The Future of Web Development

Sunrise over field
Jean DerGurahian

Content Marketing Analyst

Jean DerGurahian

Web applications have two main components: backend code that runs on the server, and frontend code that runs in the browser. For backend code, developers can choose among an overwhelming number of languages and frameworks. For frontend code, until recently the only programming option beyond HTML and CSS was to use ever increasing amounts of JavaScript. Ten years ago, most developers simply wrote code for the backend, then added a sprinkling of JavaScript to the frontend to make things more interactive and user friendly. But that’s no longer sufficient for today’s modern web demands.

Organizations and users are increasingly demanding more complex frontend web interactions in the browser, which require more complex web application development. The development solution to meet this demand has been to build, essentially, two separate applications: a backend application to manage the servers and database, and a frontend application to handle user interactions, and then to create a bridge to make the two communicate.

This approach adds several layers of cost and complexity to the software development process and complicates how organizations maintain their web applications’ backend while meeting the user demand for greater interaction with the frontend. JavaScript development itself requires a large set of tools which are constantly changing. Companies are forced to employ large teams of developers with even wider skill sets that will need more time than ever before to build modern web solutions.

What if there was one programming language that could answer the needs of both the backend and frontend? With Phoenix LiveView, the answer becomes possible.

Phoenix LiveView Controls Web App Process

Phoenix LiveView is an exciting new way to build interactive, real-time web applications in Elixir, writing little or no custom JavaScript. Built on Phoenix’s excellent websocket support, LiveView harnesses the BEAM, the Erlang VM that enables millions of tiny, isolated, stateful processes to run simultaneously. It simplifies development by keeping the view logic server-side while achieving stunningly fast updates and low latency.

LiveView works by having the server-side code make all the decisions about what’s on the page and how to react to things the user does. It can do this for one user or for multiple users interacting; for example, several people updating orders in a system and seeing each other’s changes in real time, or playing an online strategy game together.

Phoenix LiveView has capabilities far beyond what other languages and frameworks can offer today, thanks to years of work on Phoenix Channels, and decades of design and tuning in the Erlang VM. Companies that can develop powerful web applications with Elixir, Phoenix, and LiveView will gain a significant competitive advantage in deploying and maintaining their digital properties.

The Phoenix LiveView Challenge: PhoenixPhrenzy

Elixir developers have already been building LiveView demos doing things such as letting users play Pacman against others in the browser, or having a clock that updates every millisecond. These demos aren’t really the kind of thing for which LiveView will be most useful, but they do show that it’s incredibly fast and can handle large workloads without slowing down.

Now it’s time for developers to really go all-in with the power of LiveView. DockYard is hosting Phoenix Phrenzy, a competition in which developers can build demos in Elixir and share with the larger open source community the potential of LiveView. This is a chance for all developers to try out Elixir — and for frontend developers to try out a stack that lets them iterate more quickly.

LiveView can’t replace every use case that a JavaScript frontend framework might handle, but it can replace a lot of them, and it’s simpler and cheaper to support. As the future of web development points to more meaningful user experiences and greater demand to drive business opportunities, Phoenix LiveView will be the banner behind which developers gather. Phoenix Phrenzy opens Monday, July 29. Join the competition and see what you can build.

Contest schedule
Submissions accepted 7/29, 2 p.m. ET to 9/30, 5 p.m. ET
Review period 9/30, 5 p.m. ET to 10/7, 12 p.m. ET
Voting 10/7, 12 p.m. ET to 10/20, 5 p.m. ET
Winner announced 10/21, 12 p.m. ET

Projects should be completed within the contest submission period. For more information, visit

DockYard is a digital product agency offering custom software, mobile, and web application development consulting. We provide exceptional professional services in strategy, user experience, design, and full stack engineering using Ember.js and Elixir. With a nationwide staff, we’ve got consultants in key markets across the United States, including Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Austin, New York, and Boston.


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