Jim Driscoll's Blog

Notes on Technology and the Web

Catching up with the Modern Web

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I’ve been doing work on various Web technologies since Clinton was President. I’ve been involved in Internet technologies since… before that. Throughout the late 90’s and most of the next decade, I worked on Web technologies in one fashion or another, either as an engineer or a manager. We worked on, and invented, any number of technologies whose names you’d recognize (though I usually had a peripheral role).

My last project for Sun, implementing the Ajax front end for JSF‘s reference implementation, was heavy JavaScript work. Because we didn’t want to have any dependencies on external libraries, it was done as close to the metal as you can get in DOM programming. (And since IE6 support was, IIRC, required, it was quite an adventure.)

But then, as Sun spiraled downward toward it’s eventual dissolution, I ended up leaving hard core Web technologies to work on solutions for a somewhat smaller (though still pretty large) set of customers – and though I still worked making Web based solutions, I began to focus primarily on more backend problems like DSLs and metaprogramming.

Gradually, I stopped paying attention.

Every now and then, something would peep through my blinders. Since I was paying attention to language developments, I heard about Node.js, CoffeeScript, and Dart (though I admit to not being exceptionally impressed by any of them on first hearing). I attended a number of talks by Douglas Crockford, and I had some vague notion that the Thin Server model was taking over. I heard, often through friends, that NoSQL was a thing now. There were offhand references to client-side MVC here and there, as well as more esoteric things like Hypermedia and HATEOAS.

As part of my job, I began working in JavaScript somewhat heavily again, mostly instrumenting a JavaScript component (CodeMirror, which I can’t say enough kind things about, nice stuff). Almost on a lark, I decided to attend the local HTML5 Developers Conference – one of the major advantages of working in Silicon Valley is that such things are readily available to you if you’re willing to take the time to seek them out.

The conference was extremely eye-opening. While I was napping, a whole new ecosystem had opened up around the world of Web Development. As is usual in technology, after a brief period of consolidation and extension of the latest greatest tech (server side Java), a whole new way of doing things was being born.

In the month since, I’ve immersed myself as much as possible in this new world, and I love what I’ve found.

If, like me, you haven’t been paying as much attention to new developments as you should, it’s time to start. Things have settled down a little bit, but are still in the early adopter phase of the adoption lifecycle — though I believe that they’re rapidly crossing the adoption chasm.

Don’t have a month or two to burn to learn all this new stuff? Stick around – I intend to report what I’ve found.

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Written by jamesgdriscoll

December 14, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Posted in JavaScript, web

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