Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Machine Learning , Open Source Cloud

Machine Learning : Article

AJAX and the Maturation of Web Development

From "View Source" to "Open Source"

I have always imagined the information space as something to which everyone has immediate and intuitive access, and not just to browse but to create." (Weaving the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee)

From the beginning, the World Wide Web that Tim Berners-Lee imagined was a place where the architecture of participation ruled. Berners-Lee's first application for accessing the information Web was both a browser and an editor, and throughout the early 1990s he worked diligently to encourage Web browser development groups to develop editors and servers as well as browsers. As early as the spring of 1992, the challenge was clear: "Although browsers were starting to spread, no one working on them tried to include writing and editing functions....As soon as developers got their client working as a browser and released it to the world, very few bothered to continue to develop it as an editor" (Weaving the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee).

Developers tended to defer the editing functionality for a number of reasons, mostly to compress development schedules and to get the browser out the door - because they felt many people, if they didn't need it, would at least use it - without the editor, which was more complex and useful to a smaller audience. Netscape Communicator 4.0, released in 1997, did finally include Netscape Composer, although its licensing terms only allowed free use for non-commercial purposes. Internet Explorer never contained an editor directly, though Microsoft acquired FrontPage from Vermeer in 1996; FrontPage 1.0 had been released in 1995 (www.seoconsultants.com/frontpage/history/).

It wasn't just the complexity of the editing functions themselves, of course, but also the fact that reading pages required a much simpler authorization model, in which the user either has access to the document or does not. In fact, the cluster of issues at hand - from version control of Web pages to multiple authors editing the same page, sometimes at the same time, to control over who should have access to change what pages - would busy the content management industry for the better part of the next decade.

While the early Web browser teams deferred creation of an HTML editor, they retained a key element of Sir Berners-Lee's original Web browser/editor:

The 'View Source' menu item migrated from Tim Berners-Lee's original browser, to Mosaic, and then on to Netscape Navigator and even Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Though no one thinks of HTML as an open source technology, its openness was absolutely key to the explosive spread of the Web. Barriers to entry for "amateurs" were low, because anyone could look "over the shoulder" of anyone else producing a Web page ("The Architecture of Participation" by Tim O'Reilly).

This "View Source" menu item, which was not buried in developer editions or professional versions but was part of the core browser, created a culture of easy access to knowledge.

As the complexity of presentation-tier Web development grew, with Cascading Style Sheets, JavaScript, and DHTML in the mix, the View Source culture of Web development evolved into an open source culture of frameworks and libraries. It is this culture that enables the viability of current AJAX-based approaches to Web development.

The View Source Culture
From a narrow perspective, the decision to include a View Source option in the Web browser was an insignificant choice, perhaps useful for troubleshooting formatting issues, but of interest to a very small community. As Berners-Lee puts it, "I never intended HTML source code (the stuff with the angle brackets) to be seen by users. A browser/editor would let a user simply view or edit the language of a page of hypertext, as if he were using a word processor. The idea of asking people to write the angle brackets by hand was to me, and I assume to many, as unacceptable as asking one to prepare a Microsoft Word document by writing out its binary coded format" (Weaving the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee). What View Source did (and still does!) was let users who were interested in learning to create Web pages see what HTML source was delivered to the browser to produce the page currently being rendered. Perhaps because many of the early Web users were developers of one kind or another, it became an expectation that any reasonable browser would include the ability to View Source.

Viewed more broadly, however, the View Source command was nothing short of revolutionary. It set the expectation that users should be able to not only view the "rendered" document, but also the "code" that created it. Because early browsers often differed in their interpretation of HTML, this was critical. Significantly, though, the View Source option was not buried in a developer's edition but was part of the edition everyone used, which encouraged even neophyte users to view the source of pages, whereupon they would see the relative simplicity of (especially early) HTML. (An interesting discussion about the need for the View Source option can be found in this bug report: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=256213 - which was a request to move View Source into a developer build of Firefox, and was ultimately rejected.)

This same expectation - that users should be able to view the raw source of files served by Web servers in addition to the rendered effect - was later extended to Cascading Style Sheets (.css files) and JavaScript (.js). In order to be rendered and displayed, browsers would need to download HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files, along with images and other binary files referenced in pages. However, the fact that the major browser developers chose to expose access to raw source as a first-level menu item was extraordinary. (In some cases accessing .css and .js files required a bit more ingenuity on the user's part, but nothing like the difficulty of accessing the source files in any other format such as Microsoft's Word or Adobe's PDF.)


More Stories By John Eckman

John Eckman is Senior Director of Optaros Labs. and has over a decade of experience designing and building web applications for organizations ranging from small non-profit organizations to Fortune 500 enterprises.

John blogs at OpenParenthesis and you can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and many other social networks: all his online personas come together at JohnEckman.com.

His expertise includes user experience design, presentation-tier development, and software engineering. Prior to Optaros, he was Director of Development at PixelMEDIA, a web design and development firm in Portsmouth NH, focused on e-commerce, content management, and intranet applications. As Director of Development, he was responsible for managing the application development, creative services, project management, web development, and maintenance teams, as well as providing strategic leadership to teams on key client accounts, including Teradyne, I-Logix, and LogicaCMG.

Previously, John was a Principal Consultant with Molecular, a Watertown MA-based professional services and technology consulting firm. In this role he was responsible for leading technical and user experience teams for clients including JPMorgan Invest, Brown|Co, Knights of Columbus Insurance, and BlueCross and BlueShield of Massachusetts. Before becoming a Principal Consultant, he served in a number of other roles at Tvisions / Molecular, including various project lead roles as well as User Experience Manager and Director of Production.

John's technical background includes J2EE and .NET frameworks as well as scripting languages and presentation-tier development approaches, in addition to information architecture, usability testing, and project management. He received a BA from Boston University and a PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle; he completed an MS in Information Systems from Northeastern University in 2007. He lives with his wife and two cavalier spaniels in Newburyport, MA.

Contact John Eckman

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
AJAXWorld News Desk 11/30/06 01:56:02 AM EST

From the beginning, the World Wide Web that Tim Berners-Lee imagined was a place where the architecture of participation ruled. Berners-Lee's first application for accessing the information Web was both a browser and an editor, and throughout the early 1990s he worked diligently to encourage Web browser development groups to develop editors and servers as well as browsers. As early as the spring of 1992, the challenge was clear: 'Although browsers were starting to spread, no one working on them tried to include writing and editing functions....As soon as developers got their client working as a browser and released it to the world, very few bothered to continue to develop it as an editor' (Weaving the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee).

@ThingsExpo Stories
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits,...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile exhibited at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on qua...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cedexis will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cedexis is the leader in data-driven enterprise global traffic management. Whether optimizing traffic through datacenters, clouds, CDNs, or any combination, Cedexis solutions drive quality and cost-effectiveness. For more information, please visit https://www.cedexis.com.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Google Cloud has been named “Keynote Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Companies come to Google Cloud to transform their businesses. Google Cloud’s comprehensive portfolio – from infrastructure to apps to devices – helps enterprises innovate faster, scale smarter, stay secure, and do more with data than ever before.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vivint to exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. As a leading smart home technology provider, Vivint offers home security, energy management, home automation, local cloud storage, and high-speed Internet solutions to more than one million customers throughout the United States and Canada. The end result is a smart home solution that sav...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Opsani will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Opsani is the leading provider of deployment automation systems for running and scaling traditional enterprise applications on container infrastructure.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nirmata will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nirmata provides a comprehensive platform, for deploying, operating, and optimizing containerized applications across clouds, powered by Kubernetes. Nirmata empowers enterprise DevOps teams by fully automating the complex operations and management of application containers and its underlying ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Opsani to exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. Opsani is creating the next generation of automated continuous deployment tools designed specifically for containers. How is continuous deployment different from continuous integration and continuous delivery? CI/CD tools provide build and test. Continuous Deployment is the means by which...