Following Microsoft's purchase of GitHub, the software company got to work pushing more developers to the distributed version control platform.

GitHub altered its licensing terms to include unlimited free private repositories, for up to a maximum of three collaborators per project. As Darryl Taft reported, the change is a boon to independent developers and small teams. It signals Microsoft's aim to get more developers to work with GitHub and open source projects. GitHub's free repos won't apply to many enterprise developers. For these larger teams, the GitHub Enterprise product opens up more advanced options, including governance and auditing.

Analysts predict more investment in GitHub under Microsoft's stewardship. "I expect to see these moves accelerate GitHub's growth and relevance to a broader market," said Edwin Yuen, former analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, now VP of Customer Success at Nomad Go.

Microsoft tunes Power Platform for more app building

Microsoft's push for more developers didn't stop with GitHub. Microsoft enhanced its Power Platform to target more workloads for data analysis (Power BI), citizen development (Power Apps), business process automation (Power Automate) and chatbots (Power Virtual Agents).

The Power Platform changes, Taft writes, aim to help both professional and citizen developers build apps. Non-programmers can take advantage of straightforward interfaces to create simple applications, albeit with some complexity around how to accomplish tasks. Professional developers can also take advantage of PowerApps for rudimentary builds or even blockchain app development through integration with Azure.

The platform improvements show Microsoft's desire to expand its base beyond Visual Studio and GitHub. And analysts say the plan is working, as Forrester included it in the top tier of its Forrester Wave report on low-code tools.

Atlassian brings in AgileCraft for users at scale

Enterprises face problems scaling Agile; different teams and departments have their own vastly different projects and ways of working. It's notoriously difficult to visualize all that work in progress.

Atlassian, a vendor in Agile project management and collaboration, opened its purse strings with a $166 million acquisition of AgileCraft. The move aims to strengthen portfolio management and enterprise planning, which is typically done outside of Atlassian's Jira software, said Thomas Murphy, a Gartner analyst.

With AgileCraft's focus on value stream management, enterprises can more easily replicate the success of one DevOps team across the business. However, AgileCraft supports Atlassian's competitors, which some industry watchers speculate will end after its assimilation.

JFrog nabs Shippable in CI/CD merger

The DevOps tools market is prime for consolidation, with so many specialty vendors seeking to cater to specific needs. It happened for artifact management provider JFrog, which added to its platform with an acquisition of Shippable, a CI/CD tool. Shippable's container-based assembly line also brings JFrog into cloud-native software. The new capabilities should benefit from JFrog's support for multi-cloud and hybrid cloud.

Shippable wasn't the only smaller automation vendor scooped up lately; see the CloudBees-Codeship and Idera-Travis CI deals, Taft wrote. With the move, JFrog hopes to outpace rivals in offering a full-featured DevOps platform, Enterprise+, said Jim Mercer, an analyst at IDC.

IBM quantum tech could build AI apps

Quantum computing is on the horizon, and it could lead to breakthroughs in many fields. IBM aims to push quantum into the hands of developers who build AI-based applications.

The IBM Q System One is one foray into the advanced technology, Taft wrote, as is the cloud-based IBM Q Experience, a system for users to experiment with quantum possibilities. Additionally, IBM updated its Qiskit open source quantum software development kit, which includes a set of tools, frameworks and a library for developers to work with. All this comes as IBM continues to secure a variety of patents around quantum computing -- a hint of what might follow in the future.

For all the excitement about quantum, few see it as ready for mainstream use. Developers must first determine how to build AI-enabled apps, said Torsten Volk, analyst at Enterprise Management Associates. Also, even though quantum computing can cut some of the processing time associated with training machine learning algorithms, software companies like IBM must make a clear case for the enterprise ROI in such an emerging field.

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