Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Maria C. Horton

Related Topics: Agile Computing

Agile Computing: Article

Coach Wei's "Direct From Web 2.0" Blog: The Converging Developer Community

"Of course, the community is shifting towards Ajax!"

At the AJAXWorld Conference & Expo and OpenAjax Alliance back to back meetings in Santa Clara, CA this week, it has been hard not to think about the developer community and how Web 2.0 is impacting it today.

Web development can be roughly divided into two camps:

  1. Website development;
  2. Web application development;

"Website development" is more concerned about content: presenting content, linking pages, delivering documents, and simple form-based interactions. The typical websites would fall into this category. "Web application development" is more about “application", the role of which is to provide and present data, interact with users and other systems, all governed by certain business logic. Though there is no clear-cut boundary between the two, there are distinct differences between them.

In the web development community, there are roughly four different categories of people:

  1. Web Architects: Architects are the gurus. They know object-oriented programming, EJB, database connection pooling, SOAP... and how different pieces/jargon can fit together. Architects go to conferences. In fact, I think most folks at AjaxWorld Conference are architects. Architects speak probably quite a few languages (Java, C#, PHP, for example) and use tools like Eclipse or VI to write code. Architects are hard to find and afford, but you do want to find and retain them. You don't want to offshore the responsibility of architects. In any large projects, there is only a very small percentage of people are architects, but they are the leading influencers and crucial to the success of projects.
  2. Web Developers: These are the developers who code JSP, Servlet, CSS and JavaScript etc. Actually, on the server side, most likely they are using PHP, Ruby, etc. The typical tools used are Eclipse (code development), Dreamweaver, text editor, etc. My estimate of the number of web developers worldwide is about 10 million people.
  3. Web Designers: These are the "creative professionals". They code HTML, DHTML, CSS, Flash and probably a little bit JavaScript. Their tools are DreamWeaver, Adobe Illustrator, Flash, etc. Most of the Flash developers belong to this category.
  4. Content Developers: these are the folks that provide content. They typically use word processors etc to produce the content and their technical involvement stops at HTML.

The web development community can be visualized in Figure 1. Web application development and site development typically require a different mix of people. Web application development requires considerable technical skills. Web site development projects require more resources on design and content development and may not even need architects.

Looking from an enterprise perspective, there is an enterprise application development community that has been historically different from the web community.

In the enterprise developer community:

  1. Architects: same as architects in the web community. In fact, these are typically the same group of people who are architects in the web community. My estimate of the total number of architects worldwide is in the order of a few hundred thousand people.
  2. Application Developers: these are the folks that deliver your typical desktop applications. They are the Visual Basic developers, J2SE developers, PowerBuilder developers, WinForm developers...The total number of application developers is about 10 million people.
  3. Business Analysts: different from application developers, business analysts are less technical but have a much higher level understanding of the specific business issues. Their job is to convert business needs into IT requirements and help facilitate the development of IT projects from the business user perspective. They use tools like Excel to do analysis and PowerPoint/Word to communicate. They also use tools like requirement management software to communicate with developers. My estimate of the total number of business analysts is in the order of tens of millions of people.
  4. UI Designers: UI designers are different from web designers because UI designers focus on desktop UI instead of web UI, though the two groups are converging into one.

The Convergence of Enterprise Development and Web Development

As the web becomes more entrenched in our daily life and business operations, enterprise application development is moving more and more onto the web environment. Historically, the technical limitation of the Web has limited the scope of web adoption for enterprise applications. For example, Forrester Research conducted a survey that shows 50%-60% of new application development projects are still being developed as Client/Server applications in 2003.  The rise of Web 2.0 technologies (Ajax, Enterprise Mashup Server, Universal Client Framework, Internet Messaging Bus,  Rich Internet Application, etc) finally removing these technical barriers.

With Web 2.0 technologies, the Web is capable of supporting all kinds of applications. As a result, the enterprise development community and the web community are converging into one - let's just call it the "developer community".

The Shifting Landscape: Open Web Technologies Win

Quite a few recent surveys have demonstrated the significant impact of Web 2.0 technologies on the developer community. Beyond the convergence of enterprise application development and web development, these surveys show significant trends in the growing adoption of open standards-based web technologies in lieu of technologies that are proprietary and not web-compatible.

Ajax Adoption and Server Side Platform Trends

Richard Monson-Hafael from the Burton Group conducted a survey (The raw results are here) on client side and server side toolkit/platform for Ajax. On the client side (the charts are generated by Ajaxian.com):

I must say that I was a little surprised that Dojo is not more popular than Script.aculo.us. I talked to Richard Monson-Hafael at AjaxWorld Conference 2006 about this. He said it could be the result of the sample pool not being big enough (865 participants).

Apache XAP (http://incubator.apache.org/xap) is not listed in the survey. XAP has not reached a production quality yet. I think XAP will have some significant impact on the web developer community after XAP reaches the next quality level.

On the server side, I am not surprised that PHP is the most popular one. Most Ajax adoption so far is for web site enhancement, where PHP is the most popular platform. Ajax adoption for web applications and enterprise applications are happening but significant adoption will not come until probably 2007.

I am actually fairly encouraged that Java is the 2nd most popular platform. First of all, it shows that Ajax is being adopted in web applications and enterprise applications, beyond being used in web sites, given that Java is typically used for powering interactive applications rather than the more content oriented web sites.  Secondly, Java's popularity is well above .NET. This shows that the developer community is embracing open, standards-based solutions.

Ajax to Overtake Flash in Web Projects

Ektron and SitePoint did a survey of 5,000 web developers and release a report entitled The State of Web Development 2006/2007. It is a great survey that contains lots of useful data. In particular, the following two charts demonstrate some significant trends, showing which web technologies developers and organizations are using now - and plan to use in future.


Interestingly, Ajax is actually fairly widely used today in web projects today. Wait until you see the next chart when asked the question "What technologies do you plan to use in 2007":

Note that the survey is more targeted at web site developers and less on web application developers (of course, much less on enterprise developers). Given that Website developers are the traditional strong base for Flash, it is extremely revealing how developers are moving away from Flash to Ajax. I believe if you were to survey application developers, the gap between Ajax and Flash-based technologies would be significantly bigger.

There is good converage on this worth oaking a look at:

InfoWorld: http://weblog.infoworld.com/techwatch/archives/008259.html

ReadWriteWeb: Ajax set to surpass Flash in '07 

I am not too surprised at the result and the trend. Ajax is open, standard-based and web-native. Flash is not open standards-based. Flash content is not native web content and has a lot of interoperability issues with other web technologies. Of course, the community is shifting towards Ajax!

More Stories By Coach Wei

Coach Wei is founder and CEO of Yottaa, a web performance optimization company. He is also founder and Chairman of Nexaweb, an enterprise application modernization software company. Coding, running, magic, robot, big data, speed...are among his favorite list of things (not necessarily in that order. His coding capability is really at PowerPoint level right now). Caffeine, doing something entrepreneurial and getting out of sleeping are three reasons that he gets up in the morning and gets really excited.

Comments (3)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Moroccanoil®, the global leader in oil-infused beauty, is thrilled to announce the NEW Moroccanoil Color Depositing Masks, a collection of dual-benefit hair masks that deposit pure pigments while providing the treatment benefits of a deep conditioning mask. The collection consists of seven curated shades for commitment-free, beautifully-colored hair that looks and feels healthy.
The textured-hair category is inarguably the hottest in the haircare space today. This has been driven by the proliferation of founder brands started by curly and coily consumers and savvy consumers who increasingly want products specifically for their texture type. This trend is underscored by the latest insights from NaturallyCurly's 2018 TextureTrends report, released today. According to the 2018 TextureTrends Report, more than 80 percent of women with curly and coily hair say they purcha...
The textured-hair category is inarguably the hottest in the haircare space today. This has been driven by the proliferation of founder brands started by curly and coily consumers and savvy consumers who increasingly want products specifically for their texture type. This trend is underscored by the latest insights from NaturallyCurly's 2018 TextureTrends report, released today. According to the 2018 TextureTrends Report, more than 80 percent of women with curly and coily hair say they purcha...
We all love the many benefits of natural plant oils, used as a deap treatment before shampooing, at home or at the beach, but is there an all-in-one solution for everyday intensive nutrition and modern styling?I am passionate about the benefits of natural extracts with tried-and-tested results, which I have used to develop my own brand (lemon for its acid ph, wheat germ for its fortifying action…). I wanted a product which combined caring and styling effects, and which could be used after shampo...
The platform combines the strengths of Singtel's extensive, intelligent network capabilities with Microsoft's cloud expertise to create a unique solution that sets new standards for IoT applications," said Mr Diomedes Kastanis, Head of IoT at Singtel. "Our solution provides speed, transparency and flexibility, paving the way for a more pervasive use of IoT to accelerate enterprises' digitalisation efforts. AI-powered intelligent connectivity over Microsoft Azure will be the fastest connected pat...
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the mod...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Druva is the global leader in Cloud Data Protection and Management, delivering the industry's first data management-as-a-service solution that aggregates data from endpoints, servers and cloud applications and leverages the public cloud to offer a single pane of glass to enable data protection, governance and intelligence-dramatically increasing the availability and visibility of business critical information, while reducing the risk, cost and complexity of managing and protecting it. Druva's...
BMC has unmatched experience in IT management, supporting 92 of the Forbes Global 100, and earning recognition as an ITSM Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for five years running. Our solutions offer speed, agility, and efficiency to tackle business challenges in the areas of service management, automation, operations, and the mainframe.