In only four or five years, the World Wide Web has changed from a static collection of HTML web pages to a dynamic engine that powers e-commerce, collaborative work, and distribution of information and entertainment. These exciting changes have been fueled by changes in software technology, the software development process, and how software is deployed. Although the word heterogeneous is commonly used to describe web software, we might easily forget to notice in how many ways it can be applied. In fact, the synonymous term diverse is more general and familiar, and may be more appropriate. Web software applications use diverse types of hardware, they include a diverse collection of types of implementation languages (including traditional programs, HTML, interpreted scripts, and databases), they are composed of software written in diverse languages, and they are built by collections of people with very diverse sets of skills.
Although these changes in how web applications are built are interesting and fascinating, one of the most unique aspects of web software applications is in terms of the needs they must satisfy. Web applications have very high requirements for a number of quality attributes. Some of these quality attributes have been important in other (mostly relatively small) segments of the industry, but some of them are relatively new. This paper discusses some of the unique technological aspects of building web software applications, the unique requirements of quality attributes, and how they can be achieved.
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