Page 2 of 3
It seems strange to say that 2010 was the year of HTML5 because it isn't yet a standard and using it at all is a risky business. Any sane programmer would, for the moment, keep well away from HTML5 ... but... the temptation is too great. HTML5 managed to make an impact on programming without becoming a standard - we simply needed to use it. When you actually analyse what it is we get from HTML5 however you can see that the fuss is mostly about nothing.
A few extra HTML tags and a set of half implemented facilities aren't enough to get excited over. The only new feature worth comment is the 2D Canvas which, at long last, might allow web programmers to draw directly into the page - so we have had to wait so long for so little. (HTML5 - I've seen it. It's rubbish)
The real surprise of 2010 is how excited we all got about HTML5. So much so that Microsoft's attempt to take over the world with its Silverlight add-in faltered due to sudden lack of faith - perhaps the future would be better with HTML5 rather than Silverlight? ( WPF & Silverlight at risk from Microsoft's passion for HTML5 and Silverlight is dead, long live Silverlight?) After making inflammatory statements that Silverlight was only the development environment for WP7 and putting in doubt the work of committed Silverlight programmers everywhere it had to do some rapid repair work and start talking of the rosy future of Silverlight 5. (Silverlight 5 Beta announced)
Even so some Microsoft sites are using HTML5 in preference to Silverlight and the ones that aren't are often apologetic about it.
Clearly Silverlight isn't the answer we are searching for because it isn't a standard and more important it isn't supported widely enough, but HTML5 is only a partial solution. In the web world things seem to get better only slowly.
Of course many other things happened in the year that were not part of major trends. Here are a few highlights.
Almost a non-event Microsoft rolled out Visual Studio 2010. The reason it was almost a non-event is that any one with any interest would have been trying the freely available beta well before the launch. Yes it takes all the fun out of the event but it is a better way of doing things. Overall perhaps the most critical thing about VS 2010 is that it is the first and currently only major application to switch to WPF for its user interface. So far the verdict has been that its slow, buggy and please can we have VS 2008 back. (Visual Studio 2010 SP1 Beta )
.NET 4 is more straightforwardly welcome however. Once again it's official appearance is overshadowed by .NET 5 breathing down its neck.
The use of the GPU for general programming continued to gain momentum in in 2010. Language support improved and supercomputers using GPUs became the talking point.
Parallelism and concurrency in the wider context were also important with Microsoft introducing additional facilities in .NET. (Microsoft's new way with parallel code and Async, Await and the UI problem)
I still don't think that 2010 can be marked out as the year we moved to parallel programming - perhaps next year. ( OpenGL 4.1, Parallel Nsight - another shot in the GPU war, Intel OpenCL SD and New Intel Parallel toolkits)
Hardware also had an impact in the form of the Kinect. This amazing depth sensing input device has opened up a huge range of new application areas since open source drivers were created for it. (Kinect drivers hacked and Using the Kinect gets much easier) This year may have been the year we got our hands on such a device but expect to see new ideas and uses making headlines in 2011 - Open Kinect isn't over yet.