Web Standards and Specifications
Web standards and specifications
The current article will present a high level overview of the various standards being used in web-applications; which of these are current or outdated, and more importantly which of the standards will be useful in implementing a particular type of application. Basically, it will help in understanding the various W3C, WS-I and other web application standards, and find relevance for them in the applications that we design and develop.
This article is aimed at developers and architects to make effective choices in designing and implementing robust, useful and secure web applications.
Standards are what will make development of inter-operable web applications faster; but there are so many of them, that it could also make development slower.
Current list of standards will easily equal many hundreds, and is increasing at a scorching pace; and we can only hope, in time, application library developers can wrap all these behind very easy to use objects and interfaces. Standards generally remain incomprehensible to a general developer. No doubt, for power applications, developers will still need to pour over specifications and design/develop their application code to implement the best possible solution; but majority of the developers will need to rely on the ingenuity of the library developers to make the standards based applications accessible and usable. In either case, knowledge of the underlying specifications will help in overall understanding of the application architecture and improving implementations. This article aims to serve as first step in that direction.
Internet Engineering Task Force (http://www.ietf.org/home.html) - One of the primary bodies involved in the development of core internet standards, e.g. networking, routing, mail etc. Their scope is pretty wide, everything “above the wire and below the application”, as described by "Scott Bradner" in "http://edu.ietf.org/node/view/55" article. Some of the important contributions include: IP, TCP, HTTP, FTP, VPN, LDAP, Telnet, POP3, and many more. Further, in his presentation, Scott describes the scope of other "Standards Development Organisations" (SDOs), as primarily involved in extending and fixing IETF standards, which is correct, as we shall see later in the article.
A sister organisation is www.irtf.org, which is fixed on defining the future of internet standards.
They even have a education page: http://edu.ietf.org
All the current and older internet standards published by IETF can be found at: http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfcxx00.html
One interesting fact about an RFC document is that once published it never get revised; it is obsoleted by another RFC. Internet drafts are used to refer to documents that are in the making and may eventually become an RFC. RFC stands for 'Request for Comments' and they may or may not be a standard; but they are the main technical documentation series of the IETF.
World Wide Web Consortium, W3C (http://www.w3.org/)
W3C has published around 90 recommendations (W3C standards are called recommedations) for web protocols. A diagram of the technology stack of W3C standards can be viewed at: http://www.w3.org/Consortium/technology
W3C also posts tutorials for their standards, which can be found at: http://www.w3.org/2002/03/tutorials
Web services interoperability organisation, WS-I (http://www.ws-i.org/)
Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, OASIS (http://www.oasis-open.org/who/tab.php)
The Object Management Group, OMG (http://www.omg.org/)