My top 10 most significant web technologies

The mainstream web has yet to fully catch on to the significance of Drupal although it is rapidly gaining significant momentum. Kind of quietly whilst nobody noticed - at least, not me - the Drupal team have been developing a most intelligent, comprehensive framework for assembling tailored content management systems.

Having worked with content management systems for 10 years I had all sorts of ideas and aspirations for problems to solve and technology to develop. It came as a revelation to discover Drupal a year ago and realise that most of my wildest content management dreams have not only already been realised, but matured, tweaked, documented and improved. Discovering Drupal has pushed my information technology horizons at least 5 years into the future and not only that but I've discovered a large, well organised, friendly and extremely well informed community of fellow developers to work with.

A year later, I'm beginning to discover the new boundaries, but wow, what a ride ! Imagine all the "web things" you'd like to build have already been built, have had the quality and intelligence dials turned up to max (and then some) and it's all for free.

If you work on the web or especially with content management and you haven't yet discovered Drupal then you are essentially blind to the reality that is surrounding you.

I think most programmers tend to think of Javascript as a toy programming language, the sickly younger brother of Java; good for animating flashy web pages but not much else?

Nothing could be further from the truth. JavaScript is probably the most powerful, flexible, portable and accessible mainstream programming language available. True, it's object orientation is a bit weak but this is a minor detail and will fully resolved with JavaScript 2.

Prediction: JavaScript will become *the* programming language of the 21st Century

jQuery is a library that empowers JavaScript with vastly easier and more powerful control over html user interfaces. It makes it practical to create much more engaging and responsive html applications that easily work across different browsers.

cPanel / WHM
WHM (Web Host Manager) and cPanel are the unsung heros of anyone who enjoys cheap high quality Linux web hosting. cPanel is a "control panel" that  de-skills the management of web servers and allows computer literate people to host and manage their own websites for a minimal cost. The best value and quality hosting in the UK that I use for all my sites and clients is powered by cPanel and available from eukhost for as little as £30 per year !

WHM is a web system administrators dream come true for the large scale management of multiple servers hosting many sand boxed customer hosting accounts.

A fast, simple and reliable SQL database for the web. More than a little behind on functionality compared to many other databases but it doesn't matter because it's fast, it works and it's free.

mySQL is the backbone of the interactive web.

Flawed and quirky, html & css are the foundation of the web. Open, secure, flexible and can deliver information and applications to any device with a web browser. The next version, HTML 5 will enable a quantum leap in the quality and variety of browser based applications.

Possibly the most advanced relational database available (certainly for the price). Not as popular as mySQL due it's more demanding hardware requirements which is a shame because postgreSQL has game changing, next-generation RDBMS features. It supports table inheritance, multi-values, user defined data types and the ability to code stored procedures in your choice of programming language as well as high end features such as table spaces.

WebGL is a relatively new project that gives JavaScript direct access to the 3d acceleration hardware of a device through a web browser - It's so new, it only works if you download the "development" versions of browsers.

You may or may not appreciated the significance of this development but it's going to be huge, from 3d modelling to product marketing and augmented reality WebGL will be the key to the next generation of web applications.

Linux seeded the crystallisation of free and open source software. It's a mature and extensive business and personal computing environment and it's totally free. Linux is the ninth wonder of the world. Amazingly, even when it's right under their noses many people still fail to see the opportunties and possibilities of not paying licence fees for basic IT infrastructure. Not to worry, they'll get it eventually because Linux *is* taking over the world.

The Gimp
The amusingly named GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) isn't a web technology as such but it's an excellent tool for slicing and dicing images for building websites. If you're a professional graphic designer then it's probably going to be worth investing in a licence for Photoshop, but for the rest of us, The GIMP is a powerful tool for processing photos and images for the web - and it's free!


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