Embracing The Open Web: The Technologies You Need To Know

The open Web is a culture, a community — and a set of preferred technologies for Internet applications. While HTML5 is the best known of these technologies, the open Web also includes JavaScript (client and server), CSS3, Representational State Transfer (REST) application programming interfaces (APIs), and mobile frameworks such as jQuery Mobile. Together, these technologies comprise a new application platform for the Internet that will gradually replace today’s web platforms (HTML4, Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, Simple Object Access Protocol [SOAP] web services, Java EE, and .NET) for most applications. Forrester recently published research outlining the open Web platform’s key components, their readiness, and how the platform is evolving.

Open Web developers tend to use a variation of the façade pattern for their applications but refine the pattern to focus on standard web formats and protocols and services delivered via the Web — so we refer to it as the open Web façade. Developers draw on three bodies of de jure and de facto standards to implement the open Web façade pattern:

  1. Client standards. Application clients based on a body of emerging standards collectively labeled HTML5.
  2. Service plane standards. A service plane that exposes interfaces using the REST pattern and resource-oriented architecture principles. These services are often called RESTful web services.
  3. Virtual infrastructure standards. A highly virtualized server tier (often a public cloud service) that is easy to deploy initial solutions to but that is also able to scale up or down on demand to meet surges in capacity.

HTML5 will end the halcyon days of Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight. HTML5 may not yet be as capable as Flash or Silverlight for digital rights management or adaptive video streaming, and there may not yet be what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) tools that allow designers to build advanced effects. It doesn’t matter. HTML5 and an attendant set of APIs and standards are advancing quickly enough to drive the next evolution of cross-platform rich Internet applications.

The public face of the service plane is a set of RESTful APIs representing the information and services that your organization chooses to expose. APIs are nothing new, but RESTful APIs embrace a particular design approach to programming interfaces that will lead your organization to a broader, resource-oriented architecture and management platform. Creating a set of well-structured REST/JSON APIs is just the beginning. As REST takes over as the dominant form of communication between systems of record and systems of engagement, application development and delivery pros will have to create an architecture and platform to support those APIs.

Cloud computing is so much a part of the open Web movement that it barely rated a mention in our conversations with developers. Cloud platforms play a profound role in the open Web because they level the playing field for open Web developers and provide so many useful services for open Web applications.

The open Web isn’t some “geek-a-demic” tech-fest — it wasn’t born of developers, by developers, and for developers. It is a technology wave spawned by the need to more fully engage and delight an increasingly demanding customer base. Welcome to your new Web platform; we advise actively engaging in the open Web technologies now.

Jeffrey S. Hammond and I conducted this research. Forrester clients can read both of our reports at these links: http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/here_comes_open_web_%26%238212%3B_embrace_it/q/id/58579/t/2and http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/embracing_open_web_web_technologies_you_need/q/id/61294/t/2.