Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The programmers' future: web applications

A lot of IT graduates from the 80s and early 90s will find that the skills developed from their university or college days are becoming obsolete with each passing day. Heck, some of the programming languages they’ve implemented projects with are probably no longer in existence today (or more likely to have evolved to the point of being unrecognizable).

One area that is almost unheard of back then is web applications development. Today, your web browser is not just used to explore web sites, it is an applications platform in its own right.

I can’t think of any traditional software that doesn’t have a web based equivalent. From office suites to something as specialised as healthcare management software, web based applications are being deployed much faster than anything we have seen in computing history. My take on it is that it will only become more prevalent.

I can think of a couple of reasons why web based software grew phenomenally in such a short period of time:

It is easy to deploy: Code once and serve as much clients as your servers could handle. Updates are also less time and resource consuming to deploy

Centralized expansion cost center: You’ll virtually only need to be concerned of the specs of the hosting server rather than your clients’ equipment

Platform agnostic: Once you’ve decided on your hosting platform, web applications can pretty much run on any operating system and Internet-enabled devices (not only computers!)

Growing toolsets: New web programming languages, libraries, scripts and toolkits are born almost daily, adding to the arsenal at the disposal of developers

More reliable transmission infrastructure: Billions are invested each year to make the Internet faster and more efficient. Web application developers are virtually riding on this growth for free

Although I don’t foresee there will ever be a day where everything runs off the Internet (at least in my lifetime), it is nevertheless too gigantic to turn a blind eye to. Every traditional software company is moving on to Internet applications… so should every developer.


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