Web development: where are we, and where are we going?

WeAreDevelopers World Congress 2022

🏳️‍🌈 Happy Pride 🏳️‍🌈

Who is this guy?

Laurie Voss

  • web developer
  • co-founder, npm Inc.
  • pretty nice guy


What are we

talking about?

  • The state of web developmnet
  • How we got here
  • Where we're going next

Spoiler alert:

you are probably going to hate

my prediction

The model

Stage 1:

Wild experimentation

Stage 2:

best practices evolve

Stage 3:

design patterns

Stage 4:


Stage 5:

intense competition

Stage 6:


This process is often not a lot of fun

Custom built is better but still loses because capitalism






Stage 7:

whining about fundamentals

Stage 8:

mass adoption

Each step has far more people than the previous step

Stage 9a:

migration to specialization

Older layers of the stack never die

they just fade away

Stage 9b:

migration to adaptation

There is

no such thing as

"the fundamentals"

The history of web development is full of examples

In the beginning

there was Tim


Common Gateway Interface

Wild experimentation in servers


It used to mean Personal Home Pages

"The website is down because I tripped over the power cord"


Linux Apache MySQL PHP

Economics often drives who wins

which isn't necessarily a good thing

Everybody was building a blog

1999: 23 blogs

2006: 50 million blogs

WordPress powers 43% of websites

in 2022

This is what the cycle looks like


as a framework


as a framework


became the platform

The model that wins

is not the same as

the product that wins

63% of wordpress sites are WPEngine.com


as a framework


as a framework

AWS erased hardware as a thing web developers needed to care about

...but there are still people who rack servers for a living

in fact more of them than ever

A handful of winners


as a framework

You knew I had to mention it

Every step

of the cycle increases in scale

SourceForge = 15,000,000 downloads/week

npm = 41,481,000,000 downloads/week

Every step

in the cycle

involves more people

We're caught up





right now?

AWS Lambda

Serverless adoption is over 50% in 2022

Mass adoption ahoy!


I work at Netlify

but this is the reason I chose to do that


as a framework

Jamstack is at stage 5

It hasn't won (yet)


as a framework

React dominates the modern web

68% of developers report using React in 2021

Will React become part of the platform?

What about

web components?

You know who's going to win the game when people start leaving the stadium

What's next?

The metaverse


Stealing money is not a new idea


I wish I were joking

How do you

figure out

what comes next?

Are we bored enough of React

to abstract it away?


one potential future

A visual editor

like Webflow on localhost

Live editable React components

Write editable components

Abstract away components from content

Imagine a new kind of web developer

doing a new kind of web development


This is how the WWW was supposed to work

Sir Tim would approve (probably)

The economics

of web dev in 2022

means something

has to give

We are unsustainably expensive

We need 10x more web developers

than we have

The shortage is making websites terrible

If Copilot can predict your code you shouldn't be writing it

This is scary!

Great migrations always are

Option 1: specialize

Option 2: adapt

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Option 3:

invent the new thing

Wild experimentation is underway

Another ambitious vision of the future

is in the talk right after this one

I could be wrong

I'm wrong all the time


...but what if I'm not?

Thank you.