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Enterprise web application development in 2013 has come a long way from the days of monolithic unmaintainable JavaScript files, reinventing the wheel of CSS and terrible browser compatibility. Before, many companies were using Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flex for sophisticated web applications because at the time these were much more developer and budget friendly for creating rich internet applications. However browser plugin popularity has been in decline due to more users using browsers that support a large subset of HTML5. In 2012 Microsoft started to move away from active Silverlight development and Adobe gave Flex (now Apache Flex) over to the Apache foundation preferring to focus on HTML5 for future products. That said Apache Flex is still in active development and being used in the wild.

Nowadays there are some excellent CSS frameworks for web development such as Twitter Bootstrap and Zurb’s foundation. These speed up a team’s development by providing a common base for CSS and out of the box JS components. JQuery has also simplified basic web page interactivity and many web developers are familiar with it.

JavaScript has matured as a language and newer browsers support JavaScript strict mode helping developers reduce the amount of time bug fixing by enforcing better JS syntax. MVC and view-model binding has also come to the JavaScript developers tool set with several fine frameworks coming to the picture such us BackboneJS, KnockoutJS and EmberJS to name a few. This has increased team productivity dramatically. Some companies have gone a step further and proposed new client languages to run in the browser such as Dart where as others have provided bespoke “language to JavaScript” compilers such as Coffee script and Microsoft’s TypeScript. TypeScript is quite interesting as its actually a super-set of JavaScript. Any JavaScript is valid TypeScript but TypeScript allows strongly typed classes which is becoming quite popular in team environments with large JS projects.

In terms of traditional web sites, many have moved away from the multi-page approach and have switched to single page applications where a complete new page request is not done but rather AJAX and JS provide all the interaction needed to navigate content.

downloadSome frameworks have even sprung up which handle AJAX transparently while serving up complex HTML components via declarations in JAVA, allowing developers to focus  more on the application rather than worry too much about component architecture. The ZK framework is an excellent Java based framework that fits the bill.

JS and HTML5 are now mature enough that some good frameworks have sprung up for use in the mobile arena.  For example Sencha provide “JS + HTML5” to mobile platform tools which support most of the big brand smart phones. It promises good frame rates and optimises the application for each mobile platform.

So as you can see, its a better time than ever to be in the web space! Stay tuned for more!