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The Best Technologies in 2007

  • January 15, 2008
  • By Bradley L. Jones
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Today's major technologies often read like a bowl of alphabet soup. Technologies monopolizing the headlines include AJAX, RIA, SOA, SaaS, RSS, and REST. Many of these technologies are based on other technologies such as EDI, XML, JavaScript, OO, and more. Technologies today seem to be a barrage of letters in various combinations.

Although the acronyms seem cryptic and somewhat random, the concepts and technologies behind them are real and evolving. In many cases, the leading technologies are evolutions that are helping to move business forward. Of course, in a few cases, the technologies being highlighted in today's headlines are not as substantial as many would like.

On Developer.com, people were able to nominate the technologies that they thought were the most important in 2007. The nominated technologies included technologies such as .NET, Java, VoIP, RSS, Virtualization, .NET, REST, and TDD. These technologies were narrowed to a short list of Finalists that were:

  • AJAX
  • RIA
  • SOA
  • Semantic Web
  • Web 2.0

With over a thousand votes cast on these technologies, the winner emerged, taking 45 percent of all the votes. That winner for the third time in a row was AJAX. This was followed by SOA, RIA, and Web 2.0, which nearly evenly split another 50 percent of the votes. The Semantic Web trailed with the remaining votes.

It is worth noting that all of the finalists primarily center on the Internet. Additionally, these technologies are generally considered to focus on making the Internet much easier to tap into as well as much more dynamic. Each deserved its nomination and as a developer it is worth knowing what each of the technologies are.

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is likely the broadest of the technologies that made the finalists list. There are many prominent people who would state that the term Web 2.0 is simply marketing hype and has no real substance. A number of others would say that Web 2.0 is not actually a technology, but rather a name given to a period in time for what was occurring on the Web.

Seth Sternberg, one of the co-founders of Meebo.com, states1, "Nobody really knows what Web 2.0 is. It just refers to this resurgence of innovation around the web, which is a great thing." Others would define Web 2.0 as a changing from a static Web to something that is more dynamic.

When asked how he would define Web 2.0, Bob Brewin, a distinguished engineer and the CTO for Software at Sun Microsystems stated1, "Web 2.0 is a leveling of the playing field where the players are all equal." He went on to say, "We all agree that there is this notion that the information flow is not one way, it is not unidirectional, so all the people and all the participants on the Web have an equal say in how the Web and the information on the Web resolves."

Regardless of whether it is marketing hype or something real, the concepts behind Web 2.0 are something that most organizations are considering important. Often, the concepts center on an openness of information, the ability for the community or for customers to provide direct information and feedback, the ability to connect into open APIs, and the ability to have a richer, more dynamic experience on the web. Ironically, many of these are accomplished with the other technologies that were recognized as finalists for the Developer.com Product of the Year 2008.

AJAX

It is hard to mention Web 2.0 without mentioning AJAX. AJAX stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. Although the term AJAX has been very popular the last few years, the concepts behind it are not very new. Rather, it is how technologies such as XML, JavaScript, and HTTP are being used that make it interesting.

AJAX is generally characterized by a decrease in page loads when viewing a web site. The AJAX technologies are used to load information in the background so that it then can be displayed when needed without fully redisplaying a web page. This makes web sites seem much smoother in their presentation. It also allows you to create functionality that mimics what desktop applications can do, such as customized drop down menus, drag&drop, and more.

In many ways, AJAX is one of the technologies people are using to implement Web 2.0. It is the coding technology used by developers to create Rich Internet Applications (RIAs), to build Web 2.0 features, and to create much more dynamic web sites. With AJAX being at the core of many of the other currently popular technologies, it is no wonder it was voted Technology of the Year on Developer.com.





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