Hoverboards probably won’t be on the shelves until 2015, or possibly 2014, but alpha versions of amazing, bleeding-edge web development frameworks are available today!

Recently, there have been some exciting developments in this space. Several teams are working on their own solutions with the goal of drastically simplifying the process of developing a web application.

Derby

Meteor

Firebase

SocketStream

Capsule & Thoonk

Space Magic

These frameworks boast a few common features I am very excited about:

Sharing code between client and server

I feel terrible every time I have to duplicate model validation logic in both a server-side language and javascript. These new frameworks are based on javascript, or languages that compile to javascript (like coffeescript), which means everything you write can be run on the server or in the browser.

Notably, clojure, with the invention of clojurescript, also has the capability to compile to javascript, although I am not aware of anyone working to leverage the concept of real-time model syncing and live binding into a framework. I would love to see this.

Automatic real-time model syncing and view rendering

Every web app I’ve written has had semi-specialized code dedicated to translating UI interactions into changes to a data model, and then communicating those changes to and from the server. These frameworks allow you to define UI-model bindings declaritively and then handle propagation between UI, model and server automatically and in real time. And, if one client makes a change to a model that is also powering another client’s UI, the second client receives the updated model data and has their UI re-rendered automatically as well. These are powerful ideas and will simplify or eliminate many of the typical complications that currently hinder web development.

What’s the catch?

The catch is that these technologies are still very alpha. They are either missing important features, very buggy, or regularly making breaking changes to their APIs. I’ve spent some time with Derby in particular, and it’s definitely bleeding-edge (because I got cut, bad). But, that hasn’t lessened my strong belief that the fantastic ideas implemented in these solutions will be part of mainstream web development in the near future. I’m rooting for all of these guys.

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  • Samuel Stanley

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