Making Sense of Internet Buzzwords 101

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BDO

If you have ventured online recently, you are bound to have encountered some or all of the above internet buzzwords. In this post, I will review these buzzworthy technologies that are rapidly shaping the future of the ERP world. If you wish to clear up the cloud of mystery that surrounds these terms and gain a better understanding of the technology they represent, read on!

HTML5

Starting with the most fundamental of all, HTML is a markup language that structures and presents content on the World Wide Web. HTML5 is the fifth and current version of the standard. When used alongside CSS and JavaScript it forms a triad of cornerstone technologies used by most websites to create visually engaging web pages, user interfaces (UIs) for web applications, and UIs for many mobile applications.

CSS provides the styling components that outline how screens display HTML elements. In other words, CSS “colors” the page that you are viewing. JavaScript provides scripting that generates rich, interactive effects within web browsers. JavaScript is responsible for the “behavior” of a website by controlling how a site’s HTML elements and CSS style animate and move around on the page.

HTML5 is the latest evolution of the standards that define HTML. It comes with a revamped structure and refined semantics, leading to cleaner code. It is easier for both browsers and developers to understand.

Rich video and audio support have largely contributed to the demise of flash and its lesser counterparts (e.g., Silverlight). There is a slew of new features that integrate superior interactive functionality. Some video games are now developed entirely in HTML5.

HTML5 has led the movement towards responsive design: the content of a site adapting to the viewport of the device or browser. Starbucks is a great example of this – the display changes based on the size of the browser; try it for yourself!

These are just a few of the many enhancements HTML5/CSS/JavaScript makes possible. When used together, they achieve a superior calibre of web applications that render the need for native desktop equivalents pointless.

RESTful Services

Before we can understand RESTful services we need first understand web services.

A web service is a communication service one device offers another over the web. Until the advent of web services, interoperability and integration (the exchange of data among computer systems) were extremely limited or cumbersome. Web services encompass the technology that transmits data across the internet by using a familiar programming methodology. This technology only transmits data. Web services do not have a visual interface, such as text boxes, radio buttons, and the like.

Representational state transfer, aka REST, is the unique architectural style and approach to communications used in the development of web services. REST offers decoupled architecture with light-weight communication. This makes it a popular building block for cloud-based application interfaces such as those provided by Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Web services that employ REST architecture are called RESTful APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).

JSON

JSON is quite simply a data format to communicate over the web. With increasing adoption across many RESTful web services, it is on its way to replacing XML as the industry standard.

Why?

All of this is great, but you must be wondering by now: “Why do those of us in the ERP industry care about any of this?” Well, quite frankly, you should care because we all need to keep pace with the evolving landscape as the industry marches towards mobile-friendly solutions. BDO IT Solutions is able to stack the deck in our favor and leverage these technologies to provide innovative solutions for tomorrow’s problems. Let’s have a look at how we plan to accomplish this:

On the client side (left): using responsive design and the feature-rich support of HTML5, web developers can use the same technology to build web applications that work across different devices. Passing these though a Cordova engine generates truly platform-independent mobile applications. In doing so, we have circumnavigated one of the major pain points for enterprise developers: the effort required to build apps for multiple platforms, while keeping costs and effort down.

On the application side, we employ SmartConnect to create secure RESTful web services, which our mobile devices consume (using JSON) to communicate with our ERP of choice.

Conclusion

Changes (in the ERP industry) are coming. BDO IT Solutions continues to innovate and strives to remain ahead of the curve. Contact us if you are looking to make the leap into the world of mobile solutions.


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