By Wyatt Barnett

Let’s Speculate for 2007

By Wyatt Barnett

In between holiday events and cocktail hours, it is traditional for some to make sweeping predictions about the world to come and then write about them. See below for my musings.

.NET-specific predictions, in no particular order:

  • WPF/E will start to give Flash/Flex a run for its money in the rich internet application sphere. Flash/Flex will still, however, lead the market. Adobe will likely get serious about making the back-end bits of Flex a more workable development environment before they get creamed by Microsoft.
  • Office 2007 & Vista will push significant changes in desktop applications. Major applications—especially the interface layers—will start to be written in managed code. User interface design will start to shift to a newer, friendlier regime. Icons are in, long drop-down menus are out.
  • Longhorn Server with IIS7 will give start making Windows a much more viable shared-hosting option.
  • NHibernate 1.2 comes out to rave reviews. And is promptly eaten alive by MS-supported DLINQ.
  • Aside from NHibernate, MS will eat another major open-source project by coming out with a free-but-supported-and-blessed alternative.

Some other predictions about the world of web applications in 2007:

  • Ruby on Rails will suffer a spate of growing pains but will eventually find it’s sea legs and start to be considered for significant, enterprisey projects.
  • AJAX will lose its glamorous pedestal and the world will realize it is just another tool in the box.
  • Video will remain the biggest hot/featured item on websites. Someone will figure out how to make flash video look good.
  • PHP’s fall from grace will continue as new fundamental security issues appear and competitors mature. There is a strong potential for a fork as some people realize a fundamental rewrite is the only way to save the language.
  • A major web application will be hacked using SQL injection or cross-site scripting, rather than a buffer overflow in the underlying stack.
  • Windows Mobile-based devices will start to take over the enterprise mobile email space due to slick Exchange integration and lack of need to purchase BlackBerry Enterprise Servers from Research in Motion.
  • The changes in daylight savings time cause far more problems for embedded systems than the over-hyped Y2K issues of the last century.

Happy New Year!

PS: Yes, I am aware this shows as it is posted in 2007. Which apparently it is already in Oz. But over here in the Western Hemisphere it is still 2006 gagnabbit.

  • lotrgamemast

    I think a PHP fork is increasingly likely as well, but then web hosts would support it even less than PHP5 and it will fail.

  • I find it interesting that support by shared hosts is always seen as a succes or failure factor for PHP, while neither Ruby nor Python are commonly available in such hosts, and they keep gaining in market share and popularity. It is true that this availability was a huge factor in PHP becoming so widespread, but it grew on its own merits; consider Perl, which is also available everywhere and is known as a “sysadmin’s duct tape”, but which is certainly getting less and less popular compared to other languages.

  • laurik

    Here it is – php fork. or not :P

  • Anonymous

    > PHP’s fall from grace will continue as new fundamental security issues
    > appear and competitors mature.

    it must be great to predict the future huh? god, you speak so much horse…

    [a bemused] dr livingston

  • wwb_99

    @BerislavLopac: Very good point. I think PHP’s popularity has more to do with WordPress/PHPNuke/PHPBB/Joomla combined with cheap hosting. And, unfortunatley, they tend to aim at the lowest common denominator–php4. Once viable, non-php alternatives to those appear, things will get very interesting.

  • About PHP, it’s a bit strange to read “a fork or rewrite is the only way to save the language” while for many months now a lot of work has been put into the HEAD branch (PHP 6). This includes full Unicode support, removals of “features” such as register_globals, cleanups where possible, etc.

    I think discussing whether a fork would be necessary to save the language would be more appropriate after the final PHP 6 release; from what I’ve seen, many of the problems with PHP will be gone by then (except for the uncompatibilities with previous versions; but forking would cause even bigger problems).

  • David


    (From the Adobe Flex team)

    What do you want to see us do? Can you elaborate on your comment?


  • remarb

    This of course, looks like a post done by a Microsoft fan. Just check the header: Blogs >> .NET. Since speculation is actually harmless, let me say that I don’t believe that dropping PHP and start using .NET, Longhorn and IIS7 will make things any better, I rather think the opposite. My speculations, PHP will continue to be the language of choice for many web applications, and thge zend framework will boost PHP usage even more.

    Maciek Ruckgaber

  • As a .NET developer, I even found this a little to Microsoft centric. As I do less PHP work and more .NET work I find it funny that many .NET developers are like evangelicals.

    Once you PHP’ers see the light of CLR y’all will give up this open source heathenism. Praise Gates!

    Here are few predictions:
    *PHP will continue to be a great tool for smaller web applications, but will loose ground to RoR and .NET 2.0

    *Microsoft will destroy several open-source projects because they don’t realize these projects help improve the developer community and speed adoption of the platform.

    *Vista will be cool for 2 days, then it will crash, then it will be cool again when a service pack comes out.

    *Sitepoint will begin selling a $5,000 Web 2.0 Kit with free magnets and sitepoint beer cooler.

    *Some stupid buzzword will cause my boss to wet himself and bug me for 6 months.

  • Office looks like shit. No offense since you are on the .NET blog. I don’t see icons disappearing for drop downs anytime. The ribbons looked completely cluttered, and disgusting imho.

    Yes, I’m a mac user, no I don’t hate Microsoft. Make your judgments as you wish.

  • Annoyed Passerby

    Now, exactly why was it worth reading? says I to my own self. No reason, goddamnit! A bunch of BS the scribbler pulled straight out of his ass, quarter hour wasted…

  • PS: Yes, I am aware this shows as it is posted in 2007. Which apparently it is already in Oz. But over here in the Western Hemisphere it is still 2006 gagnabbit.

    Wyatt, the servers are located in Dallas (I think) so the time stamp shouldn’t be far off your own (in theory).

  • Correction: they are apprently in Herndon, VA.

  • chrisb

    Oh I wish php-fans would accept the fact that its technologically inferior to the .NET platform in every way.

    You don’t even need to like the provided .NET languages to appreciate the benefits of the CLR – take a look at the IronPython benchmarks, weigh them up against the enormous benefits of the .NET framework, language interoperability, etc and then seriously try to say its a bad platform..

  • Frameworks annoy me. I don’t like the way it abstracts too much control away from you, I love the level of control that php gives you.

  • Not about to get into the PHP vs. .NET debate, but I’ve coded for years in both and the .NET platform wipes the floor with PHP.

    Want me to elaborate? No. Do I care? No.
    Read up on it.

    Totally agree with you Wyatt on WPF taking over the show! (which ties nicely to the next buzz word of 2007! “XAML”)

  • whyulil

    My prediction for 2007:
    wpf will be nothing but an annoying incompatability for everybody as they wont have it installed and will flop, adobe wont even notice it.

    PHP will not be harmed neither will platform.
    a few ror things will appear everybody will go “wow you made that in 15 mins”!?!
    they will say, well actually all that “it does everything for you” was total nonsense and we spent 8 months relearning a language none of us knew. We came across loads of problems and fixed them and didn’t gain anything by switching from PHP, .net Java or C++.

    Javascript will continue to wow people with nice animated menu systems that are really annoying in an actual website.

    the switch to a new office format will cause headaches across the entire IT industry as nobody will be able to open anybody elses files

    anybody over the age of 40 will quit their job because their IT deparment has switched to office2k7 and it all looks too different, they will be sectioned under the mental health act, dodgy anti-psychotic drugs will kill them all off and the population will get a whole lot younger fixing the pensions crisis

  • My hope for 2007 is that we finally see a nice, complete server side solution in Javascript (apart from Whitebeam).

  • wwb_99

    @Dave from Adobe

    The comment was more aimed at Flash than Flex. The basic issue is that these “rich internet applications” really should be taking off. But the tool support is lacking significantly. Flex is stil the first of it’s kind, and the pricing puts many people off. $6-$20k for a server is a hard sell when you can get to largely the same place–that is passing data to your rich internet app–with plain ole .NET.

    Anyhow, the main issues is that the Flash IDE is completely geared towards the design, not the development end of things. The code editor is primitive at best. It generally makes me want to gouge my eyes out. Wheras WPF/E one can use Visual Studio for the coding bits and the Expression products for the visual bits–a kind of best of both worlds. It will go far in encouraging new projects to take up WPF/E over Flash.

    My hope/dream is that some parts of the rather slick Flex IDE filter into the basic Flash IDE. As there are alot more people building Flash-based RIAs than Flash/Flex based RIAs, so that making applications in Flash is not so painful.

    BTW, I must say the concept of using Eclipse as the basis for the editor was brilliant, and I hope to see more companies build in that great base.

    On PHP:

    Actually, PHP’s demise has little or nothing to do with .NET and more to do with the project itself. It has never had any central planning or much effective guidance. And it shows in the massive amount of fundamental issues that the language/framework/whatever has. Now, some folks like things like that. But many don’t.

    Now that we are seeing some viable competitors in that space (free, open-source, scripted), we are going to start to see it fall into decline. The only thing keeping it afloat is the combination of WordPress, PHPBB, PHPNuke and Joomla. Allowing alot of people to run fancy sites on cheap shared hosting without ever knowing a lick of php. As soon as viable competitors to these systems take shape, we will start to see PHP’s popularity wane.

    @Alex: Herndon, eh? Let me know if you need a hard drive swapped, I am about 15 miles away. Anyhow, it seems that the blogging bits are set on Aussie time–they are 13 or so hours ahead of me.

  • I’m not wanting to make PHP look like the best web scripting language there is, or even stating that I will still use PHP for web applications myself within three of five years, but what is said about PHP really isn’t true.

    As I said in my first comment (seems to have been ignored pretty well), a lot of work was put into PHP 6. There have been meetings held months (or even a year) ago with the team to discuss what needs to change in future versions. I already summed up a bit what’s going to come in v6. Also, some changes in 5.2 such as ext/filter have started some discussions about whether it’s a good idea. So the situation has certainly become much better than years ago when register_globals was implemented and nobody wondered whether it was a good idea after all (it wouldn’t have been still in there nowadays if anybody did).

    The statement that only four or five web applications written in PHP keep the language alive is really untrue. PHP has turned popular because it is very easy to learn, there are lots of tutorials on the Internet, even more than there are Python plus Ruby tutorials combined (not saying that all PHP tutorials are good though) plus indeed a number of applications such as phpBB which have made it popular. I don’t see what would be wrong with this, since Ruby itself has existed since the nineties but only turned popular thanks to one application/framework (RoR). You could state as well that when RoR disappears Ruby will also be a dead language… (it would certainly have a big impact, though, since many Ruby applications are RoR based).

    To continue about PHP, from all the people I know that use PHP there is probably only upto 10 % who actually uses WordPress or phpBB or Joomla!, etc. It’s certainly not a handful of applications which keep people using PHP. Even if it would, WordPress, phpBB, Joomla! and others are still (very) actively developed and have all created a big community.

    So, to conclude with, I would like to recommend you to check your sources better and read what people say in the comments, instead of continuing to rant and ignore people. I’m not against .NET at all (even going to use it within two months), but spreading nonsense about others just isn’t acceptable. I thought SitePoint was more trustworthy than this.

  • Luke

    I’d say PHP’s popularity lies purely in cost and ease of learning.

    If you’re a student, you generally don’t have alot of money so if you want to get into the industry you try to learn whatever is most cost effective and PHP is that technology. Not everyone can afford Windows based hosting, so there lies a market in itself and therefore it will always have it’s place within the industry.

  • Non-Windows based hosting does not implicit “using PHP”. There are hundreds of languages and environments you can use for free: Apache, Tomcat, etc for HTTP or application servers, Ruby, Perl, Python, Java, C(++) work without problems, even C# can be used upto some point using Mono. So it has certainly nothing to do with cost effetiveness, there are many superior languages and environments over PHP that also won’t cost you a single penny.

    For web applications, Perl even used to be far more popular than PHP, and perhaps Ruby will take over that position in a few years.

  • AJAX will lose its glamorous pedestal and the world will realize it is just another tool in the box.

    I’m pretty much of the same opinion on this. AJAX is starting to remind me of how Flash was back in the day.

    Over used, misused and a hindrance to users at times.

    It’s a great tool but has to be used appropriately in order for its real benefits to be realised.

    If put together a blog post on my site with further discussion –

  • The language I’d like to see implemented on the server side the most (besides a decent Scheme implementation) is JavaScript, it has a lot of potential ;)

    Ruby is slow, doesn’t scale (no virtual machine, no threading), solutions for deployment look very hackish and fragile (separate ruby-only server with a fixed pool of processes and Apache running as a proxy and serving static content? no, thanks, I want my interpreter integrated in apache, working seamlessly with my MPM of choice), but it looks good (well, if you don’t mind the abuse of punctuation) and benefits from the Church of Rails’ marketing, so it might acquire enough brainpower to get over its problems.

    As far as PHP goes, I hope we’ll see more of them brain dead hosts supporting PHP 5. I’ve been coding PHP for about 6 years now, and in time I got to the conclusion that it pretty much sucks at anything non-trivial (lacks proper overloading for functions and methods, operator overloading, incompatibilities between minor versions – it is totally unacceptable for applications to break when moving from 5.1 to 5.2 -, no unicode support, and so on…), so it’s good that alternatives are starting to pop up. Its greatest strength, though, is the solid web server integration, done with acceptable speed (Python is much faster in this aspect, PHP seems to let some stuff for the Zend accelerator to handle), and the ability to use it both for code and templating (something which python lacks), so it won’t die that easily. And there is, of course, the fact that many start with PHP, it causes them brain damage and they can’t move on :P

    As for AJAX, it’s about time to lose the hype and start finding out what’s it actually good for :D.

  • PHP.. hmm.. I’ve been using it for a long time now. I think if you are organized you can build really good applications. The argument that PHP applications like WordPress (one of the best coded web apps I’ve seen) etc are keeping PHP popular is contradictory. The question that naturally comes from that statement is why did these groups decide to develop in PHP in the first place?

    The bad points..

    No Threading..
    Poor Class syntax ..
    No Easy to use widely adopted framework (e.g. like Ruby on Rails)

    Never underestimate a quick learning curve. If you do this then you attract the masses and you satisfy the techies with hidden but available powerful options. PHP does this pretty well currently.

    So will PHP’s popularity wane? I think it soley depends on an external group creating a really good framework to go with the next relase of PHP i.e. PHP6 ..

    PHP 5 has been largely ignored.

    At this moment in time I’m going to have a look at .NET so I can decide what my next application is developed in. So I think PHP needs to make a move soon or it does risk losing a chunk of its developers.

    At the moment .NET appears to be more proactive in its development which makes it hard to ignore.

  • PHP is a victim of its own success, and the only thing genuinely hurting PHP right now is the shortage of good developers. I see companies moving away from it simply becasuse they can’t get the staff. In London at least, I know a couple of companies finding it more cost-efficient to hire Java guys than to search for really good PHP guys, which is a real turnaround.

    Conversely, the damage done to PHP’s reputation by the thousands of amateurs who get paid to code with it is frustrating, to say the least.

    Either way, this article is litle other than conjecture and bias. But it got us talking right enough.

  • wwb_99

    Aren’t predictions all about conjecture and by inference bias?

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