As we approach the end of 2007, it is interesting to reflect on technology developments of the past year and ponder what to expect next year in Web development technologies.

Web 2.0

A popular buzzword in Web development is Web 2.0. The term refers to second-generation Web applications with a goal to facilitate community, which encompasses creativity, collaboration, and sharing. Sites like MySpace and Blogger provide the ultimate way to collaborate and be creative online, and most sites (including TechRepublic) provide interaction via reader feedback, blogs, and so forth. Developers can develop such applications using readily available technologies like AJAX, as well as use existing applications via mashups. AJAX has played a large role in delivering such applications, as it provides the means to create rich Web applications.


Who would have believed that the marriage of JavaScript, XML, and the XMLHttpRequest object (originally developed by Microsoft) would cause such a splash in the world of Web development? During the past year, it evolved from a new technology to test into an accepted industry standard for building powerful Web applications.

I knew AJAX had arrived when Microsoft introduced its own version called Atlas and later integrated AJAX into its ASP.NET Web platform. Adobe offers another approach with Flex. Also, bookstore shelves are overflowing with titles promising to teach you every aspect of AJAX. It makes me wonder if there is a new AJAX on the horizon for 2008.


CSS is finally being embraced and used by a wider audience than just hard-core development geeks. CSS is now a standard component of almost every Web application. It offers an easy way to separate presentation from content.

This doesn’t mean the days of using HTML tables to layout a Web page are over, but their usage is certainly on the decline as CSS continues to garner acceptance. If you question CSS’s usage, look no further than industry giant Microsoft, as they embrace CSS in their latest product versions.

Agreement about Web standards?

An interesting aspect of the growth of CSS usage is the move toward Web standards throughout the industry and its products. A big reason for the push for Web standards is Microsoft (which seems to always go its own way even as it promises to keep in line). There has been some progress at Microsoft with the release of Internet Explorer 7 and products like Expression Web, which embrace standards like CSS, but it still has a way to go. Web developers dream about the day when the browser used to access a site is a moot point, but that day is a long way off.

One development platform that exploded in 2007 was the mobile world as people began accessing Web applications using their cell phones, PDAs, and so forth.

What will 2008 look like for Web developers?

It is dizzying to think about the past year and all of the technologies covered in this column and in everyday projects. I don’t expect the pace to slow down in 2008.

I have no doubt that Web development for mobile devices will continue to explode (especially considering my neighbor at a recent basketball game kept up with other sports scores on his cell phone). The W3C Mobile Web Initiative is a good place to keep up with technologies and standards for mobile Web development.

The W3C continues to push forward with technologies not related to mobile development as well. This includes the next latest standard for creating pages with HTML 5.0 and XHTML2, and the CSS Working Group continues to move forward with new features. The Web Standards Project is another initiative to keep up with work in the area of Web standards.

On the other side of Web standards is software and tools from both commercial and open source vendors. You can definitely expect newer versions to continue to arrive. A good example is Microsoft’s load of new product versions on the way in 2008. The same is true for Java-based tools like NetBeans. Also, Adobe continues to update its Flash technology.

Which Web technologies had the biggest impact on your work in 2007? What technologies are you planning to embrace in 2008? What Web development trends do you foresee in the new year? Share your thoughts with the Web development community.

Tony Patton began his professional career as an application developer earning Java, VB, Lotus, and XML certifications to bolster his knowledge.


Get weekly development tips in your inbox
Keep your developer skills sharp by signing up for TechRepublic’s free Web Developer newsletter, delivered each Tuesday. Automatically subscribe today!