Software Engineering-Web Engineering

The World Wide Web and the Internet have drawn the general populace into the world of computing. We purchase stock and mutual funds, download music, view movies, get medical advice, book hotel rooms, sell personal items, schedule airline flights, meet people, do our banking, take college courses, buy groceries—we do just about anything and everything in the virtual world of the Web. Arguably, the Web and the Internet that empowers it are the most important developments in the history of computing. These computing technologies have drawn us all (with billions more who will eventually follow) into the information age. They have become integral to daily life in the first years of the twenty-first century.

For those of us who can remember a world without the Web, the chaotic growth of the technology harkens back to another era—the early days of software.It was a time of little discipline, but enormous enthusiasm and creativity. It was a time when programmers often hacked together systems—some good, some bad. The prevailing attitude seemed to be “Get it done fast, and get it into the field, we’ll clean it up (and better understand what we really need to build) as we go.” Sound familiar?

This leads us to a pivotal question: Can software engineering principles, concepts, and methods be applied to Web development? Many of them can, but their application may require a somewhat different spin.

But what if the current ad hoc approach to Web development persists? In the absence of a disciplined process for developing Web-based systems, there is increasing concern that we may face serious problems in the successful development, deployment, and “maintenance” of these systems. In essence, the application infrastructure that we are creating today may lead to something that might be called a tangled Web as we move further into this new century. This phrase connotes a morass of poorly developed Web-based applications that have too high a probability of failure. Worse, as Web-based systems grow more complex, a failure in one can and will propagate broad-based problems across many. When this happens, confidence in the entire Internet may be shaken irreparably. Worse, it may lead to unnecessary and illconceived government regulation, leading to irreparable harm to these unique technologies.

In order to avoid a tangled Web and achieve greater success in development and application of large-scale, complex Web-based systems, there is a pressing need for disciplined Web engineering approaches and new methods and tools for development, deployment, and evaluation of Web-based systems and applications. Such approaches and techniques must take into account the special features of the new medium, the operational environments and scenarios, and the multiplicity of user profiles that pose additional challenges to Web-based application development. Web Engineering (WebE) is concerned with the establishment and use of sound scientific, engineering, and management principles and disciplined and systematic approaches to the successful development, deployment, and maintenance of highquality Web-based systems and applications.
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