Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Technology of Web2.0

Next we will examine some of the technological components commonly employed by many Web 2.0 companies when developing and delivering applications. They are also highly portable and can scale very well on commodity-based hardware platforms. Some shared characteristics which make their use appealing to Web 2.0 developers is that they are all free, open source, highly interoperable and perfect for use with dynamic database-backed websites and applications.

The Benefits of Open Source

As mentioned, many of the components that Web 2.0 companies rely on to deliver their applications and services are built on open source components. There are a couple of key benefits that are derived by these companies leveraging software components which are open source in nature.
  • Lower Total Cost of Ownership. This enables lower up front and long-term costs associated with the development, delivery and execution of new business models.
  • Component & Application Freedom: Choosing open source software prevents vendor lock in to specific hardware or software stacks. This high degree of interoperability across hardware and software platforms can also be leveraged against the abundance of tools and applications for use throughout the development cycle, from design and modeling, to testing, versioning and day to day operations management.


Fortunately, there is a proven open source stack which has been consistently leveraged by companies big and small to deliver scalable, cost effective, and interoperable applications. This has been achieved by leveraging the tight integration of Linux – Operating System, Apache – Web Server, MySQL – Database, PHP Programming & Scripting.


Support for open source components can usually be obtained at no cost from a community of users and developers. It can also be purchased in the form of professional consulting and technical support, which is available by most of the open source vendors, as well as from both large and small ISVs.


Linux is a Unix-like operating system which is free and open source. All of the source code is available for anyone to use, modify and redistribute. This is in contrast to proprietary operating systems like Windows. Linux has been around since the early 1990’s and has at this point become the fastest growing operating system in the world. Much of this success can be attributed to the fact it is a low-cost, secure, scalable and highly interoperable alternative to proprietary operating systems. Linux can be found running on everything from hand-held devices to hardware components, desktop computers to massive computing clusters. All of these characteristics make it an excellent choice for Web 2.0 applications.

Linux shares a long tradition of compatibility with MySQL and other open source components by serving as the operating system component of the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, & PHP) technology stack.


The Apache HTTP Server Project is an open-source Web server. It is known for being secure, highly portable across many operating systems, efficient in utilizing resources and extensible. According to a Web Survey, the Apache Web Server continues to be the world’s most popular web server with over 70% of websites leveraging it within their technology stacks. Apache has been extend with compiled modules for interfacing with Perl, Python and PHP.


Within the LAMP stack, MySQL comprises the database component. The database component serves as the critical piece of software which manages the data leveraged by the applications and web servers. MySQL is a multithreaded, multi-user, SQL Database Management System (DBMS) with over six million installations. MySQL is the database of choice for consistently delivering lower TCO, reliability, performance and ease of use.

Many of the largest and fasting growing Web 2.0 companies are designing,developing and going into production using MySQL. As their needs grow in terms of capacity, availability and performance, MySQL continues to assist in satisfying these requirements.


PHP comprise the dynamic programming and scripting language components of the LAMP stack. PHP Hypertext Preprocessor or simply, PHP, is an open-source language for producing dynamic web content mainly in server-side applications. PHP typically runs on a web server, using PHP code as its input and rendering Web pages as output. PHP is a very popular server-side alternative to Microsoft’s ASP.NET and Adobe’s ColdFusion. PHP works extremely well with all the components within the LAMP stack. According to php.net, it is estimated that over 20 million domains on the internet make use of the language.


Asynchronous Javascript and XML or Ajax is it is more commonly known, is a development technique for creating rich, visual appealing and interactive web applications. Web pages which leverage Ajax are more responsive because they exchange smaller amounts of data with the web server. This means that the entire web page does not have to be “refreshed” or completely reloaded in user’s browser after each interaction. This results in web pages which have increased interactivity, speed and usability. These are all key components to help Web 2.0 companies deliver applications which are highly interactive and deliver rich end user experiences which rival those of desktop applications. For these reasons, Ajax is already being widely leveraged in both consumer and business applications.
The core components of the Ajax technique include:
  • XHTML (or HTML) and CSS leveraged for mark up and style information.
  • The description of how an HTML or XML document is represented in a tree structure (otherwise known as DOM), is accessed with a client-side scripting language, usually JavaScript.
  • The XMLHttpRequest object is used to exchange data asynchronously with the web server.
  • XML as the format to transfer data between the server and client.


memcachced is a popular open source distributed memory caching system originally developed by Danga Interactive for the blogging website LiveJournal. It is traditionally leveraged to enhance the performance and responsiveness of dynamic content websites backed by databases. This is achieved by caching data and objects in memory, thereby reducing the amount of data that needs to be read from the database. The performance characteristics it can deliver are faster page loading for users, more efficient resource utilization, and faster database access times in the event of a memcached miss.

In more technical detail, memcached acts as a large hash table, caching data as it is being requested by clients. Although it was originally designed to improve the performance of database queries, it has been extended to cache server-side objects as well. In essence, any operation which is resource or time intensive can benefit from the use of memcached. It goes without saying that this technology is of great advantage to Web 2.0 applications, who by definition are very dynamic and data driven. This is in contrast to the static non-interactive web sites characteristic of the early years of the Web.

Many websites who make use of memcached, such as LiveJournal, Slashdot and Wikipedia, also make use of MySQL.

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