Web Development Has Come a Long Way


The late '90s aren't exactly ancient history, but in the Internet world they might as well be. Imagine a time when Google was not a household name, there were no wifi hotspots and a phone could only be used to make phone calls. When I first started doing web development in 1999, the resources at my disposal were nothing at all like what we have to work with today.

Working with UNIX systems and open source software, we had some familiar names - MySQL, PHP, Perl, JavaScript - but PHP and JavaScript were still quite new and underdeveloped, MySQL lacked many of the excellent features it has now, and Perl could be tricky. I can remember CGI scripts where pretty much everything was coded by hand, which meant that someone's idea of a Content Management System was when they asked me to update their HTML pages for them!

We're still using JavaScript, PHP and MySQL, but what a difference there is. JavaScript has become an incredibly useful and powerful tool with numerous frameworks built around it, such as jQuery and MooTools, that make creating rich web applications relatively straightforward. AJAX and JSON allow JavaScript to provide deep interactivity and seamlessness to today's websites. PHP, too, has grown a tremendous amount and is THE web scripting language in that it is available on all popular server platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and *BSD. No longer just a simple scripting language, it is a full-featured object-oriented programming language with support for a wide range of functionality. And talk about frameworks, the Content Management Systems (CMS) built on PHP, WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, and more, allow us to spend more time making websites DO more.

In addition to these fantastic advances in web development, there is such a vast wealth of information available today that finding or inventing new ways of augmenting websites is quicker and easier than ever.

One has to believe that experience gives a valuable understanding of what is happening behind the scenes on the web. That said, I don't miss the old days, at least not when it comes to web development.

By Upanup Staff
February 21st, 2012
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