Developers are planning to use Web development and scripting or dynamic languages more than traditional procedural languages over the next 18 months, according to a recent survey conducted by Ziff Davis Enteprise.
Microsoft’s ASP.NET, another popular Web development technology, came in fourth, with just over 8 percent of developers saying they planned to begin using it. However, the combined category of T-SQL, PL-SQL and other SQL flavors ranked third among respondents – at 9 percent.
Rounding out the top 12 languages or technologies cited were C#, Ruby, Java, VB.Net, PHP, Model Driven Architecture, Python and C/C++. Yet AJAX garnered nearly twice as much interest than C#, the highest ranking of the bottom eight languages. Only about 7 percent of developers surveyed said they plan to begin using C#.
However, noting the push toward more use of Web development technologies and dynamic languages is one thing; getting to the why is another.
Resig said that as developers turn to developing their next applications, “they realize that using the Web as a platform is both easier to deploy and distribute from. When the ability to distribute an application is so easy – as simple as viewing it in a Web browser – and the ease of pushing new updates becomes possible – as easy as flipping a switch on the server – the desktop as a deployment platform looks rather paltry.”
Ben Galbraith, co-founder of Ajaxian.com and a software architect and developer, said, “While the server side of the Web environment continues to be populated by a diverse community of programming platforms, the client side is largely limited to AJAX, so it’s going to show up as a much more popular platform. No matter what your back-end is, if you’re writing Web applications, you’ve got to know AJAX.”
Muscling in on HTML
Russell said no other platform has the dynamic range of HTML today. However, “that’s changing ever-so-slowly as others try to muscle in on HTML’s territory or marginalize it for what is currently thought of as the high-end user experience – Flex, Silverlight, etc. – but nothing else can get you going as quickly as HTML,” he said.
Russell said it’s interesting that companies with the most to lose from the Web getting better, such as Microsoft and Adobe, “are even tacitly acknowledging that the Web will be the deployment -shell’ for applications for the foreseeable future.”
Galbraith said now that the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) and Flex 3 are shipping, “it will be interesting to see if they’re able to scratch the surface of the Web platform’s enormous dominance in the marketplace.”
He further said that his reference to the “Web platform” is meant to describe the HTML/Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) platform, or what some call the “open Web.”
In addition, said Galbraith, with Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, Sun and others driving hard to popularize a new breed of rich user interfaces, and with Adobe being by far the best positioned platform to deliver these experiences to the largest world-wide audience on top of the existing browser infrastructure, “it may be that they ride this wave of increased user interface expectations and cut into AJAX’s popularity in a material way. Only time will tell, but Mozilla, Google and others are working equally hard to prevent that from occurring, to prevent the open Web from being replaced by a proprietary development platform.”
Meanwhile, the continued emergence of dynamic languages is largely because “dynamic languages offer simplicity over the strictness of many languages,” Resig said. “Many of them are easier to get started with, enforce less encumbrances and encourage community contributions, such as Ruby, Python and PHP.”
Russell echoed that notion. Ruby, Python, PHP and other dynamic languages are “just riding the complexity versus CPU power curves,” he said. “As CPUs get better and better at eliding away menial tasks, our biggest barrier to getting things done is how hard – or easy – things are for the developer.”