The seven ordeals of the web application developer – Part 5

Developers who seek their fortune in the web business applications market must face and survive seven ordeals and success will only favour those who come prepared.

1. The First Ordeal: User experience

2. The Second Ordeal: Compatibility

3. The Third Ordeal: Time to market

4. The Fourth Ordeal: Finding the right tool

5. The Fifth Ordeal: Integration

For developers who plan to make a transition from desktop to the web, the distributed nature of Cloud Computing presents the greatest challenge.  The past experience has shown that initial reaction of most desktop developers is to retreat to the server and avoid browser side computing at all cost.  Many vendors went along with this and focused their emphasis on the server-side.  As a result, many promising projects ended up as mediocre implementations with poor user experience and lack of scalability.

Emergence of Ajax techniques raised the bar for user experience while proliferation of web services raised the inter-dependency of seemingly unrelated applications.  You can no longer sell Pizza online without connecting your web page to mapping services, payment gateways, advertising portals, Open Id and a growing list of other web services.

Adding to the complexity is the ever diversifying nature of the devices that would access the web pages and the bewildering form factors available.

Currently, the integration of each web service is a manual or at best a semi-manual task and the developers must hand code most of the interfaces and test them individually.  Browser side code is written in JavaScript while the server side code hardly ever uses this language.  Database queries are usually developed with separate tools.  Graphic elements of the user interface require different tools and skills and the web application has to work across all browsers and perform at an acceptable level.

The role of the developer is increasingly changing to that of an integrator of diverse technologies and the diversity is on the increase.  The days of writing a single page with photograph of pizzas, their description, price and a phone number for placing orders and calling it “e-commerce!” are long gone!

As the complexity increases exponentially, traditional development tools are no longer adequate.  It is true that all this can be done using the humble Notepad and a browser as much as it is true that you can write win32 applications using the same humble Notepad and an assembler; but average human brain does not cope very well with complexity and sooner or later something is going to give.

Without a truly Integrated Development Environment, developers will hit an impenetrable wall half way through their first project and the full potential of SOA will never be reached.

To be continued . . .

2 Responses to “The seven ordeals of the web application developer – Part 5”

February 22nd, 2019

Well said! Security, as you described it, has no simple solution. Indeed some may say it has no solution at all since it requires cooperation of everyone. Let us call it the eight ordeal:) It is certainly a great topic for a separate discussion.

Sam says:

The greatest challenge in using Cloud Computing is security. The data could reside on many computers in many different jurisdictions. A Canadian firm using a cloud to store medical information for Canadians in Canada may be shocked to learn part of the data now resides on a computer in the U.S. and now the data can be turned over to the U.S. government.

Never put anything in a Cloud network than what you’re be willing to put on a postcard.


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