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Technology Radar Vol. 17: What's moved into Trial?

The ThoughtWorks Technology Radar is intended to showcase our opinion on the most important tech trends we see today. This article will dive into the Trial ring, exploring the blips in this edition that weren’t in Trial before.

So why look at what’s moved into Trial? For a start, we know from analytics of our interactive Radar, blips in Trial always attract interest — as a group, they’re second most popular after those in Adopt.

The value in looking at these blips is that Trial is a pretty strong recommendation. It typically signifies that we’ve successfully used this in production and have confidence in it. And here, it’s our confidence in what we’ve seen that’s the deciding factor: being used in production isn’t sufficient. What that means is that for any blip that’s made it to Trial, we think you’ll want to explore it and verify whether it has a place in your tech toolkit.
 
Here, we’re looking at why blips have moved into Trial and exploring ones that have never been on the Radar before.

The movers

If you look at blips which were on previous Radars and have now moved into Trial, you’ll notice some common themes in the write-ups. The two factors, besides being successfully deployed to production, which generally influence the move into Trial are improved features and wider adoption.

But the one thing that we think is likely to raise most eyebrows is the move of Angular.

Angular’s history within the Radar has been controversial to say the least. The excitement started back in late 2016, when we moved Angular’s predecessor, AngularJS, to hold. This isn’t the place to rake over old ground, but we knew it was a decision that would be unpopular in some circles — AngluarJS was a well-loved framework, albeit one we felt had been overtaken by superior alternatives.

Looking at Angular today, we still feel there are superior alternatives, such as React, Vue or Ember. But that doesn’t mean we think Angular is a poor choice. It’s improved since the last Radar and introduced backwards compatibility, which will be welcome news for the AngularJS die hards out there. And given several of our teams have Angular applications in production, we think it warrants its move to Trial.

It will be worth watching how Angular fares from here. Ember and React are already in the Adopt rings, having established their capabilities within certain use cases. Can Angular improve enough to either establish its own niche or outmatch one of the other frameworks?

The new entrants

One of the most notable things about the new Tech Radar is the number of blips in the Trial ring that are new to the Radar. That signifies that since our last Radar, some of our teams have successfully used this tech in production.

It might be too early to conclude that this glut of new blips is indicative of new a trend — that as tech becomes ever more critical to organizational success, the need to innovate intensifies and the willingness to push the envelope increases. It’s certainly noteworthy to see so many new blips, but we’ll wait to see if this continues before we make that call.

We think all of the new blips are interesting and worthy, but given the number of them, it’s not practical to cover them all in one piece. What we list below is just a snapshot of one new blip from each quadrant, to give you a flavor of the variety of new blips on the Radar:
  • Chaos Engineering. Netflix introduced the idea of testing how a running system copes with outages in production, with Chaos Monkey. Chaos Engineering takes that idea and runs with it to look at wide applications of this: running experiments on distributed production systems to see how they fare in turbulent conditions. In effect, you’re testing your systems against the risks and flaws most pertinent to it in an effort to harden it.
  • Headless Chrome for front-end test. With Chrome 59, came the option of running the browser in a headless environment. That essentially brings all the modern web platform features you need to your command line — it’s ideally suited to running front-end browser tests without the overhead of displaying actions on a screen. Tests in Headless Chrome should run much faster, and behave more like a real browser, and while there are still some issues around memory use, it’s well placed to become the go-to tool for front-end tests.
  • WeChat. This isn’t just a WhatsApp alternative: WeChat is rapidly emerging as a must-have for any business that wants to expand into China. It’s one of the most important online payment platforms, with an inbuilt CMS and membership management features that enable small businesses to trade entirely on the platform. What’s more, it’s used by upwards of 70 percent of the Chinese population.
  • Jest. This JavaScript testing framework emerged from Facebook and is popular with the React community. Our teams have reported significant success using Jest, and we’re enthused by its out-of-the-box features such as mocking and code coverage, as well as its UI snapshot testing feature.

There are many other blips that have newly arrived in this edition of the Radar, and we’d encourage you to explore them further.