The Internet is about to hit its fourth major shift in server architecture.
Imagine if you were building a house and the architects spoke only Japanese and the builders spoke only French. There is a lot of time and energy spent handling communication and fixing miscommunication between the two parties. The same problems happen when you use two different languages to build a web application.
The fissure between client and server is even starting to hit large corporate websites that have barely budged toward scripting languages from Java. When you go to your bank’s website or favorite e-commerce website, chances are that it looks and works very much like it did 10 years ago. This is because most corporations perform all of the processing of a website on their servers. When you click on something on a webpage, it goes to the server, which creates a whole new webpage and sends it to your browser. While this is not the most efficient way to serve a website, it is definitely the most efficient way to create a website inside a corporation, since the programmers do not have to learn all the intricacies of the various browsers and can simply program in Java, the favored language for corporate websites.
The sudden preponderance of mobile and tablet devices has created a sudden rupture in the way that corporations serve their websites. It is very slow and cumbersome to completely refresh a web page every time a user does something on a phone with its relatively slow web browser and connection. Now corporate web applications need to be upgraded to HTML5 and be able to update themselves dynamically, just like the modern web applications offered by Google and all of the Web 2.0 startups.
It all makes sense when you think about it. It took many years for scripting languages to be considered serious web languages and for significant client logic to be implemented on the browser. But now this is the normal way to create an Internet application. Why code in two different scripting languages, one on the client and one on the server? It’s time for one language to rule them all.
Peter Yared is the VP/GM of Social at Webtrends. He has founded four e-commerce and marketing infrastructure companies that were acquired by Sun, VMware, TigerLogic and Webtrends. You can follow him at @peteryared.