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The Challenge

Challenges Facing Web Developers

As the industry matures, it will become more important, and more difficult, for Web developers to meet the growing challenges that will allow them to remain competitive in Web site construction. Challenges facing Web developers include:

  • Budget
  • Time
  • Finding and keeping qualified people
  • Ongoing maintenance, enhancements, changes
  • Client control/updating of content
  • Technical features and quality

These factors are, of course, inter-dependent. As a general rule, the longer it takes to build a certain Web application, the greater the budget required. Likewise, as the requirements for the Web site become more sophisticated, more talented (and expensive) staff, as well as more development time, are required. In this volatile industry, staff turnover can contribute to increased development costs when retraining staff is required. Cost is also related to the type and frequency of updates and enhancements the Web site requires, and the specific process involved.

Developers are now expected to include features such as the following in their commercial Web sites:

  • dynamically-generated Web pages
  • database connectivity
  • Web site organization and intelligent navigation
  • easy-to-construct, intelligent forms for data input
  • visitor activity tracking
  • user registration and demographic reporting
  • secure order transaction processing
  • ease of maintenance and updating

Today, building Web sites with interesting and sophisticated features requires one of several common approaches, or a combination of approaches, each of which has its unique limitations:

A. Limitations of cobbling together scripts using the CGI (Common Gateway Interface) protocol.

  • Difficult to write and maintain large programs using the CGI.
  • Difficult to coordinate and maintain libraries of CGI scripts.
  • Usually results in performance degradation due to the launching of multiple processes, each of which taxes the server's resources.
  • Difficult to hand over maintenance to new or replacement programmers.

B. Limitations of using programming languages such as C++ or Java.

  • Requires the skills of a programmer with computer science training
  • Bringing higher-skilled programmers into the picture significantly increases development and maintenance cost
  • Requires a break from the HTML page mode in which the Web site is grounded
  • Greater development time since the code must be recompiled to test changes, fix bugs, etc.

C. Limitations of specialized applications from component vendors.

  • Since an application or tool may provide only one or two of the desired components, Web developers must work with tools from multiple vendors. Software from different vendors may be difficult to coordinate and maintain, requiring additional time and effort on the part of the Web developer.
  • Forces the Web developer to invest in one or more vendors' proprietary technologies. This may place too many restrictions on the development process, limit the desired outcome, and increase staff-training requirements.
  • Requires a dependency upon the third party vendor for features, support, bug fixes, etc.
  • May require learning a proprietary scripting language or programming in C++, Java
  • May entail a large performance overhead or memory "footprint"
  • These applications typically generate CGI code "behind the scenes," creating further dependence upon the CGI method. Developers who want to access and control the source code that comprises their Web sites may find it difficult or impossible to do so.
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