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i-Technology Viewpoint: Is Web 2.0 the Global SOA?
Web 2.0 describes the next generation of the Web as an application platform
By: RIA News Desk
Feb. 17, 2006 10:45 PM
The subject of Web 2.0 has become profoundly important over the last year. Web 2.0 describes the next generation of the Web as an application platform where most of a user's software experience resides. The subject is somewhat controversial, but it's becoming ever more apparent as the successor to monolithic system architecture, prepackaged software, and traditional Web applications.
Software as a Service (SAAS) and Web as Platform are only two of the larger mantras of Web 2.0 that most of the major software vendors have begun to embrace recently. Yet not only is Web 2.0 still very misunderstood, it's actually part of an even larger way of thinking about software in a fully service-oriented manner. This includes building composite applications, remixing data, building ad hoc supply chains, harnessing user involvement, aggregating knowledge, and more. Web 2.0 is becoming embodied in best practice sets such as service-oriented architecture (SOA).
The term Web 2.0 was originally coined by O'Reilly's Dale Dougherty to describe the forces behind the huge post-dot-com success of Internet companies like Google, eBay, Amazon, and iTunes, as well as noncommercial, emergent Web phenoms such as Wikipedia and BitTorrent. Web 2.0 describes Web experiences that fundamentally engage users by: 1) allowing them to participate in sharing information and enriching data freely, 2) readily offering their core functionality as open services to be composited or "mashed up" into new services and sites, and 3) placing the Web at the center of the software experience both in terms of data location as well as where the software is.
Applications in which the Web app is primarily an online catalog are changing the most. Instead of being just a way to browse for products or information, the Web 2.0 app is itself the tip of an iceberg that integrates services and data from multiple sources and then makes the results available to users and other Web 2.0 apps. At the end of the day, the integration achieved by one Web 2.0 app will likely get rolled up into someone else's Web 2.0 app.
Now evangelized by Tim O'Reilly and others as Web 2.0, the concepts themselves are not really new, but they are beginning to dominate the IT industry's collective consciousness. The powerful force of architecture of participation, which is the combined network effects of pervasive two-way participation (blogging, wikis, and media sharing), is having a huge effect and is creating a single, communal service architecture on the Web. In the end, users want access to information anywhere, from multiple sources, without synchronization, delay, or maintenance (software upgrades, data backups, etc.). Users want to be able to share knowledge and collaborate with peers. To do this they need to be using the same underlying set of technologies and paradigms, and this is what Web 2.0 promotes.
A Closer Look at Web 2.0
Tim O'Reilly, one of the leading evangelists of the Web 2.0 approach, generally provides seven classic characteristics of Web 2.0 software. These are described in the subsections below.
Web as Platform
Harnessing Collective Intelligence
Data Is the Next Intel Inside
End of the Software Release Cycle
Lightweight Programming Models
Software Above the Level of a Single Device
Rich User Experiences The Web has ceased to be about static Web pages. They still exist, but they are much less important. More central to the Web are rich user experiences that immerse the user in the functionality of the services available on the Web without getting in the way. The AJAX browser application model is famously a Web 2.0 technique that uses the raw ingredients of modern browsers to provide the full interactive experience of native applications to the user while leveraging XML Web services on the back end to provide access to data and services.
There are many interlocking, reinforcing details that are vital to appreciating the best practices in the Web 2.0 toolset, however, the intent of this article isn't to explain every nuance of Web 2.0. Instead the article should convey a general mental model of it and describe Web 2.0's striking similarity to the SOA model. The point is that Web 2.0 describes the Web as a galactic collection of high-value Web services to be used, reused, and leveraged to meet users' needs. The Web itself provides the universal fabric upon which all of this rests and this includes the standards, the users, and the data. The premise of this article is that Web 2.0 actually describes the Web as the convergence of software services into a global service-oriented architecture.
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