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Five Technologies That Will Keep Shaping the Web in 2010

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As we’re coming to the end of this year, everyone starts tolooktowards the next one and there will no doubt be an upsurge ofarticlespredicting the web trends of 2010 in the next days to come.However, inthis article, we’ll be talking about what’s actually drivingthesetrends now, and what they mean for the future of the internet

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1. CSS3, HTML5 and Fonts as a Service

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CSS3,HTML5,and Fonts as a Service such as Typekit that cater to webbrowsers thatalready support the @font-face rule, are giving webdesigners thecreative freedom that they have been coveting for a longtime.

CSS3is opening up various new options for styling contenton the web, frommultiple backgrounds on page elements, better abilityto select andstyle elements with greater specificity, and colorgradients withoutreliance on static graphics, to simpler aestheticalimprovements such assupport for rounded corners without the need forcomplicated slidingdoors techniques or JavaScript.

HTML5 isslowly but surelychanging the way we mark up our pages, bringing uscloser to the holygrail of the semantic web, opening up native supportfor open formatmultimedia such as video and audio, and bringing usbetter ways tointeroperate with the content of a website.

Anotherchange thatweb designers have been wishing for is being able to useany font on aweb page, without using static CSS background imagereplacement orrelying on JavaScript and Flash. The development oftools like Typekitand greater support for the @font-face rule areenabling site buildersto use a much wider range of fonts in theirdesign.
So what will change?

Theseare all web technologiesthat are guaranteed to make the web a moreaesthetically pleasingplace. Of course, expect these new things to bemisused by Sundaydriver designers; there will be some horrible fontchoices andmisemployed color gradients that will produce unreadable andtacky pagedesigns, but it’s the opportunities that they open up forcapable andcreative designers that will be most interesting.

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2. Ways we browse the web

Thebrowserlandscape is alive and well, with better and faster webbrowsers such asGoogle Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera. Web userstoday are providedwith many choices that will surely drive competitionand one-upping fromthese companies – stressful for their developers,but great forconsumers.

The browser wars is in full force, andunlike thepreceding browser wars where Internet Explorer dethronedother browsersto take hold of a majority browser share, IE is shapingup to being the"dethronee" this time around.

And changes inbrowsing the webaren’t just limited to the web browser competition,the way we digestcontent from the web is increasingly becoming removedfrom thetraditional "sit in front of your desktop" way. Smart phonesarebecoming more common, TV’s are becoming web-enabled–and as aregamingconsoles such as the PS3 and Netbooks and mobile devices such astheiPhone and the Droid are giving users an experience on a smallerscreenthan a traditional laptop.

Moreover, browsers themselvesarechanging. The launch of Google Chrome brought the WebKit engine,alayout engine that has a big portion of CSS3 and HTML5specificationsalready implemented, to Windows-based computers betterthan Apple’sSafari port to Windows, and it may yet be a biggermilestone than manyfirst thought. With Google aiming for a 10% share ofthe market overthe next couple of years, a big push for users may wellbe coming. Alarge shift from the dominant web browser, InternetExplorer, isunderway and may be successful next year. In Germany,Mozilla Firefoxis close to overtaking IE’s market share as we speak.

Thesefactorsare revising the way we think about web design andaccessibility. Do youhave a mobile version of your site? What does itlook like on a smallscreen? What does it look like on a large screen?What does it look likein a WebKit versus Gecko versus Trident browserlayout rendering engine?

Attitudestowards viewing of websitesacross different media is changing as well,designers are increasinglybecoming of the opinion that designs do notneed to render the sameeverywhere, nor do they need to give the sameuser experience acrossall web browsers.
So what will it change?

There’sa goodchance that you’ll start to see websites that don’t look the sameinevery browser. Techniques for progressive enhancement aremorecommonplace than before, giving users of modern web browsers abetterweb experience than those who will not or cannot use them.Furthermore,there’s already widespread acceptance towards foregoingsupport forantiquated browsers, putting the burden of getting usersupgraded onthe browser makers, and not the designers. This type offorwardthinking will only grow in the upcoming year. What’s more, thechangesin the way we view the web will shift focus to content,functionalityand accessibility, but by no means at the expense of good,interestingand inspiring design.

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Noonecan deny that 2009 has been a big year for social media: Twitter,forexample, has become the buzzword in many a boardroom and office.It’sobvious that it will continue to a big part of the web in thefuture.

Inmany ways, the growth of platforms such as Twitterand Facebook has ledthe web to be much more community-oriented. Bigchanges could happenwithin social media and, no doubt, will be led bymonetization of themedia.

One of the big questions revolvesaround how you measurethe impact and value of social media and how toget that value back. Howvaluable are 1,000 twitter followers? Do youstart charging for theservice? Answering all these questions will leadto significant changesover the next year in the social media arena.

Alongwith thesechanges will come increased focus in getting information inreal-time.Google is already discussing real-time search to leveragethe immediateand breaking information that can be found on sites likeTwitter. Howthese changes are integrated into the current web system,especially interms of search engine technology, could precipitate intosomeinteresting developments and innovation in the way we seekinformationonline.
So what will it change?

With more peopleparticipatingin the creation of information on the web, the way inwhich we obtaininformation will shift from being from a singularsource, into a morecommunity-created source. Looking for informationabout, say, a carrepair shop will show you recent tweets and Facebookupdates about thatcompany instead of outdated and static information

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WhilstCSS3/HTML5has started to step on the toes of JavaScript, JavaScriptitself hasstarted to inch into the territory of Flash. The growth offrameworkssuch as jQuery and has made rich client-side interactionandasynchronous/seamless user experiences a reality. This leads toeasierdeployments of web applications, which in turn, increasescompetition,which in turn, leads to innovation.

JavaScript isalreadystepping into what, in the past, we would associate as beingFlash’sterritory, such as interactive games (which can be used fortrainingand distance-learning applications) and complex and interactivedatavisualization. It should also enable us to replicate richinterfacesand flash type experiences in a much more accessible way.

Andveryrecently, 10 years after the last major revision, JavaScript(known asECMAscript in web standards organizations) has just finisheda majorrevision of its specifications for the language. Once browsercompaniesadopt these standards, web developers will be provided withmore toolsto improve their capabilities in creating web applications.
So what will it change?

BecauseCSS3and HTML5 will replace a lot of what JavaScript is doing now(i.e.complex element selections, dynamic rounded corners, handlingreal-timeeditable web pages), we will see a surge in JavaScriptdeveloping intobeing focused solely on handling programming logic ofwebapps on theclient-side. With the news of the major revision on JSspecifications,we will see a progression towards better webapplications that caninteroperate much better with other web apps (forexample, a major goalfor the new set of specs is the security of JSONobjects).

5. Software as a Service (SaaS)

Softwareasa Service business models have been knocking around for years.Top-notchSaaS such as 37 Signals products and Google Enterprise aremorecommonplace now than ever before.

The competition isfierce; thetechnologies are becoming affordable and requiring littleupfront costs,which gives the little guys a chance to compete with thebigger guys. Inthe next year, we’ll see this competition increase, andhopefully, theoutcome is innovation in web apps.
So what will it change?

SaaS’sasa business model will continue to replace more traditional softwarethatrequire you to install and run them on your desktop. With so muchmorepeople connected to the internet, the demand is oninternet-enabled,interoperable applications. In 2010, we are in forsome surpriseimprovements driven by a need to stand out from the crowd

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