Web Development is Moving On – Are you?

It is quite interesting to see how web development turned from a niche for brochure-ware and intranets to one of the biggest software development environments in the market over just a few years.

“The web as the platform” is a hollow dream no longer ‐ you can now run and develop a web application without needing to host anything yourself and you can even get the data from other sources. With this radical shift comes a lot of change for developers, but the question is, are you keeping up?

Change is good – we need to get our act together in any case. It’s 2009 and we have the chance to start this year by tackling issues that concern everybody: the general recession, inevitable lay‐offs and lack of investment in non-profit generating parts of organizations. Now’s a good time to get real, regroup, and reassess the ways in which we approach our jobs.

We are in a crisis – have you watched the television lately? It doesn’t make cheerful viewing. However, with every crisis comes the opportunity (and the necessity) to improve and see how we can work more efficiently, producing things that are more valuable and relevant to the people we want to reach. The hype is over ‐ it’s time to get busy, working as professionals.

Back When All This Was Just Fields 

When I started web development every article, tutorial or introduction to a system started with “open your editor, read this documentation and start writing your app, (or web site, css trick or javascript trick)”. I loved it. I downloaded the article to a floppy disk at work, went home and in the evenings without the internet (remember you paid by the minute) wrote my first solutions and battled with the documentation. Later, the only thing that changed was that I didn’t work on it at home but on a laptop on the train instead.

Nowadays, things look different. First of all, for the most part it’s impossible to develop offline ‐ this is because we use hosted services, APIs and most likely you’ll write something that uses some data stored elsewhere on the web. Offline web development is becoming very rare indeed, which can be terribly frustrating if you are in a public space or hotel rooms. In other words, we build on already tested and proven concepts instead of building everything ourselves. This means we have to do much less work, but it also means that we don’t have full control. We rely on data being available to us by third parties or ‘the web’. This is pretty tough for developers as we tend to be control freaks.

Aiming Higher and Wider

The other thing that can be a hurdle for the old school developer is the fact that we tend not to build new systems any longer. Back in the day we worked on the bleeding edge: almost everything we built was the first of its kind on the web and clients came to us to build their first web presence. Users were easy to come by and people were eager to do things easier and quicker on the web. This is pretty much over.

Unless you have a ‘very’ compelling product or idea clients will already have something in place that they use and will have already spent a lot of time and money on it. Maintenance is much more common than innovation. Users are much more spoilt by choice and already spend a lot of their time using other products ‐ just building something and hoping that users will come is not enough any longer.

Most products you’ll build these days are aimed at piggy‐backing on existing user bases and use cases, rather than creating something entirely new. The web has become much more of a commodity than it used to be and a lot of people rely on it for their day‐to-day chores and social communication. For example, the amount of people that started to get in contact with me after years of silence is staggering. The reason? Facebook and how simple it is to use. These are the same people that asked me if my e-mail address would change when I moved to another city!

These social networks create huge traction, and even hardware developers jump on them to sell their newest products. Just yesterday I saw a mobile ad at the train station telling me that the new smart phone automatically gets updates from my friends on Facebook. Sounds a tad creepy to me, but I’m sure it boosted that manufacturer’s smart phone sales and I am sure many a teenager will be asking for this one for their birthday.

Social networks are taking over in all kind of environments. The same is happening to search engines.  

For example, I do see a lot of movie posters on my way to work and realized lately that the film industry has stopped bothering with domain names for movies (I guess domain squatters blackmailing them are to blame). Instead I started to see “enter xyz in Google to learn more” and one movie even used a bebo and myspace address instead of a domain. This is quite commonplace in South East Asia already.

A ‘New’ Breed of Developers 

What shall we do about it? We could sit sulking in our developer corner claiming that these things will never work but the fact is that this is where people invest and the money still flows. It is also where the users are. There is a big market in some technologically underdeveloped countries for Facebook applications and even blog systems. Using out‐of‐the‐box solutions companies can easily cover both the development and the maintenance of the content. Can you for example guess where http://s2999.com is written and maintained?  

The interesting fact for businesses is that these developers are pragmatic. They don’t cost much for a business to hire, they deliver the job without trying to lecture you and all they expect is a share of the outcome. Us on the other hand, leading and amazing developers that we are, are rumored to be tricky to work with, grumpy even. We don’t want to use things that other people made and are very happy indeed to tell any business person that they are wrong and we know all about the web. Who’d you work with?

Sure, this is nothing new – outsourcing shops have promised cut‐price development for years and most of the time the outcome was appalling (funnily enough, in a lot of cases not because the developers were bad but the management didn’t know what they wanted or failed to give precise delivery specs). With the systems in place though, development becomes much more of a ‘use’ case than a ‘build’ case and this is the biggest challenge we now face.

Good­bye White Canvas, Hello Lego Bricks

In essence, web development these days doesn’t start with a blank document but with downloading an SDK or entering your application data in some web app to get a developer key. In other words using a system that is much larger than anything you’d ever have done yourself. This concept is very hard to swallow for us battle‐hardened masters of the command line and I myself have problems getting enthusiastic about using a chunk of ‘hello world’ code and turning it into something great.

If we look at it logically, however, and leave our ego to go and play in the garden for a while it’s clear that there are many valid reasons to use SDKs and hosted development environments. It’s exactly the same thing we do as clever developers ‐ build ourselves shortcuts, hack our development tools or assemble our very own library of snippets – in order to avoid having to do the same things over and over again.

Using SDKs and hosted development environments shouldn’t mean your work will be dumbed down or that people won’t respect you as a developer. It means that they are helping to take the pain away and have taken away the hoops that they jumped through so that you can just build something interesting without worrying about the underlying architecture, security of the system or its performance.

Abstracting these away means you can easily do fixes or improvements should the need occur ‐ and boy will it occur. It is not fun to maintain a site or a server these days. The amount of people that want to hack you and inject malicious code is staggering and their skills are impressive. The only way to battle these threats is to have one system to fix ‐ not millions of little applications.

Abstraction also means that many more people can start developing applications. Geeks build geek tools, designers build designer tools, ‐ if you lower the entry barrier to developing, all groups can bring their expertise to play with the system and subsequently you can build really cool tools together. Of course, there is a lot of pointless and bad work being done too (no, I don’t want your teddy bear to travel on Facebook or catch dozens of sheep) but that’s like saying HTML is bad because people can use tables and fonts to create layouts fast instead of using CSS.

So Are We Obsolete?

Does this mean that the tinkerers, the people who spend hours fixing an IE6 bug or open the border of the screen to show sprites outside the dedicated area (yes, C64) are obsolete and should just move on? No, it doesn’t ‐ not by a long shot. If we cave in now and grumpily sit in the corner pointing at the kids with their fancy SDK toys we are indeed obsolete, but there are a lot of things that this brave new world of development needs us to do.

It needs us to analyze the systems and see where they need improvement. For example the amount of accessibility issues that can be fixed in social networks with very little effort is staggering. Most of these issues are not there because people are lazy but because they just don’t know about the consequences of their actions.

Why not help with turning these systems into a working network of systems. Open Social is a great idea but suffers from too many people shouting ‘FAIL’ at it instead of helping to fix it.

Why not work on bridging the gap between our two worlds. There is no sense in offering people a text box in an HTML page to develop in. I have used one of these and the resulting code is ‘always’ terrible. The same applies to code editors in a browser doing the indenting and colour coding for us ‐ they are flaky and when they crash they take your whole app with it (and the pictures of kittens you had in another tab). There are some Firefox extensions that allow you to edit text in your editor and then enable you to pull it back into the text area with a keyboard shortcut ‐ more of those please. Show by example how your expertise can make web applications better and how communicating with you upfront makes for better APIs and SDKs.

So What About the Future?

If I knew that… However, what I will say is that the way some web developers deal with market forces and business people is wrong. 

Our craft is becoming a commodity and people in charge don’t care about the quality of the markup, CSS or how short our JavaScript is. What matters is how fast you can get it to market, how many people it reaches and how cheaply it can be built. I think that web development has come on in leaps and bounds in the last years, not because of top‐down decisions and empowerment of the folks on the ground, but by geeks just doing the right thing without asking for permission first. We should follow standards and build solid code to make our own life easier ‐ not to impress other people. Then show the code and explain its merits to people outside of the development world to improve it for everybody.

So, (a little late) here are some of my New Year’s resolutions for this year:

  1. Give things the benefit of the doubt before judging them. In other words, keep the ‘FAIL’ shouting to the funny blogs where it belongs.
  2. Take time to have a look at the SDKs, hosted services and frameworks out there and write about them instead of showing yet another proof of concept.
  3. Try to talk to people in charge of these systems to stop them from aggravating the developer crowd with decisions that are perfectly logical to them but don’t hold up in our world.
  4. Great API developers don’t necessarily know HTML and their demos might be atrocious table and font monsters. Instead of shunning the API provide examples of how to do it better. Explaining the effects that bad API design can have goes much further than judging only by our own standards.
  5. Clean up the demo code of the systems, SDKs and APIs that I have direct access to. There is nothing worse than a bad example being replicated million fold as people copy+paste instead of reading docs.
  6. Write human readable documentation and don’t expect a degree in Klingon. Ask non-developers how real people use systems and what they like most about them.

What do you think? Is it time to live in the now and help build a good web 2.0,3.0,4.3212 and so on or have we lost the battle for a beautiful, valid and semantically rich web already?

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Comments

182 comments on “Web Development is Moving On – Are you?

  1. Absolutely worth the long read. I'm not a developer, but I might be one of those for which the 'Helloe World' systems out there, have enabled me to at least act like one. I don't necessarily think this is the end of coming up with something entirely new. But I think that the definitions of what can be regarded as new are shifting. Because of the sheer volume and talent, people are no longer impressed by new cutting edge technologies. The competition is fierce and speed and efficiency is the most important. It's therefore often just small changes and tweaks that will make an application worthwhile for users.Developers can do the initial heavy lifting, but only the end-users know what they really want. This will lead non-developers to build upon existing technologies to make them fit their optimal requirements

  2. Absolutely worth the long read. I'm not a developer, but I might be one of those for which the 'Helloe World' systems out there, have enabled me to at least act like one. I don't necessarily think this is the end of coming up with something entirely new. But I think that the definitions of what can be regarded as new are shifting.

    Because of the sheer volume and talent, people are no longer impressed by new cutting edge technologies. The competition is fierce and speed and efficiency is the most important. It's therefore often just small changes and tweaks that will make an application worthwhile for users.

    Developers can do the initial heavy lifting, but only the end-users know what they really want. This will lead non-developers to build upon existing technologies to make them fit their optimal requirements

  3. Hi there, great article. I run a web development company and we're definitely moving to productize our services as much as possible, and develop standalone products.> Nowadays, things look different. First of all, for the most part it’s impossible to develop offline ‐ this is because we use hosted services, APIs and most likely you’ll write something that uses some data stored elsewhere on the web.I disagree — if you're doing things properly you should be stubbing that API in your test and using git locally, allowing you to work anywhere. Testing the integrated whole must usually be done online, but full integration tests can be always be run later when you've done your piece of work and you're back on the grid.Chris

  4. Hi there, great article. I run a web development company and we're definitely moving to productize our services as much as possible, and develop standalone products.

    > Nowadays, things look different. First of all, for the most part it’s impossible to develop offline ‐ this is because we use hosted services, APIs and most likely you’ll write something that uses some data stored elsewhere on the web.

    I disagree — if you're doing things properly you should be stubbing that API in your test and using git locally, allowing you to work anywhere. Testing the integrated whole must usually be done online, but full integration tests can be always be run later when you've done your piece of work and you're back on the grid.

    Chris

  5. Excellent article Christian! I'm going to add this to the required reading list I hand out when people ask what they should be learning :)

  6. Excellent article Christian! I'm going to add this to the required reading list I hand out when people ask what they should be learning :)

  7. Why not help with turning these systems into a working network of systems. Open Social is a great idea but suffers from too many people shouting ‘FAIL’ at it instead of helping to fix it.

    So very true! Ideas like OpenId and OpenSocial, despite current drawbacks, have great promise. However, while people are quick to point out the issues with these technologies, many of these same people are not nearly as quick to work to improve on those issues.John Resig recently had a post about this idea, that all web developers have a responsibility to work to improve the technologies we make use of. While his post was aimed largely at submitting bug reports for browsers, the concept applies for other web technologies as well.

  8. Why not help with turning these systems into a working network of systems. Open Social is a great idea but suffers from too many people shouting ‘FAIL’ at it instead of helping to fix it.

    So very true! Ideas like OpenId and OpenSocial, despite current drawbacks, have great promise. However, while people are quick to point out the issues with these technologies, many of these same people are not nearly as quick to work to improve on those issues.

    John Resig recently had a post about this idea, that all web developers have a responsibility to work to improve the technologies we make use of. While his post was aimed largely at submitting bug reports for browsers, the concept applies for other web technologies as well.

  9. This is a great article! I was recently laid off from a job that didn't employ my WebDev skills as much as it could have. Now that I am once again in the job market, I have begun to look into the amazing amount of progress the craft has made in the last number of years. The use of SDK and CMS has really taken all of the drudge work out of development. The same scripts that I wrote five years ago, and kept recycling over and over have been re-written, or trashed all together, to make way for new, open source solutions.The new generation of WebDev practices is making life much easier.

  10. This is a great article! I was recently laid off from a job that didn't employ my WebDev skills as much as it could have. Now that I am once again in the job market, I have begun to look into the amazing amount of progress the craft has made in the last number of years. The use of SDK and CMS has really taken all of the drudge work out of development. The same scripts that I wrote five years ago, and kept recycling over and over have been re-written, or trashed all together, to make way for new, open source solutions.

    The new generation of WebDev practices is making life much easier.

  11. I agree that the web development sphere is moving forward some of the technologies not mentioned as part of the APIs/SDKs are things like Cappuccino http://cappuccino.org/ or SproutCore http://www.sproutcore.com/ which use a more verbose middle language to describe and define the structure, content, and interaction. These more robust frameworks (and the whole Compass/SASS framework included) represent, to me, the next generation of Web beyond packaged libraries like YUI, jQuery, and Prototype. This discussion is one that we are drawing people together in Washington DC at JSConf 2009 to have in person dialogs and collaboration to define the next generation web, which is not necessarily confined to the “standard browser” experience (SSBs, WebKit engines, etc) as well. http://jsconf2009.com/

  12. I agree that the web development sphere is moving forward some of the technologies not mentioned as part of the APIs/SDKs are things like Cappuccino http://cappuccino.org/ or SproutCore http://www.sproutcore.com/ which use a more verbose middle language to describe and define the structure, content, and interaction. These more robust frameworks (and the whole Compass/SASS framework included) represent, to me, the next generation of Web beyond packaged libraries like YUI, jQuery, and Prototype. This discussion is one that we are drawing people together in Washington DC at JSConf 2009 to have in person dialogs and collaboration to define the next generation web, which is not necessarily confined to the “standard browser” experience (SSBs, WebKit engines, etc) as well.

    http://jsconf2009.com/

  13. Thanks for the mention :) The website is written from Pluto, it's a very quiet place nowadays and you wouldn't believe the speed of the internet connection. Who said that being a planet matters..

  14. Thanks for the mention :) The website is written from Pluto, it's a very quiet place nowadays and you wouldn't believe the speed of the internet connection. Who said that being a planet matters..

  15. The technical side of the web can be very intimidating. I've always felt envious of the people who create scripts to be more efficient or change code to suit their needs never releasing that I could learn more about the technical side if I put my mind to it. 2009 is when I take to the technical side.

  16. The technical side of the web can be very intimidating. I've always felt envious of the people who create scripts to be more efficient or change code to suit their needs never releasing that I could learn more about the technical side if I put my mind to it. 2009 is when I take to the technical side.

  17. At this point, API's and SDK's are essentially optional but you're right — they're moving toward being a standard part of coding, just to avoid redundancy overall (why reinvent the wheel, etc.). Besides that, the sheer volume of features you can add to your application with the simple addition of a single API is astounding.I don't fear it, I welcome it.

  18. At this point, API's and SDK's are essentially optional but you're right — they're moving toward being a standard part of coding, just to avoid redundancy overall (why reinvent the wheel, etc.). Besides that, the sheer volume of features you can add to your application with the simple addition of a single API is astounding.

    I don't fear it, I welcome it.

  19. Well, it's interesting to hear this outside of legacy B&M business' were you hear it everyday by 50+ vets. todays technology is not new… of course because the internet and programming for it as a whole is not new anymore, when the car came out there were tons of things that could be improved on. now its tougher and tougher to balance preformance with driveability.These days its all about execution, your idea, coding, and product do not matter, its how you execute and market to become a staple on the web for the hnear future…. make money and get out before someone else figures the secret sauce out.- Chris W lamin x poker chips

  20. Well, it's interesting to hear this outside of legacy B&M business' were you hear it everyday by 50+ vets. todays technology is not new… of course because the internet and programming for it as a whole is not new anymore, when the car came out there were tons of things that could be improved on. now its tougher and tougher to balance preformance with driveability.

    These days its all about execution, your idea, coding, and product do not matter, its how you execute and market to become a staple on the web for the hnear future…. make money and get out before someone else figures the secret sauce out.

    - Chris W lamin x poker chips

  21. Web business is competitive. Things getting more and more complicated and the work will add up with less income. Nonetheless, this is a very informative article. Make sense.

  22. Beside whitehat methods which I implement to my sites, I research on some greyhat to keep up to the competition. It is not to say to do evil, but sometime it difficult to draw a clear line between the right and wrong way of marketing online, except spamming.

  23. I'm always trying to move forward and give customers the information they want. But it seems technology advances much faster then my budget. :)

  24. I'm always trying to move forward and give customers the information they want. But it seems technology advances much faster then my budget. :)

  25. This is a very informative article. Web business is very competitive and with extra load of work, that means you have to work more and get less.

  26. “Write human readable documentation and don’t expect a degree in Klingon. Ask non-developers how real people use systems and what they like most about them.”I think this is really very very important.

  27. “Write human readable documentation and don’t expect a degree in Klingon. Ask non-developers how real people use systems and what they like most about them.”

    I think this is really very very important.

  28. As someone else mentioned, I don't fear change I welcome it. Change is envitable so it's best to embrace it rather than feel inferior.

  29. As someone else mentioned, I don't fear change I welcome it. Change is envitable so it's best to embrace it rather than feel inferior.

  30. The Web, with its relentless gallop has mutated, changed, and captured real estate formerly owned by print – and much to their sorrow – in a very short time frame. On a more personal level I am amazed at how quickly the transformation has occurred.

  31. Two frameworks have made a huge difference in our development in the last few years – CodeIgniter and jQuery – especially jQuery. The great thing about jQuery (or any other JavaScript library/framework you like to use) is that your focus shifts to the user interface very early on in the development.And that's what makes the future of the web so exciting – sleek, efficient interfaces. At the end of the day our web applications are generally just front ends for a database, so by focusing on the UI so early on in modern development a better end product is produced.

  32. Two frameworks have made a huge difference in our development in the last few years – CodeIgniter and jQuery – especially jQuery. The great thing about jQuery (or any other JavaScript library/framework you like to use) is that your focus shifts to the user interface very early on in the development.

    And that's what makes the future of the web so exciting – sleek, efficient interfaces. At the end of the day our web applications are generally just front ends for a database, so by focusing on the UI so early on in modern development a better end product is produced.

  33. Amazing how the internet has developed and is now a thing that so many people earn their incomes from and so many businesses rely on for their income. Possibly the best thing man has created in my opinion

  34. Good Article!As a freelancer, I visit a lot of small to medium companies and see how they are struggling with adapting to new technologies or best practices. I think because it's difficult to change workflow (time/money/stress) and they made a choice in their SDK 3 years ago and don't want to throw it overboard, yet.On the other hand…I work with some great designers. And like you said, the web is becoming familiar for users because of great apps, you need people/designers to think about it this way. I build everything that moves…so I don't really think about design or requirements…they just hand it over to me. Just like I want it.

  35. Good Article!

    As a freelancer, I visit a lot of small to medium companies and see how they are struggling with adapting to new technologies or best practices. I think because it's difficult to change workflow (time/money/stress) and they made a choice in their SDK 3 years ago and don't want to throw it overboard, yet.

    On the other hand…I work with some great designers. And like you said, the web is becoming familiar for users because of great apps, you need people/designers to think about it this way. I build everything that moves…so I don't really think about design or requirements…they just hand it over to me. Just like I want it.

  36. I think you nailed some points on the head. I've been developing for a while now, and I've seen the attitude of some developers about which language is better which approach is better this and that bla bla. We get caught up in so many of the technical details. But at the end of the day, it's the user's experience of your app that really matters. The faster you can build a bigger better more useful and easy to use app for the user, the more people your work will reach. (that's not to say quality doesn't matter though :)

  37. I think you nailed some points on the head. I've been developing for a while now, and I've seen the attitude of some developers about which language is better which approach is better this and that bla bla.
    We get caught up in so many of the technical details. But at the end of the day, it's the user's experience of your app that really matters. The faster you can build a bigger better more useful and easy to use app for the user, the more people your work will reach. (that's not to say quality doesn't matter though :)

  38. The freedom that web developers have these days is amazing and inspiring. Anyone, can create a website with tools that are provided online and sometimes for free. The internet is an amazing tool and I'm excited to see how information sharing and communication will develop over the next few years. Not to mention, more awesome websites! teach me how to rap

  39. The freedom that web developers have these days is amazing and inspiring. Anyone, can create a website with tools that are provided online and sometimes for free. The internet is an amazing tool and I'm excited to see how information sharing and communication will develop over the next few years. Not to mention, more awesome websites!

    teach me how to rap

  40. Really interesting article. I am primarily a designer and have found Frameworks and SDKs really helpfull in allowing me to create much richer sites than I would have been able to completely on my own.I also use them a great deal when creating prototypes/wirefarmes, that I can then share with developers, who more often than not find even better ways to achieve what I was attempting demonstrate

  41. Really interesting article. I am primarily a designer and have found Frameworks and SDKs really helpfull in allowing me to create much richer sites than I would have been able to completely on my own.

    I also use them a great deal when creating prototypes/wirefarmes, that I can then share with developers, who more often than not find even better ways to achieve what I was attempting demonstrate

  42. Wow. I didn't see so much inspiration from any post. I really enjoyed reading this post. It make me a very deep thinking. Thanks.Mark

  43. Wow. I didn't see so much inspiration from any post. I really enjoyed reading this post. It make me a very deep thinking. Thanks.
    Mark

  44. Nice article Christian, Although web development has definately moved on, for some people it is still as remote as ever. For example I kow a lot of people who would not even consider making their own website, although like you point out, development is a lot more entertianing these days.One positive to come out of this is that you can actually get a good quality website developed for quite cheap these days.

  45. Nice article Christian,

    Although web development has definately moved on, for some people it is still as remote as ever. For example I kow a lot of people who would not even consider making their own website, although like you point out, development is a lot more entertianing these days.

    One positive to come out of this is that you can actually get a good quality website developed for quite cheap these days.

  46. I am very optimistic about the future of the web.. It seems like the internet is becoming a very free and open enivronment with the possibility for all sorts of success and collaboration.

  47. >What do you think? Is it time to live in the now and help build a good web 2.0,3.0,4.3212 and so on or have we lost the battle for a beautiful, valid and semantically rich web already?The answer. Yes. It's over. You lay out the facts very well in your article. Web development/design is a commodity. There are sites now that will give me valid XHTML and CSS when handed photoshop or Illustrator layouts. I don't know if they are in India, Romania or just a bunch of free lancers in the states. Who cares.I've written an essay on a very similar topic – how the web is just a mechanism to get working applications to a user. Technologies like CSS have actually raised the bar and made it more difficult. I will be very honest here. I'm a software engineer who works for a very large ecommerce site. We are top 10 revenue producing in the US. When we need HTML and CSS we hand it off to a few guys who are good with it. Then we get it back and write the real application. Because software is big and messy and web developers do not have the software engineering chops to pull it off. I realize this may incite hatred. I'm really not trying to start a flame war here. I'm agreeing with the author and pointing out that very large operations who make billions on the web do not really care about web development. Sounds odd right? We want to use frameworks that spit out HTML that is valid in whatever the browsers are nowadays. We don't necessarily need some guy tweaking pixels in IE6 – it's cheaper to make that page design simpler. Use less CSS or do whatever it takes. Companies don't want to pay web developers/designers. They are a pain. Right now, we just have to.

  48. >What do you think? Is it time to live in the now and help build a good web 2.0,3.0,4.3212 and so on or have we lost the battle for a beautiful, valid and semantically rich web already?

    The answer. Yes. It's over. You lay out the facts very well in your article. Web development/design is a commodity. There are sites now that will give me valid XHTML and CSS when handed photoshop or Illustrator layouts. I don't know if they are in India, Romania or just a bunch of free lancers in the states. Who cares.

    I've written an essay on a very similar topic – how the web is just a mechanism to get working applications to a user. Technologies like CSS have actually raised the bar and made it more difficult.

    I will be very honest here. I'm a software engineer who works for a very large ecommerce site. We are top 10 revenue producing in the US. When we need HTML and CSS we hand it off to a few guys who are good with it. Then we get it back and write the real application. Because software is big and messy and web developers do not have the software engineering chops to pull it off.

    I realize this may incite hatred. I'm really not trying to start a flame war here. I'm agreeing with the author and pointing out that very large operations who make billions on the web do not really care about web development. Sounds odd right? We want to use frameworks that spit out HTML that is valid in whatever the browsers are nowadays. We don't necessarily need some guy tweaking pixels in IE6 – it's cheaper to make that page design simpler. Use less CSS or do whatever it takes. Companies don't want to pay web developers/designers. They are a pain. Right now, we just have to.

  49. I love this article. I agree totally. Anyone can build a website using any number of free SDK's and CMS's. It is up to us developers to harness them, improve them and tweak them.

  50. I love this article. I agree totally. Anyone can build a website using any number of free SDK's and CMS's. It is up to us developers to harness them, improve them and tweak them.

  51. Yeah I remember the days of paying per minute for dial up service. Now I'm getting into Facebook and Myspace App development, it's amazing how everything is rapidly changing. Now there's tons of support groups and information available to help anyone get started with little effort.

  52. Yeah I remember the days of paying per minute for dial up service. Now I'm getting into Facebook and Myspace App development, it's amazing how everything is rapidly changing. Now there's tons of support groups and information available to help anyone get started with little effort.

  53. Some of these comments really got me thinking about the old days, I remember paying 4 dollars a minute to AOL for the first MMORPG game, netherwind nights i think it was called.And splatterball, who remembers that!

  54. Some of these comments really got me thinking about the old days, I remember paying 4 dollars a minute to AOL for the first MMORPG game, netherwind nights i think it was called.

    And splatterball, who remembers that!

  55. This is a great article. It is true you find many people failing to meet the future demands of the web or keeping up with what is new and current. I myself am having to learn all over again to keep my business afloat with the new platforms etc. I for see this being a new trend that will always be changing and you will find more people working from home due to the web.

  56. Dang this was one lengthy article, but still very very good stuff. By the way, about social networks…I mean just look at facebook it's incredibly popular and probably the only social network which people will keep using for a very long time.Jenn

  57. Dang this was one lengthy article, but still very very good stuff. By the way, about social networks…I mean just look at facebook it's incredibly popular and probably the only social network which people will keep using for a very long time.

    Jenn

  58. Wow… That was quite a reading… But excellent article ! Because I am quite new, I have never thought about how “easy” it is nowadays to do web development as opposed to only 10 years ago, when it takes just a click of the mouse to find information about anything.

  59. This is quite an interesting post – though you wonder where it will all go with the development of hardware technology. Some people predict computers and, yes, even laptops becoming obsolete in the next 20 years. The only thing we'll have left are our cellular phones… How will that influence the way things are done? Is it possible that all programmers become obsolete, to be replaced by huge programs that assemble (or rather, compile) smaller ones for our convenience? The rise of the machine! :P

  60. This is quite an interesting post – though you wonder where it will all go with the development of hardware technology. Some people predict computers and, yes, even laptops becoming obsolete in the next 20 years. The only thing we'll have left are our cellular phones…

    How will that influence the way things are done? Is it possible that all programmers become obsolete, to be replaced by huge programs that assemble (or rather, compile) smaller ones for our convenience?

    The rise of the machine! :P

  61. Nice article. One thing I would like to add is the important of W3 compliance. I have noticed a lot of new designs appearing do not have valid W3 code.

  62. Very Nice Post. As mentioned the web is becoming more and more a part of our lives. I see eventually the merging of TV and Internet and then a further connection between all of our devices and the internet. This movement, whether we call it 3.0 or whatever is very real. Ten years from now a lot of how we go about our daily lives will be changed as communication will grow to the point where the web is not just cyber space but literal space.

  63. Very Nice Post. As mentioned the web is becoming more and more a part of our lives. I see eventually the merging of TV and Internet and then a further connection between all of our devices and the internet. This movement, whether we call it 3.0 or whatever is very real.

    Ten years from now a lot of how we go about our daily lives will be changed as communication will grow to the point where the web is not just cyber space but literal space.

  64. Since the internet has been a great business and marketing tools, web development also had step up into a higher level these days. Many offers has been made with a great variable deals.

  65. Christian is so right, I was a web developer till 2002, worked on database design and server programming as well as front end connection, we don't even know or care about ranking. All worked offline. Fastforward to 2009, I spent a week to develop my website sbWebCentral.com, mostly on writing content and figure out the quarks of the CMS. 18 days later, it's alexa ranking is 2.9 mil. not great, but not bad for it's age. The ranking is pretty much all I cared about nowadays.

  66. Christian is so right, I was a web developer till 2002, worked on database design and server programming as well as front end connection, we don't even know or care about ranking. All worked offline. Fastforward to 2009, I spent a week to develop my website sbWebCentral.com, mostly on writing content and figure out the quarks of the CMS. 18 days later, it's alexa ranking is 2.9 mil. not great, but not bad for it's age. The ranking is pretty much all I cared about nowadays.

  67. nice story. i think that (like a lot technology) just as web tools are becoming more accessible and easy for the average joe to use, the latest developments and features will always need hard to get or scarce skills. can't see much to worry about.

  68. nice story. i think that (like a lot technology) just as web tools are becoming more accessible and easy for the average joe to use, the latest developments and features will always need hard to get or scarce skills. can't see much to worry about.

  69. @ Norm right on point, As much as we value aesthetics for making the websites prettier I would still prefer website with simple design yet having high Ranking and and more traffic.

  70. Thanks for the article. It is easy to get frustrated with the changes that are occurring in today's webosphere. I often wonder if I am spending all of this time and money to learn systems that will be obsolete in two weeks thanks to a fancy new WYSIWYG thingamajig. It is good to remember that certain skills as a developer will never change, just the tools.

  71. Thanks for the article. It is easy to get frustrated with the changes that are occurring in today's webosphere. I often wonder if I am spending all of this time and money to learn systems that will be obsolete in two weeks thanks to a fancy new WYSIWYG thingamajig. It is good to remember that certain skills as a developer will never change, just the tools.

  72. Thanks for this inspiring piece. As a freelancer (first site in 94, occasionaly taught web development for some time, then followed different interests), I'm on the verge of getting back to web development. Because it's the platform of the time and it outlines my deep interests in life : architecture (brick, metal, sound, words, bytes, whatever), and transmission (of knowledge, culture, you name it).As you may think the shift rises questions in me. What the job, craft, market, became in the meantime? I'm spontaneously as reluctant to SDKs and frameworks as one can be. After a while, in an attemp to think it open-minded, I agreed to build my own Lego out of other's basic material. Ok.I'd like to stress one point: not only legitimate craftsmaship pride is involved in getting things the “clean” way. Sharing is the genetics of the Net. Sooner, later, all contents will “collaborate” in some way.Search engines show that in a (very) primitive form. Tomorrow, when they become smarter, they (and others) will drill deeper into content to do their job. Maybe then only the coherence of code will be a competitive advantage. But a huge one. In a way you cannot automate. In a way it can hamper or glorify your online visibility. Life and digital death.Maybe not today yet. But soon, I guess.(And sorry for the long post, english is not my native tongue.)- T -

  73. Thanks for this inspiring piece.
    As a freelancer (first site in 94, occasionaly taught web development for some time, then followed different interests), I'm on the verge of getting back to web development. Because it's the platform of the time and it outlines my deep interests in life : architecture (brick, metal, sound, words, bytes, whatever), and transmission (of knowledge, culture, you name it).

    As you may think the shift rises questions in me. What the job, craft, market, became in the meantime? I'm spontaneously as reluctant to SDKs and frameworks as one can be. After a while, in an attemp to think it open-minded, I agreed to build my own Lego out of other's basic material. Ok.

    I'd like to stress one point: not only legitimate craftsmaship pride is involved in getting things the “clean” way. Sharing is the genetics of the Net. Sooner, later, all contents will “collaborate” in some way.

    Search engines show that in a (very) primitive form. Tomorrow, when they become smarter, they (and others) will drill deeper into content to do their job. Maybe then only the coherence of code will be a competitive advantage. But a huge one. In a way you cannot automate. In a way it can hamper or glorify your online visibility. Life and digital death.

    Maybe not today yet. But soon, I guess.
    (And sorry for the long post, english is not my native tongue.)
    - T -

  74. Really interesting article, gives hope at the end of the tunnel. I have been exploring the new areas of the social netowrks myself, they are new and consume time in learning them. dog clothes

  75. Really interesting article, gives hope at the end of the tunnel. I have been exploring the new areas of the social netowrks myself, they are new and consume time in learning them.

    dog clothes

  76. This article is very true, often times we judge new SDKs without using them first. After reading this I will surely follow one of you new year's resolution:”# Take time to have a look at the SDKs, hosted services and frameworks out there and write about them instead of showing yet another proof of concept.”

  77. This article is very true, often times we judge new SDKs without using them first. After reading this I will surely follow one of you new year's resolution:

    “# Take time to have a look at the SDKs, hosted services and frameworks out there and write about them instead of showing yet another proof of concept.”

  78. Wow, a very refreshing article which encourages techies (believe it or not, I am one) to do more and complain less. The pace of change can be just a bit exhausting, which makes the complaining and naysaying, all the more tempting (I know I can get a bit cranky). On the other hand, I try to remember that I'm a fast learner and today, learning fast, rather than a particular set of knowledge, IS a in-demand-skill. So, as you mention, is having a clue about the end user and how to create a program they can use.Hope to hear more from you.

  79. Wow, a very refreshing article which encourages techies (believe it or not, I am one) to do more and complain less. The pace of change can be just a bit exhausting, which makes the complaining and naysaying, all the more tempting (I know I can get a bit cranky). On the other hand, I try to remember that I'm a fast learner and today, learning fast, rather than a particular set of knowledge, IS a in-demand-skill. So, as you mention, is having a clue about the end user and how to create a program they can use.

    Hope to hear more from you.

  80. Very interesting article, it is surely worth the long read. there is so much out there in the web world that is left unexplored. Be quick to make the most of the world today. posted by a spycams freak.

  81. Very interesting article, it is surely worth the long read. there is so much out there in the web world that is left unexplored. Be quick to make the most of the world today.

    posted by a spycams freak.

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  83. HI there, grate article I have also used them a great deal when creating wireframes, I can then share these with developers, I run a web development company.this is my web site get your free Get your free Government Grants from the best. Get immediate access to over 2500 grant opportunities that are available for you right now. Check out my review and save your time. Get thousands of dollars in free grant money today at http://www.quickgovernmentgrants.com/

  84. Good article. I am learning more and more about this kind of technical stuff. And the more info. I get like this the better it will help one of my business blogs cenetered around hosting !!

  85. My twopence worth:I think the problem is that so many developers (like myself) have got fed up of the corporate nagging that they've ended up working for themselves and in a lot of cases working on open source systems that average Joe User can set up with a few instructions.Now I'm not saying it's wrong to empower people-who-aren't-technically-developers in this way OR that the software that has been developed is bad. It's just that it really doesn't suit every use case. Frameworks and SDKs are a little better as their scope is generally more generic, but they're more difficult for Joe User to understand.Plus, the more generic you get, the more bloated you get, having to cater for possible eventualities that simply might never be. For some of us, that's a factor that we're prepared to negotiate. For others, a competitive solution is the only way to go.For the past two years I believed I could do it better. The solution I've come up with could be classed as a web app framework/CMS. I guess it's along the lines of Drupal. The key issue for me though is that it's tighter, it does what I need it to, which means it's leaner. It's faster.You could argue that trimming back is better than building up, but in this case there was also a deep personal development incentive. Will I release the solution as open source? Maybe one day. Will I make people pay through the nose for it? No!It is a way for me to develop web applications faster and in a way that is extensible as far as existing and future technologies suggest it needs to be. So efficiency is the key for me, without a lack of quality. It's not so much being a control freak, but just being 100% sure that everything I develop with this will be effective in all areas that I need it to be.If you can get that same sense of satisfaction from another piece of software that already exists… great! If you're not bothered about it… then you should probably be worried…

  86. My twopence worth:
    I think the problem is that so many developers (like myself) have got fed up of the corporate nagging that they've ended up working for themselves and in a lot of cases working on open source systems that average Joe User can set up with a few instructions.

    Now I'm not saying it's wrong to empower people-who-aren't-technically-developers in this way OR that the software that has been developed is bad. It's just that it really doesn't suit every use case. Frameworks and SDKs are a little better as their scope is generally more generic, but they're more difficult for Joe User to understand.

    Plus, the more generic you get, the more bloated you get, having to cater for possible eventualities that simply might never be. For some of us, that's a factor that we're prepared to negotiate. For others, a competitive solution is the only way to go.

    For the past two years I believed I could do it better. The solution I've come up with could be classed as a web app framework/CMS. I guess it's along the lines of Drupal. The key issue for me though is that it's tighter, it does what I need it to, which means it's leaner. It's faster.

    You could argue that trimming back is better than building up, but in this case there was also a deep personal development incentive. Will I release the solution as open source? Maybe one day. Will I make people pay through the nose for it? No!

    It is a way for me to develop web applications faster and in a way that is extensible as far as existing and future technologies suggest it needs to be. So efficiency is the key for me, without a lack of quality. It's not so much being a control freak, but just being 100% sure that everything I develop with this will be effective in all areas that I need it to be.

    If you can get that same sense of satisfaction from another piece of software that already exists… great! If you're not bothered about it… then you should probably be worried…

  87. I really admire the web developers, they keep improving and giving us new and sometimes free downloads on the internet. Everybody should adopt to these changes. Even the older ones now a days are trying to learn how to use the internet, because if not they would be left behind. The speed and power of internet can really move mountains and cross the seas.

  88. I think that web development has come on in leaps and bounds in the last years, not because of top‐down decisions and empowerment of the folks on the ground, but by geeks just doing the right thing without asking for permission first. We should follow standards and build solid code to make our own life easier

  89. SDKs and APIs that I have direct access to. There is nothing worse than a bad example being replicated million fold as people copy+paste instead of reading docs.Ask non-developers how real people use systems and what they like most about them.

  90. You still can write your OWN code, but it is much easier to use API and Frameworks – it's just saves time. The things, that would take you days to do back then, now we can do in minutes, not even talking about some huge things. For example I needed to create search in website – I just use Lucene. with Zend Framework it took few minutes to setup everything. Ten years ago that task would took days, if not weeks, to implement, not even talking about efficiency and error-proof.

  91. You still can write your OWN code, but it is much easier to use API and Frameworks – it's just saves time. The things, that would take you days to do back then, now we can do in minutes, not even talking about some huge things. For example I needed to create search in website – I just use Lucene. with Zend Framework it took few minutes to setup everything. Ten years ago that task would took days, if not weeks, to implement, not even talking about efficiency and error-proof.

  92. The Web, with its relentless gallop has mutated, changed, and captured real estate formerly owned by print – and much to their sorrow – in a very short time frame. On a more personal level I am amazed at how quickly the transformation has occurred.

  93. Excellent article Christian! I'm going to add this to the required reading list I hand out when people ask what they should be learning :)

  94. For the past two years I believed I could do it better. The solution I've come up with could be classed as a web app framework/CMS. I guess it's along the lines of Drupal. The key issue for me though is that it's tighter, it does what I need it to, which means it's leaner. It's faster.

  95. Pingback: Web Tools Tips And Talk: #2 | Effective Development

  96. it’s along the lines of Drupal. The key issue for me though is that it’s tighter, it does what I need it to, which means it’s leaner. It’s faster.

  97. Excellent article Christian! I’m going to add this to the required reading list I hand out when people ask what they should be learning :)

  98. Excellent post – I am amazed that it took this long for me to find it. I am going to recommend it to some friends as required reading.

  99. I try to stay current but it still seems that technology and tactics can sometimes get ahead of me. The budget can constrain the frequency of upgrades and when we do upgrade it is like one has to relearn everything about where technology has gone since the last time.

  100. Thanks for this really informative article. It seems that every time you reach technology, it goes further away. For me, It is never ending race…

  101. Just discovered this post. I very much agree that web development standards must be maintained and not infringed by commercial considerations from clients. Great post!