Bobby describes three generations:
- the static Web with all static content
- the dynamic Web with the advent of variable content per page
- Web services or the programmable Web
I've tested the Web since 1990, starting with a very early
text-based browser that Berners-Lee first released that predated even Lynx. Then Mosaic, Mosaic 2.0, Netscape's alpha browsers, Netscape Navigator, Spyglass Mosaic, HotJava (Sun's original Java-based browser), Opera, Mozilla, and a few others. Over the years, I think there were probably a few other "generations" that came and went:
- Text-only browsers are rare these days even on mobile devices, but there was once a need for pure text environments for the terminals of the day. This was as static as they come. My guess is that even third-world nations don't use this representation of the Web much.
- Virtual Reality Markup Language (VRML) or also now called Web3D - which introduced real 3D designs and a presentation interface. I drew a 3D plan of a local skyscraper with links at entry points, etc. It was an interesting direction but content was hard to produce. You really needed to spend time and experience with 3D artistry to get it "pretty". Also if you got too complex people would complain about loosing their sense of direction. With the overwhelming popularity of 3D gaming over the past decade, and concepts like in-game ads, some form of this may rise again. The world was just not ready then.
- Another experiment was a graphical info representation was a live map of a fictional Web town with store locations, etc. Think of a pseudo 3D (top-looking-down and angled view) of places you could go "on the Web". It was graphic intensive and slow then; it's probably just a dated interface now.
- the Semantic Web is not gone but we don't hear as readily about it as much. The concept is the separation of Web text from the context/semantics and a way to present that. In a way it is similar to the services Web. What happened? Too much information and context to manage?
The benefit of the services Web is that it ties applications in more obvious and neutral ways that specific programming APIs, scripting languages and plug-ins. More significantly as Bobby indicated it brings a widely considered design pattern of the Model-View-Controller (the Observor-Observable pattern to be accurate); the separation of a presentation element from a communicating element and the execution elements of the design. Most programmers are familar with it and its benefits. The news now is that business people are beginning to take notice of its benefits too.
PS: Know any other trends in information presentation and interaction on the Web that came, went or stuck-around?