Web 2.0 Expo: Building Next Generation Web 2.0 Applications

In the afternoon session today, I’m going to learn what it’ll take to build the next generation of apps. I’m curious to see what they’ve got to say.
Presenter: Dion Hinchcliffe

  • Room is about 90% full, compared to previous session
  • Poll shows 45% tech architect/dev, 45% product management, 10% other

I fear that this might be more beginner than I thought. This seems to be covering a lot of existing Web 2.0. I hope it’s just to set common background.

  • Need to look into social graphing as a metrics method
  • Badges are becoming most popular form of widgets (e.g. Flickr, but I have no idea what this is, need to find an example)
  • W3C trying to define the Web Widget as a standard, likely to be undermined by the industry who will not wait for them to get it all done

Yep. Basic information, mostly. I gather a lot of people here are fairly new to all this. Not as bad as the introductory SES stuff we had, but still…

  • Some service providers have rate limits (e.g. Google Maps) after which you have to pay; Amazon requires it from the get-go
  • Basing yourself on other services has drawbacks:
    • Weakest link syndrome (e.g. Amazon S3 outage)
    • Limited economy of scale due to dependency on others
    • Requires as good legal skills as dev skills to handle SLA issues
  • Top APIs available on ProgrammableWeb.com (which is partnered with IBM)
  • Twitter built on Amazon tools

Okay, minor rant: Woman just in front of me asked if I “had to do all that typing”. For crying out loud, lady, this is a Web 2.0 technology conference, not a press conference for Fergie. SUCK IT UP!! I can’t help it if I learned to type on a classic clunky IBM keyboard and have had hard keystrokes ever since.

  • Need to look at Yahoo! Geocoding as an alternative for Google’s
  • Platform solutions tend to beat an application for ROI and customer support every time
  • Amazon EC2 allows rapid roll out of virtualised servers
    • Second level Amazon apps (based on Amazon services): Jungle Disk, Digital Chalk
  • There is no proven ROI on social networking apps (e.g. Facebook app)
  • Numbers in XML data harder to process, increases parsing time — use JSON for numeric data instead
  • Dion believes REST is better than SOAP (mostly due to ease in parsing REST data)
  • Google Gadgets
    • 47k widgets available, all through iGoogle (and outside use?)
    • OpenSocial based on Google Gadgets
  • WidgetBox
    • 50k+ widgets
    • 2.5m serves of the widgets

Lots of discussion on mashups. A lot of “we know that already” info here. One interesting piece: Facebook and Amazon have an interesting partnership that allows someone to create a Facebook app, host it through Amazon, and rollout a grid-served application with no infrastructure for little cost.

  • Major APIs (in order)
    • RSS
    • REST
    • JSON
    • SOAP
    • ATOM is upcoming but not in the top 4 (ATOM is REST-compliant, so might overtake SOAP before long)

Long section on AJAX. Sorry, I mean Ajax. Nothing we haven’t done at least a dozen times here.

  • Dion a big proponent of Silverlight, but seems to be missing some details
    • Microsoft rep told us Silverlight could not yet handle 3D outside of Windows due to rendering engine; similar note about HD video
    • Either doesn’t know a lot about Flash, or is unwilling to draw comparisons for some reason — much of what he claims as awesome about Silverlight is already in Flash
    • Agree that Flash needs to go Open Source to eliminate the last part of the RIA puzzle (only thing that’s still wholly proprietary)
  • JavaFX is Sun’s RIA tool (never heard of it until now); seems to be geared mostly to mobile
    • Scripted, not compiled
    • Does not replace Swing, but makes it easier to develop
    • Can be used to create arbitrarily large apps

A note on RIA and metrics: Using asynchronous apps kill the pageviews metric. (Yahoo! got burned for this a while back.) Need to make sure that we account for this by tagging sub-apps and/or data.

  • New developments
    • New tools are great, but you lose performance with greater abstraction (e.g. Ruby)
    • Ruby on Rails is great, runs Twitter; massive performance drawback
      • IBM has proved 10-20x savings in initial dev costs over traditional tech, like Java
    • CakePHP is a framework written in PHP, modelled after Ruby on Rails (but not a port)
    • Groovy & Grails is a Ruby on Rails-like framework for Java
      • Does not have performance drawbacks of Ruby on Rails
      • Could be a hot one to keep an eye on, and run tests with
    • Platform As A Service (PaaS)
      • Google App Engine
      • Amazon AWS, EC2 (Elastic Server on Demand)
      • Heroku
  • Keep sight of the goals
    • Watch your competition (don’t replicate what they did, you need to outdo them)
    • Know your customers
    • Use the right tools for the right reasons
    • “This is an arms race”

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