Chapter 13. The World Wide Web'A Case Study in Interoperability

with Hong-Mei Chen

Note: Hong-Mei Chen is an associate professor at the University of Hawaii's Department of Information Technology Management.

Flexibility was clearly a key goal. Every specification that was needed to ensure interoperability constrain[s] the Web's implementation. Therefore, there should be as few specifications as possible … and the necessary specifications should be made independently… . This would let you replace parts of the design while preserving the basic architecture.

?Tim Berners-Lee [Berners-Lee 96b]

In the not-too-distant future, anybody who doesn't have their own home page on the World Wide Web will probably qualify for a government subsidy for the home-pageless.

?Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert

Possibly the most dramatic example of the workings of the Architecture Business Cycle (ABC) can be found in the way in which the goals, business model, and architecture of the World Wide Web have changed since its introduction in 1990. No one?not the customers, the users, or the architect (Tim Berners-Lee)?could have foreseen the explosive growth and evolution of the Web. In this chapter, we interpret the Web from the point of view of the ABC and observe how changes in its architecture reflect the changing goals and business needs of the various players. We first look at the Web's origins in terms of its original requirements and players and then look at how its server-side architecture has changed as a result of the ABC.

    Part Two: Creating an Architecture
    Part Four: Moving From One System to Many