Remain Open

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2007-08-26 Print this article Print

-Minded"> Step 2: Remain Open-Minded One of the most amazing technological revolutions of the last 10 years has to be Web services and SOA. If you want proof, think back to the state of application and data integration before XML and Web services came on the scene in the late 1990s.

Back then, doing application and system integration meant dealing with a messy hodgepodge of custom data wrappers, APIs and proprietary connection systems. In many cases, it was nearly impossible for businesses and partners to connect their disparate business systems.
But in a short few years, Web services changed all this. Now, every modern enterprise application, database and framework uses standards-based technologies to easily enable complex and robust data and application integrations.
How did this happen? In a word, openness. Right from the beginning, the world of SOA decreed that if a business, developer or software vendor wanted to play, it had to be based on open standards. Even vendors that had traditionally been inclined to go the proprietary route embraced standards in SOA, clearly understanding that not being able to integrate with standards would leave them on the outside looking in. In the world of next-generation Web applications, this kind of adherence to openness is just as crucial. Gone are the days when sites and applications could work on just one Web browser and just one operating system. For the most part, the core technologies of next-generation Web applications make it very easy to stick to both long-standing and emerging Web standards. As noted earlier, AJAX itself is based on common Web standards, and most good AJAX applications should work identically across browsers and platforms. Click here to read more about the merging of Web 2.0 and SOA. In addition, standards bodies such as the World Wide Web Consortium and OASIS are currently working on several new formats and standards specifications, such as Compound Document Format, that will add new capabilities for next-generation Web applications. There is some concern over certain next-generation technologies, such as Flex and WPF. Since these are based on vendor technologies, there is the possibility that they wont be as open as options such as AJAX. We recommend that businesses choose the open and standards-based path wherever and whenever possible. An application that is written in a proprietary way that makes it difficult to integrate with is one that will not be participating on the cutting edge of Web technologies. If the customers of an application find that it is dictating to them how they can use it, they will most likely stop using it. Sticking to open standards and systems ensures that an application can grow and adapt to emerging trends. Step 3: Keep Data Dynamic With old-school Web applications, data is treated in much the same way that a faucet treats water: The application can access the data but doesnt have much control over the data once it arrives. Next-generation Web applications, in contrast, increasingly are able to handle data on the fly, allowing users to interact with data in real time rather than having to constantly reload the Web application to get new data. Using technologies such as JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), next-generation Web applications give users more control over the data that is delivered to their applications. They also provide a much more robust level of fault tolerance, making it possible for data to be resident on client systems. This contrasts with the classic client/server-style Web application, where all access to the application and data is lost if the connection is lost. Another important change when it comes to data is the emerging Semantic Web and its related standards and technologies. Listen to an eWEEK podcast about the Semantic Web. Semantic Web technologies will enable Web applications to query and interact with data held in sites and applications across the entire Web, making possible a whole new generation of data-aware applications. The ability for next-generation Web applications to more robustly handle data also has greatly improved the ability to create and test applications. Many standard Web application development environments make it possible to use small XML and other data files to prototype, debug and test new Web apps. This improved data management makes it possible to include in Web applications many of the things that are more common in standard desktop apps, such as local data stores, a high level of responsiveness and, of course, offline capabilities. Page 3: Five Steps to Next-Generation Web Applications

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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