What's Hot in 2013: Our Picks

2012 was a fantastic year for new technologies, products, and frameworks in our industry. That said, 2013 is looking to be even better! Recently, I asked our Nettuts+ writing staff to compile a list of the technologies that they'll be keeping a close eye on. Now these aren't necessarily brand new, but we expect them to spike in popularity this year!



Composer is a tool for dependency management, similar to Bundler and NPM. Declare your dependencies within a configuration file, and then run a single command to immediately pull them into your project!

Though it rapidly picked up steam last year, in 2013, I expect to see wide-spread adoption of Composer from the PHP community. Learn about it here on Nettuts+.

Laravel 4


Laravel will be to the PHP community what Rails was to the Ruby world. It's an incredibly elegant framework that will surge to the next level in early 2013, with the release of Version 4. Composer support, better testability, easy emailing, and resourceful controllers are just a few new features that you can look forward to. Keep an eye on this one!

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PHP 5.5

PHP 55

Following the successful release of PHP 5.4 in early 2012, which introduced a plethora of badly needed new features, such as a built-in server, traits, and an improved array syntax, in version 5.5, we can expect to play around with generators, support for list within foreach statements, and, among other things, a vastly simplified password hashing API.



D3 is a fantastic JavaScript-based data visualization library that allows you to bind data to the DOM, and then make transformations to the document. To learn more, refer to D3's GitHub repository for a massive gallery of examples for visualizing various data sets.



Brackets is an open-source code editor that takes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to the extreme: it's built with those very technologies! As a result, as long as you have a relatively basic understanding of JavaScript, you have the necessary tools to extend the editor as you see fit.

Expect to see this editor give Sublime Text 2 a run for its money in 2013! Until then, here's a peek at the latest (at the time of this writing) updates to the editor.

Bryan Jones's Self-Serving Pick

CodeKit 2.0

CodeKit Logo

CodeKit became massively popular in 2012 and is now used on sites like Barackobama.com, Engadget.com, and many more. The 2.0 release coming in the first half of 2013 features a complete UI overhaul, support for more languages and tools, better integration of frameworks and a revolutionary new-project-creation workflow.

Essentially, the goal is to make anyone who's forced to build a website without CodeKit... cry.

Dan Harper Picks


2013 will be the year of PHP. The year PHP finally makes its comeback and starts to fight against the call of Ruby and Node.

Composer is bringing PHP its long-sought-after package manager. The PHP Framework Interop Group is setting a standard for how PHP should be written, allowing every new and existing framework to grow together and benefit one-another. Not to mention the whole host of new features coming to the language with PHP version 5.4, 5.5 and beyond. It's hard not to be excited about PHP's now rosy-looking future.

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Meteor, a new Node.js-powered framework is set to revolutionise how you write high-quality dynamic web apps. While right now it's still in preview at version 0.5.2, it's set to hit the version 1 milestone sometime in the new year. It very well may spark a change in the industry like we haven't seen since the rise of Ruby on Rails. I'm seriously excited for this. I'll grab the popcorn.


With browsers getting ever faster, JavaScript is being turned to more and more to provide fast and slick user interfaces for web apps. Backbone is one of the leading libraries for structuring your JS code. With Backbone fast-approaching version 1.0, it's sure to only achieve more and more success as the year goes on.

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Sublime Text 2

There's just no way you can't love Sublime. With its command palette, multiple cursors, split-panes, insane levels of customisation and extensibility, it really is no surprise why Sublime Text 2 has stolen then hearts of thousands of developers away from text editors across every operating system. In 2013, I expect it to continue reigning supreme - with a few exciting updates along the way.

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The controversial one. Adobe? The company loathed by anyone who's written even a single line of HTML? Well, yes. In the past year, Adobe have made it abundantly clear that they're embracing the future of web technologies. They've announced a number of very cool projects, from Brackets, a new take on a text editor for a web designers, to Edge Animate, a Flash-like editor to produce rich CSS3 animations and their CSS FilterLab experiment.

Also, let's not forget their purchase of PhoneGap and Typekit! Perhaps, by 2014, we'll have started to forget that Flash websites and Dreamweaver ever existed?

Nikko Bautista's Picks

Zend Framework 2

Zend Framework 2

Zend Framework 2 was released earlier this year, and it has been a wonderful experience so far. Its adoption of Composer (or Pyrus) to manage its packaging is a huge step in the right direction. I'm hopeful that, in 2013, it will take the crown as the best tool for web developers seeking to build highly-scalable web applications.

Twitter Bootstrap

Twitter Bootstrap

Since its conception in 2011, Twitter Bootstrap has become a standard rapid prototyping framework, used by many developers (including myself) who have no idea how to create a grid-layout (or are too lazy to write one). With both developers (@mdo and @fat) moving the whole project into its own open-source organization, I'm looking forward to what the new infrastructure will bring to the project as a whole.

Facebook Open Graph

Facebook Open Graph

In 2011, Facebook released the Facebook Open Graph. The Open Graph has opened Facebook users to a whole lot more, allowing users to share richer stories, based on exactly what they're doing. From a development point of view, it allows for better integration with Facebook, providing definable stories, which surpass what a simple "Like" can offer.

In 2013, I foresee Facebook's Open Graph becoming a standard way of sharing different kinds of stories and actions - not just in Facebook, but for any application.



CAPTCHAs have always been the bane of my existence. They're inclusion in any project generally results in a slightly lower conversion rate. Love it or hate it though, I've always deemed it necessary to help fight robots, looking to spam your web sites.

Enter PlayThru: a CAPTCHA alternative, which asks users to play a simple mini-game instead of typing unreadable gibberish. It's easy to implement, and is nearly uncrackable by any existing CAPTCHA solving solutions that are currently available. In 2013, I can see it being adopted by many of the applications that we use today.

Eden PHP


Eden is a PHP library that was designed for rapid prototyping. I view it as the Twitter Bootstrap for your PHP code. It's quite easy to use, offers support for plenty of services, and, best of all, it integrates well with any framework you choose. In 2013, I expect to see it make more of a dent in the PHP scene.

Gabriel Manricks' Picks



Koding is a web development platform that combines all the development tools you need, along with a social aspect to a single place in the cloud. They offer a complete solution, which includes support for multiple languages (PHP, Python, Ruby, etc.), multiple databases (mySQL, MongoDB), terminal access, a sub domain, and file hosting.

Additionally, they've made it social, with a mix of GitHub, Twitter and Stack Overflow. You can view friends activity, ask questions, follow topics and post updates. With all of this innovation on a single page, you're likely wondering how much it's going to cost you? Well, the developers have stated that the product is free and will remain free for developers always.

They are still in beta, so there are some things which still need tweaking, such as one-click apps and options to purchase additional resources. Overall, though, I think this product shows a lot of promise, and may turn into something really great in 2013.



RethinkDB is a database system, rebuilt for the modern 21st century.

Things that are traditionally the most complicated of tasks can be accomplished through the admin's clean UI.

RethinkDB is a database system, rebuilt from the ground up for the modern 21st century. Created in 2009, RethinkDB is an open-source database that, in my opinion, is considerably under-rated.

It uses a JSON data model to store everything in documents, and supports: atomic updates, JavaScript code directly in the queries, upserting!, map/reduce functions, inline sub-queries, and all operations are lock-free. Additionally, it comes with a stunning UI that puts other tools, like phpMyAdmin, to shame. The included admin allows you to run queries (with autocomplete code hinting), view usage graphs and set up sharding/replication on a per table basis. Things that are traditionally the most complicated of tasks can be accomplished here through the admin's clean UI.

RethinkDB has automatic failsafe operations for when a node crashes or loses internet connectivity, and the entire system is optimized to take advantage of the new SSD technologies.

Currently, they only provide a package for Ubuntu, but they do offer instructions for getting it set up on Mac OSX. And, of course, they are working on packages for other systems. It will be interesting to see where they take this in 2013.



Will 2013 be the year that they go global?

Stripe, for the unfamiliar, is a payment processor with the mindset of "built by developers for developers." If you've ever tried to accept credit card payments with something like PayPal, then you know that it can be a headache to set up. From unclear documentation, to fussy APIs, you end up with a lot more open-source projects. Stripe combats this with a dead simple REST API, webhooks for handling different events, and wrappers for basically every language available.

Stripe recently released "Stripe Connect," an OAUTH 2.0 API that allows you to handle payments and access users' information, allowing you to create analytical apps and services for Stripe. The single downside to Stripe currently is that it's only available in the U.S. and Canada. That said, the development team have stated that they are trying to branch out to all countries.

Will 2013 be the year that they go global? I guess we will have to wait and see. Until then, you can learn how to use Stripe here on Nettuts+.

Chrome Packaged Apps

Chrome Packaged Apps

Hopefully, 2013 will bring a new era of hybrid applications, which combine the web's simplicity with the OS's power.

Packaged apps are an exciting concept for web technologies and developers alike. Building a web app is a super easy process compared to native OS apps; all you do is layout your objects in XML (forms, buttons, text, etc.) and style them with CSS. Then, to add functionality, you can use something like JavaScript to write simple code in a very component-oriented way.

The downside to web apps is the need for a persistent connection, and nearly no support for native tasks (access to USB devices, writing local files, and so on). Lastly, they are bound to a web browser, which can spoils the effect.

Chrome apps are a mix of both worlds: you get to build apps with access to all of the features of your operating system, but you do it with HTML, CSS and JavaScript!. Chrome offers API-like libraries, which provide you with access to the computers' resources - and your application is created offline first. This means that, once installed, there is no requirement for an internet connection; it fully runs outside of the browser.

So where's the catch? Why haven't we seen many Chrome apps? Well the reason is because it's still only in the preview stage right now. You can certainly build your own apps with it to test yourself, but there is currently no way to package it for distribution. Hopefully, 2013 will bring a new era of hybrid applications, which combine the web's simplicity with the OS's power.

CKEditor 4

CKEditor 4

Already, there are plugins for syntax highlighting and MS document handling.

When building a web application, you must consider the different options for improving a user's experience. A good UI can "make or break" a product, regardless of its functionality. CKEditor is a WYSIWYG editor that allows you to generate HTML code from an easy to use interface.

CKEditor 4 was released in late 2012, and comes with a few drastic improvements over its previous version. It now supports inline editing of HTML pages, new UI themes that look great out of the box, and a full API to create your own custom extensions.

When it comes to making products, you shouldn't waste time creating inputs for your users, only to then process the data and format it for the web. With CKEditor, you can customize every stage of its event-cycle, from what's in the toolbar, to which format the content should be processed into. CKEditor 4 has only been out for a few short weeks, but, already, there are plugins for syntax highlighting and MS document handling.

This is something that I'm very curious to learn more about.

Claudio Ortolina's Picks

Ruby 2.0

Ruby 20

With the Ruby 2.0 release just around the corner, offering new language features, like named arguments and improved performance, Ruby will certainly be a hot topic for 2013 - especially when it comes to upgrading any application deployed on previous versions.

Rails 4.0

Rails 40

Another big release, with important architectural changes (like strong parameters) and a more modular structure that should once again positively impact performance. Keep an eye on this one!



jRuby is a solid alternative to the default Ruby interpreter (MRI). It's a mature Ruby implementation on top of the Java Virtual Machine that leverages support for concurrency and integration with Java native libraries and drivers. The latest releases show also extremely good performance; it's definitely an option, when it comes to deploying Ruby applications.


Travis CI

Continuous integration for testing is increasingly important; Travis makes it possible with a simple cloud based service. With upcoming support for private projects, it's going to be a must-use tool for any serious test suite.



The Go language, developed by Google, has rapidly gained momentum in our community, thanks to its simplicity, performance and intuitive design. The recent 1.0 release and Google's commitment to its future make it a valid option for performance critical services in 2013.

Andrew Burgess's Picks


Some Framework

Node is relatively new as server technologies go, but I'm convinced that the excitement we've seen so far is hardly the beginning. Technologies like Meteor are proof that Node opens up a whole new way of building web apps that's incredibly difficult to pull off with some of the old faithfuls.

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MongoDB (and NoSQL in General)


I recently created a Tuts+ Premium course all about MongoDB. Prior to that, I hadn't really had a chance to check out any NoSQL technology, but it was love at first site (yes, pun intended). The idea of storing your data in the same way you work with it (JSON) seems so obvious; why weren't we doing it sooner? While NoSQL isn't always the right tool for the job, I think you'll be seeing it used a lot more in the not-so-distant future.

Responsive Design

Responsive Design

I'm no designer, but I'm certainly a connoisseur of good design. So, lately, I've been pretty excited about the hype surrounding responsive design. Once again, it just feels so right. I've seen a lot of websites, some pretty high-profile, redesigning with responsive layouts over the last year, and I'm fairly sure this is one trend that won't be disappearing any time soon.

Keep an eye on Tuts+ in 2013 for a new responsive redesign!

Industry Maturity


While this isn't a framework or tool, it's a trend I've been noticing for a while - and liking a lot. What I mean by mature is mainly better, more close-to-standardized practices, when building web applications. A great article this year that put a lot of it down on paper (so to speak) was Rebecca Murphey's A Baseline for Front End Developers. Other projects, like Yeoman, encourage developers to build tested, modular projects, and tools like Github encourage good code management and history.

This maturing can only be good for the industry, so I welcome it whole-heartedly.


Now that you've seen our votes, are there other technologies or releases that you're anxiously awaiting? Let's keep the conversation going in the comments below!



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