Programming - - By Craig Buckler

My Three Web Wishes for 2011

Following my look back at The Top 5 Web Trends and Technologies of 2010, it’s time to look forward to 2011. If I was granted three realistic web wishes, this is what I’d ask for in the coming year…

1. Microsoft would release IE9 on Windows XP

Microsoft is obviously excited about HTML5. Their conferences, articles, and products are all pushing the technology as the next “big thing.”

So why produce an HTML5-aware browser which can’t be installed by 60% of their users?

HTML5 could be held back years if Microsoft do not release a compatible browser for their most successful and widespread OS. The main arguments for not releasing IE9 on XP are:

  1. IE9 uses Windows Vista/7 rendering technology. I don’t doubt it, but there’s no fundamental reason why it can’t be ported to XP. Isn’t DirectX supposed to be a solution which solves OS and hardware incompatibilities? Besides, all the other browser vendors support XP without whining — and several offer IE9-like video acceleration. If others have the resources to support XP, Microsoft certainly does.
  2. XP is a ten year-old OS and support is being phased out. That’s true, but it’s currently Microsoft’s most popular OS. If they were really serious about scrapping XP, they could stop selling the OS and release Vista/7-only versions of Office!

If you think IE6 development is tough now, consider how bad it’ll be supporting IE8 in 2018.

2. Widespread availability of server-side JavaScript

Desktop application developers have it easy. They pick a single development language and perhaps add a sprinkling of SQL for complex systems. However, a half-decent web developer must learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, a server-side language such as PHP, SQL and possibly XML for good measure.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could use JavaScript on the server and reduce the workload? node.js may be the best solution, but it’s yet to achieve the widespread appeal and is dwarfed by the availability of PHP and ASP.NET. Perhaps that will change in 2011?

3. Web developers would backtrack on bandwidth-hogging websites

There’s an annoying web development trend which considers bandwidth to be unimportant. Why do some sites insist on multi-megabyte pages? Why is the total file size larger than the browser used to render it?

I have some sympathy for those developing complex web applications, although there are few excuses. Google and other vendors can provide full online office suites in a few hundred Kb, so there’s rarely a need for larger applications.

But it’s an entirely different matter for content-only websites. Bandwidth is not necessarily cheap or unlimited — especially for those using mobile devices. Trim that bulk or have your web development license revoked!

Fantasy Wishes…

That’s my realistic wish list. Here are the unrealistic ones that are unlikely to happen in 2011 or any other year…

  1. Free open wi-fi becomes available everywhere on the planet.
  2. SEO cowboys find their conscience.
  3. PHP6 is released with full Unicode support.

And finally, graphic designers and web developers would put aside their differences and have a big hug!

Happy New Year — see you in 2011!