March 01, 2007

Upgrading to web 2.0

What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 is a concept phrase coined by O’Reilly Media that refers to a new generation of Internet based services that involve enhanced online collaboration among users.

Web 2.0 provides a new and enhanced makeover for the World Wide Web by providing users with an easier and a faster web. Web 2.0 makes use of the desktop applications at a greater level than the traditional version with static web pages. It makes use of a number of techniques that includes web syndication, Ajax, and public web service APIs. In web syndication, a part of the website is made available to be used by other sites. Ajax is used to create interactive web applications.

Web 2.0 also supports mass publishing like wikis and blogs. Wiki refers to a site that facilitates easy addition, removal and editing of the contents of a site, with or without registration. Blogs are publications of periodic articles on the web. Web 2.0 is often used to describe anything that is new and popular on the World Wide Web.

Technology Infrastructure of Web 2.0

Web 2.0 has a developing and complex technology infrastructure. The technology includes the use of content syndication, server software, standards-based browsers that have extensions and plugins, client applications, and messaging protocols. All these advanced technology provides Web 2.0 with dissemination, creation, and information storage capability. There are a number of major techniques that Web 2.0 website uses. Some of them include:

  • Rich Internet Application techniques that are unobtrusive like Ajax. The Rich Internet Applications are the web applications having the traditional desktop applications functionality and features.
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are used to describe the presentations of documents that are documented in a markup language. CSS describes them in a stylesheet language.
  • Semantically valid XHTML markup and the application of Microformats. The Microformats are the markups that permit expression of semantics in an HTML web page.
  • Proper aggregation and syndication of data in RSS/Atom. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is mainly used by the news websites and weblogs for web syndication in XML.
  • Significant and clean URLs.
  • Publishing Weblogs. Weblogs are the web-based periodic publication of articles.
  • Mashup, which is a web application or a site that merges content from various sources into an integral knowledge.
  • REST or XML Webservice APIs. Representation State Transfer (REST) is a software architectural approach for dispersed hypermedia systems similar to the World Wide Web.

Most of the Web 2.0 websites attach great importance to the visual appeal and aesthetics of the site. To achieve such an effect, they make use of drop shadows, rounded corners, and gradients to make the site more appealing to the eyes.


Web2.0 benefits can be twofold:

  • Business – ways in which Web2.0 can benefit the business and IT industry
  • Users – ways in which Web2.0 can help end-users

Business perspective

What it takes to implement Web2.0

  • Website – a site that has easy accessibility for data transfer. It should be easy to extract data in and out of the system
  • Data – the data on the site are owned by the users. This feature facilitates the users to modify the data whenever they wish to. Instead of being static like in the traditional versions, Web 2.0 has dynamic data returns. It is the query of the users that determines the change of data
  • Platform – a web-based network as platform

Perpetual beta

In web2.0, software is delivered as a service rather than as a product. This makes operations as one of the core competencies of this business since regular enhancements are required (by yermiyayeva). Being a service, the major gain from this is delivery – that is fast and perpetual – free from stringent release cycles, as in case of traditional software.

Open source development practices

Since Web2.0 is perpetually developed in an open source development environment, users are often considered as co-developers. This significantly removes the technical-functional barrier since the people who use are the people who make.

Real-time monitoring

Web2.0 requires real-time monitoring to evaluate the features that are being used and upto the extent these are being used. This helps business since features get evaluated in real-time that help the good ones to be extended to other applications whereas the unpopular features and stopped instantaneously.

Assembly replaces product development

Web2.0 is an assembly of services. The major advantage being that this does not require an elaborate business model. All that the business requires is to pick-up the right components and assemble them in a useful way so as to deliver valuable services to the business.

Cost effective

Web2.0 is considered cost effective due to following reasons:

  • Since Web2.0 data originate from end-users, data generation is almost free
  • From a service perspective, Web2.0 is based on a self-service philosophy – users contribute what they know and find what they are looking for – on their own. This considerable reduces support overhead
  • Lightweight business model

End Users

For end users, Web 2.0 comprises of lot of meanings. The phrase can refer to the evolution of websites from isolated silos to functional and content related sources. The following diagram is just an indication:

Click on the image for enlarged view

Below are some of the areas which give us the Web 2.0 experience,

Collective intelligence

Web2.0 builds software that constitutes collective intelligence. Wikipedia, an online encyclopaedia is perhaps the best example where this has been implemented. Being open, web users can freely contribute by adding and editing information on their own. This result in a rapidly growing knowledge repository that would never have been possible without Web2.0.

Blogging – the live web

Personal websites have been around but blogs have revolutionized things as they are. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is the technology that has made this happen. RSS allows users to link not just to a page, but to subscribe to it, with notification every time that page changes – a concept commonly known as live web.

Collaborative learning

Web2.0 has transformed isolated information into an integrated platform for collaborative learning,

Rich web experience

Rich-Internet application (RIA) techniques such as Ajax, Adobe Flash and Flex have significantly improved user experience for browser-based web applications. Flash/Flex allows a part of the content of a web page to be altered without refreshing the whole page at the same time.

RIAs typically transfer the processing necessary for the user interface to the web client but keep the bulk of the data (i.e maintaining the state of the program, the data etc) back on the application server.

RIAs typically:

  • run in a web browser
  • does not require software installation

Benefits of RIA

Because RIAs employ a client engine to interact with the user, they are:

  • Richer.
  • More responsive.
  • Client/Server balance.
  • Asynchronous communication.
  • Network efficiency.

These benefits can be explained in detail:


They can offer user-interface behaviors not obtainable using only the HTML widgets available to standard browser-based Web applications. This richer functionality may include anything that can be implemented in the technology being used on the client side, including drag and drop, using a slider to change data, calculations performed only by the client and which do not need to be sent back to the server (e.g. an insurance rate calculator), etc.

More responsive

The interface behaviors are typically much more responsive than those of a standard Web browser that must always interact with the server.

Client/Server balance

The demand for client and server computing resources is better balanced, so that the Web server need not be the workhorse that it is with a traditional Web application. This frees server resources, allowing the same server hardware to handle more client sessions concurrently.

Asynchronous communication

The client engine can interact with the server asynchronously — that is, without waiting for the user to perform an interface action like clicking on a button or link. This option allows RIA designers to move data between the client and the server without making the user wait. Perhaps the most common application of this is pre-fetching, in which an application anticipates a future need for certain data, and downloads it to the client before the user requests it, thereby speeding up a subsequent response. Google Maps uses this technique to move adjacent map segments to the client before the user scrolls their view.

Network efficiency

The network traffic may also be significantly reduced because an application-specific client engine can be more intelligent than a standard Web browser when deciding what data needs to be exchanged with servers. This can speed up individual requests or responses because less data is being transferred for each interaction, and overall network load is reduced. However, use of asynchronous pre-fetching techniques can neutralize or even reverse this potential benefit. Because the code cannot anticipate exactly what every user will do next, it is common for such techniques to download extra data, not all of which is actually needed, to many or all clients.


To sum up, Web 2.0 will be here to stay and revolutionize the whole world of computers and the Internet by making it easier, faster, simpler and better. Despite some critic points, this concept model is the buzzword of today and with the complex and evolving technology infrastructure of Web 2.0 and its full gamete of server-software, content-syndication, messaging-protocols, standards-based browsers with plug-in and extensions, it will revolutionize the web scenario in the days to come in more global way. The differing but complementary approaches provide Web 2.0 with information-storage, creation, and dissemination capabilities that go beyond what the public formerly expected of websites and its going to be a new experience altogether.


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