Developer’s list of innovative companies to watch in 2021

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Governments may not have classed developers as “essential workers” during the pandemic, but we know they are.

The companies in our most innovative companies list for 2021 are helping developers to deliver the full potential of their visions quickly which, in turn, is often helping end-users in ways that can’t be understated.

In alphabetical order:

Appery

Appery’s mission is to “accelerate your mobile innovation” and its low-code app development platform enables just that. Hybrid mobile apps, web apps, and progressive web apps (PWAs) can all be developed quickly using a single JavaScript codebase.

The ease of development through Appery doesn’t mean apps have to be simple. Complex products can be built using a wide array of tools including backend services, API creation, cloud storage, and plugins for Twilio, Facebook, SendGrid, and more.

“The power and capabilities of the platform are what make Appery.io stand out. Key capabilities include: the visual App Builder, no vendor lock-in, both back-end and front-end development capabilities, and the ability to add powerful mobile app features to projects with a variety of plug-ins and easy third-party integrations,” Eldar Chernitsky, Head of Product at Appery, tells Developer.

A client of Appery’s is one of the largest hospitals and healthcare systems in the US. The organisation used Appery to quickly build an application that automates their internal processes and helps to reduce the pressures which are being felt more than ever due to COVID-19.

Throughout 2021, Appery will be focused on building closer relationships with business users and citizen developers by:

  • Simplifying the application building process;
  • Improving supporting materials such as videos, documentation, and tutorials;
  • Building a range of ready-to-go applications

Appery is also looking at extending its capabilities in specific fields such as IoT, e-commerce, and fitness.

Appian

Appian is another low-code platform (we promise this is the last one) for “building powerful business applications, faster” and was ranked quadrant leader by Gartner for the second year running in 2020.

“While low-code application development is not new, the surge in remote development during COVID-19 has led to a growing demand for solutions that can help businesses to unlock the value of automation as quickly as possible,” comments Sathya Srinivasan, Vice President of Solutions Consulting (Partners) at Appian.

In addition to helping to build new applications from scratch up to 20x faster than traditional development methods, Appian’s platform enables legacy applications to be connected and enhanced.

“While low-code facilitates speed, speed without power quickly diminishes the value of what can be built. By bringing power – that is, the ability to combine Business Process Management, Case Management, Robotics, AI and Machine Learning along with complex business rules and decisioning capabilities – we are able to hyper-charge the traditional development needs into a new methodology,” explains Srinivasan.

Appian says it’s seeing rapid growth in the needs of its customers, especially due to new technologies introduced during the pandemic needing to be integrated into their stacks.

“In the last year, we helped Bexley Health Neighbourhood Care (BHNC), a division of the UK’s NHS, coordinate primary care resources as the pandemic took hold. Age-old problems like legacy systems and data visibility were exacerbated by the evolving situation,” says Srinivasan.

“In just one week, BHNC was able to build and deploy a system for monitoring, allocating and reporting on healthcare resources across its network. The solution is robust, available 24/7, and scalable to meet increased demand.”

The company believes 2021 will be the year when low-code really takes off in business. It’s a belief that’s somewhat backed by Gartner, with the analyst house estimating that 75 percent of large enterprises will be using at least four low-code development tools for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives by the end of 2025.

“By decreasing the barriers to application development in this way, therefore, I think we will see the previously siloed role of the IT developer become much more integrated with the wider business. The IT team will increasingly take part in business decision-making, in what will be regarded as a far more collaborative process,” Srinivasan concludes.

Applause

Applause wants to make your app testing as fast and seamless as possible, but without cutting corners. The company provides a complete suite of testing and feedback capabilities to speed up the time-to-market of mobile apps, websites, and more. 

“With our Product Excellence Platform, Applause provides a comprehensive approach to digital quality. This is something unique in the industry and enables our clients to use multiple testing types – from manual exploratory and codeless automation to user experience, payments and accessibility testing – with expertise tailored to their specific industry and use case,” explains Rob Mason, CTO at Applause.

Brands that trust Applause for testing include Ford, Google, Uber, Microsoft, Airbnb, PayPal, eBay, Walmart, and Facebook.

“Our crowdsourced approach helps us stand out from others. We have the largest vetted community of digital experts in the world available on-demand, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – this means that clients can test with real users in real locations and scenarios any time of day and anywhere in the world,” says Mason.

Applause recently worked with JustEat to help the fast-food delivery company test in all the locations they serve across a mix of devices and operating systems. In addition, Applause helped to audit JustEat to ensure the company complies with WCAG 2.1 accessibility guidelines.

The company’s new SaaS product – Applause Codeless Automation (ACA) – launched last month which aims to lower the barrier to entry of automation.

“With ACA, any user can simply pick a device of their choice, and as they move through the test case, their actions are automatically recorded. The ACA product then translates that session into an automation script. This streamlined process results in increased speed, faster releases and reduced costs,” Mason tells us.

Applause will expand ACA this year with support for executing codeless test scripts on iOS, Android, and web apps.

Eggplant

Eggplant is “on a mission to rid the world of bad software” by combining AI, automated software testing, and real-user intelligence.

“Our core technology, Digital Automation Intelligence (DAI), utilises AI in several unique ways. This is the first AI-powered test automation solution,” says Candice Arnold, CMO of Eggplant.

“Traditional test automation just runs the same test scripts every time you want to release a product. This isn’t an intelligent approach and typically doesn’t capture new bugs that have crept in, find the weak points in a system, or identify what is critical to test.

“Eggplant’s AI-powered test automation plugs into everything from code repositories to real customer usage data. From this, it learns what is important and actually builds the right tests for you instantly – to expose weaknesses and address them, keep up with continuous delivery requirements, while maximising customer experience.”

Eggplant was acquired by $26 billion market cap automation leader Keysight Technologies last year and has wasted no time in making the most of the opportunities it presents.

“The addition of Eggplant to Keysight created a unique, innovative force in the automated software test market enabling a full hardware and software system, such as a 5G network, to be tested end-to-end—from the physical and protocol layers, to the application and user experience layers,” says Arnold.

Few software companies can boast of having solutions being used for reasons off of this planet, but Eggplant is among them. The company has worked with NASA on the Orion spacecraft which will take humans to Mars.

“NASA’s mission is no easy feat, and as can be imagined there is a complex tech system onboard to ensure everything goes to plan. Eggplant is tasked with ensuring that technology onboard will perform as expected even in harsh climates and high-stakes situations,” Arnold tells us.

“Specifically, Eggplant ensures that Orion’s digital cockpit is working flawlessly. Eggplant continuously tests their software systems to ensure each process is functioning, performing, and providing the right user experience. It is better to discover the unknown unknowns on Earth rather than in the vacuum of space!

“Eggplant is honoured to be a part of this new era of space exploration, with NASA’s Orion Spacecraft and its crew exploring the mysteries of space,” says Arnold.

This year, Eggplant will continue harnessing the opportunities presented by joining Keysight to rid the world of bad software.

“Digital transformation is now widespread, with businesses releasing new apps and services daily in order to keep up with rapidly changing consumer demands. Software is at the very heart of this digital transformation and as the world becomes more digitised and dependent on digital products, we need to ensure that we are testing software continuously to ensure it’s up to scratch,” Arnold explains.

“If a business’ software isn’t meeting customer demands, they will likely see the consequences.”

GitLab

Not everyone was happy with that other repo host being acquired by that large Redmond-based software company. GitLab’s importer for GitHub projects spiked massively following that announcement, but it’s not the only reason the second-largest repo host is worth a look.

“Organisations ranging from small firms to large enterprises are realising that today’s DevOps toolchains are complex and expensive. The only way to really accelerate the software development lifecycle is by taking a more unified, simplified approach. GitLab recognised this and built a single DevOps platform that helps customers succeed in every phase of the DevOps lifecycle,” comments Brendan O’Leary, Senior Developer Evangelist for GitLab.

GitHub has closed the gap in many respects where GitLab once led – like repo storage space and a built-in CI/CD framework – but GitLab set the trend and arguably continues to lead in handling your entire DevOps lifecycle.

One particularly cool project GitLab is supporting is the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) which aims to build the world’s largest radio telescope and represents a huge collaborative effort by 1000 scientists and engineers spanning 20 different countries, all guided from the SKA’s headquarters at Jodrell Bank in England.

“As the single application for DevOps, GitLab simplifies the project’s software development and testing. When it’s finished, the telescope will use arrays of dishes across sites in South Africa & Australia to transform our understanding of the skies and the universe’s origins. 

We’re proud to be a small part of their mission,” O’Leary says.

In 2021, GitLab will continue presenting itself as the best option to manage an entire DevOps lifecycle—playing its part in a market that’s forecasted to grow to $15 billion in 2026.

“Our vision is to replace DevOps toolchains with a single application that is pre-configured to work by default across the entire DevOps lifecycle. Over the next year, we plan on building on our leadership in SCM and CI/CD to become a leader in Application Security Testing as well,” O’leary concludes.

MongoDB

MongoDB doesn’t want to be just another database. The document-based, distributed database is specifically designed for modern application developers in the cloud era and is trusted by organisations including SEGA, Adobe, Verizon, SAP, Gov.uk, Squarespace, and many others.

“For the last four years, MongoDB has been named the database most wanted by developers because it enables them to build applications faster, handle highly diverse data types, and manage applications more efficiently at scale,” Mark Porter, Chief Technology Officer at MongoDB, tells Developer.

“MongoDB was built by developers for developers and adopts a significantly different approach to storing and working with data. Our database represents information as a series of JSON documents as opposed to the complex table and row format of legacy systems.

“Not only do developers find dealing with their data in their natural language structures revolutionary, but because the data is grouped in the way that the application needs, it’s much more performant. This all makes it much simpler for developers to learn, more pleasant to use, while still providing all the capabilities needed to meet the most complex requirements at scale.”

MongoDB now offers a full general-purpose unified application data platform with tools including a fully managed database-as-a-service solution, full-text search, native federated queries with the customer’s data lake, and modern mobile capabilities.

Porter’s job as CTO of the most popular database for modern applications means that he could reel off tons of interesting customer stories, but he’s particularly proud of MongoDB’s role in one recent case—with the UK government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

“[The DWP’s] reformed welfare programme, Universal Credit, faced an unprecedented test when COVID-19 hit as claims skyrocketed by 10x. We worked closely with the DWP Digital team to help scale its services across a distributed microservices architecture to make it much easier and more intuitive for citizens to submit claims,” says Porter.

“It’s work like this that really gets you out of bed in the morning but there are many, many more of these across the globe.”

In 2021, Porter says MongoDB is working on some very exciting updates that he can’t yet talk about.

“Our focus remains (and always will be) on helping developers build and ship modern applications much simpler and faster. We’ll have more to share in the summer at our MongoDB.Live event and I hope to see you all there.”

(Photo by Tarryn Myburgh on Unsplash)

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Tags: 2021, AI, appery, appian, applause, database, development, eggplant, featured, gitlab, low-code, mongodb, Platform, software development, software testing, Testing, top companies

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