Live from JAXConf 2013

The future of the web is decentralized innovation says Katz

Chris Mayer

Wednesday’s opening keynote took Java developers out of their comfort zone but to focus on the future of the web platform.

Wednesday’s opening keynote at JAXConf 2013 took a
change of pace, moving away from the Java world to look at where
the Web platform is heading.

Our guide was JQuery, Ruby on Rails and Ember.js
core member Yehuda Katz, who began the presentation by comparing
the web platform of today with the problems France had in the 19th
century with their rail infrastructure.

The offbeat start from Katz, citing Future
Perfect by Steven Johnson, explained that when France set out to
build their radical rail infrastructure in the 1800s, The Legrand
Star, they encountered plenty of problems. All lines led to Paris
in a centralised hub, in hope that it would create more efficiency.
It turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. During the Prussian
War, German troops could get about quicker due to their
decentralised network.

Katz linked back to the topic at hand, stating
that “we’ve now created our own Lebrand Stars” with the Web.
Innovation continues to be driven centrally HTML5, and while Katz
argued this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there could be more
efficient ways of working.

“We spend a lot of time centrally managing
things,” Katz explained, before adding that people want to do
things differently and in general, most prefer working with
libraries and decentralised design – libraries such as picturefill
and jQuery.

The jQuery in Action co-author then went on to
outline the reason why we prefer libraries, explaining that we can
iterate without risk (and not break the Web like vendors keep
insisting) and focus on domain specific solutions.

Katz argued that we, as a web developers, are
“most effective when not arguing with standard lobbies”.

“Often it feels like [standardization] should be
urgent – there’s no rush to standardize things that could be
implemented as a libraries,” Katz said.

Katz went on to look at what is currently
happening to amend the “untenable” model we have today, such as
centrally planned new capabilities. He also looked at Polymer,
Google’s new UI web framework introduced at Google I/O a few weeks
ago, as well as
a new browser system that provides scriptable caches.

“In practice it sucks to write the code – but in
the next few years, it will suck less,” Katz said, before
concluding that “the future of the web is decentralized

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