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.
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Our respondents aren't afraid of new technology, either. A robust 51 percent say that Web services are part of their server development and 52 percent are employing XML or object-oriented databases. At a solid 40 percent, the uptake on .Net should warm Microsoft's heart, considering that the .Net Framework officially launched only 18 months ago. Adoption of Microsoft's Java-like C# was somewhat less impressive at 22 percent, though still respectable for a new programming language.
But if there's a central theme to our survey report, it's that Web applications have become the industry standard. An overwhelming 80 percent of respondents say such apps are part of their server development, with 53 percent saying they prefer to give their applications a Web-style user interface (as opposed to 33 percent who prefer fat-client GUIs). The lasting effects of the Internet boom can be debated ad nauseum, but there's little question of its impact on enterprise development.
The Right Tools for the Job
Applications can be loosely divided between those that are mission critical and those that aren't. Mission-critical enterprise applications, which typically take months or years to complete, require full IT control to ensure transactional integrity and scalability and often involve the development of industrial-strength EJB components. Developers with the skills to build these systems are an elite group. Whether the user interface to access such applications is an HTML page or a fat-client GUI is almost irrelevant, since the bulk of the development involves building complex business logic and security on the server side.