Web 2.0 Demystified

Web 2.0 goes synonymous with the second-generation of Internet-based services which include social networking sites, communication tools, and providing a common platform to let people collaborate and share information on-line, in untraditional ways. Web 2.0 has become the buzzword among the technical and marketing communities in the present scenario.

Then and Now:
The previous platform used, which is vaguely referred as Web 1.0, involved limited number of writers in creation of Web pages for a diversified number of readers. This was a single track to access the information by going directly to the source. For example Adobe to solve query related to graphic design issues, Microsoft for Windows issues, and CNN for news. The websites of 90s were static HTML pages with insipid content, and even if they were interactive, it was in the manner that they were flashy, animated, the very Javascript way. But that was then, today the requirements of the changing time demands that the user should be able to write content in addition to reading it. With the personal publishing becoming mainstream, it became compelling that the Web 1.0 paradigm had to change. And Amazon proved to be the pioneer in using Web 2.0.
The phrase "Web 2.0" can be used to describe the transition of websites from isolated information silos to sources of content and functionality, thus becoming computing platforms serving web applications to end users. There is a never ending debate to define Web 2.0 application, but the common characteristics that Web 2.0 exhibit include it’s ability to serve “Network as platform” delivering and also allowing user to to use application entirely through a web-browser. It permits user to publish their personal data on the site and exercise control over that data. It is build on an architecture of participation and democracy that encourages the users to add value to the application as they use it.
Thus Web 2.0 can also be referred as a rich, interactive, user-friendly interface that is empowered by Ajax, embracing social-networking aspects. One of the major acknowledged features of Web 2.0 era is the rise of blogging. Personal home pages have existed ever since the evolution of the web, and persona; diary and daily speculation column around much longer than that.

Technical Features of Web 2.0:
The prominent feature of the Web 2.0 concept that makes it apart from it’s retrospective label Web 1.0 is that it moves away from static websites, the use of search engines, and surfing from one website to the neat, heading towards more dynamic and interactive World Wide Web. The old man-called as Web 1.0 solely depended on HTML. The first and most important step in the evolution towards Web 2.0 involves syndication of website content by making use of standardized protocols permitting the end-user to make use of a site’s data in some different context, ranging from another website, to a browser Plugin or to separate desktop application. These protocols should permit syndication such as RSS, RDF and Atom, all of these are the flavors of XML. The richer user-experience of Web 2.0 is made affordable by .Ajax.
The interactive web applications are created using the development techniques of Asynchronous Javascript and XML. These are suppose to make web pages more interactive by the exchange of small amounts of data with the server behind the scenes. This means a an interactive, speedy and usable web page. The Ajax technique makes use of XHTML and CSS, for marking up and styling information. The XMLHttp Request object is used for exchanging data asynchronously with the web server. One of the key ingredients, that has made a difference is a technology called RSS. It is the most significant advancement in the fundamental architecture of the web. RSS facilitates not only by linking to a page, but by subscribing to it, with notification every time that page changes. While some RSS aggregations, such as Bloglines, are web-based, other are desktop clients, and still others allow users of portable devices to subscribe to constantly updated content. RSS not only permits blog entries, but also all kinds of data updates, which include stock quotes, weather data and photo availability, to name a few. This use is actually a return to one of its roots: RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer’s "Really Simple Syndication" technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape’s "Rich Site Summary", which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows. Netscape lost interest, and the technology was carried forward by blogging pioneer Userland, Winer’s company.

Visual Enhancements:
The complex and evolving technology infrastructure of Web 2.0 includes server-software, content -syndication, messaging-protocols, standards-based browser with PlugIns and extensions. The numerous techniques showcased by Web 2.0 include unobtrusive rich Internet application techniques such as Adobe Flash/ Flex, CSS, syndication and aggregation of data in RSS, web log publishing and XML Web service APIs. The visual element incorporated by Web 2.0 are gradient backgrounds, large and bright, colorful icons, often with reflections and drop shadows. The larger text seems to be in style along with glossy three-dimensional elements.

Platform to Support Web 2.0:
To support Web 2.0, the server side software needs no special application, it is build on existing web server architecture, emphasizing more on back-end software. Confederation differs apparently from the channels of publishing, making use of dynamic content management. The only requirement of web services is more robust database and work flow support, closely resembling to the traditional intranet functionality of an application server.
Vendors approaches to updated techniques, either adopting a universal server approach, which is a cluster of most of the necessary functionality in a single platform, or another way is to ratify a web-server plug in approach. The Plugin approach of web server, makes use of standard publishing tools enhanced with API interface is all it needs to get started. On the client end, the extra functionality equipped by Web 2.0 depends on the users competence to work with the data stored on server. This can either be in the form of an HTML page, through a scripting language such as Javascript, or through Flash or Java. All of these proceedings use client computer to reduce the server workload.