Web Apps Rule the Organization

By Deane Barker on October 16, 2003

IDevelopers show their independent streak, favoring Web-based apps: Big frameworks and multi-layered architectures seem great in theory, but I’ve yet to see them work really well in practice. This seems to be the feeling coming out of this programming survey as well.

“Web applications rule the enterprise. That’s the indisputable conclusion to be drawn from this year’s InfoWorld Programming Survey. Despite imperitives from Microsoft and others that developers abandon server-based HTML apps for fat desktop clients, the ease of ‘zero deployment’ through the browser continues to win the day.

To build those Web apps, significant numbers of programmers favor such humble scripting languages as VBScript and Perl. Contrary to the hype that says Microsoft .Net and the Java elite have a lock on the programming world, many developers have settled on cheaper (and often faster) ways to build the Web applications they need to build.”

Many months ago, I ranted on about how architecture from the top down made my head hurt, and these results bear that out. I said, in part:

“I’m more inclined to believe that for a lot of systems, bottom-up is the way to go. Let business units use what they need, then integrate them with XML and Web services. […]

My old company spent months and months and months trying to work out an intranet strategy. Everytime I thought we were close, the project would get bogged down in architecture-this and integration-that. In an effort to build the perfect system, we ended up with no system.”

I believe this more and more each day. If you’re building a mission-critical CRM app for a massive organization, then go fire up .Net or J2EE or some other monolithic platform. For the lowly department intranet site, get a copy of PostNuke or Movable Type or Zope, and call it good. The end user doesn’t care about architecture, they just want to get some use out of it.

In the end, it comes down to a user looking at a monitor somewhere. Whether you’re using J2EE or PHP, all that matters to the user is what gets presented to the user. For the background stuff that the user never sees, ask yourself if your selection of platform is more driven by what you want, or what they want.

If you like this idea, read this post and this post, as they’re right up the same alley.



  1. I agree that bottom-up development is faster on a departmental level, but something else should be looked into (and yes, I am in IT but I’m not clueless): in our organization, the people who build those bottom-up apps always seem to be ambitious self starters who moveon_ to other offices and other jobs, leaving their app to their colleagues with little or no training in how to support it. These types of orphan apps often end up being handed to IT when problems arise, or if they’re not orphaned, some PHB decides the app should be scaled organization-wide and we’re tasked to do that.

    I don’t mean they shouldn’t be done! I mean, those are issues that need to be looked at.

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