Monday, October 26, 2009

The Complicated Software Stack

To aspiring Web application developers or people looking to put together their own Web application: the road to building a modern working Web application is a long and complicated journey.

Today's Web application developer is nothing short of a jack-of-all-trates, requiring deep knowledge of everything from HTML and CSS to Java and SQL. Everything from common CRUD tasks to sophisticated work-flows requires knowledge of half a dozen computer languages along with their quirks and variations across platforms and applications.

Today's software is built using a mix of programming paradigms and data models. Every level in the software stack requires explicit data mapping between paradigms. Many Web applications include the following levels in their software stack:
• Relational for persistence,
• Object oriented (class-based) in the model,
• Aspects peppered throughout,
• Resource (or activity) oriented Web services,
• Functional template engines,
• Markup using key/value pairs, and
• Prototype based objects for UI behaviour.

The above complication comes at a price. Software takes longer to develop and is more expensive to maintain than it used to be. This is causing a greater divide between small tools and large software systems.

Applications, like Microsoft Excel, which combine data processing and persistence using a consistent programming paradigm, have grown in popularity as a cheap alternatives to the complexity of modern Web applications.

While the market for Web applications has grown, the scope has decreased, favouring large high volume systems. Smaller Web applications are too often over-architected and over-budget. There is a large (and growing) opportunity for software vendors to fill this divide and create a new platform that combines data processing and persistence, using a single programming paradigm, for Web applications.

Can Web applications be built to use a single programming paradigm?

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