As we reflect on the trends that drove the construction and management of the modern technology stack this past year, the acceleration to digital stands out for the way it allowed companies to stay agile and meet customer experiences as they emerged from the pandemic of 2020. For IT teams, managing the expected projects alongside balancing the unexpected challenges of supply chain gaps, security breaches and the Great Resignation shaped 2021 into another significant year. In between the transformation, the arrival of new features and frameworks added to the developer experience, and the exploration of programming languages — how to create one, and when to use appropriate languages like Rust or Go, offered advantages to organizations who need to build large services quickly.
With an abundant choice of tools and services, open source solutions like database PostgreSQL and eBPF offered new ways to operate and accelerate the delivery cycle. And as we look to what’s next, the highly hyped technology of Web3, a decentralized version of the internet that is based on blockchain, is already on the horizon, challenging how we build and manage the next technology stack.
Among the thousands of stories shared across The New Stack this year, here are the top 10 stories that influenced building the modern technology ecosystem of today.
Top 10 Stories of 2021
#1: Microsoft Excel Becomes a Proper Programming Language — With over 750 million users, Microsoft Excel may be the oldest consumer software that is used widely since its debut over 34 years ago. Microsoft’s researchers believe they’ve now finally transformed Excel into a full-fledged programming language, thanks to the introduction of a new feature called LAMBDA. Users can now write any computation in the Excel formula language.
#2: What Should Be a Student’s First Programming Language? — When students first begin to learn computer science, which programming language should they start with? This story explores the evolving choices students face in selecting their first programming language and draws insights into how we’re envisioning our future.
#3: Rust vs. Go: Why They’re Better Together — While others may see Rust and Go as competitive programming languages, neither of their teams do. In fact, both teams have deep respect for what the others are doing and see the languages as complimentary with a shared vision of modernizing the state of software development industry-wide. This story discusses the pros and cons of Rust and Go and how they supplement and support each other and looks at recommendations for when each language is most appropriate.
#4: Conductor: Why We Migrated from Kubernetes to Nomad — Ever seen the “Game of Thrones,” “Star Trek Beyond,” or “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”? The cloud-based visual-effects rendering platform used to produce scenes for these movies is done using software from Conductor Technologies. As the business grew, the company made the decision to move from Kubernetes to a multicloud offering using HashiCorp Nomad. This story by Conductor Technologies engineers Jonathan Cross and Carlos Robles shares their experience using Nomad, including how and why they made the decision.
#5: How Does an Engineer Create a Programming Language? — Besides being a software engineer, Marianne Bellotti is also a kind of technological anthropologist. Her time at the U.S. Digital Service, where talented technology workers are matched to federal systems in need of some consultation, led her to write a book with the irresistible title “Kill It with Fire: Manage Aging Computer Systems (and Future Proof Modern Ones).” The New Stack caught up with Bellotti while she’s working on her latest project, a podcast chronicling what she’s learned while trying to write her own programming language.
#7: Why Parler Can’t Rebuild a Scalable Cloud Service from Scratch — When Amazon Web Services informed Parler that it was terminating its hosting deal, the social platform initially maintained that it would be back online in a week. Since providers were not willing to host the platform, the service may not return. But even if the social network found a hosting provider, setting up all the different services it needs could be prohibitively slow, or even impossible. For all the talk of hybrid and edge computing, hyperscale cloud still has some hard-to-beat advantages for organizations that need to build large services quickly.
#8: PostgreSQL v14 Is Faster, and Friendly to Developers — Open source relational database PostgreSQL has seen one of its biggest years; Stack Overflow developers named it the Most Wanted Database in 2021 and DB-Engines named it the Database Management System of the Year for the third time. The New Stack spoke with Umair Shahid, the head of PostgreSQL at enterprise database performance software provider Percona, as well as chair of the PostgreSQL code of conduct committee, lead of the user groups in Islamabad and Dubai, and part of the user group committee for the U.S. PostgreSQL Association (PgUS) when the maintainers released Version 14 last month. The new release comes with more than 220 patches — a 30% increase over the usual.
#9: How eBPF Streamlines the Service Mesh — There are several service mesh products and projects today that promise simplified connectivity between application microservices, while at the same time offering capabilities like secured connections, observability, and traffic management. But as we’ve seen repeatedly over the last few years, the excitement about service mesh has been tempered by practical concerns, complexity and overhead. Liz Rice, chief open source Officer at Isovalent explores how eBPF allows users to streamline the service mesh, making the service mesh data plane more efficient and easier to deploy.
#10: Web3 Architecture and How It Compares to Traditional Web Apps — Web3, which evokes the idea of a truly and accessible online environment, is on the peak of the hype cycle. While Web3 technologies employ peer-to-peer computing methods to place the individual in more control, how do these dapps, “decentralized” applications compare with traditional “centralized” web applications? Dive into this story for an architectural review of the complicated architecture.
Amazon Web Services and HashiCorp are sponsors of The New Stack.