My webmaster technology watchlist for 2005

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The savvy webmaster wants to keep a close eye on those savory technologies for future use in production sites:

  • lighttpd -- because Apache can quickly become a bit of a resource hog -- is a "secure, fast, compliant and very flexible web-server which has been optimized for high-performance environments." The $64,000 question: is it on a sustainable development path? Watch TextDrive for the first example of a commercial mass virtual hosting operation using lighttpd
  • RubyOnRails -- because PHP is not getting any simpler and a lot messier with time -- RoR reminds me of WebObjects, without the fancy GUI tools but with much, much easier concepts and language to boot. For the first time in years, a language that tinkles my rusted fingers. Side note and French lesson du jour : RoR+lighttpd, les deux font la paire
  • Ajax -- because you need to thoroughly wash this request-response thing (Ajax is the name of a detergent here) -- also keep in mind the difference between XMLHttpRequest and iFrames. Side note and second French lesson du jour: jamais deux sans trois, I wish those guys would release the source code of this fancy little thing, it would make such a great tutorial
  • Apache 2 -- because Apache 1.3 is so passé and so slow -- you have a long experience with Apache and it remains the best choice in many, many situations. If you take care of threads safety issues with PHP, Apache 2 can save you from upgrading costly hardware during rough economic times (and it's always better, business wise, to tackle the software stack first, the HW need not be an excuse for slow SW)
  • ModSecurity -- because it's a dirty internet out there -- "ModSecurity is an open source intrusion detection and prevention engine for web applications (or a web application firewall)." If you don't want to spend a fortune into security appliances, mod_security is an excellent tool to protect your web applications from the ever growing nasty things out there (virus, spam, DoS attacks, etc.). An absolute must-have for mass hosting, especially blogs, wikis and any public forum subject to link spam
  • FastCGI -- because one needs to get de-intoxicated from mod_php -- mod_fastcgi is a platform-indepentant and server independant interface between a web-application and a webserver. Not only does it compare favorably in terms of performance to things like mod_php (it can even be faster!), but it can bring two important benefits: 1) you can run scripts under a specific user permissions and chroot jail (not possible with mod_php), and 2) it can help greatly in moving from Apache 1.3 to Apache 2 then lighttpd, because of its independence from the web server (on a slightly similar idea, it can also help run both PHP4 and PHP5 on the same environment without too much fuzz)
  • FreeBSD 5 -- because Linux doesn't do everything better than everybody else -- I think FreeBSD, at least in the web space, deserves more mindshare than it currently enjoys. It's really a great OS, fast, reliable and secure. IMHO, it's been for years and continues to be the perfect choice for internet servers

And you, what are you digging for your web properties in 2005?