Web development does not have to hit the rails

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As I have stated before, better application interaction across different devices should be the web standard we all aim for.

However, progress has been sticky - and it can be difficult for users to access applications on different devices.

Standards such as XForms and WHATWG provide a step in the right direction, but are constrained by either the need for user plug-ins or the slow development of the framework.

So, how do alternative standards - such as JavaServer Faces (JSF) and Ruby on Rails (RoR) - provide more opportunities for creating web applications?

As its name suggests, JSF is Java-based – and its component-based framework aims to ease the development of user interfaces (UIs).

The approach allows the creation and re-use of specific components, promoting the quick and flexible development of web pages.

One of the other key benefits of JSF is the ability to work with a range of internet technologies. Particularly notable is the interaction with Ajax, which can help developer’s enrich JSF designs with Ajax-based components.

Work on the JSF specification continues apace and a series of big-name vendors are helping to push the development and adoption of the standard.

RoR - which is an open source framework for creating web applications - is also receiving an increasing amount of backing.

The framework intends to push agile programming, providing standard models for web site construction and the automatic allocation of information in databases.

Apple started shipping the framework in late 2007 and other firms continue to show an interest.

Microsoft, for example, recently announced plans to increase its commitment to Ruby. The Redmond-based software giant plans to take part in the RubySpec project, an attempt to provide a complete specification for the RoR programming language.

Such progress shows how developers do not need to feel constrained as they attempt to create usable web applications.

As my previous posts have aimed to highlight, the world of front-end development for SOA is a crowded place and each framework offers a unique blend of benefits and constraints.

My advice is simple. First, don’t re-invent the wheel - there is definitely an available framework that suits your needs, without having to create a presentation platform.

Second, take tour time before sourcing a solution. Look at all your presentation requirements across online and offline experiences, analyse support for devices and variations in presentation, and also investigate the skills you may - or may not have - in your organisation.

Just remember that the options are out most definitely out there.

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