ATF Jubilee Edition

To celebrate his 50th column, Reuven casts his vision to the future of web development and suggests some current trends that will affect how the job gets done.
Where Am I Going?

Until now, the majority of my consulting work has been with Perl, which I still find to be a powerful language for working with the Web. Indeed, I used to tell people that about 80% of my work was with Perl, with the other 20% a mixture of Java, Python, Tcl and C.

But with the recent explosion in web programming environments, and with the shift to application servers, I (and my staff) have had to change direction somewhat. In many cases, we will prefer to use Perl, especially when coupled with mod_perl and HTML::Mason. However, we are increasingly using Java servlets and JSPs for projects, particularly with the Tomcat servlet/JSP engine and with the PostgreSQL database. Our familiarity with mod_perl is naturally leading us to look at AxKit, while servlets are forcing me to take a serious look at Enhydra.

We have already begun to use ACS for some large jobs, in no small part because of the very large number of working applications—not just underlying tools—that come with it. Moreover, the fact that ACS is free software and works with Linux makes it easy to work with since we can rely on the community to provide functionality, documentation, testing and bug fixes.

In other words, there are lots of technologies out there, many of which have sprung up only within the last year or so. As I complete this 50th ATF column and look toward the future, I see a world of possibilities and opportunities for web developers, particularly those who believe in free software and use Linux. The coming years promise to be exciting and interesting for web developers—and over the coming months and years, I hope to share with you my experiments and experiences in working with such tools, as well as sample pieces of software that can be used with them.


Reuven M. Lerner owns and manages a small consulting firm specializing in Web and Internet technologies. As you read this, he should be (finally!) finishing Core Perl, to be published by Prentice-Hall later this year. You can reach him at, or at the ATF home page,