Web development is a term used in developing web sites for the internet. The internet is a system that involves a system of computer networks using Internet Protocol Suite (Loughan, 2004, p. 12-39). Web development involves the history of internet, the internet applications and architecture, and the design principles used in creating accessible and usable web sites.
Internet started in the early 1960s when certain technologists acted on an idea that computers could be used to share information on research and development. As indicated by Howe (2010), the fields that mostly needed the internet connection for information research are science and military. Among the people who started the internet is Licklider in 1962 when he proposed the global network of computers, Lawrence Roberts who was involved in connecting the California computer and Massachusetts computers in 1965 and Leonard Kleinrock who developed the packet switching, which made it possible for internet connections (Loughan, 2004, p. 12-39).
The first internet connection known as ARPANET in 1969 had the application of connecting four major computers (Howe, 2010). The connected computers were from universities such as university of Utah, Stanford Research Institute, UCLA, and UCSB. Many more university computers connected to the internet within a few months. By that time, only librarians, scientists, experts, and engineers had access to internet. The system was complex and was not common because there was no office or home computers. Personal computers were not there and so there was nothing exciting in the use of internet and the few people who used it had to receive complex training on how to use it.
In the history of internet, Ray Tomlinson adapted e-mail in 1972. He decided to use @ as a symbol to connect the address and the username. E-mails enabled the people connected to the internet to transfer files from one location to another between the internet sites. There were great changes in the internet in 1970s because of the introduction of TCP/IP, proposed by Bob Kahn. According to Howe (2010), the DoD (Department of Defense) in 1980 adopted the TCP/IP architecture and they replaced the Network Control Protocol. In 1983, the architecture was adopted universally and it became common compared to the 1960s and in the 1970s. In 1986, National Science Foundation founded NSFNet, which formed the foundation of the internet. The non-commercial government used the internet sponsored by the National Science foundation for research and other uses for approximately ten years. The rules set by the National Science Foundation during the decade led to standardization of the telnet, FTP, and e-mail. This made it a lot easier for people lacking technical background to learn how to use the internet. Although by then the use of internet was not as easy as it is today, at least other people in the universities got a chance to use internet (Loughan, 2004, p. 12-39). The main use of the internet by this time was in the libraries, engineering, physics, and computer departments. The setting of rules allowed other departments to make good use of the internet and they were able to share resources and files and to communicate with other people in the world.
In the 1980s, the number of internet sites was small which made it easy to manage and keep track of the available resources. It became hard to manage the internet resources after many universities became connected. This saw the development of the internet and there was need of more tools for indexing the available resources. In 1991, the University of Minnesota developed a friendly interface in the effort to have a simple menu system that could help in retrieving information and files on local network (Loughan, 2004, p. 12-39). The gopher demonstration system became successful and within some few years, it had spread globally covering more than 10,000 gophers (Howe, 2010). Its prolific spread was mostly due to the simplicity in use where the user was only required to type on a number and get to what they want. Since then, the internet has grown rapidly with the advancement in high-speed connectivity. The internet became useful and accessible to every person in the world and it became cheaper to connect.
Internet architecture and applications
Internet technologies globally are associated with diverse architectural types. It is not hard to access the internet because anybody in the world can connect to your internet (Standley, 2005). To enable this, the priority in internet architecture is to satisfy a static content that is simple and needs a free HTTP server and a PC. The only limitation of the application architecture is that it cannot standardize the HTML templates and to set up useful directory structures.
Internet architecture has seen the use of Common Gateway Interface that offers dynamic data such as goods availability, scores in sports, weather, and prices. As stated by Standley (2005, p. 2), “the CGI make use of the HTTP server, which recognizes applications and refers it to the program standard, which has an input and an output.” The program enables the user to get the reply in the desired HTML. The Common Gateway Interface is available in every modern language and the only limitation is that it is a very expensive proposition (Standley, 2005). To get scripting solutions, the Active Server Page technology helps to mix scripts with HTML. The ASP interprets the script part after returning the HTML parts in the page.
Another step in the network architecture and application after scripting is the N-Tiered computing. “It contains a serious application server that turns into conventional N-Tiered deployment with a HTTP server that connects the client (Stadley, 2005, p. 2).” The internet application has scalability needs, which is not like the corporate setting where it is possible to know the number of users who can access the system. With scalability, it is not possible to control or predict the quantity of users obtained. One strategy in the architecture is to build many machines that run with the same code. The machines will act as redundant servers through various software and hardware. This will make it possible for the operation staff to divide requests and add new servers to handle any excess requests. The redundant machines used for scalability are reliable because in case of failure of one machine, the load-balancing router ensures that the work is sent to the other machines. This ensures reliability because the users have nothing to loose and they may not know there was a problem with one of the machines. It also ensures availability because if there is a regional network failure, the sites duplicate their structure and addresses the risk.
The internet architecture has allowed many people to access web services, which has become a big business. This makes it possible for different people to communicate and call from anywhere in the world without the need of knowing the language on the other end. According to Marlowe (2009), the current internet architecture solves the limitations of Common Gateway Interface. It allows the deployment and development of the industrial applications by having an application server and APIs (Application Program Interfaces). The application servers introduced avoid CGI (Common Gateway Interface) and instead provides the use of Application Program Interfaces. The architecture supports the use of HTML pages and minimizes cookie technology that avoids privacy and security concerns (Marlowe, 2009). It increases the ability and availability of handling many users and enables the off-shelf business objects. The current internet architecture that uses the API is particular to a Web server hence solving limitations of CGI programs. The programs enable separate browser requests making it possible to start a new program every time.
Principles for creating usable and accessible web sites
One of the principles for creating a usable and accessible web site is to include redundant modalities. This will allow flexibility in the systems because the users will have different preferences. To achieve the redundant modalities, the users can have several ways to enter, display, or represent data. As McPartland (2007, p. 20-22), puts it, some of the ways that can be used include the use of text to label images, the use of a menu bar flash and a beep to notify someone of an error or allowing a user to issue a command by using a pointer or typing.
Another principle that used to provide usable and accessible web site is to be simple and intuitive. Designed websites should be able to provide feedback for users. Furthermore, to be simple for everyone, the website design should not have unnecessary complexity. Non-complex designs make it easy for the users and they are able to access the website (Usability first, 2011). The design should not be different from the user’s expectations because it is likely that they will not use it. The needs of the users and their expectations are considered in web site designs to promote uniqueness.
Allowing flexibility is another important principle in having accessible and usable web site. To have flexibility, the web site must accommodate both left-handed and the right-handed people (McPartland, 2007, p. 20-22). The user must also be allowed to use adaptive technologies to serve their needs in the website. This will make them feel the flexibility and freedom as they access the web site. The design of the website should not limit the users to customize settings (Usability first, 2011). An accessible and usable website must provide choices to accomplish tasks by giving different ways and features.
The internet started in the early 1960s when the users used very complex systems to operate the internet. As the years went by, the internet was developed and the universities were the first institutions to use the internet. In the 1990s, the internet was widely used and many people started using it as it developed to current web sites. The architecture and application has seen the internet develop from the use of Common Gateway Interface to Application Program Interfaces that is easier for the users of internet. The principles for creating usable and accessible websites are important because they allow the users of any kind to access the internet and use it is a simple way.
Howe, W, (2010). A Brief History of the Internet. [Online] Available from http://www.walthowe.com/navnet/history.html. Viewed on 12 September 2011.
Loughan, D, (2004). Internet History. Google book.United Kingdom: Garden Books.
Marlowe, D.K. (2009). Third generation Internet architecture. [Online] Available from http://www.articleinput.com/e/a/title/Internet-architecture-overcomes-CGI-and-enables-application-development/. Viewed on 12 September 2011.
McPartland, A. (2007). The ABCs of Creating a Web Site. Home-Based Travel Agent, 2(7), 20-22. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Standley, J. (2005). Internet Architecture. [Online]. Available from http://www.surfscranton.com/architecture/InternetArchitecture.htm. Viewed on 12 September 2011.
Usability first, (2011). Principles of Accessible and Universal Design. [Online] Available from http://www.usabilityfirst.com/about-usability/accessibility/principles-of-accessible-and-universal-design/. Viewed on 12 September 2011.