Last year (2006) brought us some very nice things; the use and sharing of online video is growing enormously. Social networking is far beyond the hype now. But what about the new year? Let me share some of my thoughts for 2007.

  1. Web teams & front-end disciplines evolve
    Due to the growing popularity of web standards and the professionalisation of the web’s front-end, new processes and roles arise. On large-scale projects front-end knowledge from development to architectural level is needed. Just front-end developers won’t do the trick anymore. Front-end technology is evolving rapidly and is getting more and more complex. There will be an urging need for people with in-depth knowledge and a long-term vision or broad overview. The front-end specialist and the front-end architect will provide this knowledge.
  2. Growing awareness of web standards legacy
    Web standards are being used more and more. We’ve been pioneering its borders for the last years and managed to harness a broad range of functional demands. But due to the rapidly growth of content-enrichment with video, audio and interactivity we tend to get stuck in a Web standards vacuum. The ‘old’ standards won’t do the job anymore and are coming short in handling accessibility, semantics and interactivity. We need more and better semantic XHTML structures, quicker browser adoption of newer CSS standards and a more powerful scripting/programming environment on the client.
  3. Communication channels appear on desktop
    New Windows technology like Vista Gadgets will create a totally new communication channel. With Vista Gadgets, the internet will be integrated with the users desktop. Applications like a web browser or email client will no longer be needed to reach the user. Vista Gadgets are tiny web applications that reside on a small desktop space called the sidebar. When a user has installed your gadget, these users can be reached after windows vista has started up. This way feeds and services can be pulled directly to the desktop. Desktop Marketing is born.
  4. Vista foundations will enrich browsers.
    The completely renewed architecture of windows vista will introduce many new features in upcoming browsers. Better support of today’s multimedia and graphics hardware by Vista’s new presentation foundation layer will be the reason for adding more powerful graphics related functionality in Internet Explorer 7+.
  5. DHTML+, the revival of Dynamic HTML
    With the rise of web standard based development; DHTML has rapidly become a forbidden area. Unobtrusive DOM scripting was the new way to go. Other technologies like FLASH have tried to take DHTML’s place by providing nice looking widgets and interface objects like sliders etc. While Unobtrusive DOM scripting is just a way of getting there the web standard way, DHTML will prove its power again. What DHTML is best at above all other technologies is accessibility. By using DOM scripting and providing an accessible fallback, unobtrusive crossbrowser DHTML can be created. Simple accessible form objects like textboxes can be enriched by DHTML to for example animated sliders. A nice example is the widgets in Yahoo’s UI libraries.
  6. The RIA paradigm
    Rich Internet Applications have the power to become used on a large scale, however some hurdles have to be taken by our web community to create enough best-practice-mass to enjoy of the real benefits. From a web standards scope, accessibility is a bottleneck. Most platforms like Adobe FlexLaszlo etc. won’t comply. Some architectural decisions have to be made, like technology independency (no javascript/no flash), business logic placement (serverside/clientside), application logic patterns, sandboxing, security, cross-site scripting etc. etc. Personally I think a best of breed solution will become our best bet. With all the knowledge and techniques we are aware of today, we will be able to create robust applications.
  7. Service Oriented Architectures become adapted
    With the growing number of different internet based communication channels, a transparent and flexible way for delivering data and business logic is needed. Service Oriented Architectures will be the solution for leveraging data, information and knowledge through the internet to a wide range of devices and applications. For example a SOA based business logic layer will be very handy use in RIA’s. Where services can be used through xmlHttp on the client, these same services can be used server side in the RIA’s fallback alternative.
  8. New techniques evolve for handling screen size-paradigm
    The internet has been evolving from an information platform to a communication platform. New channels and devices are using the internet as an information source. WebTV, set top boxes, handhelds, beamers, widescreen monitors and television etc. all need to display the same content in such a way that brand identity will be guaranteed. The downside of these devices is that they all vary in screen size, color depth and information space. New techniques like vector based design, adaptive css layout and better client side image-algorithms will be introduced to leverage this paradigm.
  9. Shortage of front-end experts
    As a result of the growing front-end attention and the rapid evolvement of front-end technologies, web teams with web standards in mind will develop an urging need for people with in-depth knowledge of wide range of front-end technologies. CSS jugglers and javascript programmers won’t bring enough power. Combining a broad range of front-end technologies with architectural skills is the ultimate role needed at these web teams.
  10. Desktop marketing will be this years marketing buzz
    The marketing buzz for 2007 will be desktop marketing. While RSS-feeds will be integrated with desktop applications and vista Gadgets will provide a new communication channel, marketeers will find there way to the desktop. New rules and propositions will distill. Flashy banner adds won’t do because these will distract the user from his daily job, resulting in a grand tour to the garbage bin.