Web development has undergone major shifts in the last 5-10 years, both structurally and technologically. The days when making a webpage meant hosting some HTML files on a server are largely long gone. As are the days of businesses employing a single web developer for the position of running an enterprise-level website, as mid-to-large scale companies now have internal development teams of at least a dozen engineers with various disciplines, or will more often use the resources of outside development shops that have the experience in producing high quality deliverables. The classic role of development as a part of IT is less relevant as web frameworks have taken on a larger scope, project management techniques have become redefined as creative processes, and development tools and resource usage have shifted radically.
For example, the hardware component in web hosting is nonexistent for any company with needs that are less than what Amazon Web Services can fulfill. Web frameworks play best with scalable servers these days, and hosting your own box is expensive, time consuming and requires expertise in specific needs for web development. Code deployment through continuous integration platforms greatly reduces issues in your live environment, and for your internal QA team, allows the latest branch of code to be tested by users in virtual machines, as well as automated unit tests that execute whenever a developer checks in code. This is contingent on good source control. Source control, such as Git, not only gives developers the means to work in tandem on separate chunks of your web application, and the security of reverting bad changes, it also allows a team to follow best practices by having code that is reviewed prior to being merged into the main development branch by more experienced programmers. These are just the basics before any code is even written, but platform-as-a-Service vendors, such as Pantheon or AWS, offer solutions that trivialize the hard requirements for web development before web development starts. Cloud servers give infinite scalable resources for creating virtual machines that can handle QA or production instances, and are pre-configured for optimized performance. Some even have built-in versioning and continuous integration.
These changes to process and production have become commonplace in the last 10 years, but the rate of adoption, reimplementation and change has only been increasing. It may seem like web developers currently inhabit a realm of chaos, where the fundamental principles of the universe are constantly uprooted. However, this is only a sign of the maturity of web development as it becomes its own separate discipline, divorced from usual business needs. Web development exists in a place of open information and shared knowledge, where the concepts that were adopted last year are only the beginning of what can be improved on. The most frightening and thrilling part of web development is that these fundamental changes will never stop coming.
Photo by Beau Considine