What's Coming Up in 2010, and Beyond, for Web Development
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UXPassion recently published an article which predicted the trends that web developers are likely to see growth in over the next year. Their coverage inlude five major factors:
- "Real Time" Coverage on the web and mobile areana - Over the last few years, the social networking phenomenon has grown from something only teenagers dabbled in, to something that news agencies, businesses and corporations have come to reply on. Twitter is a good example. It went from being something that people couldn't see why they would even want to use, after all, who really cares "what I am doing" on a moment by moment basis, to being something that news agencies and technologists utilize each day to make day to day decisions and new reports from. Examples from UXPassion's report mention the death of Michael Jackson, which actually overloaded Twitter to the point where it collapsed, to the saga of Croation ex-Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, who left the country without any explanation. Twitter was there when the discussions began, and information was provided through that medium as to why he left the country. Social media is now mainstream, not just limited to individuals who want to keep in touch with their friends any longer. It's a valid expression of what is happening, any time, any place, about anyone or anything.
- Social Networking APIs and interactions - As mentioned above, social networking is a major influence in today's web atmosphere. Parent, grandparents, news organizations, corporations, small businesses--they all have a presence on some social network. This is only going to continue to expand over the next year, with web developers making use of these networks through the availability of application programming interfaces (APIs) provided by the social networking sites themselves. Google, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Ning, Yahoo, Amazon--all the major social networking faces in the crowd have APIs that are available for developers to use to create interactive applications which can themselves be used on websites and on the social networks themselves. The use of these social networking application on both PC-based and mobile devices has exploded--a trend we are only likely to see increase over the next year.
- Rich Internet Application (RIA) platforms - RIAs have come to play a very large role in web development over the last few years, and this year we are likely to see an explosion in their usage by developers. Examples of RIA include AJAX, Adobe Flex, Microsoft Silverlight, Curl, Mozilla's XUL and JavaFX. Combine these technologies with the features of HTML5, CSS and the Semantic Web, and you have the potential for some amazing tools that end-users will come to expect, and developers will come to embrace. The web is not just for surfing any longer, it is becoming more of a platform than a media interface, with rich, interactitive user experiences that are more intuitive, immersive and involving than previously possible for users, researchers, buyers, businesses and developers, via both the computer and the mobile environment.
- Real-time Online interaction and mobile web - As UXPassion refers to it, "Augmented reality" is invading the web as we know it. UXPassion quotes the definition from Wikipedia, which is worth repeating here: "Augmented reality is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery creating a mixed reality. The augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, such as sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally usable."
The use of this technology has already begun with organizations such as Google, with their announcement of Google Goggles, which enables users to search the web by submitting an image, whether taken by their mobile phone or a digital image they have on their computer, has enabled users to be able to, with a quick snapshot of a local store, locate local businesses in their immediate area, or identify the snake they just saw crawling around in their backyard. This Augmented Reality has the potential to affect web applications and the way the public uses the internet in general, from gaming applications, to social networking, to locality interactions, to education.
A great example pointed out by UXPassion is the Layar Augmented Reality Browser, which Layar states provides the ability for "everybody with basic web development skills to create rich immersive experiences that cannot be replicated on a map, in a traditional browser or in a mobile location based application. Layar is a free application on your mobile phone which shows what is around you by displaying real time digital information on top of reality through the camera of your mobile phone. By holding the phone in front of you like a camera, information is displayed on top of the camera display view. For all points of interest which are displayed on the screen, information is shown at the bottom of the screen." Now that is a great example of what UXPassion is talking about when they mention Augmented Reality, and they predict that we will all be seeing more such applications in the next year.
- Intimate Socially Directed Content Delivery - Pretty much everyone has heard the term "targetted marketing." Websites have been doing it for a long time now. Social networks have made exclusive use of it, targetting their members with ads from companies associated with the member's favorite movies, hobbies, professions and location. Google uses it to target ads for businesses to users in that location. This year, you will see more websites and web applications use this directed content delivery technology to not only deliver advertisements, but more importantly, targetted content. The web is a huge medium with literally billions of articles, movies, music, ads, books, blogs--pretty much you name it, and the web has it available. The problem is how to get that content to the folks who are looking for it.