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Machine Learning : Article

Event-Driven Web Application Design

"The era of boring web sites is over !"

Yahoo! User Interface Blog

Frontend engineering rocks right now. The era of boring web sites is over and we’re all into pushing the envelope, erasing boundaries and getting beyond whatever prevents us from building the next killer web application. New companies building quick-turnaround web products spring up like mushrooms and many an old convention of web design is cast aside to make way for quick prototyping and agile development.

The real confusing part of it — at least to me — is that we don’t try out new ways to approach web application development. Instead, there seem to be two separate schools of development approach:

  • You either use a framework (like Ruby on Rails, Spring or Microsoft .NET) to build your web-app or
  • You build your web app with best-practices ideas coming from more traditional web design and/or application design.

The framework approach relies heavily on the quality of the generated code and the accessibility and usability of the out-of-the-box page widgets and components. The pure web design approach relies on what HTML allows you to do and most of the time doesn’t take scripting-enhanced widgets into consideration.

As there are not many developers that follow both approaches there is a big divide in skill sets. People tend to become experts in one or another and stay within this comfort zone when talking to other developers. This is a real big waste as both factions could learn a lot from each other. All we need to overcome are the competing notions that (a) web standards and accessibility are show-stoppers for rapid framework-driven development and that (b) frameworks are a source of bad and invalid code. Both approaches are flexible: Frameworks can be extended to produce cleaner code and web standards can be seen as an agreed way of working with one another rather than as immutable laws that are never to be broken.

More Stories By Christian Heilmann

Christian Heilmann is the author of 'Beginning JavaScript with DOM Scripting and AJAX' and he contributed a chapter on accessible JavaScript to Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance. He has worked in web development for almost 9 years for several agencies and .coms, is currently a lead developer at Yahoo! in England. Chris blogs at http://wait-till-i.com.

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